Dr. Richard WeinblattWeinblatt's Tips
with Dr. Richard Weinblatt

Firearms training: train like you play

As a firearms instructor, I have noticed a vast difference between veteran police officers and deputy sheriffs who take range qualifications and training time seriously and those who merely view it as a chore to get done with and move on. While the shooting techniques themselves may be okay and get them through yet another re-qualification stint, it seems that some gun toting law enforcers take shortcuts in these sessions that could impact their survival.

There is no demand on your time more important than your survival. Many officers seem to forget some of the cardinal rules taught by police academy firearms and officer survival instructors. Remember, you should be training like you may have to play someday.

Here are some reminders based on what I have observed at the firing range. See if you have been following these ten rules.

1) Suit up in assigned clothing and leather gear. If you are an officer assigned to plainclothes types of duty, then practice shooting in that attire and with the leather gear that you wear on a regular basis. If you are uniformed, then by all means do your training in that guise with all (and I mean all) of your leather gear on you.

2) Engage your holster fully. This is especially true for you officers who have a threat level III. Holster. Snap every snap. And do it each and every time you re-holster.

3) Don't look at your holster. When you re-holster, do not look down. Practice enough so that you know where your holster is and can just place the firearm back into it. When you look at your gun to place it in the holster, you have averted your eyes from any potential danger that may become an issue.

4) Avoid the trigger until you decide to fire. Keep you finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to pull the trigger.

5) Practice weak hand shooting. Don't assume that your strong hand will always be available for shooting. Fine tune transitioning and shooting with your weak hand.

6) Give verbal commands. Much like in defensive tactics, officers forget to verbalize their commands in a loud, authoritative tone during a confrontation. Let your subject know what he or she should do. This impedes their thinking of what they want to do to you next. The issuance of clear verbal commands also helps to deflect liability and complaints from the subject, as well as others who may be observing the action.

7) Scan for additional threats. After you've addressed any potential threat, look for any new issues to be dealt with. Physically move as you conduct your assessment and break that tunnel vision.

8) Be mindful of foot placement. When you stand, be sure of where you place your feet. Your feet are part of a steady shooting platform. When you move, avoid crossing your feet and tripping over yourself.

9) Seek cover. Know the difference between cover and concealment. Seek cover when given a choice between the two during dynamic training segments. Make sure that your whole body is behind that cover including your head.

10) Act like your on camera. In this age of video cell phones, portable video recorders, and police cruiser in-car cameras, conduct yourself during training, and on the streets, with the thought that all that you do is being recorded. Don't use language or engage in physical actions that would embarrass you, your police chief or sheriff, or your mother.

Did you look at these ten rules honestly? Qualifications come and go, but you may only have one chance to play in the real game of survival. Train like you may have to play someday.

About the author

Dr. Richard Weinblatt is a criminal justice educator, former police chief, police media commentator and an instructor in multiple disciplines. He has earned Florida Criminal Justice Standards certifications in general law enforcement topics, firearms, defensive tactics, and vehicle operations, as well as instructor certifications for Taser, pepper spray, and expandable baton. He holds the Certified Law Enforcement Trainer (CLET) designation from the American Society for Law Enforcement Training (ASLET) and is a certified AFAA Personal Fitness Trainer. Dr. Weinblatt is Dean of the School of Public and Social Services & Education/Assoc. Professor of Criminal Justice at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, IN.  He previously served as Director of the Institute for Public Safety at Central Ohio Technical College near Columbus, OH, Professor and Program Manager for the Criminal Justice Institute at Seminole Community College near Orlando, FL, and Chairman of the Public Services Dept./Criminal Justice Instructor at South Piedmont Community College near Charlotte, NC. Dr. Weinblatt has worked in several regions of the country in reserve and full-time sworn positions ranging from auxiliary police lieutenant in New Jersey to patrol division deputy sheriff in New Mexico to reserve deputy sheriff in Florida and police chief in North Carolina. Dr. Weinblatt has written extensively on law enforcement topics since 1989. He had a regular column in Law and Order Magazine for a decade and he has also written for Police, Sheriff, American Police Beat, Narc Officer, and others. Dr. Weinblatt has provided media commentary on police matters for local and national media including CBS Evening News, CNN, MSNBC, HLN, and The Washington Post. Dr. Weinblatt earned a Bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice, a Master of Public Administration in Criminal Justice, an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Educational Leadership and a Doctorate of Education. Weinblatt may be reached through www.TheCopDoc.com.

Back to previous page