“See What You Need To See” and Why?

This concept originates with Brian Enos inside of the competition circles. The first time I saw it used was back in late 2002 in Gabe’s excellent article under the same name. Basically, what Gabe was saying is “do not freeze it or label it, just see what you need to see.” This was Gabe’s answer to the sighted fire-vs.-point shooting debate. This article led to my realization that I actually point shot even thought I was trained to hate point shooting and point shooters. That one article with the one title “See What You Need to See” changed my whole world.

Along with the obvious credit to my awakening, there is much more to it than just that. As I began exploring what I was already doing and what guys like Gabe, 7677, and Matt Temkin were talking about on the forums, I began to pay attention to exactly what I was seeing. I immediately saw that when I wanted or needed speed, that I was taking in less visual input on the gun. This was already happening in my Modern Techniques course. I went from hard focus on the front sight, to a crisp sight picture, to a flash sight picture, to aligning down the slide while being target focused. These visual input changes were all done depending on the urgency of the shot to beat the timer. Aligning down the slide was something that I just naturally progressed into. I went years without admitting that I did this because I was taught that point shooting was a fallacy and extremely inaccurate. I later found that almost every single person that I trained with was keeping the exact same secret.

As I progressed with the help of Gabe’s FOF courses and from 7677 and Matt on the forums I picked up other alternate aiming methods. I picked up “front sight press,” (with sight focus and with target focus) “metal and meat,” and Enos’s “type two focus.” I found that each one of these methods worked very well within their respective niche.

Gabe’s FOF courses showed me something very cool. I was actually better with my gun below line of sight while dealing with dynamic movement. I found that I could lock in on my adversary and index the gun on him in a very natural manner while looking over the top of the gun. This is something that I stumbled into and the accuracy and ease to index on a moving adversary while using dynamic movement was amazing to me. This amazement solidified my need to train with 7677 and Matt. I had to know how this phenomenon was possible. To be able to do something and not be able to understand how is simply something that I can not abide by. As a critical thinker this lack of understanding was simply not acceptable. I knew that Matt and 7677 would help me understand what it was exactly that I was doing.

Now Matt and 7677 are guys that have been doing this so long that they simply say “do this” and you will be able to do it. As I watched the learning progression that they were teaching most of my questions were automatically answered (as it should be.) But I then learned that 7677 was also a critical thinker that could answer any of my more in depth questions. He knew the “whys” and would tell me the “whys.” This last statement does not take anything away from Matt’s teaching ability. He is just not one of those “critical thinker” types….and the bottom line is that you do not have to be one. For many guys “it just works” is good enough. I am just not like that. I think that I am not like that because I always want to know how far I can take something. The more I understand something, the further I can take it. That has just always been who I am.

Training with 7677 and Matt really brought things together for my below line of sight shooting (all the way down to the hip.) With their help, I now understood what all comes together to make hits with less and less visual input on the gun.

My next goal was to take these understandings and push the envelope of dynamic movement as far as I could push them. It became very apparent very quickly that much of the dynamic movement shooting that I was doing was happening so fast, that there was almost no conscious thought attached to it. One day, I was running a drill that I developed, it is three multiple adversaries at five yards, engaging laterally with dynamic movement (full run) with boarding house rules, from the holster. It is a very intense drill that has so many things going on all at once and is happening so quickly that it is next to impossible to make happen on a conscious level. After a few attempts I found myself in “the zone.” The zone is a place where everything is coming together at the subconscious level. It is a place that I know very well from running the football when I was younger. It is when you are working at a level that is beyond the limitations of conscious thought. In this drill, there was a problem (threats in need of ventilation) and a solution (ventilation in progress.) Everything that happened in between was done with zero conscious thought.

This was my ultimate epiphany…..this is what I knew I needed to teach. I needed to teach my students the ability to find “the zone.”

It was very clear that “the zone” came from absolute confidence and that was the key to being able to get my students where I wanted to bring them. So the questioned arose “how do you teach absolute confidence in a two day 2000 round course?” My answer is to lead them down the same path that I followed.

I have read about Zen archery. And I do not believe that it takes that long or that many arrows to find the zone while shooting. I see it being much easier than that. The answer to me is the absolute control of the student’s confidence while leading them in a building block approach. This building block approach starts with “see what you need to see” skills. If you consciously stop and notice what you are seeing, then you are programming it into you subconscious. Showing all of the alternate aiming methods (at line of sight and below line of sight,) where they shine and what their limitations are refines this programming. And when things are moving so fast that your conscious mind can not keep up, this programming will be accessed by the subconscious mind and allow you to do things that would seem impossible.

“Don’t freeze it or label it, just see what you need to see to make the hits.”

Sound familiar?