The first week of May found me at the Scott County, Minnesota Training Facility located just outside of Jordan, along with 28 other firearms instructors from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Although mostly law enforcement personnel there were several civilian instructors who teach law enforcement officers on a regular basis.
The facility was originally built as a treatment facility for people with rheumatism back in the late 1800’s. The sulfur springs close by drew patients from across the U.S. due to their curative powers. However, as time passed it became a novitiate school for Notre Dame, a chemical dependency treatment center, a housing facility for work inmates and finally a training facility for law enforcement and fire personnel.
The range facilities consisted of a 25-yard and 200-yard range that were surrounded on three sides by concrete walls and ballistic protection where needed. The roofs were open except for sound baffling angled overhead for sound abatement.
Three Days with IALEFI
The International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) Master Firearms Instructor Development Course consisted of a day each of handgun, rifle, and shotgun. The cost was $225 for IALEFI members and $275 for non-members, the extra $50 paid for an annual membership to IALEFI.
Our first day started with Mike Boyle — who not only serves on the IALEFI Board of Directors, but is also a regular PoliceOne Contributor — going through the necessary paperwork and safety briefings. The group was then broken up and assigned to their instructors for the next three days. I started out in Mike’s Pistol class for the first day.
The first hour consisted of Mike going over the expectations for the Pistol portion of the class including the idea behind the Master Instructor Development Program, specifically that the course was not a “shooters” course but instead was intended to give instructors specific drills and concepts to improve their officers performance on the street.
The course didn’t disappoint with an emphasis on a combination of speed and combat accuracy. Participants were pushed to perform at combat speed with the aid of a timer to get shots off quickly while still placing them in the vital areas for a fast incapacitation in the real world. The fundamentals draw stroke, presentation, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control were reinforced through a number of drills using a variety of targets.
Mike’s years of experience as a firearms instructor were evident in his thorough covering of those subjects that allowed instructors of varying abilities to build their own skills while being able to take away useful information and tactics for their own officers.
Mike also did a short low-light pistol course for anyone who wished to attend after the second day of training. About half of us chose to attend and it was well worth putting in the extra hours. After a comprehensive lecture we adjourned to the range for a series of drills utilizing a number of different lighting tactics and concepts. One drill that I found interesting was using a laser to light up specific targets for officers to then engage. The idea being that the laser simulated the muzzle flash of a suspect’s firearm requiring the officer to respond with the appropriate movement, lighting and shooting that the situation dictated.
My next day found me in the rifle class with A.J. Phillips. While the other two instructors were familiar to me through their writings and having attended several of their classes in the past, A.J. was the new kid on the block for me. While most of the officers present had the .223 AR-15/M-16/M-4 platform, two of us had 9mm AR-15 carbines and one had an M-14 in .308. There wouldn’t be any mistaking who was shooting which on the range. Many of the officers had optics with a few of us with iron sights.
We started with a check to make sure all weapons were sighted in properly for a 25 yard zero and then moved back to the 200-yard mark to test our capabilities, while I put five rounds into three holes at 25 yards, the 200-yard distance was a little daunting, never having fired the carbine at that distance. A chest hold with the iron sights found three of the five rounds on paper at the stomach level letting me know, should I ever need to, that a head hold would be needed to hit the chest at that distance.
A.J. then took us through a series of drills that included stance modification for recoil control and accuracy at combat speed with the long gun. Other instruction involved shooting on the move, shooting from behind cover, movement with a partner, shooting from the off side. A.J. showed us two methods, the first simply moving the gun to the off side while maintaining a dominant hand shooting position the other switching the weapon to the support side. While having done a little support side shooting with the long gun in the past I quickly learned that this is a skill I and the officers I train need to work on.
A.J. is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on the rifle and training with it and I look forward to any chance I may have to train with him again. Although he is young, compared to the other two instructors and me, he has a world of real life experience that he freely and willing tries to impart to his students. His enthusiasm was contagious and several of his sayings, “You’re killing me, smalls” and “Soup sandwich” were repeated by just about everyone as the class moved into day three.
I lucked out and ended with shotgun on the last day. Knowing I would be shooting around 140 rounds of birdshot, slugs and buckshot I made sure to wear my vest to absorb the recoil. Rocco Mazza started the class with a review of adult learning and a comprehensive lecture detailing the performance capabilities of the venerable shotgun. We then adjourned to the range to put the lessons into action. Recoil control and quick manipulation of the weapon were emphasized to attain combat speed and accuracy. A number of drills, some under the clock pushed the students to find their level of competence with the weapon platform they brought. While most officers had pump guns there were a few semi-auto in the group.
An emphasis was placed on patterning the shotgun with it’s duty load to identify the specific shooting characteristics of the weapon. While some consider the shotgun old school, Rocco brought it to life by showing us the practical applications of this old standard.
After more than 1,000 rounds loaded and fired in three days, I suffer from a sore loading thumb and trigger finger. Despite that minor inconvenience the class provided all those who attended an opportunity to learn new ideas and tactics, test their abilities against their fellow instructors, and to bring home new skills to enhance the training of the officers they teach.
The IALEFI Master Instructors Development Program provided a very worthwhile training opportunity for instructors at a very reasonable price. Plans have already been made for next year, with a differing line up of classes. I am sure I will not be the only instructor returning for more top quality training.