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The Quiet Eye in Action

eric nielsen

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Just wanted to recommend this as a good read and very relevant to shooting sports (and other sports).

My first plan was to buy it, read quickly, and send off to Brian, as I think he'd like it a lot (if he hasn't read it). However, as most of my time is still taken up with drug regimen reviews, class presentations, etc this will take me forever to read; maybe someone else can be that nice. Was able to buy it used on Amazon for $18, it retails much much higher.

It's not that difficult a read, I think I wouldn't have struggled with it prior to getting all educated... There was a show on this topic:

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1206/video/watchonline.htm - click Play Video and select a viewer option.

post-354-0-40377200-1330802874_thumb.jpg post-354-0-02404000-1330802887_thumb.jpg post-354-0-39539300-1330802901_thumb.jpg

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I'll try to post some page scans this weekend, it's a fascinating read. I particularly like finding out rigorously proven facts that go completely against the expectations of researchers. Surprises. Happens in medicine all the time, now I'm reading it in terms of perception & performance.

What set me to looking for this topic was an offhand remark by Mike Voigt on a TV episode of 3-Gun Nation.

Edited by eric nielsen
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Just something quick about how you want to pause on each target, we're looking for a quiet eye; that lets you get your hits. Can't remember the words enough to put up quotes. A show where he's mowing steel out in the bushes; Maggie was too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some scans. All rights are owned by the author, Dr. Vickers. The most interesting parts for me were:

--The area of sharp vision is 2-3 degrees, about the width of your thumb held at arm's lenghth

--You think you're seeing more than this clearly but it is your memories from previous focusings, put together in your brain

--You really can't have a conscious decision thought about something you don't see clearly (only subconscious perception)

--You're brain is not presenting a lot of information to you (everything that happens as your eyes move)

--The parts about Mirror Cells and the way we learn tasks by watching (and then doing)

vision1.pdf vision2.pdf

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I actually had the Amazon page for this book open in another tab when I came across this thread. (I've since ordered my copy.)

I thought this excerpt would amuse folks here:

The ability to locate a target with the gaze and perform an aiming movement that places an object consistently on or near that target may be uniquely human. This is the thesis of William Calvin (1983), who states that humans throughout time have exhibited a fascination with targeting that is not found to the same degree in primates. Although primates may display some rudimentary targeting abilities—for example, they use rocks to open nuts or other sources of food—they never spend countless hours throwing at a far target just for the fun of it. Aiming at targets is a pursuit of many humans around the world, young and old, male and female, high and low skilled. Children will throw rocks at targets for hours, and adults continue to engage in targeting activities throughout their lifetime. Indeed, many adults make this their profession, as is the case with professional athletes in basketball, golf, ice hockey, and soccer, to name but a few sports where hitting targets with a high degree of accuracy is important.

Calvin states that aiming to hit targets led to the development of the bigger human brain. He explains that our ancestors first discovered how to hit food targets with rocks and passed this knowledge down from generation to generation. A hunter throwing at a distance is a lot safer than one close in, so special targeting implements were developed. Targeting implements evolved from those held in the hand (stones, knives), to those thrown (spears), to those propelled over great distances using bows and arrows, to rifles and missiles. A small human can fell a very large animal if the right target is hit (the heart or another vital organ) with the right implement.

As advances in targeting occurred, Calvin states that the temporal and frontal lobes developed to levels not seen in primates or other species. Of course, modern humans do not have to hunt for food, so targeting in this sense is no longer required. Instead, we have developed complex sport and computer games that stimulate and challenge the human mind to be accurate and consistent.

Humans have evolved all manner of targeting pursuits that require the placing of objects in or on specific locations, most often under difficult conditions. As mentioned, sport is one of the main arenas where this occurs. Think of the targets in golf, basketball, darts, bowling, sky diving, ski racing, kayaking through gates, hitting a receiver, playing the piano, and video games. These activities all contain targets of some kind. It often takes many years of practice to be good at a targeting activity. Furthermore, in order for a targeting skill to find a place in a sport, it has to be challenging for most humans to perform. The best field shooters in basketball hit only 50% of their field shots (or chance), the best shooters in ice hockey or soccer rarely score more than once each game, and the best golfers still take 1.8 putts each hole.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went ahead and bought the book. I haven't finished reading it yet, but it does seem to support some folk wisdom from our sport while contradicting other parts. None of the studies are specific to practical shooting, but many support the idea that you should fix your gaze on your target and then drive the gun to the target -- but it doesn't look like skilled shooters actual focus on their front sight. Rather, they put their front sight in the very narrow cone of high-def vision between their eye and the target.

The last part of the book, about decision training, also has some good points about what kind of training seems to work well in the short term but ends up backfiring in the long term.

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