Friday, September 4, 2015
Review - New LEO Firearms Training AAR
A number of months ago a friend who is the primary training officer for our community’s police force gave me a call. They were in the process of reworking our town’s reserve officer corps, adding some new fulltime officers and he was interested if I would like to “play”. Take a guess at my answer . . .
So, a mini phone interview began covering everything from my firearms training to my military experience. He liked what I heard – and so did I! Then there’s was a bit of a pause . . .
Officer E: I gotta ask Bill, just how old are you anyway??
There’s a bit of a pause on my side also . . .
ME: mumblemumblemumblemumble . . . 65
Officer E: Damn . . . really?? You don’t look that old!!
So, while my ego was given a bit of a shot, the mandatory retirement age for LEOs in Iowa is 65. Heavy sigh . . . seems I had reached my expiration date! Crap!!!
Officer E: Well, we still can use a hand with the range work and training of the new officers – are you interested in helping us out?
Does a bear crap in the woods? Does the sun set in the west? Is “Star trek 4” the best frickin’ movie ever made?????
So, a few weekends ago I found myself in a large local quarry with Officer E and his other trainer Officer B getting ready to work 6 new members of our local police force through their training course of fire – 800 to 1000 rounds – including the requirement of shooting two consecutive qualification scores on the Iowa ILEA qualification course of fire. It’s a 50 round course of fire with a required 80% to pass. The target is a standard FBI “Q” target and a “hit” is a hole inside the silhouette on the target. The distances used for the final course of fire were 25y, 15y, 7y, 5y and one arm’s length. Also included were combat reloads, tactical reloads and clearing any malfunctions that happened along the way. If you’d like to see the actual course of fire, you can find the document here.
The students included a number of individuals who had been reserve officers in other communities, a former Marine, a security officer from a local nuclear plant and a fellow who hand shot a revolver 20+ years ago. They were required to conduct the training in full gear – duty belt and vest and have a total of 3 magazines on their person.
Day 1 began with a range brief and then working through a predefined set of drills designed to familiarize the new officer with each of the 4 shooting positions. We began close in and then worked our way back. The round count for the “training” portion was approximately 600 rounds with another 200 set aside for qualification rounds. They were required to shoot 4 qualification rounds and pass 2 of them consecutively.
We did catch a couple of breaks. It was a breezy day and it only got in the low to mid 80s. Not bad and since we were fairly deep in a rock quarry, it could have easily turned into an oven. Instead, it was reasonably comfortable.
I continually harp on “fundamentals” – be able to run your gun, be able to clear malfunctions, be able to consistently draw and drive to the threat, have a solid stance, have a firm grip, control your weapon and get the hits. Frankly getting the hits turned out to be the easiest part of the 2 days. The mechanics, the foundational work . . . that is what took the time and required the most focus over the course of two days.
By noon of the first day it was apparent that the new shooter simply needed to be taken aside. So Officer E took him off to our south and spent a number of hours working through the foundational stuff. With the remaining trainees – we simply “buffed, polished and waxed” their skill set. Some moved along faster than others but every one shot the drills, refined their skill set and, with the exception of two trainees – shot their two passing qualification rounds.
So what can we – as civilian shooters – draw from the training of law enforcement officers? A couple things.
Fundamentals matter. The basics, the foundation, the ability to draw, drive, engage, clear, reload – is the difference between life and death in a gunfight, for law enforcement officers as well as you, the civilian who has chosen to carry a defensive firearm.
Hits – good hits – count! “Fast is fine, but accuracy if final!” This particular topic is one of “those” rabbit holes that shooters and trainers love to talk about. But, in under all the discussion, your level of skill should allow you to get quick, accurate and effective hits at will. If you can’t – be honest with yourself and work on it! While a round mid-thigh may well change a shooter’s mind . . . they may well have all the time they need to place a solid shot in the middle of your chest. Work on it!
An officer can be called on to deliver an accurate shot over a broad range of distances. The qualification course of fire covers everything from 25 yards to and arm’s length. What distances are you training at? Can you get solid hits at 25 yards? How are your combat reloads? Can you run your gun? Again – be honest with yourself and work on it.
Finally, we ask our law enforcement officers – men and women – to put their lives on the line each and every day. They deserve our full support. Give it to them. And, should they find that some of your skills as an instructor may prove helpful to their training program – jump in and play! You will help them be able to better defend themselves, you’ll gain some solid friends and it will make you a better shooter.
Thanks for the invite E . . . looking forward to the night shoots!