"There's a correct way to use cover, and we teach them to do it … once we correct any issues then we start shooting while moving with cover in live fire," adds Rod Burnett, FLETC senior firearm instructor.Nothing new on the range
Though incorporating realism into firearms training isn't a new concept, Krupa adds that incorporating research on how the human body reacts physiologically under stress during a deadly force confrontation is. As the world evolves, so should an officer's training. "We need to prepare our officers mentally, not physically, on how to handle deadly force confrontations," he says. He adds that they need to understand what happens when the body starts to experience stress-induced symptoms such as vasoconstriction, tachypsychia, an adrenaline dump and auditory exclusion.
A large portion of ArmorGroup ITI's students are armed forces or government agency personnel. The group stages its scenarios based on the situations students might realistically encounter. Kurata understands that the same principles apply to law enforcement. Similarly, an officer will experience a traditional active shooter situation versus a possible takeover of a school by an organized group. The company also teaches officers how to look for key behaviors that indicate an impending violent attack, such as voice patterns or body positioning. "Realism is the key to our training, as it helps ensure the future safety of our students," he says.
Interactive education may seem like force-on-force training, but Peters points out that the NRA prefers live firearm instruction. This can expose weaknesses in training. Peters advises that "If the trainees don't react as expected, or react as trained, then you have to take a look at how the training is structured and change the training in order to retrieve the response intended." He adds that though "the NRA recognizes that [force-on-force is] an invaluable training, [the organization] sticks with live firearms."Train the trainer
Patrol officers and firearm instructors can both benefit from realistic firearm training
"In live fire, high-speed pneumatic-turning targets allow large groups of trainees to learn how to react in the time frame of an actual fight," he notes, "But few agencies are allowed to use realistic photo targets. So subconsciously we are training our officers to draw and fire within realistic time frames but at unrealistic targets."
The FLETC hosts a number of train-the-trainer-type programs. The "Instructor Program" classes include firearms, reactive shooting, rifle, subgun, non-lethal and more.
By bringing the education home, the firearms instructor can make training more effective by tweaking it to be more relative to the individual jurisdiction. "Look at past incidents and trends," recommends Peters, "then structure the training according to that to enhance the probability of officers winning the gunfight."
Savage agrees that adapting broad training based on an agency's officer's strengths and weaknesses is useful. Instructors should "Show the ... trends that occur in training [and] present the information in such a way that those new practices are proven to show success by the student."
Combining that strategy with studies to explain how the body reacts under stress, allowed firearms instructors to understand the "how" and "why."
One area of firearms training that has evolved for the better is the integration of defensive tactics and firearms, says Kurata. Defensive tactics instructors used to be taught separate techniques from firearms instructors. "The two areas are coming together as the reality of the fight may be that it starts out a pushing contest but could quickly become a gun grab or a contact weapon situation," he says. Responding to this, the ArmorGroup ITI uses role playing or force-on-force scenarios in the majority of its advanced courses. They also incorporate vehicles, demonstrating how to fight from inside and around the vehicle with a firearm.Safety