Two ways to improve firearms training
By Jason Wuestenberg, PoliceOne Contributor
There are two basic fundamental ways for agencies to improve their police firearms training – and both ways are often overlooked.
1. Develop your firearms instructors
Many agency administrators, range masters and supervisors think that once an officer completes a law enforcement firearms instructor course that the officer is now an “expert” instructor who has reached “the pinnacle,” when in fact, they have only established their foundation.
Does anyone really think an officer can learn everything there is to know about being a firearms instructor after completing one course? When an officer graduates the police academy, do they know everything there is to know about being a cop? A firearms instructor course is nothing more than the “academy” for firearm instructors.
For the administrators, range masters and supervisors looking to improve your agency firearms training, send your firearms instructor to more training. If they are attending quality courses, they will bring back the latest shooting techniques, coaching techniques, training methodologies and philosophies to ensure your agency stays current with state and national trends and best practices.
This leads us to the second way to improve firearms training.
2. Revise your live-fire range programs
This is easier to accomplish if agencies send their instructors to outside training. It’s difficult to improve your training programs if you don’t know what other agencies and organizations are offering or advocating. Improving your training program can include:
- Using other training aids on the range;
- Changing your training methodology;
- Providing additional shooting techniques for officers to consider.
The difficult part about the process of learning something new is when the instructor brings new practices back to an agency and has to “sell it” to an administrator, range master, or supervisor who has never seen it before or trained in it during their career.
For the administrators, range masters and supervisors looking to improve your agency firearms training, when the firearms instructors you send to other training courses come back with ideas for improving your range training programs, hear them out. Have them demonstrate is the new tactic or approach. Get other instructors involved with the conversation. Evaluate it – honestly.
Every form of training an agency offers to its officers – firearms, combatives, driving, etc. – can be done better or differently (which is sometimes better).
Several years ago I attended an instructor course where one of the attendees was a well-known, highly respected trainer in Arizona. He told me he had attended similar training three years earlier. I asked him why he was attending this course and he said, “There are two reasons to attend training: to learn something new, or to validate that what you are currently doing is still the best thing out there.” That has stuck with me forever.
I challenge every agency administrator, range master and supervisor to send their active firearms instructors to at least one training course each year, and then to consider the information they bring back to the agency. Develop your instructors, revise your live-fire range programs and improve your firearms training!
About the author
Jason Wuestenberg is the executive director of the National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association (NLEFIA). Jason retired as a sergeant from the Phoenix Police Dept (AZ) in 2017 after 22+ years of service. Jason has been a firearms instructor since 1997 and has obtained over 20 LE instructor certifications over his career. Jason served as a full time firearms instructor for over 10 years with the last six years as a range master. Jason was a firearms subject matter expert (SME) for Arizona POST and has conducted firearms instructor development training at the state, national, and international level. Contact Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.