Practicing pivots and turns on the firing range
On the range, officers are not going to turn suddenly up-range and engage a live-fire target with a real firearm — this would be considered unsafe — but this possibility does exist on the street
Most officers are familiar with the static square range we have at most of our LE academy and training centers. They are characterized by firing lines set at multiple ranges, facing a line of targets with some form of berm or bullet trap behind the targets. When officer’s fire on the range, they know well that the gun must be pointed toward the impact area to be considered safe and the shooter’s body is generally pointed in that direction as well.
This range design meets most of our practical needs for firearms training, but it lacks a key element when measured by the real street environment the officers actually work; the 360 degrees of potential threats. Instructors often mention the fact that the real world is a 360 degree environment and we see evidence of this when officers fire and then search and scan to the left and right of their targets and in some case over their left and right shoulders. They are simulating that they are checking for a potential threat in a direction other than the one they are facing, but the design of the range really doesn’t lend much credibility to that possibility.
On the range, officers are not going to turn suddenly up-range and engage a live-fire target with a real firearm — this would be considered unsafe — but this possibility does exist on the street. The officer can never truly know what direction from which a new threat may come and he must know how to quickly find and attack the threat, regardless of the direction from which it originates. This is why it is so important for officers to learn how to pivot and turn into a potential deadly force threat and be taught from a practical point of view how to do so efficiently. Failure to teach officers how to pivot and turn into the other 359 degrees of vulnerability can lead to a hesitated or panicked response and poor firearm handling.
Practical Principles of Turning to Fight
In breaking down the cause for conducting a practical pivot and turn, there are basically two types.