Firing from cover

Tactical shooting is like musical chairs; where one is when the music stops is important. For the officer on patrol, maintaining a mindset of identifying and using cover is prudent conduct. When the music stops, it is best to be behind something...


Tactical shooting is like musical chairs; where one is when the music stops is important. For the officer on patrol, maintaining a mindset of identifying and using cover is prudent conduct. When the music stops, it is best to be behind something that stops bullets. One should be either moving towards cover or planning the next source of cover.

Barricaded shooting is using field expedient cover to provide an advantageous shooting position. Although this discussion will be limited to firing a handgun from a barricade, the principles can be applied to stone throwing all the way to firing crew-served weapons.

Shooting from a barricade should rank high on the list of tasks to master in firearms training. For firearms encounters that go beyond pointing the firearm, barricaded shooting education is right behind gun fighting within the distance of two arm lengths in low visibility. Every agency should require mastery of close quarters shooting, use of cover, and fighting on the ground.

If a group of combat shooting instructors gather in a room, a few minor standing barricaded shooting points would be target for debate. One instructor might advocate placing the foot on the shooting side or outside (the side of the barricade were one points the gun).This position definitely has its advantages. The officer can lean in and out, bending at the knees. This practice reduces the amount the officer bends at the waist and results in a stable platform with less binding at the gun belt.

Other schools advocate placing the non-shooting side foot forward, reducing the chance of exposure of the outside leg. The logic behind this method is that the bend at the waist is only a couple of degrees and the likelihood of exposing the outside leg is decreased.

Another method is to use the same shooting stance that one normally uses for non-barricade practice. That is, if the shooter generally uses a modified Weaver stance, he should use the same method for barricade shooting. Obviously, this concurs with the KISS principal (Keep It Simple Stupid). This also makes kneeling and going prone easier.

For shooting on the support (non-dominant hand) side, the debate becomes more complicated. One method is to shoot with the support hand. The shooter mirrors what he does on the dominant side. The advantage is minimized exposure. However, few have practiced enough to have the same proficiency in both support and dominant hand.

Another method is to shoot dominant-hand on the support side, but sight with the less dominant eye. This compromise reduces exposure but can he have a confusing sight picture. It logically makes sense: many experts recommend shooting with both eyes open under stress.

Other approaches include a hybrid of switching hands and using the dominant hand while placing the support hand on the chest while leaning out.

Rather than sell one particular method over another, Law Enforcement Technology will provide some specific operational rules for shooting from a barricade.

Rule 1: Train as you fight; Fight how you train

This particular rule is not new or original. It is appropriate for any type of perishable skills training. It comes from the common knowledge that any person under the extreme stress of combat will revert to their training. One of the most regrettable in the history of the badge is the Newhall Incident, where four California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers were massacred by a couple of well-armed felons. It was routine for officers training on the range to put their expended brass in the pocket before reloading. No one can fault the slain Newhall officer who was found with expended brass in his pocket at the scene. We can only speculate that he was responding as he did in practice.

The largest percentage of officer involved shootings occurs after the sun goes down. Agencies should quit practicing under ideal conditions.

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