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Enhanced Peripheral Vision ©

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Enhanced Peripheral Vision TM ©

In 1981 I was taught how to use my peripheral vision while shooting shotguns, rifles and pistols. The skill was called instinct shooting by Bobby Lamar “Lucky” McDaniel, who was known to have developed the technique in what the U S Army later was to name Quick Kill after adopting the technique for it’s rifle program in the late 1950’s.

Instead of using direct vision sighting and utilizing the sights on a rifle or pistol, we were taught to use a narrow range of our naturally occurring peripheral vision to “see” the end of the barrel/front sight while staying threat focused with our direct vision at all times.

These peripheral reference points from the end of the barrel/front sight to the intended target for the pistols, rifles and shotguns make the techniques repeatable and reliable. Once the reference from the weapon to the target is established peripherally, one fires and hits the intended target.

I became so familiar with using peripheral vision that it became a part of my subconscious and as natural to use as anything that can be done without conscious effort. Things like driving a car and riding a bike are easier the more we perform the activity. This use of the peripheral vision to verify the relationship between the weapon and the intended strike point became no less automatic over the years of using it with firearms of all kinds.

Late in the year of 1991, I was getting bored with shooting a handgun using Quick Kill. It had been 10 years since being taught to use my natural abilities. It did not require any effort to make hits, required little to no practice on a regular basis, and I needed something to stimulate my mind further where handguns was concerned.

I had taught a police officer earlier that year how to use two kali/escrima sticks simultaneously in combat. Over 10 weeks he had become fairly ambidextrous and had developed enough skill in his off hand/arm to work the stick as well as his strong hand/arm. He was able to use a single stick in either hand proficiently and could move the stick from one hand to the other without loss of any dexterity, coordination or speed.

When I realized what the officer was capable of doing, it dawned on me that I had also walked that path a decade before when I had been trained in double stick work but I had not realized just how much improvement in use of the off hand had come from the double stick training then or over the subsequent years.

I determined I would work on developing my shooting skills using two guns simultaneously, one in each hand at combat distances based on what I had observed with the police officer. This would be interesting to say the least. Could I develop the use of the off hand with a handgun to a level of proficiency like the sticks had shown us? This was something to work on that would take the boredom with handguns I had been experiencing away and it just seemed like it would be a lot of fun trying even if the results were poor. It would challenge my mind to work again using handguns.

I went to the range and shot with a gun in each hand at one target. I used two model 36 Smith and Wesson snub-nosed revolvers initially. In short order, I could shoot both at the same time onto a threat 4-6 feet out and keep the shots centered on the target. I only had one threat to look at so I could stay threat focused. Using the technique Lucky McDaniel had shown us worked with two guns pretty good. I moved the target out to about 10 feet with the same stellar results, then 12 feet and still the hits were there every time. I was using the narrow range of peripheral vision that Lucky’s threat/target focused method used, the guns well below line of sight and seen in that comfortable narrow range of my peripheral vision.

It was time to try this on two targets with the two guns at the same time. I put up a second “threat” target and both were moved back in to the 4-6 foot range. Initially I place the stands so they touched one another so the threats were less than four feet center of chest to center of chest. Initially I tried to just get the guns up and check their positions individually on the threats, then fire simultaneously. That worked pretty good, as would be expected, by first verifying individually that the guns were where they needed to be before firing.

Though I had good results that way, it was not going to be something I could use in battle on the streets if I had to. The time to physically verify the two guns individually first would get you killed. Still this was promising so I determined I needed to keep working at it.

I found myself at the range again the next week setting up two more threat targets. I was using full size silhouette/body targets at the same distance of about 4-5 feet away and about four feet apart from the centers of the chests. I worked hard that day on developing this skill. I tried looking at one threat and hitting both, that didn’t give me reliable center hits on the threat I wasn’t looking at very often. I tried looking at the left one and hitting both, then the right one and hitting both, alternating between them with varied results that were better but not what they needed to be.

Then I tried to focus/look at neither of the two threats but look between them with direct vision. That seemed very promising in multiple runs. The hits were very good, but the range was short and the threats close together. I was onto something here. If I didn’t look at either of the threats directly, I got better hits on both at the same time. I was definitely onto something but I didn’t know what, it was too new to understand at the time. I was using “multiple threat focus” TM © and still using the peripheral vision of Quick Kill to “see” the guns, though the narrow peripheral vision range of the one threat/one gun Quick Kill technique had to be expanded.

