Safe and effective range utilization
By Ed Santos
Recently I was teaching a low-light Instructor certification class at a host agency indoor range. As a longtime traveling firearms instructor, NRA Range Technical Team Advisory member, NSSF Range Action Specialist, range owner, and indoor range consultant, it was very obvious to me that the host range was routinely being used for training outside the scope of its design.
To date all my published articles have been directed towards low-light firearms training. This last training experience has motivated me to share with you some information from my other world, the world of range design and utilization.
Law enforcement instructors are always looking for ways to challenge their students and provide the highest level of realistic training possible. Often these efforts are complicated by instructor or student availability, budget constraints, equipment and/or facilities. I certainly understand these issues, but when an indoor range is either underutilized or inappropriately used for training, we should all be concerned. I can’t imagine any instructor knowingly putting students at risk by conducting training beyond the design constraints of any facility.
The disconnect in how training is developed and ultimately delivered often comes from the lack of understanding of the facilities’ capabilities or intended use design constraints. It is my hope that this article will clarify some of the misconceptions of indoor ranges and their capabilities, and create enough interest that you do additional research.
The underutilization or inappropriate utilization of indoor ranges should be a concern to us all. If you do not understand the intended range use your indoor facility was designed to accommodate, you may be short changing your students of otherwise realistic training or – worse yet – putting their health or your staff’s health at risk.
The need for realistic training is unquestioned. We need only to look at the Supreme Court’s guidance for hands-on training: Tuttle vs. Oklahoma. The Court strongly suggested the need for realistic firearms training:
“For law enforcement firearms training to be valid, it must incorporate: stress, decision making, attitude, knowledge, skill, shoot-don’t-shoot, moving targets, officer required to move, low light or adverse light shooting, in-service training and shotgun training.”
Our desire to provide realistic training must not compromise the student or instructor in any way. This can only be accomplished by working within the design considerations of the facility.
Facility Considerations and Issues
Specific issues to be considered include — but are not limited to — reduced or disrupted airflow, downrange contamination, ballistic control projectile escapement, and range housekeeping. The result of your range design evaluation may require you to alter the way training is delivered. You may have to incorporate the use of green ammo, simulation firearms, or even AirSoft training weapons.
The Training Objective
Just what does that mean? I am sure every one of you have your own ideas on that one. Let’s look at a few of the most common issues that are commonly incorporated in meeting the street to range training objective. Moving while shooting, shooting moving targets, low-light training, advanced weapons manipulations, individual and team tactics.
Cadre Experience and Your Budget
Budget resources play a major role in the delivery of training and the overall limitations of working within the design criteria of your facility. Prop design and fabrication costs, mechanical running man vs. robots, homemade vs. purchased, and whether or not you wish to share your props with other agencies.
Thinking Outside the Box
When I was informed of this fact and indicated that my program requires firing forward of the traditional firing line I was instructed to “Go ahead... It would be OK, we do it all the time.”
I DID NOT... We found an outdoor range and training was conducted without incident.
In summary, it is impossible for me to discuss every design or range utilization concern here given the limitations of space and the complexity of these issues. I hope I have provided some motivation for you to look deeper into the way you are utilizing your indoor facilities by application and design. Perhaps after analyzing your capabilities you will find that your facility is capable of supporting more advanced training than you are currently offering. If that is the case, then your students will be better trained and better prepared to win on the street because of the modification to training you will be able to implement.
If you find that you have been exceeding the design capabilities of your facility then again your students will benefit from your training modifications and ultimately be safer during the time they are under your supervision and charge.
About the Author
|Back to previous page|