During the muzzle direction portion, the shooter moves out with the coach an arms' length behind him. The shooter must point his toes toward the direction of travel and the muzzle in the direction of the target. Initially, this is harder than it sounds. The shooter must maintain a shouldered gun, looking over the optical sight, observing the periphery.
At random intervals, as the training officer calls out, "Threat," or a similar command, the shooter must raise the carbine into the sighting plane and dry fire without stopping. The shooter must then scan and continue.
During the next phase, coaches should watch for muzzle bounce. Muzzle bounce occurs in several ways. The body gives the gun a side-to-side movement when walking with a shouldered gun (and when holding a handgun). There is a less pronounced up-and-down movement from biped walking. These drills are only intended to address the side-to-side movement.
While in motion, shooters can avoid swinging their arms by walking along a straight line, one foot in front of the other. The way to keep the hip aligned is to select a movement objective, preferably the next source of cover, and move to it. The toes should always be pointed at this objective.
When turning, the shooter can execute a pivot that keeps both feet on the ground and quickly face the hips toward the new direction. The pivot motion is mostly on the balls of the feet. Mastery of this movement will spin the turret and the pivot in a single smooth motion.
During the second phase of practice, shooters should seek their respiratory pause; the portion of their breathing between exhalation and inhalation. During respiratory pause, the body briefly settles into its theoretically most accurate phase. This is the best time to press the trigger.
Shooters can induce respiratory pause in a manner that will improve their speed and accuracy. Expert shooters use this skill all the time. Prior to pressing the trigger, shooters should exhale and then press. Eventually, seeking respiratory pause, trigger control and maintaining a steady platform becomes part of the shooting cadence.
The live fire portion of training should be an integration of all these skills. The turret part of the tank should orientate the shoulders to the target, while the butt of the carbine rests in the pocket of the shoulder. The shooting shoulder will be slightly behind the non firing shoulder, complying with the area on the rifle the hands will contact: The non-shooting hand is in front of the magazine while the shooting hand is in the pistol grip.
The shooter should maintain target orientation, where he looks over the sights (optic) and scans. When told to engage, the eyes stay on the target and the optic is brought to the sighting plane. This allows the officer to see a wide field of view at all times.
Finally, there is some debate over the amount of "blading," the diagonal orientation of the upper body of the shooter has with respect to the target. The number of fibers a bullet will contract increases if the bullet comes from an oblique angle as opposed to straight on. While this is viable, 49 percent of officers killed in 2004 while wearing body armor were shot through side openings. Even though vests designed for rapid active shooter deployment have reduced openings, a less-bladed approach is recommended and a vest with adequate coverage, such as Protech Tactical's Trimax, a full coverage vest for active shooters.
The carbine has become the most versatile of all tactical tools. It should be in every patrol car and paramount in every training plan. And, like most tools of the trade, it's all about practice.
Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.