Progressive firearms training

Firearms training is an ongoing, ever-changing aspect of a police officer’s duties. Case law, current events and new developments in weaponry and training aids will always have an impact on how we train. Regardless of these factors, a simple progression...


Firearms training is an ongoing, ever-changing aspect of a police officer’s duties. Case law, current events and new developments in weaponry and training aids will always have an impact on how we train. Regardless of these factors, a simple progression in how we train these skills must be applied.

Consider the goal of our firearms training. We are training them to win a “fight.” Knowing that, we can start training them like a fighter trains. This is the basis of progressive firearms training. You would never see a boxer take a single boxing class and then jump in the ring against Mike Tyson. No, that fighter learns the techniques first, then he shadow boxes, strikes a heavy bag and moves on to sparring. All of this is done in preparation for a fight. Fighting with a gun is no different and should follow a similar progression.

In the basic academy, officers learn firearms safety, gun handling and marksmanship fundamentals. As most academies only allow 40 hours for firearms training, there is little time to cover more than that. They come to the department with a good basic start, but are not really trained for a gunfight.

Once they graduate the academy and start working the street, we must have a system in place that will prepare them to win a deadly encounter. That progressive program should include the following:

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