Red Dots are Emphatic Signals
- Duane "Buck" Buckner with Telluric Training explains the benefits of Aimpoint red dot sights being emphatic (rather than subtle) signals.
We don’t see the world the way we think that we do. Our eyes gather information in the form of light and move it towards our Visual Cortex – the part of our brain that processes visual cues. This light travels a myriad of ways to the place in our brains that turn it into useful information but all light isn’t taken equally in this respect – particularly under stress. Emphatic signals are seen much easier than subtle signals that must be sought out. Red lights in traffic are emphatic signals. They command our attention, street signs are less so and we are much more likely to miss them.
Similarly, iron sights are subtle in their presentation. You really have to look for them to see them in a meaningful way. The shooter has to purposefully find and then align them in order to develop an aiming solution. In addition, novice shooters must be taught to “leave” the target in favor of the front sight. This focal sprint takes time to master and even when achieved…it taxes some the shooters ability to sense changes on the target.
A red dot sight is the opposite when used correctly. The “signal” from the red dot is emphatic. It demands the shooter’s awareness without significant cognitive effort. The shooter sees the dot without “trying.” This allows for the shooter’s concentration to be maintained on target where changes may occur.
An accurate aiming solution developed with a red dot (emphatic signal) insinuates itself on the intended target with little direct cognitive effort on the shooters part. Conversely, an accurate aiming solution developed with iron sights or a complex reticle (both subtle signals) requires the shooter’s concentration at the gun.
Emphatic signals feed the brain the information it needs, the way it needs it, under stress.