Thursday, October 24, 2019

Training Course Review - Basic Patrol Rifle and Shotgun Instructor - POST Certified

On October 19th and 20th of this year Armed Missouri and NAPSI hosted Bill Regina of “Specialist Research and Training Group”.  Bill taught a two day POST Certified  “Basic Patrol Rifle Instructor Course” and a “Basic Patrol / LE Shotgun Instructor Course”.  Each course ran approximately 8 hours and was a mixture of some classroom but primarily range work.

A quick definition – POST

“Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST): In some states, the POST provides peace officers with the training and certification mandated by a state, including the authority to carry firearms, concealed or otherwise, subject to the written firearms policy created by the agency employing the peace officer.”

In this case it was the Missouri Post Program that had reviewed and approved this course for “Approved Provider” training credit and an appropriate Post Control Number was assigned to the course work. 

What that means is that a Peace Officer could take this coursework and be granted CE credit towards any Missouri state requirements for officers within their state.  It could also be granted in other stated dependent upon the individual state’s POST program.

However – for me as an instructor – it helped define what content should be in a Basic Patrol Rifle and a Basic Patrol Shotgun course.  It would then be up to me to develop and test the coursework and finally submit my coursework to my state’s POST Program for acceptance within my state.  This was not a . . . “teach this, it’s “certified” . . . kind of course.

This was also not a “shooting” course.  There was significant range time, but it was all focused on the “what to teach” in a course and NOT the actual teaching of the skill set.  It was assumed going into the course that you could “run the gun”, that you were already a proficient instructor and that your goal was to broaden your course offerings.  And that was indeed one of the purposes of myself and other NAPSI instructors in taking the coursework.  It is our intent down the road to offer coursework for both the carbine and the shotgun.  This seemed to be a solid place to start evaluating the content of that course work.

Bill Regina is the founder of the SRT Group , a retired law enforcement officer and has conducted training for military, contractors and law enforcement since 1997.  I found him to be direct, focused, very informative and profoundly competent in his instruction and on the range.  He went well beyond the “do it my way because experience!!!” and did deep dives on the “why” of things.  He was more than willing to respond to any question.  Much of the shotgun work was new to me and he took no issue with explaining things to me and helping me become much more proficient with that firearm.  

He also didn’t hesitate in his evaluation of our performance.  From tweaking our grips, adjusting our foot and explaining various reloads and malfunction clearing techniques – he kept things focused and moving.

Bottom line – good instructor!  Go, take things from him . . . you will learn a ton.

Basic Patrol Rifle

I wrote a post quite some time ago about my patrol rifle, you will find it here.  It is the rifle I depend on to defend myself and my family.  For the officer who rolls out of his car to engage a bad guy, the meaning is the same . . . it is used to defend himself, his fellow officers and civilians in the area.  The focus is different.  It’s not for plinking but for self-defense.  And that was where our energy was spent both in the classroom and on the range.

Our classroom period began with a medical brief (who does what, who has specific skills, the assignment of a primary and secondary responder, our location, info sheet should calls need to be made, location of medical kits) and a range safety brief.  The safety brief was repeated each day at the beginning on the range work and it was conducted on the range.

We also covered what is typically included on a patrol rifle – the rifle, spare magazines, sights (a red dot, irons, both), sling and flashlight.  

Next was a discussion of the basic rifle zero.  The standard taught in the course was a 50/200 yard zero.  This zero was also verified on the range at the 50 yard point but it was also evaluated at various distances much shorter than 50 yards – 5 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards, 25 yards . . . all with the idea of knowing where your bullet is going to go regardless of the distance you are shooting from.  It also acknowledges that most of the “work” done by a patrol rifle will typically be closer than 50 yards.

Keep in mind also that all of this was taught from the POV of . . . “This is what you should be teaching new officers and why it is important that they understand it.”

Once the zeroing was completed, we moved on to basic marksmanship where our position, the way we held and mounted the rifle, foot position and body position were evaluated.  Suggestions were made based upon the “why” of the situation.  Again, the view was how to instruct new officers and how to evaluate them during their shooting drills.

Various drills were shot, typically multiple rounds with Bill evaluating us and tweaking as needed.  

Reloads were next with discussions of where spare magazines are kept, what their orientation was in the mag holder – and why – and how to do a clean reload.  Discussions were also held about the difference between a forced or emergency reload and a “speed” (tactical) reload to top off the rifle.

Next up were malfunction drills.  Errors were introduced and methods were evaluated to clear them.  From the simple failure to fire to double feeds.  The case over the bolt was demonstrated but we did not induce them into our rifles.  Along with malfunctions were transitions.  You run dry, your rifle breaks, the threat is still a threat and you need to transition to you handgun quickly and smoothly.  A number of drills covered this particular topic.

