Saturday, January 16, 2021

Training - LEO Proficiency Review

 I’ve chatted a couple of times about “Proficiency” . . . the links are here . . .

 Range Trip -  Maintaining Proficiency

 Training – Are You Proficient

 So what more can be said . . . well, how about some thoughts on how to go about a fairly rigorous review of either your own proficiency . . . or the review of the proficiency of an organization.  And that is the focus of this particular post – the proficiency of our local PD in the use and deployment of their duty weapon. 

 It’s that time of year for “Qualification” . . . the trip to the range to shoot the ILEA handgun course of fire.  It’s roughly equivalent to the old FBI handgun qualification and is the standard for officers in Iowa.  The dirty little secret about cops, training and range time is that it is last on the list for a typical officer.  Frankly, they simply don’t have the time while filling all the other training squares to meet a very long list of civil training requirements.  Add to that the fact that their training ammunition budget is very, very slim – the average officer sends less than 500 rounds down range each year – and about 20% of that is shooting up their carry ammunition in preparation for the qualification shoot and shooting the actual qualification COF.  Anything over this is done on the officer’s own time and at the officer’s personal expense.  There are some regions of the country where the round count falls to 200 or less – including the officer’s qualification round.

 The point is not to bang away on the officers or their agencies – but just to point out that with low round counts – proficiency suffers and suffers badly.  And an officer may not even realize it until “that moment” arrives – and they struggle to meet the threat.  Honestly, that’s a hell of a time to find out they need to spend more time on the range.

 I was contacted by the local training officer to see if I could conduct a couple half day range seminars to work with officers prior to this fall’s qualification round.  So, over 2 days I conducted 4ea, 4-hour “Proficiency Reviews” with a total of 14 officers attending.  In the context of the review the word “Proficiency” meant could they run their gun, get both rapid, multiple round hits AND very precise hits as well.  Were their fundamentals solid – stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press and follow through?  Were their emergency reloads solid?  Was their muzzle discipline good?  Did they make good use of both high cover and low cover?  Could they move rapidly and engage a threat from multiple distances?  Could they quickly and accurately engage a target from 5 yards to 25 yards?  And could they do all this in their full duty gear – they wore either a fully kitted out duty belt or plate carrier.  All officers wore a Level 3 vest.

 This was NOT a training course . . . but an evaluation course.  I made a few tweaks throughout for officers struggling with precise shots that typically revolved around either adjusting their grip or their sight alignment.  There was a fondness for not maintaining the “equal height” between the front sight and the rear notch.  This resulted it the “windage” of the round being fine, but the “elevation” was typically low.  As soon as they dialed in “equal height, equal light” . . . all was fine. 

 I evaluated their stance, how they drove their weapon to the target, their follow through, their ability to draw during movement, their movement to cover and use of cover.  Honestly, for some they had not actually done any of this stuff since their academy days.  So, it was well past time they take a hard look at themselves – and that’s what we did.

 Let me review my expectations of the officers.  I have a true fondness for LETargets SEB target.  It allows for a wide range of drills, from rapid multi-round engagements to single round precision engagements.  It allows for cognition drills calling out either individual numbers and shapes.  You can get a tremendous amount of good work done on these targets and it is my go-to choice for individual practice as well as coursework.  It is also an unforgiving target.  Let’s talk about scoring individual drills. 



 For the individual officer used to shooting their ILEA course of fire – the target of choice is a “Q-Traget” – a single silhouette with a “Q” where the heart is imagined to be.  Any round that is touching the outline or within the outline of the silhouette is considered a “hit”.   A round touching the outline where the threat’s right ear would be . . . carries the exact same weight a center mass direct hit on the “Q”.  I take a significantly different view.

 On the SEB target you must be touching or within the shape you are required to engage for the specific drill.  So, while you have an entire silhouette, within that you have an “Ocular Cavity” triangle, a “High Center Mass” box and a “Pelvic Girdle” box.   Add to that two numbered circles, two numbered squares and two numbered triangles . . . you end up with a real playground for challenging the officer.  I like it!!!

