What competitive shooters do bears only a slight resemblance to what law enforcement officers do. However, officers can learn a few things from the way competitive pistol shooters train.
Before beginning their shooting stages, competitive shooters must "enter the zone." They have to reach the peak of their concentration level and create a shooting cadence. They shoot for accuracy, increasing the cadence as they go.
Law enforcement officers do not have the luxury of being able to "enter the zone" before pulling the trigger, but can create a routine of calming techniques during practice.
Creating a comfort zone must be deliberate. For example, when practicing, an officer should wear his favorite pair of jeans and a full duty belt to create an association of play with work. For other occupations this association could be considered unhealthy. For police work, it works.
Perceptions are powerful. The interpretation of perceptions drive behavior. Training is a form of behavior modification. Altering some of the perceptions while training will improve an officer's response in high-risk situations. These improvements result in faster and more accurate shooting when officers really need it.
Shoot smaller targets
Most firearms training programs inadvertently create a mindset. If officers train to qualification, some officers will achieve the lowest standard of that level. If an agency requires officers to score 48 center mass hits on a B27 target, the skill level of the officers will plateau. The best shooters in the agency will still be measured against their ability to shoot center mass hits on a B27 target. If the standard stays the same but the means to achieve that standard is harder, the agency competency will improve. The logic behind using smaller targets is simple: make training harder so qualification is easier.
Take standard Milpark targets, or any torso shaped cardboard target, and reduce the size by 25 percent. For a Milpark target, cut 2.5 inches from each side and 2 inches from the forehead. Use this 75-percent Milpark at shooting distances greater then 7 yards. For distances within 7 yards, use standard M-16A1 25 meter sighter targets, which are about 3 inches by 1.5 inches.
What does one do with the smaller targets? First, begin with the agency's standard qualification. Most states have a 30- to 48-round requirement with a minimum number of hits and a minimum score. Begin with the 75-percent Milpark targets and fire a qualification. Move to the smaller targets and fire another qualification. After, lay the targets prone. Last, blade the targets at a 45-degree angle.
Even if an officer realizes and vocalizes that the purpose of the smaller targets is to "mess with the mind," the paradigm destruction is complete. When the officer returns to the full-size targets, they appear (and are) huge.
Reduce perceived friction
On the range, most shooters will find it is easier to shoot metal targets with 6-inch plates then targets with 6-inch cutouts, although the impact zone has the same dimensions. This is not because of any optical illusion. This is from the perceived friction of nearby non-targets.
Traffic engineers study the concept of traffic friction. The outcome of speed friction, where a single traffic lane is slowed by an event, is the traffic wave or pinch phenomenon. Traffic "pinches" at a certain point, causing a "wave" of pinching that radiates from that point, within the traffic lane. The incident or traffic accident could be nonexistent or cleared long before the wave subsides.
If a wave is created in one lane, this slow traffic creates a "friction" that intimidates the traffic speeds of other lanes. After all, few drivers are willing to travel 70 mph next to a line of occupied vehicles that are stopped. This friction can be transmitted to lanes traveling in an opposite direction, depending on the engineering of the center divider. On a three-lane highway, if one lane slows down, all other lanes slow down.