Beyond the Basics

At the very least, you won't hear anyone say: 'I never thought of that!'

Making Effective Use of Cover

Again, this is more than shooting around a barricade. You need to know how to select cover, move to cover and use it to your best advantage. There are times to be close to the cover, and times to stay back away from it. And, is it cover? Most police agencies spend time evaluating how the ammunition they select for duty use reacts to various types of intervening materials. Clothing, window glass, sheet metal, etc. are usually used for penetration tests. But, what about the bullets coming your way? For example, your 9mm 124 grain +P round should work more or less as tested. But, the bad guy will probably be using some el-cheapo full metal jacket (aka: ball) ammunition that will penetrate a lot more than what you are using. Will your cover stop it? And then there's concealment. A lot of folks know the difference between cover and concealment, but forget that concealment is only truly effective if the other guy doesn't know you're there. If he saw you duck behind a flimsy hollow core door, and knows that you are still there, the door is neither cover nor effective concealment. Whatever your surroundings, you need to have a good handle on how to use your environment as your ally.

Close Quarters Battle (CQB) Techniques

Sometimes trying to beat the other guy to the draw isn't the best plan. You need to spend time on alternatives. You also need to practice shooting at point blank distances. Or not shooting at all, if other control or diversion techniques are appropriate. Gun retention and disarming training can fit into this category, or stand alone, depending on how you study it. But I run into officers all the time who really aren't confident about applying what they have been taught, and don't get the refresher training they feel they need. Officers need to be comfortable with CQB techniques, because when they need them, it's going to be an up close and personal encounter. It may well be an encounter that the other person is better prepared for, because he lives in a world where he is often "man-handling" somebody else. And he doesn't have a review board or internal affairs looking over his shoulder. He just wants to hurt you any way he can.

Finally, let's be realistic. All this stuff (and it's only a partial list, to be sure) takes time and money to practice. No agency ever has enough time or money. Budgets are tight, and getting tighter. Ammunition is scarce in some areas and getting more expensive every time you buy it. Small departments get hit the hardest, but everyone has a gap between what they want to do and what they can afford to do. Certainly, live fire training is essential for some of these skills. But don't overlook opportunities to practice, safely, with dry fire techniques. CQB and gun retention techniques can be practiced with disabled or dummy guns. (NEVER use live guns, even if they are absolutely, positively unloaded! That's just a tragedy waiting to happen.) Some of the other techniques can be discussed and reviewed in a classroom setting, pending live range time. I talk to officers about some of these things and their reaction often is: "I never thought of that!" Well, thinking, for the most part, is not expensive. Going over concepts and techniques in roll call training or the classroom at least makes officers aware of the concepts. It gives them a chance to anticipate possible scenarios they could encounter on the street. Even though there is no substitute for "going live," discussing the issues, reviewing the techniques and planting them into the individual's conscious memory can at least give them something to work with when things go bad. For those who are willing and able to do some individual skill building ("off the clock," so to speak), knowing what to work on can make their training more interesting, more relevant and more effective. One piece of information could make the difference. At the very least, you won't hear anyone say: "I never thought of that!"

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