 As for the officer load out, each of their three magazines are loaded to 10 rounds each.  This provides a larger number of emergency reloads and allows me to evaluate the officer’s technique.

 So let’s put it all together – the full evaluation through a set of 20 drills.  Yeah, this is going to be a long post, take what value from it that you wish.  I use a lot of these posts as a reminder of what I did, why I did it and how well it worked – my After Action Report if you will – my AAR.  So here we go . . .

Drill 1 – Drive, Touch, Press . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds . . . Single round engagement

This drill begins at the High Compressed Ready.  On the command “DRIVE! the shooter drives the front blade to the designated target – in this case the Circle with a #1 in it.  At this point I am evaluating their stance, their grip, how their arms are extended, the position of their head, are they leaning slightly “into the gun”.  This process allows me to see all of this in a static position rather than trying to catch it all on the fly.

On the command “Touch!” the shooter touches the trigger.  This allows me to evaluate how their finger is placed as well as reviewing the overall stability of their stance.

 On the command “Presssssssss!” I ask them to smoothly press the trigger straight to the rear, complete their follow through and then return to the High Compressed Ready.

 This drill is the foundation of shooting to me.  It covers the entire physical process from bottom of foot to the return to High Compressed Ready.  It is the ideal drill to fine tune, detect problems, to teach and explain little tweaks it their stance, grip, evaluation of their sight alignment and sight picture, their follow through process . . . just a ton of basic, foundational pistol shooting information.  For me as a shooter it is where I return to fix any problems that creep into my performance as well.  Or if I change shooting platforms or evaluate a new platform.  This is “Home” and it needs to be as perfect as it can be before you move forward to the next drill.


 Drill 2 – From High Compressed Ready . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds . . . Single Round Engagement

 The drill begins from the High Compressed Ready.  On the “UP!” command the shooter drives out, places a single round in the Circle with a #2 in it, completes a follow through and returns to the High Compressed Ready.  With this drill I am evaluating the whole flow of the shooter’s engagement.  I’m checking shot placement, grip stability (does the shooter reset their hands between rounds), muzzle discipline – does it remain straight and level for the whole engagement, is their trigger press smooth (no slapping the trigger), are they consistently doing a deliberate follow through after each engagement. 

 Drill 3 – With a Draw from the holster . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds . . . Single Round Engagement

 The drill begins with a loaded weapon in the shooter’s holster.  On the “UP!” command they draw and fire a single round on in the Square with a #3 in it, they complete a follow through and scan and holsters their weapon.  This allows the shooter to evaluate their engagement in detail and do a self-evaluation of things they may need to work on.  The instructor can also use this time to fully evaluate the shooter’s draw stroke and engagement as well as their follow through and scan and offer suggestions if needed.

 Drill 4 – With Movement and a Draw from the holster . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds . . . Single Round Engagement

 One survival technique is to simply move “off the X” as you draw – forcing the threat to try and follow your movement.  The drill begins with a loaded weapon in the shooter’s holster.  On the “UP!” command the shooter takes a giant step left or right while drawing and extending towards the threat.  As they “plant” they engage the threat with a single round in the High Center Mass box.  This drill allows the shooter to evaluate their draw-stroke during their movement as well as how rapidly they can plant and engage a threat as well as their accuracy and precision.

 Drill 5 – “Hammer” . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 A “Hammer” is a two round engagement just as fast as you can pull the trigger.  The drill begins with a loaded weapon in the shooter’s holster.  On the “UP!” commander the shooter draws and places a “Hammer” in the High Center Mass box of the threat.  This enables the shooter to see how reliable their follow-up shots are and allows them to make any adjustments to their grip and stance they might need to increase their accuracy and precision.

 Drill 6 – With Movement - “Hammer” . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 The shooter adds movement to the “Hammer” by taking a large step either left or right as they draw their weapon on the “UP!” command.  They then plant and engage the threat.  This allows the shooter to evaluate their performance as dynamic movement is introduced to the drill.

