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Old October 3, 2000, 11:15 AM   #1
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Lawdog brought up in another thread about getting into tunnel vision mode, especially when you move in too fast.

I notice when extreme stress hits you, here comes tunnel vision. Anybody has ways to beat this weak point?

As I mentioned before I am not an LEO, but I had been assigned to go with them especially when drug or gang houses were involved.

One time just before Xmas, we did a raid on a known gang house. When we got to go into the house, we saw that the family had really gone all out on Xmas shopping.
You know,60 pairs of one type of Nike shoes, 200 slacks, etc., etc...exceptionally large family. And all the tags were still on. How thoughtful, I guess in case their friends who received the gifts could return it for a full refund.
The entry team served their warrant and had made a search of the house, rounding up all the suspects.
My partner and I were informed that the building was secure and we could do our investigation. When we entered one room, we noticed a pair of feet wiggling under a pile of new clothes in the closet.
We informed the Lt. and several officers piled the pile and extracted one "leader" who when the police announced themselves, jumped under the pile of clothes and it was only because the floor was cold and he was nekked and he had to go, did we see him squirming.
Having read the "sheet" at the station house on this individual, I went back to the pile of clothes after he had been hooked up. I found two Beretta 96F's...fully loaded, and ready to go.
Apparently, the entry team moved quickly to secure the area missing the individual...possibly tunnel vision?

How do you guys train to eliminate this problem?
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Old October 3, 2000, 01:14 PM   #2
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LASur5r, I don't know about anyone else but I haven't found a way to totally eliminate the tunnel vision. Reduce it, yes, but not get rid of it.

So, I just modified my training and tactics to take it into account and work around it.

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Old October 3, 2000, 02:55 PM   #3
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I know what you mean...found out a couple of times the hard way, that depending how immediate the threat is the focus of the tunnel can really be tiny.

Once I had a job a long time ago where I get to escort rowdy and loud folks off the parks, but because of the image the city wanted to keep, we weren't allowed to carry weapons of any sort.
Anyway, I had some little kids (about 7 years old) trying to climb up this young tree about 8 feet high, one of the kids was making the other ones cry by pulling on their ankles until they fell out of the tree.
Seeing this, I walked over and told the young boy to stop it. He wandered off, i asked all the other little boys and girls to get off the tree which they did.
A few minutes later, he's doing it to another group of kids, different tree. This time I told him that if I catch him doing it again, we'll go talk to his parents. He runs off.
Long story short, his three big brothers find me a few minutes later, big, big brother wearing a bib overall is packing a Bowie knife in his chest pocket (saw the flash and part of the handle before he stuffed it in the pocket). Not noticing any other unusual bulges in the other guys pockets, plus their hands are clear as they are walking over, I decide maybe i can calm them down.
I make like I don't see them, but turn and close fast..I immediately trap the big guys right wrist as he tries to draw the knife...I tunnel vision on his eyes figuring it'll tell me when the other two guys'll move.
The guy on my left hook punches me in the left jaw...didn't even see it.
I hold the trap...Big guy can't draw the blade.
Now right side had a go, but I'm a little faster now. Stop check the incoming jab and knee check the knee attempt at the groin.
My left jaw is still hurting like H#**! Good thing there wasn't something more behind it.
Big brother poops out and I speak calmly and then he yells at them to stop it. I think that had more effect.
Maybe not such a good example of tunnel vision, but more not picking up the move on the peripheral vision.

How about a really recent scenario?
The entry team guys were serving a warrant at night on a local gang house. They knocked, announced, and rammed the door, then rushed in to arrest the folks in the house.
This house had a raised foundation, so you had to go up about 7 steps to where you got up to a porch which usually had a swing set and maybe a little garden table and a few chairs. Then you entered through the front door which is about five or more feet away from the stairs.Since it was dark, the pointman missed the guy sitting on the swing set when they first arrived. Then before he knew it, it was a "Go!"

Imagine our surprise when my partner and I walk up the stairs waiting for the "Clear"signal from the Lt. and we walk into a a "dude" waearing baggies, and has tear drop tats near his eye? Clearly a gang banger.
We know the guys on the inside are still 'clearing' the rooms. The guys on the outside are securing the perimeter. So we yell to the outside perimeter folks and they grab him as he jumps off the porch.
Here's that tunnel vision effect again. I shudder everytime, when i think, "What if he had been packing?"

Anyway, again, if anyone has a way to train out the tunnel vision, let me know...I think all of us would be grateful...
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Old October 3, 2000, 03:29 PM   #4
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First let me say that I haven't been in the "people-huntin" game. My opinions are just that, I reckon.

I first really became aware of tunnel vision when I first started IPSC shooting in 1981. With multiple targets, that slows you down. It seemed to help to move my head in (guessing) 15-degree sweeps unless I was actually "on target" and shooting. I let my peripheral vision pick up any problems for stumbling or falling, as I checked the locations of other targets.

This works with quail hunting in my very rugged desert country, where not only are there lots of rolling rocks but a heckuva lot of bad, bad cactus and suchlike. blue quail run, and so you have to run, avoid falling, shoot a bird, not lose his location on the ground--yet keep track of the rest of the covey.

On the street, I try always to keep my eyes moving, and my head as necessary. I grant that just walking down the street is not a high-adrenalin situation...

I guess one way to help train yourself out of just looking straight ahead might be to spend a lot of range time going against a timer on multiple targets. Just knowing about the clock pushes the adrenalin up. And that's the key: Induce adrenalin flow however you can, and fight its effects. But easier said than done...