I moved the threats farther apart by a few feet at the same distance and tried this again. Looking at neither of the threats directly, nor the guns, I worked it slowly and in a few runs found the hits were centered on each simultaneously again. My mind was figuring out that the narrow range of peripheral vision used in Quick Kill could be expanded, and the gun/s did not have to be directly below my eyes or line of sight to use the peripheral vision to “see” the guns at the same time. This was getting really interesting to say the least.

I moved the threats out to 10 feet and moved them about 10 feet apart. Reliable center hits fell apart again. More work would be necessary, but I was on the right road to getting solid reliable hits shooting two threats at the same time with one gun in each hand. I went home for the day to think about what I was doing here.

It was not too long before I was back at the range. I could not stop thinking about what I was onto here and I was anxious to work this out to a reliable system of hits on two threats at the same time from street combat distances where the threats were a good distance apart from one another.

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Enhanced Peripheral Vision © Part 2

I worked some drills experimenting between direct vision and peripheral vision use, alternating between the two as well as how I was bringing the guns onto the threats. By the time I had run a few boxes of ammo through the guns, I had hit upon how to make this work reliably enough for the street and how the focus on the threats and guns had to be used. I had learned that I could “enhance” the peripheral vision used with Quick Kill and didn’t have to even use direct focus on the threats any longer.

The enhanced peripheral vision TM © I had developed personally for me over a few weeks with this experimentation of two gun shooting on multiple threats only showed me that my mind was the limiting factor as always. If I didn’t use direct focus on either threat, and enhanced and expanded the narrow range of peripheral vision used with Quick Kill, the hits were very reliable and centered. I had also discovered the physical technique that worked best in getting the guns on the threats that put it all together in that time frame.

I’ve since developed an Enhanced Peripheral Vision TM © exercise that can get people to do the same thing with two guns on multiple threats in less than an hour. It can be done from the seated, standing, in the light of day, and more importantly in very lowlight. One really needs Quick Kills narrow range of use of the peripheral vision and is an imperative base or foundation. The training in peripheral vision use that Quick Kill brings to people will allow the mind to expand further than thought possible. Once your mind understands exactly what is necessary and understands it doesn’t need to wait for the verification of the sights or gun on threat, you can use your natural abilities even further with the enhanced peripheral vision we are all capable of.

Once your mind can let go of the constraints and use of any direct vision, and understands it’s own powers that allows your body to just perform things it always could but never was allowed to explore through it’s own self limitations and doubt, it truly becomes Zen like and as natural as anything you have ever experienced before.

With the training in enhanced peripheral vision TM ©, you can “see” on a plane that encompasses all that is above you, below you and to either side of you without looking at anything directly. That new found ability, coupled with the very specific physical technique that gets the guns on threats reliably which I came to in the development of this skill really is the mind letting go of it’s constraints and need for any verification of the position of the guns or where your body is in the overall picture/landscape of a scenario.

I practice this enhanced peripheral vision TM © skill with one gun almost every night before I go to bed in the lowlight produced by a nightlight in the room. The threat might be the calving rope 10 feet high up on the wall, or it might be the night-light itself. With the enhanced peripheral vision TM ©working [remembering that you can “see” on a plane that encompasses all that is above you, below you and to either side of you without looking at anything directly], I can face the front door and put the gun on the calving rope or a picture on the wall to my right or left without ever turning my head or body.

Two guns can be used to put one on something off to my extreme right on the wall, and something to my left with the other at the same time. Once the guns are locked on [using the specific physical skill to get them locked on that I developed and is reliable and an easily transferable skill to others], I hold them in place, and check their positions on the intended “threats” in lowlight and they are always dead on and would hit.

With the enhanced peripheral vision TM © exercises, and while just walking along, I can see what I’m going to need to walk over before I trip on it without looking down, or where the edge of the rug starts. I can see the smoke detectors on the vaulted ceiling high above me. In a nutshell, without looking at anything specifically in the room, I can see everything with this training. More importantly, I can use a gun in my left or right hand, or both simultaneously to make hits on anything in my enhanced peripheral vision TM © without ever turning my head.

The subject of "Enhanced Peripheral Vision" TM ©will become a registered copyright to myself with Washington DC here shortly. Students will be introduced to this after they are well versed in the narrow range of peripheral vision that Quick Kill training brings them.

The mind is the limiting factor Nowhere is this seen more than in this skillset of enhanced peripheral vision TM © use. The human mind and body truly are amazing.

