Train to reload...reload to train

      In a recent conversation with a range master from a local agency, I asked what was new with their 2010 firearms training. While I would not have been surprised to find out the budget had been pared down a little, it was painful to hear that...


   Several other reloading presses are also available. Dillon Precision's automated presses can load a lot of bullets in a short time. I have used them and can attest to their high volume reliability.

   Hornady doesn't just make bullets. The company demonstrated its prototype press at SHOT 2010 for me (but wouldn't let me take it home with me). It fed everything automatically and kicked out cartridges like an action shooter.

What to do with the reloads

   If I were keeping myself in training on a limited budget, I would prioritize the type of training based on statistics and training needs. That is, officers should prepare for the most likely armed encounter and assess what skills need the most attention.

   A couple of simple drills will work. The simple draw/shoot/failure drill requires the partner who shared the cost of your equipment. This drill trains the shooter to respond smoothly with three different skills: Clearing strike, withdrawal while engaging and target assessment. This training responds to the most statistically likely engagement scenario, which is an armed encounter within touching distance or after a scuffle.

   Stand at contact distance from a torso target wearing your duty rig and full magazines. When your training partner yells "threat," thrust the non-firing hand in a simulated strike (throat, junction of mouth and nose, etc.) with an abrupt command ("get down," "drop it"). The non-firing hand meets the draw already in motion. Punch the gun out while stepping back. Fire two to the torso area. If the training partner yells "failure," fire on the face until the training partner announces the target is neutralized.

   After the command of cease fire, the shooter must "check their six" or sweep his or her front and rear prior to holstering and make an appropriate decision to keep the firearm stoked with bullets. An appropriate decision could be a speed, tactical or (ahem…) emergency reload. Repeat this drill several times to cause the shooter to reload.

   Proficiency is much more important than speed here. Perform these tasks smoothly and a healthy jolt of fight or flight will make the officer much faster when speed counts.

El Presidente

   The second drill encourages trigger control through habituation (muscle memory). It is commonly called El Presidente, developed by Col. Jeff Cooper. The best way to utilize this drill is with a stopwatch and a partner who agrees that the loser buys coffee or lunch.

   Three targets are placed one meter apart and 10 meters away from the shooter. The shooter begins facing away from the targets with a holstered gun and a reload. On the command to fire, the shooter spins and puts center mass hits in each, reloads and fires two more per target. The time stops when each target has four decisive holes.

   The training benefit of this drill is not just the reload at the end of the shot string. If the officer has been training with fewer bullets over the calendar year, trigger feel and control is the first skill to deteriorate. Shooters with good trigger control tend to shoot better shots in less time. For the El Presidente, only good hits win the contest.

   Reloading your own cartridges and using those reloads to maintain training standards can save money. Officers should continue to practice, dry fire and put as many practice rounds downrange as possible, whenever possible.

   Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches at Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif.

A few rules:

  1. Use eye protection at all times.
  2. Use established loads from reputable sources. Most powder and bullet manufacturers publish load data.
  3. Reloading is for practice only in equipment that meets established standards.
  4. Any firearm use is inherently risky. One assumes that risk when reloading and shooting.
  5. Remanufactured ammunition can void some warranties. Be familiar with these limitations.
  6. Reloading is for practice only. Reloaded bullets are for paper targets only.
  7. Reloading cannot be done while engaged in any other activity or while impaired.
  8. Allow adequate time to get everything right. Do not reload under pressure.
For more information on these companies, circle the corresponding number below on the Reader Service Card:
COMPANY READER SERVICE NO.
Lee Precision Inc. 86
Sierra Bullet Co. 87
Dillon Precision 88
Hornady 89
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