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Old October 3, 2000, 07:06 PM   #5
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Say it with me! Adrenaline=BAD!

Adrenaline is one of those unfortunate "self-defense" mechanisms built into us from the cavemen days.

Yes, it does provide with a quick burst of energy. However, that benefit really pales in comparison to the negative effects such as rapid fatigue, loss of fine motor control, tunnel vision, loss of cognitive abilities (as in "I can't think clearly!").

The only way to fight the "adrenaline flow" and its side effects is learning to relax your body (lowering heart rate, thinking clearly, seeing clearly, moving smoothly, etc.).

The best way to do this is to breath slowly, but deeply. Breathing is the only way you can control the involuntary functions of your body. This isn't some Eastern mysticism or fluffy stuff. It has been proven by science time and again. Toughs such as Soviet, er, Russian Spetznaz are trained in such breathing techniques as a part of their physical training (which, BTW, includes Sambo).

There are numerous books and videos (as well as seminars) about breath control. So long as you stay away from "learn to fly!" Yogi types and stick to those who are scientifically trained, you should be okay.


For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu
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Old October 4, 2000, 07:02 AM   #6
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Skorzeny's right. Train yourself to breathe. Inhale deeply, exhale fully while visualizing yourself going limp. Try it under stress (fatigue, before public speaking, etc.). It won't eliminate all the adrenaline problems, but it certainly reduces them. Whatever relaxation methods you use, they all come back to contolling your breathing. And don't focus on your opponents eyes - it will make tunnel vision worse, and they can fake you out with their eyes. Not to mention that they don't attack with their eyes - it's their hands & feet (and what's in them) you have to worry about. If your opponent is confident, angry enough, drugged, drunk, etc. their intent won't show in their eyes. Eyes widen before an attack because of fear, if you eliminate the fear (chemically or otherwise), they won't telegraph through their eyes. Also, by not focusing on your opponents eyes, they can't follow yours, so you don't telegraph that way. Focus on the midsection, and use your peripheral vision to view their hands/feet.

Geez, I feel like Pat Morita - "no breath, no life".
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Old October 4, 2000, 02:55 PM   #7
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You mean Pat Morita from "The Hughleys" who said to 'em "I know all about you, I watch 'COPS'"
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Old October 5, 2000, 08:51 AM   #8
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I use different stuff.
1. Mountain biking on narrow trails(alright settle down and hear me out) If the trail is narrow enoungh there will over hangs and things not directly in your path that you have to watch.
2.Drive a big ole' boat for a while.

Okay that all I have. I guess I am saying put yourself in stressful situation where tunnel vision is also bad and train out of it. You would be surprise what almost hitting a deer while riding a bike does to your awareness.
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Old October 5, 2000, 12:30 PM   #9
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Tunnel vision is one possible side effect of the "Fight or Flight" system. It kicks in as a natural response to life threatening situations whether it be a gun fight or nearly hitting a deer on your bike. Longer situations mean more and stronger reactions, but there is no way to tell how much you'll get in any given situation. (More likely to suffer from tunnel vision in a 3 minute wrestling match over a gun than the deer vs. bike scenario, but it is possible in both)

I don't think it is possible to totally train this out as it is part of the internal nervous system that we have no control over, but the the breathing and awarness exercises mentioned earlier will help. Our training includes scanning after shooting to break up concentration on one point (which emphasizes tunnel vision) and moving during and immediately after a life threatening situation if possible to break up this, and other, effects.
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Old October 5, 2000, 02:02 PM   #10
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To emphasize one more time...

When you breathe in a relaxed fashion consciously, it is a biological IMPOSSIBILITY that your body becomes tense and your heart rate goes up! It is much like the way antagonistic muscles work (if you tense one muscle group, the opposite muscle group CANNOT be tense at the same time). Likewise, when your breathing is normal, the rest of the body CANNOT be tense.

The question is, of course, how well can you control your breath? Now, that takes practice and training.


For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu
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Old October 20, 2000, 08:13 PM   #11
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Skorzeny hits the nail on the head. Breathing is the key to staying calm in situations of stress. I'm not a competition shooter, LEO, or soldier, but I am a serious waterfall ice climber. In that discipline, if you lose your cool, you die (or,possibly, rip your achillies tendon in half- which happened to one of my buddies when he got freaked out). When I get stressed I take deep, strong, breaths. The calming effect occurs almost immediately and breathing like that in times of stress can become a reflex if you conciously do it enough.
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Old October 22, 2000, 07:21 PM   #12
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When nerves are up I learn to breath AND make a consious effort to LOOK & LISTEN. This applies to when I play soccer, shoot IPSC and a recent auto accident I witnessed that involved a biker gang and three carloads of highschool kids. The danger isn't just tunnel vision, but "auditory exclusion". When I have a break away in soccer I don't hear what the bench is screaming, I have to make a great effort to remind myself to tune in to non-primary input. But the more I experience an activity the more natural the primary function becomes (like carrying the ball), the more I can take a split second to look around and listen. That, I believe, is what seperates good atheletes from great ones. The ability to have a good field of vision. This leads me to; the more you draw and shoot, the more natural the shooting mechanics will be and you will find it easier to focus on your surroundings. If you are not familier with the primary task (drawing gun, fumbling for safety, clearing jam) you will panic and focus on very few other things. Adrenalin was only a good thing back when we used clubs and spears as those required only large muscle groups.

[This message has been edited by racegunner (edited October 22, 2000).]
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