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I say, “Hey, if you are about to do an entry, you should visualize ‘if/then,’ meaning if this happens, then I will do this.”

eJournal: How can you reliably plan a tactical engagement, not knowing, for example, if a hallway turns left or right?

Seeklander: You CAN visualize, if my partner breaks left, then I’m going right. If he goes right, then I break left, and you can visualize and plan for that, or think, if he goes down, then I can return fire, I can accomplish this or that or whatever.

eJournal: How detailed or specific are your mind pictures?

Seeklander: Very specific, like what I feel on the gun when I am gripping it. I am seeing the sights. For competition, I will break a stage down into multiple components. A stage may call for 30 rounds, so I don’t want to try to memorize all of those. I’ll think of one component as where I run to this wall and shoot these two pieces of steel and this target, then catch the swinger as it comes out. I memorize that, like a phone number where you can remember three digits, then three, then four digits very easily compared to just a series of digits. I break a match stage down to segments and every detail gets visualized.

eJournal: When you were doing police work, did you employ the same mental strategizing?

Seeklander: I did. I wrote about this example in my book.

I was working for an F.B.I. taskforce and they hit a guy who had a large amount of dope and a bunch of cash. This guy was known to be armed and he was known to drive a big dually pick up truck. We knew he would run rather than go to jail, so we had planned a multi-vehicle take down. We were going to block his vehicle in, and I had the lead in front of the cars because I was in an SUV. My job was to lead the block in and then deploy a shotgun and let him know that if he started ramming cars, he was going to get shot. It was complex, because I had to have the shotgun in a place where I could get to it very quickly and I had to draw it from a hidden place and I had to get the car in park so it couldn’t roll away. I had all these things I had to accomplish before I even got to taking the safety off the shotgun and pumping the action. So I was rehearsing and visualizing what I had to do. I remember when it went down I thought, “I have already done this.” It went that smoothly.

eJournal: Do you think it was easier because you’d practiced visualizing and memorizing a critical sequence of actions all the time for matches?

Seeklander: Sure! I was already in practice. When I do my drills for competition with my students, even though we are not shooting a match, I have them actively visualize the drill. Let’s say I set up a complicated drill where they have to turn and shoot eight shots and reload and shoot eight more in a weird pattern. I have my students visualize that because it allows them practice visualization and memorization so they get better at doing it at a match.