Striking shields: An impact training necessity
The Seven Levels of Simulation progresses from basic instruction to high level decision making scenarios
The importance of the striking shield for the development of safe and effective simulation training is often misunderstood and, therefore, oftentimes underutilized. Understanding how and when to use striking shields will speed training, improve confidence, and add to the overall quality of your training program. In an effort to meet training requirements in a short period of time, it’s not uncommon to see officers pushed too fast into high-level decision making scenarios before they have had the opportunity to develop the basic skills required. This leads to injuries and poor performance that could have been avoided with a strong foundation built on training with striking shields. By using a shield that can be used for both training and duty, you will also be able to stretch your budget further.
Before we go any further, take a couple of moments to check out this Seven Levels of Simulation Video. By following the steps outlined in this short video, your officer’s confidence and competence can be markedly increased with startling improvements in their decision making and technique retention as they progress into high level simulations.
The practice should begin with Shadow Training, Prop Training, and Partner Training. You make sure that your officers can perform the technique without a partner first then add props, if necessary, like your TASER, OC Spray, Baton, or Firearm. Once they are familiar with their technique and/or weapon, you can add a partner. This doesn’t mean that we start with full speed and power application of technique. You need to start with “By the Number” and “Slow for Form” application of technique before advancing to “Full Speed and Power” applications. This will prevent injuries to both the officer practicing the technique and the officer being practiced on. Instructors have learned a number of very important lessons on how to train properly while avoiding costly mistakes.
Even more important, in these litigious times, making sure that you can prove that you explained the rules to your officers — and that they understood — helps to hold them accountable. This is why some instructors video their classes and/or have their officers sign off on and turn in written copies of the safety rules. You can use this Sample Training Safety Rules as a template.
Touch Drills are designed as extremely light (touch) drills to the intended target area of an empty hand or baton strikes. Performing these empty hand strikes to another officer’s body allows the officer striking to understand exactly where they are supposed to strike on an officer’s body. Baton strikes are performed with padded practice baton to minimize the chance of injury. This also helps to insure that the officer hitting the striking shield will hit the target area accurately with proper technique. Even the officer getting “touched” benefits from feeling a no-intensity touch to his body because s/he now knows exactly where the “classroom model” target area is. You would be surprised how helpful this is in courtroom testimony when the officer can accurately state and demonstrate exactly where s/he was attempting to strike – no matter where the strike actually landed during the dynamic application of technique.
Target (Intensity) Training Rate Concept
History has shown that injuries can occur. Instructor controlling the intensity and cadence of the drills will do much to minimize the chance of injury. The officer holding the striking shield also needs to be a realistic target which means that when struck the officer holding the striking shield needs to “give ground” to simulate what happens when someone strikes a real person. This tactic will be discussed in detail in a future column.
Again, the instructor is responsible for setting and monitoring the right intensity level bases on the equipment being used and the officers performing the drills.
Foundational Safety Issues
Use of Mouthguards
How to Stand While Holding the Striking Shield
How to Hold the Striking Shield
The Standard Grip (see Fig. 3) is used for most of the empty hand strikes that come into the upper body including punches, forearms, and knee strikes.
The High Low Grip (see Fig. 4) is used for front and heel kicks directed to the lower body along with many baton strikes. This grip allow for the officer to quickly move the striking shield quickly for rapid sequenced baton strikes.
The Short Strap Grip (see Fig. 5) is used extensively for knee and angle kicks directed to the legs. The use of this grip held behind the legs allows for high impact practice while protecting the officer holding the striking shield from injuries associated with strikes directed to the side of the knee.
The uses of the striking shields for defensive tactics training are only limited by an instructor’s imagination. There are all types of Specialized Grips that have been developed to assist with specialized training functions. Dave Young of Arma Training is a longtime instructor of specialized Riot Control, Ground Defense, and Water Survival Training.
Watch some of the videos by Dave Young (links to BLUtube posted below) showing different non-traditional uses of the striking shields in training.
Striking shields are not just for static training drills but can be used for dynamic movement training, relative positioning training, environmental factors training, and even for limited decision-making training. These are topics that we will cover in future columns. The purpose of this article was get you to re-evaluate the use of striking shields in order to make the best use of this valuable piece of equipment. If you are using them now, this is great news. If not, dust them off and start using them. Make sure to watch for future articles where we will show you how to use striking shields more extensively in your training programs.
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