Thursday, August 28, 2014

Training: Shoot like SWAT (Part 1 of 2)

I asked a friend of mine who was once an operator in special forces and also was an FBI agent to let me know how we can train to shoot like an operator. This is what he sent me. Know that some of this may not apply. Police are often in close quarter fights because of the nature of their work. But we as civilians can benefit from this training and knowledge.

1. Prepare for immediate, spontaneous, lethal attacks.
It is obvious that close quarter tactics and techniques are a must for survival. Personal communication with unknown individuals is a large part of law enforcement officers’ daily routine. In order to communicate effectively, officers must be close enough to the person to communicate. The difficulty arises when some of these people turn out to be bad guys. When this happens, a mastery of drawing and firing from various close quarter positions, weapon retention, physical strikes and other close-quarter combat skills are critical. To satisfy the close distance issue, a basic cardboard target holder that is sturdy enough to withstand muzzle blast, palm strikes and an occasional flying ticket book should serve you well. As far as sudden and spontaneous goes, a high-speed turning target system that suddenly presents a bad guy just as the officer glances away can add a tremendous amount of stress to the situation
2. Prepare officers for assaults by multiple threats and uninvolved subjects.Statistics tell us that there is about a 60% chance that an assault will involve more than one attacker. At the same time, we need to be aware of uninvolved, innocent bystanders as well. In many domestic abuse calls, the spouse or other family members can start out as uninvolved and quickly join sides against the officer, if a conflict ensues. Learning to break the tunnel vision phenomenon and engage multiple threats with total awareness of uninvolved subjects justifies shoot/no-shoot training, increases survivability and decreases liability issues. The most obvious approach here is lots of targets. Tall ones, short ones, some closer, some farther away, some clustered in a group and some off by themselves. Another particularly effective technique employs turning targets, although they have to be individually controlled. As your officer is engaging targets 1 and 2 as they edge and face right in front of him, try facing target 6 and see if he notices. Better yet, use a 180 degree turning target that can show you a bad guy or a good guy in the same place at any given time.
3. Integrate the sudden transition to firearms from arrest and control techniques, including searching and handcuffing. Many potentially lethal assaults occur as the officer is searching and/or attempting to handcuff the subject. This sudden shift to a deadly force situation can be exceptionally dangerous if the officer has not been conditioned with the proper response techniques. Glaring examples of insufficient training and conditioning include: a failure of the officer to create distance if the chance arises, or an attempt by the officer to draw his firearm while his handcuffs are still in his hand. The use of drag dummies, CPR dummies and turning targets are all effective here. The dummies provide realism and a platform for practicing control techniques, while the turning targets provide the sudden visual indicator that the situation has escalated.

4. Base training on the fact that most officers are killed at short distances. The statistics clearly establishes where most officer fatalities occur. However, it is important to note that this element does not say “Teach your officers how to shoot at close distances.” It says to base your training on the fact that most fatalities occur up close. It’s like the guy who tells his doctor that he broke his leg in two places and the doctor says “So, don’t go to those places!” If most fatalities occur at close distances, we should all be aware of when it is appropriate to be farther away. In addition to the close-quarter combat techniques discussed earlier, a moving target that charges straight at the officer can be extremely effective at illustrating the importance of creating distance, and demonstrating the best ways to move quickly and effectively in various situations.
5. Base training on the fact that officers will have limited fine and complex motor control. We should all be aware of the various physiological responses our bodies undergo during a combat situation. Manual dexterity is the one we are focusing on here. As blood flows away from our extremities and toward our core, we lose a degree of fine and complex motor control in our fingers and hands. Unfortunately, elements of good marksmanship like trigger control can be the first to go. Now before a panic ensues, we believe that teaching basic marksmanship skills (like proper trigger manipulation) is absolutely vital and should not be abandoned! However, make room in your training for the fact that fine and complex motor control will be decreased. The best way to demonstrate the effects of stress to your officers is to immerse them in it. Make them run, get their heart pumping and their adrenaline flowing, then send them into an interactive scenario with dye marking rounds and role-playing bad guys shooting back at them. The breakdowns in technique will be startling.
6. Integrate two-person contact and cover teams involved in realistic scenarios. Just because one of your officers knows how to safely and effectively engage multiple threats, reload efficiently and move from one piece of cover to another doesn’t mean he knows how to do those things with two or three other officers running around him, trying to do the same thing at the same time. Where is my muzzle? Where is my partner? Where is my partner’s muzzle? Proper tactical communication is absolutely critical! Have two- and three-man teams go through tactical scenarios together. Use portable cardboard and steel targets in a variety of locations and configurations. Have the teams shoot side by side so their partner’s brass is bouncing off the bill of their cap. Condition them to be profoundly muzzle conscious, and make them realize the importance of communication when it comes to moving, reloading and staying in the fight.

7. Emphasize the survival mindset and the will to win in all skills training. Quite often, what you bring to the fight will dictate the outcome of the fight. Having a winning mindset and a positive attitude will only enhance the officer’s odds of survival. While our work is dangerous, we have a high risk of being a victim off the street rather than on the street, and at times the biggest threat we face is the one in the mirror. Particularly with younger officers, movies and television have shaped much of what they perceive as the realities of a gunfight. For example, the guy that flies back 15 feet and crashes into a pile of trash cans after being hit with a single handgun round. Clint Smith said if you get into a fist fight you might get punched, if you get into a knife fight you might get cut, and if you get into a gunfight you might get shot. It doesn’t mean the fight is over, it just means you may have to finish the fight a little differently than you had originally planned. Knowing how to shoot, reload, and clear malfunctions with only one hand (both left and right) is imperative. Our officers must be confident in their ability to win the fight, even if they are injured. They must also be comfortable with these techniques in order to gain that confidence.

We will finish this next blog.

Semper Paratus
Check 6