Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cousin Wallace Keeps it Simple.

As one of the Firearms Instructors at my agency, I get a chance to see a wide variety of duty sidearms and how they perform the various drills/exercises we conduct to advance each officer's skill sets. ( That's a nice way of saying "getting them out of their comfort zones"....hahahaha). Long gone are the days of comfortably standing in your shooting lane and casually poking holes in an oversized sihlloette (sp) paper target that just stands, in the wide open, waiting to get shot.  Realizing this isn't anywhere close to "real world" (and, there's no way to really simulate "real world" stressful shooting scenarios), we strive to ramp up the pressure and difficulty of our drills and therefore "wake-up" the officers and let them know they NEED to get out of that comfort zone and TRAIN doing shooting drills more difficult than casual "target practice" on a paper target standing directly in front of them, fully exposed."  

Some examples of those drills include timing them as they draw from their security holsters, from the Sul position and from low-ready/high-ready positions....the noise they make doesn't count...only time to hits matters. We also make them draw and shoot from "compromised" positions such as on laying on their left/right sides, from their backs and prone....or, any & all of these mixed together. These drills quickly identify and separate not only the shooters with superior skills but what types of sidearms typically perform best in the hands of "AVERAGE" Officers. I say average because, most officers are not "competition grade" shooters...they are typically folks who didn't grow up shooting and don't have a burning interest in guns & shooting. When we, as instructors, are tasked with teaching these folks to shoot well enough to defend themselves, to fight through adversity and to do immediate action drills to clear/fix a malfunction, it DOES start to become very clear why simplicity of operation is huge!

I'll probably ruffle feathers of those (and, I was one of "those" before seeing these things over & over in training) who favor their own particular brand/action type/calibre sidearm but, hear me out. You might just see what I'm talking about if you will honestly assess your choice(s) of weapon. We see the same mistakes, misses and shooter induced stoppages week after start to see a pattern and form opinions of what is the best overall choice of sidearm if you actually get caught in a bad situation.

DA/SA type auto pistols such as the Sig Sauer and H&K...we saw this several times just yesterday....when drawing from a security holster (that can also be a problem if not practiced a bunch), we required the shooter to complete the draw and hit a steel IPSC shaped taregt about a foot wide and 15" tall @ 10 yards within 3 seconds maximum. The shooter only had 2 rounds to accomplish this. Time after time, the Sig and H&K shooters missed their first shot and nearly all missed their 2nd shot. The long and heavy initial DA pull is tough and the transition to the light/short SA pull on the 2nd shot really screws up the shooters. Now, I've got a Sig P220 & love it...I'm not picking on the brands, just the two types of trigger pulls a shooter has to deal with...throw in stressing them with a draw and short time limit & the majority of Officers won't fare well. It's even hard for a skilled shooter that is familiar with his pistol even though they know it's coming.
Here's where the striker fired autos such as S.A. XD's, Glocks and S&W M&P's prove superior...the trigger pull is consistently the same time after time. You may not like em but from my point of veiw, they are easier to train the troops on and do what they were designed to do very well. They aren't "target" pistols but shoot plenty good for their intended use. I call them "working guns."
The less "gadgets" the of our officers, an experienced and good shooter, drew his H&K yesterday and failed miserably because it was "on safety"....would be a bad deal if this wasn't "training." When stressed or "multi-tasking" extra gadgets & gizmos can cost valuable time ( or, get you killed! ) Murphy's Law nearly always shows up at the worst time.....Again, the striker fired service pistols mentioned above make more sense for the average officer or citizen in self-defense scenarios. Every week we see multiple cases of the "operator" figguring out a new way of "screwing up." Makes a good case for K.I.S.S.
Shoot a calibre you are capable of shooting effectively. With the wonderful selection of high-performance modern ammunition we have today the performance gap between duty calibres has narrowed. Long gone are the days of being restricted to FMJ bullets or, the ineffective designs of yesteryear. It's a very competitive market anymore and the ammo companies have really been doing their R&D on bullets. Even the 9X19mm is pretty danged potent with the new +P+ W-W Talon rounds we issue....way, way ahead of where a 9X19mm used to be. A couple of veteran officers have recognized this and have gone to the 9X19mm in favor of a couple of extra rounds per magazine. I can see their reasoning. I'm not ready to switch from my beloved .357 Sig but to each his own...IF he can shoot it to good effect!  A common problem, and, one that we have been addressing in the last couple of academys, is officers wanting to shoot more gun than they can shoot effectively. I've never been a huge fan of the .40 S&W but it is about the most potent round the AVERAGE officer can shoot effectively. Some officers can't even shoot the .40 so we restrict them to the 9X19mm until they can demonstrate proficiency with something bigger....they are probably going to need all the capacity they can get too!  A couple of veteran officers are carrying .357 Sigs but, they are marginal with that calibre and would probably be doing themselves a favor by backing off to a lesser calibre.     

As always, these are MY opinions and observations based on training 190+ officers twelve days out of every year. I'm sure other's may differ. I'd like to hear the opinions of others, good or bad. Let's get some discussion going!



Gladorn said...

My agency used to have a firearms training program similar to what you just described. Sadly most of the additional firearms training got cut out in the battle of the budgets.

Back before the budget crunch, we thought it was a great program. Very few officers seem to own their own firearm, and even fewer will go to a range on their time off. Some officers complained like there was no tomorrow. But other officers relished the chance at extra shooting, and "tacticool shooting" at that!

Our agency embraced the LEOSA legislation, and the next qualification we allowed everyone to qualify with their personal firearms. I saw officers purchase new pistols just for this! I must admit it was amusing to have to go down the range and show people how to use their new firearm. I also got to show up one of the firearms instructors on firearms knowledge. (I will state that revolvers are not in common use any more, and I'm one of the three officers at my agency that qualifies with one for off duty carry.)

My agency was seeing a significant issue with officers qualifying with the .45 Sigs. It was terrible and we were having problems getting enough staffing. Again, this seemed to lead back to the fact that very few people have had any practice with firearms. Thus, we transitioned to G-17's back in the 90's. Less recoil helped raise the firearms scores. (And the administrators liked the fact that the ammo was cheaper.)

I think you bring up a lot of good points. IE: I agree with everything you wrote.

Jim said...

A good "non-shooting", 1 hr. segment to add to any officer's training?

How to clear and make safe weapons with which they're not already familiar. While doing so, safely!

I've seen an officer unable to figure out how to open the cylinder on a Dan Wesson revolver. Another could not figure out how to open an Iver Johnson, single-shot 20 ga. (plastic slab-button at front of trigger guard.)

I could go on, and I'm quite sure you could go on for pages and pages worth.

It'd be fun to get some esoteric designs laid out on the table, and watch what they don't know, time after time.

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Old NFO said...

+1 on Jim, being able to safe a 'strange' weapon IS critically important not only for officer safety, but other people's too! I'm not an LEO, but I didn't like the .40 either, dropped back to 9mm for EDC but I still like the Colt .45 and shoot it well. After so many years of shooting 1911s, I still automatically 'sweep' the safety off, even though there isn't one on a Glock.