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.


Why?
Many potentially lethal assaults occur as the officer is searching and/or attempting to handcuff the subject. This sudden shift to a deadly force situation can be exceptionally dangerous if the officer has not been conditioned with the proper response techniques. Glaring examples of insufficient training and conditioning would be the officer failing to create distance if the chance arises, or attempting to draw his firearm with his handcuffs still in his hand.

How?
The use of drag dummies, CPR dummies, and turning targets are all effective here. The dummies provide realism and a platform for practicing control techniques, while the turning targets provide the sudden visual indicator that the situation has escalated.

4. Base training on the fact that most officers are killed at short distances

Why?
The statistics presented earlier clearly establish where most officer fatalities occur. However, it is important to note that this element does not say Teach your officers how to shoot at close distances. It says to base your training on the fact that most fatalities occur up close. It's like the guy who tells his doctor that he broke his leg in 2 places and the doctor says So, don't go to those places! If most fatalities occur at close distances, we should all be aware of when it is appropriate to be farther away.

How?
In addition to the close-quarter combat techniques discussed in elements 1-3 above, a moving target that charges straight at the officer can be extremely effective at illustrating the importance of creating distance and demonstrating the best ways to move quickly and effectively in various situations.

5. Base training on the fact that officers will have limited fine and complex motor control

Why?
We should all be aware of the various physiological responses our bodies undergo during a combat situation. Manual dexterity is the one we are focusing on here. As blood flows away from our extremities and towards our core, we lose fine and complex motor control in our fingers and hands. Unfortunately, elements of good marksmanship like trigger control can be the first to go. Now before a panic ensues, we believe that teaching basic marksmanship skills (like proper trigger manipulation) is absolutely vital and should not be abandoned! However, make room in your training for the fact that fine and complex motor control will be decreased, and that the officer can still make good hits despite this.

How?
The best way to demonstrate the effects of stress to your officers is to immerse them in it. Make them run, get their heart pumping and their adrenaline flowing, then send them into an interactive scenario with dye marking rounds and role-players shooting back at them. The breakdowns in technique will be startling.

6. Integrate two-person contact and cover teams involved in realistic scenarios

Why?
Just because one of your officers knows how to safely and effectively engage multiple threats, reload efficiently, and move from one piece of cover to another doesn’t mean he knows how to do those things with 2 or 3 other officers running around him trying to do the same thing at the same time. Where is my muzzle? Where is my partner? Where is my partner's muzzle? Proper tactical communication is absolutely critical!

How?
Have 2 and 3 man teams go through tactical scenarios together. Use portable cardboard and steel targets in a variety of locations and configurations. Have the teams shoot side by side so their partner's brass is bouncing off the bill of their cap or down their shirt collar. Condition them to be profoundly muzzle conscious, and make them realize the importance of communication when it comes to moving, reloading, and staying in the fight.

7. Emphasize the survival mindset and the will to win in all skills training

Why?
Quite often, what you bring to the fight will dictate the outcome of the fight. Having a winning mindset and a positive attitude will enhance the officer's odds of survival. While our work is dangerous, we have a high risk of being a victim off the street rather than on the street, and at times the biggest threat we face is the one in the mirror. Particularly with younger officers, movies and television have shaped much of what they perceive as the realities of a gunfight. For example, the perp that flies back 15 feet and crashes into a pile of trash cans after being hit with a single handgun round. Clint Smith said if you get into a fist fight you might get punched, if you get in to a knife fight you might get cut, and if you get in to a gunfight you might get shot. It doesn't mean the fight is over, it just means you may have to finish the fight a little differently than you had originally planned.

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