Probably about 20 years ago the notion that we ought to insist that students scan after a string of fire really took hold. It was easy to teach, cost no money, everyone could do it, it took no time, was something macho-mean-tacticool that even the least competent instructor could demonstrate and teach, and just generally added to the idea that you were learning useful stuff on the range.
It was a good idea.
It was implemented very badly.
(Full disclosure: I was as bad as any other presenter in doing a perfunctory scan after drills on video, though in my defense, I did feel silly, and I didn’t insist on them when teaching in person.)
A lot has been written on this subject — much, but not all, that I agree with. Let’s see if we can bottom line it.
After you shoot, and before you holster (and call 911) or exit the area (and call 911), you should look to see what’s around you. Other BGs, BGs’ friends, witnesses, escape avenues, safe places, loved ones, friends, injuries (other than the guy you shot), other armed people, evidence, unsafe objects or places or situations. All these and more are not just useful, but critical things to observe, register, and act on. Seeing them is rightfully part of the aftermath that you need to manage. And like any part of the aftermath, if you don’t train it, you’ll screw it up. Doubledamnguaranteed.
But a quick scan left and right ain’t gonna do it. You need, and instructors need to teach, that you look for something…something that’s variable. It it the instructor’s responsibility to often create something that needs to be noticed after strings, like a “bad guy”, a “bomb”, an an injured loved one”,etc., and in a more realistic exercise, then acted on. All of these things can be represented by props, and even reasonably realistic ones are cheap to make or acquire. That doesn’t get you all the way to a fully functional and realistically useful scan, and certainly not to an appropriate set of actions based on what you see, but it does teach students to look for something that might really be there, not just quickly and perfunctorily wiggle their heads around.
For the umteenth time: there’s more to shooting than shooting.