5 training tips for "blue" gear on your duty belt

Practicing weapons manipulation on a regular basis is a critical tactical refresher

A blue gun — a plastic or metal replica of your sidearm, regardless of color — is an essential part of your daily training kit. With a training gun you can practice your draw from the holster and your weapons retention skills safely — without concern for a weapon that is supposed to be clear going off, preventing serious injury, death, or even just embarrassment.

The blue gun can be dropped, and banged around without concern about knocking the sight off or damaging the vital lifesaving piece of equipment you carry in your holster. 

Practicing weapons manipulation on a regular basis is a critical tactical refresher. 

Oh, So Blue
Live weapons are always dangerous. Safety checks work but in the history of mankind a gun that has a “blue” barrel in it has never gone bang. A plastic insert barrel allows you to practice all those skills, loading, reloading, and malfunction drills in total safety and I don’t suggest doing them without it. 

To practice your open chamber malfunctions (stovepipe, double feed) purchase a few training rounds. A training barrel has no chamber in it so just load your magazine with a few training rounds, drop the slide forward and you have a simulated double feed. 

To save on your real magazines and make things even safer purchase three “blue” mags and practice your reloads without fear of bending the feed lips or denting the magazine body when you drop them on the ground. 

You can drop blue mags in any environment — mud, dirt, sand, or concrete — without worry that they will need to be disassembled, cleaned and/or repaired. By the way, do you disassemble your live magazines and clean them once a year?

How many guns do you carry on duty? If you carry a backup gun (BUG) you should have a blue BUG, as well.

Carry a TASER? You need a blue TASER, too.

Carry a knife on duty? Sure you do. Whether you carry a folder or a fixed blade is a matter of personal choice and department policy. 

Ever had any training on how to use a knife in a situation that authorizes its’ use in a deadly-force situation? When was the last time you trained with it? Knives are sharp, metal and dangerous. 

If you train with a knife you need a “blue” knife, a safety knife that operates like your carry knife so that your training is realistic. Bear in mind that a “safe” knife made out of metal may be dull, but it is pointed and can cause injury. Wear eye protection if your practice involves a partner and be careful of thrusts to the body if you aren’t wearing some type of padding. Practice at a speed that is safe for you and your training partner(s).

Practice in Blue
Now that you have your training arsenal, what training should you be doing? Here are a handful of suggestions:

1.) Practice drawing your weapons with your right and left hand, your primary weapon from your holster, your BUG from its’ place of concealment, your TASER from its’ holster, and your knife from its’ sheath or where you have it clipped. Build in a strong neural pathway by continuous ongoing practice. Make drawing your “blue” weapon — sidearm, BUG, and blade a routine at the start of each shift.

2.) Practice drawing standing, sitting, kneeling, as well as lying down on your sides, back, and front. Practice in any other position you could find yourself in during a fight for your life. By practicing those positions you may identify problems that may be solved by relocating some of your gear.

3.) Practicing drawing your weapons as a deadly force response against a weapon disarm attempt. Practice for front, side, and rear takeaways from a standing, kneeling, and prone-front, back and side position. Obviously, it works better with a training partner, but walking through the steps against an assailant you visualize is also effective training.

4.) Practice in realistic environments: pinned against a wall or in a corner, over the hood or trunk of a car, on a couch or bed, wherever you could find yourself in a fight for your life — on dirt, sand, concrete, snow, mud, and any other surface your fight could land.

5.) Practice with you on top of the suspect, under the suspect, and side by side on those surfaces listed above, and any others you can think of. 

Practice safely. Practice realistically. Practice with intent. Practice with intensity. Practice mentally and physically. Practice, practice, practice!

About the author

In February 2014, Duane Wolfe retired from his career as a Minnesota Peace Officer after more than 25 years of service (beginning in 1988). During his career he served as patrolman, sergeant, S.R.T., Use of Force and Firearms Instructor, and is currently employed by the Parkers Prairie Police Department. He is also a full time instructor in the Law Enforcement Program at Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria, Minnesota. Duane has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University, and a Masters Degree in Education from Southwest State University. Duance has previously published articles on Calibre Press and IALEFI and served on the Advisory Board for Lt. Col. Dave Grossmans book, On Combat. Contact Duane Wolfe

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