Firearms Training: Teaching and learning in manageable chunks
We must shoot drills to enhance and refine skills before we test these skills with scenario-based training
I’ve been a firearms trainer in one way or another for the last 15 years. Maybe not a daily occurrence until 10 years ago, but enough to require me to develop some training plans, or POI (Plan of Instruction) as we call them in the Army. Now that I’ve become a full-time instructor for a company I also founded — Viking Tactics, Inc. — I realize that there are severe differences in the way law enforcement officers are trained across the United States when compared to the Special Operations Soldiers I routinely trained with.
I will make three very bold statements — if these statements upset you, please prove me wrong. If you disagree, this is a good thing because I want you to look at what you are teaching and the techniques that you use for instruction and see if you are one of the problems.
1.) Overall, cops and soldiers are not very accomplished shooters. This includes safety, not just marksmanship skills.
2.) Scenario-based training is used improperly in most LE agencies.
3.) Speed counts
Just Checking a Liability Box
As one of my law enforcement friends demonstrated by shooting his departments qualification blindfolded and attaining a passing score, many of you are not training hard enough. If your qualification course is simply in place to check a liability box, you are wrong. You should have a qualification course that truly tests your officers’ ability to engage an enemy when needed to end a fight.
Does your qualification test true street skills? Do you require shooters to shoot one handed, strong or support? Shoot on the move? From cover or concealment?
It is alarming to hear that most police academies do not require recruits to shoot from, in, or around their patrol cars. Most officers we run through our Street Fighter Course have never fired from in the car or under an actual car. This is disturbing. Your officers should be comfortable shooting from any location around a vehicle and know what will happen if rounds do hit that vehicle.
Now onto point two.
This is Not a Scenario
Scenarios should be used to test a shooters complete combat shooting skill set. Drills should be used to hone officers shooting skills incrementally. I often receive messages from officers after they view the Viking Tactics YouTube Channel. They say the set up of our drills is unrealistic. In real life, you would never shoot one target five times before moving to the next target if you were presented with three threats simultaneously.
This is true, and if it were a scenario I would agree, but if the Triple Threat Drill (check out that video by clicking here, or watch in embedded below) were shot in this manner you would not get any training out of it. This drill is intended to teach the shooter to drive the weapon aggressively from target to target.
This is not a scenario.
If every drill you shoot is a scenario, your shooters will never improve. We must shoot drills to enhance and refine skills before we test these skills with scenario-based training.
Thrive in Any Situation
Lastly, speed counts. When you train shooters to prepare for the street confrontation you must incorporate speed. Not for the shot, but for everything else. Get the weapon out of the holster or in the case of the carbine, into the fight quickly, then slow down and make your hits count. Push your officers until their wheels fall off then shift down one gear so they can shoot faster than their enemy but in complete control.
Failure is a great facilitator to improvement. If shooters are pushed until they finally fail they will learn from that experience.
If you read this and agree, you are part of the solution. If you read this and disagree you are part of the problem.
Your officers deserve the absolute best firearms and scenario training that you can provide.
Don’t train your officers to survive their next shooting, train them to thrive in any situation that comes their way.