 Drill 7 – Failure Drill . . . 7-yards, 15 rounds

 The “Failure Drill” is comprised of a “Hammer” followed by a single round to the Ocular Cavity.  It began life as the “Mozambique Drill” at Gunsite but became known as the “Failure Drill” after it was adopted by LA SWAT.  It pushes the shooter on two fronts – the first is pure speed, getting two combat effective hits as quickly as possible and then it demands an immediate switch to a precise shot.  It allows the shooter to evaluate their ability to handle both the requirement for speed as well as extreme precision.

 Drill 8 – With Movement – “Failure Drill” . . . 7-yards, 15 rounds

 The introduction of Movement with a large step left or right during the draw and then planting and delivering a Hammer and a precise head shot allows the shooter to evaluate everything from their movement to a fast and smooth draw, their accuracy of a very rapid pair of rounds and then a precise headshot.  This is probably as close to an actual response to a gun fight as you can get . . . “moving off the X”, a rapid 2-round engagement followed by a single precise shot.  This allows you and the shooter to evaluate their ability to quickly and accurately neutralize an active threat.

 The use of cover is an important skillset – both the shooter’s actual movement to cover and then their use of cover in an effective manner.  The next five drills cover the review of this skill set.  Three drills evaluate the movement to low cover and its use both to the right, the left and over the top.  The drill starts 5 yards or so rearward of cover.  On the “UP!” command the shooter moves to cover and engages the threat using a “Hammer”.

 The next two drills has the shooter repeat this engagement but through the use of high cover, first to the right and then to the left.

 These five drills allows the shooter to evaluate their ability to move to cover, take a solid shooting position and then quickly and accurately engage a threat.

Drill 9 – Movement to Low Cover . . . Hammer . . . Right Side . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then “rolls” out to the right to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance to for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they “roll” out to the right it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 10 – Movement to Low Cover . . . Hammer . . . Left Side . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 

You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then “rolls” out to the left to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they “roll” out to the left it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 11 – Movement to Low Cover . . .  Hammer . . . Over the Top . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then rises above the cover to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they over the top it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 12 – Movement to High Cover . . . Hammer . . . Right Side . . . 7-Yards, 10 rounds

 You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then “rolls” out to the right to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they “roll” out to the right it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 13 – Movement to High Cover . . . Hammer . . . Left Side . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then “rolls” out to the left to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they “roll” out to the left it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.


 Drill 14 – Combat Effective Hits . . . Single Round Engagement . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 A concern of many shooters revolves around not being able to hold their handgun perfectly steady.  Of course that is a near impossibility and attempting to accomplish that while dealing with a lethal threat moves it to the fully impossible arena.  So, how can a shooter be shown that they can accomplish Combat Effective Hits (hits that diminish a threat’s ability to do you harm) even though their handgun isn’t completely stable?  This is the drill I’ve come to rely on.  

With a 10-round magazine have the shooter draw, extend and get a good sight alignment/sight picture on the high center mass box.  Then have them move their firearm in a figure 8 pattern with the cross over in the entire silhouette.  Have them continue to do this until their magazine runs dry.  While moving in the figure 8 each time you call out “UP!” they press off a single round as they cross the high center mass box – but the handgun never stops moving . . . never.  As they continue their figure 8 movement continue to periodically call out “UP!” and they will engage the target with a single round.  Continue for all 10 rounds.

 Typically the shooter will place the majority of their rounds will within the high center mass box.  This will help them see that even though their weapon is moving, they can still attain solid combat effective hits on their threat.

 Drill 15 – Balance of Speed and Precision . . .  7-yards, 30 rounds

 Begin the drill with three magazines, each loaded with 10 rounds.  Remember, you are shooting on an LE SEB target.  This drill forces you to balance speed against precision as well as being a cognition drill – shoot exactly what is asked of you.  On an “UP!” command the shooter moves, draws and delivers a “hammer” to the high center mass box.  On the “HEAD!” command the shooter moves, draws and delivers a single precise round to the ocular cavity triangular box.  On the “1!” or “2!” or . . . . “6!” command the shooter moves, draws and delivers a single precise round to the designated shape.  On the “Circle! Or “Square!” or “Triangle!” the shooter moves, draws and delivers a single round to designated shapes.  The shapes within the silhouette are ignored for these commands.  Besides the obvious purpose for this drill, balancing speed and precision – it also brings out the importance of being a thinking shooter. 

