Gun Education – Jeff Gonzales: Shooting Scans

Jeff Gonzales
Jeff Gonzales

Strasburg, OH -( It really gets annoying watching people conduct post shooting scans improperly. They really are doing nothing more than waving their firearms back-and-forth as if it were a magic wand.

Anticipating the End of the Fight

So, what’s the big deal? There are a couple of points to bring up. First off, we see folks putting more attention on scans than correct follow through. They are in such a hurry to start the scan they totally quit fighting. That’s right, they quit. If you are not performing correct follow through you are not helping yourself in the known gunfight. You are not going to know ahead of time how many rounds it will take to neutralize the threat, but for some reason, you have pre-programmed it so you can start your scan. Rather than working with the known, they are trying to work on the unknown.

See Things, Don’t Look at Them

Then there is the whole thing of actually “seeing.” Part of the scan means you have to locate the next threat. That means you are in the hunt mode, looking for pre-fight cues or target indicators. This is critical because on the battlefield sometimes it’s not who’s the best trained or who has the coolest gear, a lot of times it boils down to who sees who first. Once you pick up on a target indicator the real work starts.

Processing Speed

Now, you have to process what you are seeing and determine whether it is a shoot vs. a no-shoot. Seems pretty simple, however, add chaos, low light, cats & dogs living together, it is a lot harder than it sounds. You have to see what is necessary to justify lethal force. This should never be taken lightly, once the bullet leaves the barrel there is no going back.

Breaking It Down

We teach three different types of scans, all in order of the tactical imperative. The first is the most important: the target scan. You have to determine if you neutralized the known threat. You cannot be so worried about unknowns until you deal with the known. Once you have determined the primary threat is neutralized, next you work on the close scan. The scan used to search for nearby threats or threats that approach quickly after the initial shots fired. Last is an area scan, taking in everything around you, both what’s up and down range of you as well as threats off the deck; rooftop and or second deck scenarios.

Missing the Nose on Your Face

When we get to our assault classes things are happening pretty quickly, and you’ve got a lot on your plate with the various responsibilities as an individual and team. You cannot afford to miss a target indicator and endanger the team as well as fail to neutralize a threat because you moved too quickly to the next threat. Then, and worst of all, is shooting a no shoot because you rushed through your scan, which is nothing more than out running your headlights.

Scans are important, but, put it in context, neutralizing the known threat is a tad bit more important. There will be time for scans, but you have to win the first fight for it to really matter.


Jeff Gonzales, President
Trident Concepts, LLC
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

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Great Ghostbusters reference!

BillyBob Texas

1. EXCELLENT thoughts about the lighting. 99% of our houses light up where YOU are, not the bad guys…. 2 .Yep, new TV’s are better and cheaper. Do NOT get shot for a TV that wouldn’t bring $20 at a garage sale. 3. When the cops show up, hide, conceal, holster, or just drop your gun BEFORE they see you. NEVER APPROACH A COP WITH A GUN IN YOUR HAND. EVER. I did once. Learned my lesson. Called them for a prowler outside my window. When they drove up, I opened my front door, standing there in my skivvies with… Read more »

Jim Macklin

Outdoor lighting as typically done in suburbia is all wrong for security. Landscapers and proud homeowners set out flood lights to illuminate their house and buildings. Lights are aimed at the house so the neighbors can see your paint and trim. If you have lights that leave your house in the dark and light up the yard so you can see into the light without being seen because you’re in the shadows you can see and count the number of bad actors and remain in the dark house before you expose yourself. But most houses are wired so that you… Read more »


Correction: “shot himself” !


,UPDATE : The officer who died in his backyard was determined to had shot his own self !

BillyBob Texas

Well, California – good for you. Just be careful. You didn’t say exactly how you confronted them – you sound smart enuff to do it carefully. As I said – just walking out into the night waving a flashlight and a pistol just MIGHT get you more than you want to deal with. Just be THINKING when you go out the door….

