If you have been reading my previous columns, you know how I feel about making sure you have a good grasp of the fundamentals of handgun shooting before you try to move on to other firearms training. Now it seems appropriate to move on to other techniques and skills that will be handy, if not downright essential, to your survival on the street. The following list does not exhaust all the possibilities. However, it will give you some idea of the wide variety of things that need to be addressed in any comprehensive training program. I have touched on some of these in prior columns, so I am only giving an overview of each one here. If you are responsible for training, these should be on your "To Do" list. If you are an individual officer, these are areas that I highly recommend you spend some time and effort with as "self-directed study." They are not, by the way, listed in any particular priority.
Movement and Shooting
One of the most common complaints about the usual range environment is that it is a static, two-dimensional environment and the street is a dynamic three-dimensional world. That is absolutely correct. Movement will be involved in most shooting situations, even if it is only someone ducking for cover as an involuntary reaction. Any movement will decrease your hit potential on your target to some degree. Some types of movement are worse than others. You can be moving, or your opponent can be moving, or you both can be moving. Speed is a factor. Direction is a factor. Even staying more or less in one spot, but having to deal with you or your opponent going to the ground can be a factor. Then there can be vertical movement, such as on stairs or hillsides. In other words, there is enough to work on in just this segment alone to keep folks busy for a good long while. You need to get good at it because movement can mean survival for the person who masters the skills.
Low Light Shooting Tactics and Techniques
Just think about how much time we spend in dark places, and not just on the night shifts. Being able to shoot effectively in poor lighting conditions is more than just knowing a flashlight technique or two, or having night sights on your gun. You need to understand the nature of light, how your eyes function and how to make the most of any low light environment. You need to know the pros and cons of night sights, flashlights and flashlight techniques, laser sights, and the use of ambient lighting. Just as a small example, do you know what effect the muzzle flash of your ammunition will have on your night vision? Or how about your super-duper one gazillion lumens flashlight when it reflects back at you off of a glossy surface? Frankly, it's more about understanding the nature of light and how your eyes react than it is about shooting. And, as many of you know, just finding a place to practice low light tactics and shooting can be a real stumbling block. Our potential opponents are likely to spend a lot of time in dark places, but we need to "own" the dark, when it comes to prevailing in a gunfight.
Shooting from Positions of Disadvantage
Some people call them "Wounded Officer" or "Downed Officer" techniques, but this covers a lot of different situations. One-handed shooting is sometimes derided as being highly unlikely. Not so! In fact, it's quite common. You may be wounded, or grasping something, or carrying something. If you are wounded in the gun hand or arm, you need to be able to transition to your opposite side. And you need to be able to make the gun function one-handed, as in drawing, reloading and malfunction clearing. You may have to shoot from the ground, as in on your side, stomach or your back. Or even in tight spaces. And. if you work somewhere that has ice and snow, or rain and mud, when was the last time you tried to move quickly and shoot well on a slippery surface? It takes awareness and practice, or you'll find yourself working from a "position of disadvantage."