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Here's one students excerpt after he was shown how to perform the Enhanced Peripheral Vision TM ©. He happens to be a US Deputy Marshall out of Tuscon, Arizona.

"Having gotten a taste of this in my last refresher with Brownie, all I can say is "IT ROCKS!!!"

Imagine 2 targets 10-12 feet from the shooter and at a 45 degrees each from shooter's centerline and being able to get COM shots firing 2 gun simultaneously!!! John Woo eat your heart out!

I don't know which is better though. This or head-shots at a lateral run at 12 feet???"

Another student in Tenn in the summer of 06 commented:

"One of the last things Brownie showed us was this technique allowing 2 targets to be engaged simultaniously. It was quite impressive to see him shoot COM on 2 targets seperated by ~6ft. center to center at a distance of ~10 feet from the line the targets stood on with a pair of G17s. But by then I'd come to expect the surprising from Brownie and his shooting.

I thought the true indication of the success of his training and our ability to unfocus and shoot would be if a student could come close to the same performance. I decided that since I was well practiced in making a fool out of myself and we'd all been pretty close that weekend I had nothing to loose in trying it.

I then simply followed what Brownie had been telling us to do all day and raised both guns and shot both targets COM. I can't tell you what anyone's reaction was, but I could vaguely see I'd hit the centers of both targets. I repeated the action and fired multiple times into the center of both targets and then shifted from the 2 side by side to include a 3rd target to my right. I hit it and the original left-most COM multiple times. I can't tell you if I returned to the 2 original targets or alternated between the three, but I did fire on all 3 targets keeping my left anchored on the orginal left-most target. I did this until one of the Glocks slidelocked. I then held both guns out to the side because I didn't trust myself to turn with them in my hands I was so amazed."

Students in the March course will be instructed and given an opportunity to perform this as well.

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Here's a picture I came across showing the degree/angle most people can expect to be able use peripheral vision.



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Given the effects of tunnel vision during moments of high stress, what degree/angle most people can expect to be able use peripheral vision?

Good question NkmG19.

The Enhanced Peripheral Vision drill is an adjunct skill, not a replacement for core skills. Adjunct skills training is ongoing daily by trainers everywhere and within many circles including the military. In fact peripheral vision skills in conjunction with multi-tasking many skills together is now being brought to the troops by the military using of all things video games.

The serious business of self defense training and shooting in a self defense scenario must take into account the overwhelming reality of the 'fight or flight' reaction, aka Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) overload. Two things generally will create the effects on vision and on the central nervous system. Fight or flight and the brain running hyper-speed trying to access and solve a problem it hasn't been trained for or instantly recognizes as solution for.

Sympathetic Nervous System [ SNS ] overload occurs when control of a situation degrades. Such as an ambush, chaos, confusion, disorder, officer/operator down, a firefight, shootout, woundings, death, etc. Training helps to cope with and control the effects of SNS overload. It's also known as the Body Alarm Response [ BAR ] It's all about situational CONTROL. If you lose control SNS overload happens, but it happens at varying extents based on one's past experiences as well.

That might be the natural reaction of most, but then training compensates for that. It's what our elite military train to overcome and do when entering Iraqi homes etc, and is certainly well within the ability of everyone to overcome with training.

Lets look at just one scenario where this trained skill would be useful.

You are approached by 3 thugs/bangers on the street. They threaten your life [ lets say they meet the criteria for SD somewhow ], you are armed. While one or two keep your attention, you see one moving slowly to your oblique and trying to get in behind you [ a classic tactic on their part ]. Think disparity of force here.

You tell the one moving to get around behind you to stand still, but he keeps moving further out in your peripheral vision. You draw on the two and reiterate to the third mover to stand still. He refuses and keeps moving to get in behind you.

The other two are now telling you you can't get all of them before they are on you. You can see the mover, he has not gone beyond about 65 degrees, nor should you allow him to or you'll lose track of him after that then or shortly thereafter.

You use the EPV skill and shoot him without moving your body, head or eyes off the two you are looking at, bringing the gun right back to the other two and regaining a two hand hold on the weapon.

In that scenario, you have an ID'd threat/s, you are in a disparity of force situation and they have made their intentions known to take you out somehow. If he gets behind you, he could pull a knife or gun himself out of your vision.

They made a mistake, you were trained to use the EPV and owned the keys to allow you to take the shot/s with a COM hit. As with all skills, they come into play based on circumstances you find yourself in. The more skills you own, the more you can use to keep your butt safe on the streets.

