June 21, 2016

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Fight-or-Flight Effect on Vision

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip deals with how your vision might be affected during a high-stress incident such as an officer involved shooting.

When the time comes, you will fall back to your level of training and preparation.

According to FBI LEOKA statistics, most police shootings occur within 10 feet of a suspect. Most of THOSE shootings occur at less than FIVE feet. Most shootings occur in low-light conditions as well.

We’ve heard about heightened sensory awareness during an officer involved shooting. Research has shown us that one of the physiological side effects of the fight-or-flight response is that our eyesight is impactedHyper-focus, or ‘tunnel-vison’ is one documented effect. Other effects on vision can include a loss of depth perception, night vision and the ability to change focus effectively.  

Some studies have also shown that if the threat is within 17 yards or less, the officer does not use the weapon sights. In other words, if the sights are smaller than the threat, the sights are not used. If the sights are larger than the threat, then it appears that the sights may be used.  

So, boiling it all down, here’s what we have: a deadly force encounter; usually in low-light conditions; engaging targets at close range; without the ability to use your sights; with impaired depth perception & night vision. THEN having to accurately report about it. It’s situations like these that showcase why training and preparation is so important. When the time comes, you will fall back to your level of training and preparation. Knowing what we’re up against ahead of time allows us to modify our training and preparation so that when the time comes, we’re better prepared than our adversary; increasing not only our chances of surviving, but winning that encounter.  

And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

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