Peoples Republic of CA

@Billy Bob Texas… I have heard this so many times and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my cars, mailbox, and even my house one time broken into. And I got to the point where I was tired of living in fear. There is only so much “security” that you can put up, but they can always find a way around it, so I put up security alarms and I’ve confronted at least 4-5 different thieves in the middle of the night, in my driveway, etc. and let me tell you, they are way more afraid of… Read more »

Wild Bill

That is true BBT, gunfighting is a thinking man’s game. If they don’t think things through, then they should not be playing. Get input, form your theory, practice, modify as necessary. Combine your results with situational awareness. Continue to march.

BillyBob Texas

Wild Bill…looks like YALL have all your ducks lined up! Not worried about your positions or actions. My comments really had more in mind for the untrained, unthinking, unknowing homeowner who grabs his pistol and walks out into the open in the middle of the night to see whaaazup? And, in order to protect his kids bicycle by waving his pistol around, a couple of gangbangers – who have NO problem with it – shoot the poor SOB and hi-tail it outta’ there. Either have a plan like Wild Bill…or possibly get tagged by some thugs who don’t care a… Read more »

Wild Bill

@BillyBob Texas, the answer to your questing is YES, yes there I own lots of things that I would risk my life over. We here favor a layered defense consisting of Canine patrols out side the perimeter wire, canine security inside the wire, handy 12ga (author’s note: The wife prefers her AR15 modern sporting rifle because she qualified Expert many years in a row with her M-16), and a few other surprises. So the question becomes, “What level of risk is worth taking to steal Wild Bill’s stuff?” The question for me is, ” Do I call the county Sheriff… Read more »


,thieves everywhere will really be encouraged by your position on this !


@BBT,I don’t think James is correct at all ! You say watch while punks steal your stuff out of your backyard ? police and wait for backup ? Doing that would be a police report only with no turds in custody,hospital,or morgue.

BillyBob Texas

Is there ANYTHING – “THING”, Object, item, property, etc., that you want to risk your LIFE for? Ask a widow IF the lawnmower theft, or the bicycle theft, or even the car theft, or your wallet theft was worth the loss of her husband….

Larceny….call for backup. Sit it out until help arrives……

James is CORRECT !


Don’t get involved in larceny crimes, offer to phone 911, take photo of suspect(s).

Do not follow them.

Just the other day a Deputy Sheriff was shot and killed in his own backyard during robbery at his storage building,
he was in full uniform just finished his work shift and called 911, backup 10 min away.

They found him shot in the backyard, helicopter to hospital and he died en route.

He was going to retire in a few weeks with over 30 years service. So unfortunate.


These are all great points! One thing I would add: It’s a mistake to think that the only thing you can “see” is what you’re looking at directly (i.e. centre-of-the-eyes staring). I had some great teachers who are expert trackers. An incredibly successful tactic I learned from them is to use what some call “owl eyes,” where your gaze covers the entire field of view. This is in part because the anatomy of the human eye is such that closer to the edges of our vision, the eye can pick up motion far better than can the eye’s centre. Granted,… Read more »

BillyBob Texas

Re: Your comments on shooting the bum…..this training scenario that has left an everlasting impression on me: You walk into a 7-11, and two bearded street ‘bums’ are pointing guns at the poor clerk behind the counter, who has his hands up. You decide to be the ‘hero’ and start shooting the ‘bums’, as the clerk is in grave danger of being killed. THAT’s allowed, isn’t it?

OOPS… just shot two DEA agents who were arresting the clerk for selling drugs over the counter…….

You want to be a ‘hero’? Be careful out there !!

Jim Macklin

I was watching the TV Friday and noticed that the Munich police sent four man squads into search for the terrorist[s] in the shopping center. They wear well armed and armored with ballistic helmets and 1/2 inch thick face shields. With four man teams they could look in four directions and handle surprises. Good tactics. I’ve seen the videos of the shooters firing a few shots at a target and then stopping to look around. They are not taking cover, not reloading, they are playing for the audience. Before taking part in a gunfight, scan and determone what threats there… Read more »