I'm going to post a paper by Edward C. Godnig, O.D., FCOVD, who is a 1976 graduate of the New England College of Optometry, Boston, Massachusetts in the next post which explains the research into this field that ongoing.

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Alright, here's excerpts from his research on the subject. I've highlighted areas of interest that directly relate to the Enhanced Peripheral Vision skills training I independently developed years ago.

"Above and beyond the basic visual functions that are operational at various lighting conditions, there are specific visual changes that occur when a shooter is threatened by a dangerous situation. The Body Alarm Reaction (BAR) is the body’s response to an unexpected and sudden change in the environment, most commonly initiated during the early stages of a life threatening attack. The BAR is often associated with combat or violent encounters. The most immediate visual change in response to the BAR is that the eye focusing system (accommodation) loses it ability to maintain clear focus on targets at close distances. It is not possible during the first few seconds after entering into the BAR to clearly focus upon the front sights of a gun. A shooter’s visual focusing and attention is drawn to focus toward far distant viewing, toward infinity. This focusing change toward far distant focus is a direct result of the change from parasympathetic nervous system control to sympathetic nervous system control. This shift in the autonomic nervous system balance is responsible for changing how the crystalline lens inside the eye changes it shape and optical power. During the immediate stages of the BAR, the lens becomes less convex in shape and this results in an optical shift of focus resulting in clear focus only while viewing distant targets."

"It is important to remember that the sympathetic nervous system can exert its neural messengers either in a focal manner (through secretion of noradrenalin or norepinephrine) at local end organs (as is the case at the ciliary muscle of the eye’s focusing system), or through releasing noradrenalin or norepinephrine directly into the bloodstream to prepare the body for combat.

"It is worthwhile to note that during the BAR there are a series of other biochemical and hormonal changes that are activated throughout the body. One example is that the adrenal glands secrete a group of hormones called glucocorticoids. Cortisol is the most prevalent of these hormones. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels to contribute energy for muscle function. Research has also correlated decreased learning and decreased memory function, as well as attention anomalies with increased cortisol levels in the body. These changes in response to cortisol levels increasing during the BAR help explain, in part, why visual memory and visual attention is narrowed during the BAR. These types of physiological changes that accompany the BAR begin to explain the perceptual changes called “tunnel vision” and “perceptual narrowing”. Humans have an innate tendency to narrow attention upon a threat during extreme stress. It can be argued that learning how to expand peripheral awareness of space can minimize the effects of “tunnel vision” during the BAR. Other strategies to overcome the tunneling effects of perceptual narrowing will be outlined in the visual training section of this bulletin."

"From a behavioral perspective, Dr. A. M. Skeffington, the father of behavioral optometry, theorized that during stress, the human ability to center on a task and identify and maintain meaningful awareness on a specific target is severely hampered. BAR type of stress causes a decline in your ability to derive meaning from your visual memory image due to a perceptual narrowing that accompanies the breakdown of optimal human performance. His theory postulated in the 1940s has gained strength and understanding during the last half century as much current neurological and psychological research has proven the bulk of his intuitive understanding of human responses to stress."

"Other behavioral and performance changes have been reported to be associated with “perceptual narrowing”. The theory of perceptual narrowing suggests that as the level of demand increases on a central, straight ahead target, there will be a corresponding decrease in the visual area surrounding the central area from which peripheral information can be extracted. Increased arousal causes increased narrowing of the attentional focus, with a progressive elimination of input from the more peripheral aspects of the visual field. Another way of viewing “tunnel vision” is that as stress increases, there is a reduction of cues used to regulate performance. When stress levels are further increased, there is a further restriction in the range of visual cues used to sample visual space. Under stress, the useful field of view shrinks, and the amount of processing of visual information is narrowed."

"Contemporary visual research describes a parallel, dual processing visual system that is useful to further understand the complex nature of how visual information travels from the retina to the brain. One pathway (M-pathway) is more sensitive to coarse visual forms and images that move quickly. The other pathway (P-pathway) is more sensitive to fine spatial details of forms that are stationary or move at very slow rates.

"It appears that the P-pathway processing visual information that is dominated by central, detailed labeling of information, whereas the M-pathway processes information dominated by peripheral vision awareness of movement, orientation and location of visual images. It may be that these pathways work in a synchronous manner to efficiently process visual information. Under high stress there seems to be an imbalance between the P and M pathways such that one pathway overrides the other. “Tunnel vision” appears to be related to P-pathway dominance and M-pathway inhibition during the BAR."