 The next few drills are used to have the shooter evaluate their overall marksmanship at three common distances – 10 yards, 15 yards and 25 yards. 

 Drill 16 – 10 Yards . . . Draw, With Movement . . . Hammer . . . 10 rounds

 On the “UP!” command the shooter moves, draws and engages the threat with a “hammer”.  This begins to push the marksmanship element of the shooter’s skillset.  At 10 yards the speed of the 2-round engagement should approach the speed of a “hammer” but getting the hit takes precedence.  The 2-round engagement is repeated 5 times.

 Drill 17 – 15 Yards . . . Draw, With Movement . . . 2-round engagement, slow fire . . . 10 rounds

The evaluation of the marksmanship element of the shooter’s skillset at 15 yards.  The speed of the 2-round engagement should such that it insures the shooter “gets the hit” as rapidly as possible but accuracy is the primary concern.  The 2-round engagement is repeated 5 times.

 Drill 18 – 25 Yards . . . Movement to Low Cover . . . 2-round engagement, supported, slow fire . . . 10 rounds


Finally, at 25 yards the shooter moves to cover and uses it to engage the threat from a supported position with a slow-fire, 2-round engagement.  This should be repeated 5 times.

 At the end of these three drills the shooter should have a better understanding of the area of his marksmanship that needs more attention.

 Drill 19 – 7 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards . . . 2-round engagement . . . random distance . . . 10-rounds, slow fire



 
Rapid movement is a very common element of a lethal engagement.  This drill begins at the 5-yard line with the shooter facing the threat.  A distance of either 7, 10 or 15 yards is called out and the shooter moves as fast as they run to the called distance and then engages the threat with 2 rounds.  The speed of the engagement should be as fast as possible yet one that insures a solid hit.  This 2-round drill is repeated 5 times.

 Drill 20 – Figure 8  . . . 2-round engagement . . . 10-rounds

 The final drill is one that brings the whole review together.  I first experienced the Figure 8 drill in coursework I took from Rob Pincus.  It is a way to simulate a 360-degree range on a traditional 90-degree-ish range.  My drill for this overall evaluation has been modified so the shooter only shoots their own target.  It is run one shooter at a time. 

The shooter walks a figure 8 around both a high-cover element and a low-cover element.  On the “UP!” command the shooter moves to the closest cover and engages their target with 2 rounds.  Should the shooter run “dry” it is expected that they will use cover while reloading.  Should a malfunction occur, it would also be expected that cover would be used while the malfunction is cleared. 

 Their three magazines start with 10-rounds in each magazine.  The drill is run until all three magazines are empty.

 The total score possible is 220 – meaning that all rounds are within the designated area called for the drill.  The expected score is 80%.  If the shooter is an instructor, the expected score is 90%.  So how did the department do??  There were 17 officers . . . the high score was 90% . . . the low score was 57% and the average for the entire department was 70%.  That said, at the end of my portion of the day the officers each shot their qualification round using the ILEA COF as defined by the state of Iowa.  As stated earlier, a “hit” is a round inside or touching the outside of a silhouette of a standard Q target.  Passing score is 80% and all officers easily passed their qual course. 

 So what to take away from this all.  First and foremost range time is a necessity if you plan to remain proficient.  My recommendation is a MINIMUM of 1000 rounds a year, roughly 100 rounds a month.  Taking coursework annually is should also be considered a necessity.  One day coursework at a minimum . . . multiday if at all possible.  There is always something to learn, to improve, to finetune.

 So, take the challenge – shoot the 20 Drill evaluation and let me know how it went.



2 comments:

  1. I'll take the challenge! It's supposed to snow here all next week, so after tha.

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  2. Yep, I printed this out for reference. Range trip coming up, and I will use this. I don't know if it's changed, but a number of years ago, Virginia State Troopers only got 50 rounds a year of ammo... sigh...

    ReplyDelete