Use of cover was shown as well as movement to cover, moving to cover for a reload and an understanding of the position behind cover for greatest usefulness.  Again, all of this was from the POV of teaching this to a new officer while paying particular attention to the “why” of the situation.

Shooting and moving was covered as was engaging multiple threats.  Also included was engaging the threat and moving quickly from the point of engagement and then reevaluating the threat.  The primary idea here was to teach the new officer that this isn’t just target practice and that he/she is better off moving as much as is practical.  

The day ended with shooting a 50-round course of fire for a qualification score.  We were required to shoot a minimum of a 90% to pass the coursework.

This was a very full day.  Again, it was not so much an instructional day as it was a “this is what you should teach new officers” kind of day – with Bill explaining, tweaking and evaluating us throughout the day.

We celebrated the day by having a great meal at a Mexican restaurant, spending some good time just BS-ing and getting ready for day two – shotgun.

Basic Patrol Shotgun

I have no experience using a shotgun for personal defense.  I’ve used it trap shooting and bird hunting.  But using it in a combat type environment – nope, none.  I have a Remington 870 with an extended tube.  I can carry 6 rounds in the tube, one in the chamber and 6 in the “side saddle” on the left side of the frame opposite the ejection port.  For me, this particular gun was new and frankly the sidesaddle was useless simply because if held rounds so firmly and could not easily pull one out.  So, I threw 15-ish rounds of bird shot in my rear left pants pocket, 5 rounds of 00-Buck in my left front pocket and 5 rounds of slug in my left cargo pocket.  This management seemed to work well for me.

A pump shotgun is also labor intensive – both in the act of shooting as well as reloading.  I was satisfied with my performance by the end of the day, but it is, in no way, intuitive to a new shooter.  Something to keep in mind when teaching a new officer or defensive shooter.

Minimal time was spent in the classroom.  A review of medical assignments was made and then a general overview of a standard pump action patrol shotgun was given.  Again, standard equipment bubbled out to be a sling, flashlight, and some type of sight – front bead, red dot or ghost rings.  Once these discussions were had, we headed to the range.

Our very first drill was “patterning” . . . just what will your shotgun do.  For that we loaded five rounds of 00-Buck shot.  We shot single rounds from 5,7,10,12 and 15 yards and noticed the spread.  Remember, 00-Buck is typically 9 rounds of .32 caliber ball.  The general consensus was with standard buckshot 15 yards is pretty much the max effective distance for the round.  A couple rounds of Federal Flight Control 00-Buck were demoed as well – it significantly affects the patterning and can extend the useful range significantly.

Our general marksmanship and shooting drills were done with birdshot on steel targets.  This essentially focused on “running the gun”.  It was also a time to work on tweaking stocks, evaluating the particular firearm, working on the location of rounds for reloads . . . all in all, I’m happy with my choice of 870s and the way it ran.  I have a fondness for “keep it simple” and the 870 is about as basic as it can get.  I have a light, sling and ghost rings.  My rear sling point separated near the very end of the day, figure some blue Loctite will handle that.

During this time, we simply got familiar with loading the tube quickly and easily, a combat load of a single round, using a tactical reload for a “slug drill” – I need a slug – NOW!!” drill.

We worked a few malfunction drills – primarily a failure to fire drill and talked about double feeds and rounds stuck in the chamber.

Use of cover again came up as did transition drills when you need to transition from the shotgun to your handgun.

And shooting and moving as well as multiple threat engagements were reviewed.

Finally, at the end of the day there was a qualification shoot as well with a minimum passing score of 90% required.

A quick range cleanup and a final sit down – AAR in the classroom allowed us to review, decompress and share our thoughts about the past two day.

Honestly, I had my concerns before I came on what could be accomplished in only a single day for each platform.  The shortest carbine class I’ve taken was 3 days.  The shortest ILEA patrol rifle course I’ve taken is 3 days and 900 rounds.  Not to mention adding in shotgun instructor.  I had my doubts.

The fact that we were all experienced, all instructors and all active instructors mitigated most of my concerns.  The focus on learning what to teach, what a new officer or new defensive shooter needs to learn eliminated my remaining concerns.  We learned and focused on the “what” and NOT the “how”.  And Bill got that job done very well.  

The bottom-line truth is that for officers, what we learned to teach will more than likely take three days to actually teach.  For an officer or an individual who has never shot a carbine or never used a shotgun for personal defense – three days of classroom and range work is a realistic timeframe depending on the depth the course.  But, for simply fleshing out what needs to be taught and a review of various techniques, a single day for each worked very well.

Good course, good time, good information and a solid foundation for moving forward with course development.  What more could I ask for.

Thanks for your time Bill, I appreciated it!

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