Benjamin Franklin wrote, ‘without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.’ During an unseasonably-warm three days in Escondido (Calif.), 19 firearms instructors from across the country gathered to continue growth and progress under the expert tutelage of seasoned instructors from the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI).
Following on the success of its inaugural year, the IALEFI Master Instructor Development Program offers three solid days of training to experienced firearms instructors. The course, offered on January 4th, 5th, and 6th of this year consisted of Handgun, Carbine, and Concealed Carry instruction. The majority of us in attendance also attended a Low Light presentation on the evening of the second day.
When PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie first offered me the opportunity to write a column entitled, ‘Excellence in Training,’ myriad thoughts and ideas crossed my mind. If I now had to sum up the title of my column in one word or acronym, it would be IALEFI. The three instructors — Mike Boyle, Rick Crays, and Bill Garland — were all familiar names to me from the firearms industry, yet I had never had the opportunity to train under them. I soon realized how much this lack of opportunity was negatively impacting my abilities as an instructor. Each an accomplished firearms instructor in their own right, combined they make a formidable team.
On Day One
In any course I teach, I tell participants that I am fastidious about two things; safety and downtime. I do not appreciate safety violations and I am irritated by downtime. Students should always be engaged, not standing around. Obviously, Bill Garland is of the same mindset. The morning of day one we immediately went to work on improving handgun instruction techniques, stopping briefly for lunch. Bill’s style is engaging, informative, and humble — the latter a quality I highly admire among instructors.
Bill’s entire daylong presentation was not about showing us what he could do, or helping us improve ourselves. His points were far more important than that. He constantly strived to help us improve our students, and he hit the mark. While no firearms practitioner is immune to the fundamentals, the method of delivery may vary widely. Bill presented a plethora of concepts that have been successful over his career. Admittedly, I experienced many ‘ah ha moments’ throughout the day.
Following the morning and afternoon sessions, Garland (as well as all other instructors) provided an outline to us of all the material and drills he had covered. In today’s proprietary world, this is also a quality I deeply admire. I’m eager to apply the principles passed on to me the next time I step in front a group of shooters.
On Day Two
I would not have wanted to be Rick Crays on day two, having to follow Bill Garland. Rick soon proved he was more than up to the task. Following a brief introduction on his background, we quickly went to work with the patrol rifle. In much the same vein as the handgun portion, the rifle course was about how to teach to others. I’m sure we can all agree that teaching a course, and running drills are two entirely different things. On a level all its own is teaching professional instructors how to convey the “why behind the how” to students. This is exactly what this course was centered upon.
Providing a hearty amount of drills and teaching concepts to enhance the abilities of the end user, while mixing in periodic, healthy competition, Crays shared his wisdom and insight that has taken him decades to acquire. Of particular note was his ability to balance his professionalism with the varying personalities in the class. It has been said — and I concur — that there is no tougher audience than cops. Never condescending or elitist, Crays kept the course on track, with no downtime. After two solid days of instruction with reputable instructors, I went to dinner feeling a bit sorry for Mike Boyle, our final instructor. This feeling was short lived.
In Low Light
Mike Boyle serves on the IALEFI Board of Directors, and while billed as an instructor for this course, he also served as the course coordinator. Mike began his Low Light presentation with a one-hour classroom discussion on the tools of the trade and the need for law enforcement low light training. Once on the range, we quickly began implementing low light concepts with hand held flashlights as well as weapon mounted lights. The need for student safety while operating under the cover of darkness was greatly emphasized, and Boyle provided various examples to provide quality training in a safe environment.
On Day Three
The final day of instruction, spearheaded by Boyle, dealt with an issue critical to law enforcement, yet one that very rarely receives due regard — concealed carry.
We began in the classroom, discussing such issues as weapon and gear selection, garment issues, placement of auxiliary ammunition, and methods of carry. Once on the range, Mike guided us through various ways to draw from a concealed position, steps to mitigate the time necessary to acquire a weapon hidden under clothing, and the specific safety considerations when working with students on concealed-carry fundamentals. As I stated, this topic is very rarely given consideration outside agency specific training, and was a great way to round out the three day course.
One of the crown jewels of the IALEFI program is each that of the instructors addressed current financial challenges facing those of us in the training industry. Incorporated in each block of instruction were ways to economically provide high quality training to line level personnel who depend upon it. From dry fire exercises to dollar store purchases, stretching thin resources to meet training needs was a constant undercurrent.
If you are looking to improve upon your presentation and delivery skills, as well as give your students the very best each time, run, don’t walk to the next presentation of the IALEFI Master Instructor Development Program. This course certainly fills the void in continual growth and progress.