12 Elements of Firearms Training

With everything now required from our already strained training resources, it has become increasingly difficult to even establish what the right questions are, let alone find the right answers.

It can easily be argued that the job of a law enforcement firearms instructor is more difficult today than ever before. With everything now required from our already strained training resources, it has become increasingly difficult to even establish what the right questions are, let alone find the right answers. To help build a solid foundation and establish some basic criteria for what a law enforcement training program should include International Training, Inc. has adopted the 12 critical elements outlined below.

The information gathered for this analysis was obtained from several surveys conducted by the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) and the FBI. The FBI has collected data on officers killed and assaulted since 1945, and California POST started collecting such data in 1980. The surveys cited in this study encompass those conducted by the FBI from 1995 through 2004. After summarizing these studies, the following guidelines were drawn for police firearms training.

FBI Analysis of Officers Feloniously Killed from 1995-200

545 total officers feloniously killed with firearms

Broken down into two category distances: under seven yards and over seven yards.

Under Seven Yards:

  • 0-5 feet, 268 officers killed, 49% of total
  • 6-10 feet, 107 officers killed, 20% of total
  • 11-20 feet, 65 officers killed, 12% of total

Over Seven Yards:

  • 21-50 feet, 47 officers killed, 8% of total
  • over 50 feet, 41 officers killed, 7% of total
  • distance not reported, 17 officers killed, 3% of total

1. Prepare officers for immediate, spontaneous, lethal attacks

Based on the above statistics, one can see that close quarter tactics and techniques are a must for officer survival. Personal communication with unknown individuals is a big part of our officers' daily routine, and they have to be close enough to them to do it effectively. The difficulty arises when these unknown individuals turn out to be bad guys. When this happens, a mastery of drawing and firing from various close quarter positions, weapon retention, physical strikes, and other close-quarter combat skills are obviously critical.

To satisfy the close distance issue, a basic cardboard target holder that is sturdy enough to withstand muzzle blast, palm strikes, and an occasional flying ticket book should serve you well. As far as sudden and spontaneous goes, a high-speed turning target system that suddenly presents a threat just when the officer glances away can add a tremendous amount of stress to the situation.

2. Prepare officers for assaults by multiple threats and uninvolved subjects

Statistics tell us there is about a 60% chance that an assault will involve more than one attacker. At the same time, we need to be aware of uninvolved, innocent bystanders as well. In many domestic abuse calls, the spouse or other family members can start out as uninvolved, but then join in against the officer if a conflict ensues. Learning to break the tunnel vision phenomenon and engage multiple threats with total awareness of uninvolved subjects justifies shoot / no-shoot training, increases survivability, and decreases liability issues.

The most obvious approach here is lots of targets. Tall ones, short ones, some closer, some farther away, some clustered in a group, and some off by themselves. Another particularly effective technique also employs turning targets, but they have to be individually controlled. As your officer is engaging targets 1 and 2 as they edge and face right in front of him, try facing target 6 and see if he notices. Better yet, use a 180 degree turning target that can show you a bad guy or a good guy in the same place at any given time.

3. Integrate the sudden transition to firearms from arrest and control techniques, including searching and handcuffing

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