" The following visual skills are important for shooter speed and accuracy of aim;

A. Visual acuity: Both static (discerning detail of a stationary target) and dynamic visual acuity (discerning detail of a moving target) is important to a marksman. Good dynamic acuity will enhance a shooter’s visual reaction time and eye tracking abilities.

B. Peripheral vision: Skillful shooters have reported a visual ability of maintaining an awareness of a central target while simultaneously maintaining a vast amount of peripheral visual awareness. A fully functioning visual system is capable of responding to objects located within a total visual field (which for each eye is approximately 40 degrees up, 60 degrees toward the nose, 70 degrees down and 90 degrees towards the temple measured from a central point of fixation). It is critical that shooters are aware of what is beyond and around the target to insure safety, and peripheral vision awareness is crucial to achieve this task.

C. Depth perception: An essential skill for the shooter who needs to judge relative distances between targets.

D. Eye motility: Eye tracking abilities are crucial to maintain accurate detail and awareness of any moving target. This skill is highly critical if a marksman needs to shoot a moving target.

E. Eye-hand-body-mind coordination: A necessary set of visual coordinated abilities that are used in developing precise trigger control while maintaining precise aim on target.

F. Visualization: The ability to use your “mind’s eye” to create a mental visual picture when direct view of a target may not be possible. This highly developed visual skill is useful to anticipate where a target or adversary is most likely to be located during episodes of lack of direct vision.

G. Speed of recognition time: Extremely important when a target may be only visible for a brief moment in time. The ability to accurately recognize as much of a target in as little as 0.01 seconds can be critical in deciding to shoot, or not shoot, a target.

H. Eye focusing flexibility: This ability plays an extremely important part of a shooter’s ability to quickly adjust focus upon targets that are located in different distances in space. The speed and flexibility of quickly changing eye focus from one point in space to another point in space has a direct influence on maintaining clear, single binocular vision while in shooting competition or in combat."

" L. Central-peripheral awareness: The ability to have awareness of central details of a target and simultaneously be aware of the visual space surrounding the target (the peripheral space around the target). This skill helps a shooter avoid getting locked into “tunnel vision” for extended periods of time."

"What is exciting to report to shooters concerning the above mentioned visual skills is that most all the skills (except for color vision) have a learned component involved in the acquisition of the skill, and this learned component can be trained to improve. Not only are there testing procedures to determine how well these skills have developed and how efficiently they function, but there is emerging a growing body of visual training techniques which may enhance performance in the visual skills important for shooting. Sports visual training is the optometric art and science of fine tuning and enhancing visual skills and abilities. Sports vision practitioners are designing exercises and learning opportunities to enhance and fine tune visual skills used during shooting.

"Why are some shooters able to maintain visual-motor (eye-hand) accuracy despite high arousal, as seen during the BAR, leading to lower visual focusing control? There are various models to help explain this paradoxically confusing relationship of visually monitored marksmanship control during the BAR. The one consistent thread that is part of most explanations is professional, comprehensive firearms sports training, and knowing when and how to implement this training with confidence.

Current neurobiological biofeedback research has clearly demonstrated that humans can be trained to control certain autonomic nervous system functions. This implies that with proper training, particularly under stressful conditions, a well established image of proper visual spatial alignment can be maintained as a consistent eye-hand-body-mind coordinate system. Shooters that can maintain sufficient and efficient eye-hand-body-mind coordination control and adequate visual attention during the BAR will be capable of accurate marksmanship during high combat stress. It is becoming increasingly evident that you can learn to “visualize” a visual image even without having direct accommodation (direct focus) on the object of regard. The ability to visualize and develop improved eye-hand-body-mind coordination skills can be trained using a variety of visual training techniques."

"A 1995 research report discussed a three month visual training program conducted with the Catalan Government Special Intervention Squad at the Olympic Training Center in Spain. Pre-test and post-test results were compared for pistol shooting performance and visual function. Statistical analysis revealed significant gains in visual function and pistol shooting scores after the visual training program."

"Another example of visual training is biofeedback training. Using an instrument that allows you feedback as the relative stimulation or relaxation of the eye focusing muscle (ciliary muscle) can exert a carry over effect during intense shooting competition. A learned behavior of voluntarily stimulating a positive accommodation (parasympathetic response) during the BAR can act as a counter force to the negative accommodation response to the sympathetic nervous system stimulation during the BAR."

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For newer members who may have missed this thread.
BTTT as we'll be training in this skill in the upcoming pistol class.
Back to the top again as it as mentioned and linked from this weekends training exercise in EPV
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