The following guest article was written and submitted by John Veit.
We welcome a variety of points of view on the subjects of shooting and marksmanship. Test them objectively on the range and let the results fall where they may.
NYPD And LAPD Shooting Effectiveness
by John Veit
John M. Buol Jr. of FUN states that point shooters like to use police-compiled statistics of officer-involved shootings to make a case for the use of Point Shooting.
Just below are some of his thoughts on the subject along with NYPD and LAPD stats which act as a counter weight to that claim. They also are in the threads linked to below.
My response and thoughts follow John’s as a means of furthering the discussion. They also are in the threads linked to below.
So, let’s begin.
IN REGARD TO NYPD STATS AND POINT SHOOTING:
Point shooting advocates often tout various miss rate claims among officers, typically showcasing New York Police Department studies as “proof” that training to learn any sort of two hand, eye level shooting technique is ineffective.
Point shooting techniques were understood and taught long before any two hand, eye level shooting technique was commonly taught. In fact, most point shooting advocates recommend trainers and techniques from decades ago as the better way.
Given that point shooting has been used as a primary approach in the
past, what sort of success rates did point shooting-trained personnel enjoy? Would a point shooting-trained force fare any better than the NYPD?
One study offered is data published by Fairbairn and Sykes on the results of encounters by their point shooting trained officers:
Police Killed: 42
Criminals Killed: 260
(Ratio 1 : 6.19)
Police Wounded: 100
Criminals Wounded: 103
(Ratio 1 : 1.03)
Point shooting advocates have claimed that this “does indicate that their method was both effective and practical.”
Of course, this doesn’t describe their hit/miss ratio, just the final results. In fact, just like Fairbairn and Sykes, this is exactly how the NYPD officially compiles results.
NYPD Annual Firearms Discharge Report 2011 – Page 24 (PDF 42)
OBJECTIVE COMPLETION RATE
The NYPD does not calculate average hit percentages. Instead, the objective completion rate per incident is employed as it is both more accurate and more instructive.
Despite various miss rates being put out by third parties, neither the NYPD nor Fairbairn and Sykes officially kept this sort of tally. For an apples-to-apples comparison, what sort of final results do organizations like the NYPD have?
The NYPD also compiles this same data on their Officers in the New York City Police Department Annual Firearms Discharge Report.
NYPD Annual Firearms Discharge Report 2011 – Page 63 (PDF 81)
OFFICERS SHOT AND KILLED BY SUBJECTS 119
SUBJECTS SHOT AND KILLED BY OFFICERS 1049
1:8.815 (42.4% improvement over Fairbairn and Sykes)
OFFICERS SHOT AND INJURED BY SUBJECTS 661
SUBJECTS SHOT AND INJURED BY OFFICERS 2399
1:3.629 (a 252% improvement over Fairbairn and Sykes)
How did New York police officers shoot their handguns?
NYPD Annual Firearms Discharge Report 2011 Page 24 (PDF 42)
Utilizing a two-handed grip, standing, and lining up a target using the firearm’s sights is the preferred method of discharging a firearm, but it is not always practical during an adversarial conflict.
Of officers reporting their shooting techniques, 71 percent gripped the firearm with two hands. Sixty percent of officers who reported their stance state that they were standing, while 31 percent were moving or struggling.
Finally, thirty-four officers reported whether or not they had used their sights, with 44 percent reporting in the affirmative.
And nearly three out of four NYPD officers involved in shootings used a two hand grip/stance and almost half used their sights.
If NYPD studies and Fairbairn and Sykes are to be believed (point shooting advocates think they are) then the NYPD, despite their claimed terrible miss rate, have results superior to a point shooting trained force.
This presentation was met by approval by a thread follower who said that cop vs. criminal hit rates are meaningless in a discussion about one shooting style vs. another, for the simple reason that no one is bringing up the shooting style of the criminals.
If all cops shot one way, and we knew that all criminals shot the other way, and we knew that both received the same level of training, ONLY THEN would you have a valid comparison of cops vs. criminals.
Otherwise there is NO logical basis for valid comparison!
The only relevant comparison is cops trained one way vs. cops trained another way, and even then, each group would have to have the same level of training (hours & round count) to be honestly comparable to each other via target scores.
…The simple fact is that cops and military are NOT trained via hours and round count to levels where a relevant comparison could be made.
On the other hand, serious competitors DO train themselves to such high levels, and can demonstrate max style performance potential on demand, in repeatable courses of fire that HAVE been caught on video.
World, regional, and state champions do so regularly. And none use pure point shooting when it counts, though some are amazingly good at it.
And probably most if not all use the Cooper-developed blend of trained-reflex-point-and-visual-check variety. Which ought to end the discussion once and for all.
Here are LAPD Quarterly Use of Force Report stats for the First Quarter of 2012. They compliment and expand on those of the NYPD.
Officer-involved shooting incidents (not including animal shootings) made up approximately 55 percent of all Categorical Use of Force incidents in 2011, a markedly higher proportion than in previous years.
As noted above, hit shootings grew at a much faster rate than did no-hit shootings, but this seems to be a ratio adjustment from 2010, which showed an unusually low hit proportion of 65 percent. In most years, about 75 percent of reported LAPD officer-involved shootings result in a person being hit, as they did in 2011. About 41 percent of all shootings in 2011 resulted in the death of the subject.
LAPD 2010 Use of Force Annual Report
Pg 16 (PDF 19)
LAPD hit/no hit ratio of Officer Involved Shootings is between 65-75%
Pg 20 (PDF 23)
63% of all LAPD Officer Involved Shootings took place at 21 feet (7 yards) and further. If they had only trained in point shooting techniques and never past 21 feet, these officers would have been ineffective in almost two thirds of these incidents.
Within the ranges where point shooting is potentially most effective (inside 5 yards or so), 22% of LAPD Officer Involved Shootings in 2010 took place. In that same year, 30% of LAPD officers engaged at over 15 yards.
How does this compare to the NYPD stats?
NYPD Annual Firearms Discharge Report 2011
Pg 24 (PDF 42)
In 2011 47% of NYPD officer involved shootings took place at 6 yards and further, with 38% from 6-15 yards and 9% at 16 yards or more.
Here is another point of view on the NYPD and LAPD data.
Based on the NYPD’s 2011 Annual Firearms Discharge Report, there were 36 incidents of intentional firearms discharge.
Sixty-two Officers intentionally fired their weapons during these incidents.
Of Officers discharging their firearms, 69 percent fired five or fewer times.
Three Officers fired 16 rounds each, emptying their firearms. (No Officer reloaded in any incident.)
41 subjects were involved in the 36 incidents.
Officers hit at least one subject per incident 28 times, for an objective completion rate of 78 percent.
Of the total subjects involved, 68 percent were hit.
When Officers were being fired upon, subjects were hit two thirds of the time (six out of nine incidents).
Three Officers were hit by subject fire for a subject to Officer hit ratio of 9/1.
Two other Officers were hit by friendly fire.
The majority of adversarial conflict discharges occur when the Officer is closer than fifteen feet to the subject.
Of the total of 62 Officers involved, 34 reported whether or not they had used their sights, and 15, or 44 percent of those 34, reported in the affirmative.
The following in regard to shooting technique is taken directly from the report.
NYPD firearms training also emphasizes weapons control. With regard to shooting technique, the mechanics of pistol shooting in a controlled environment include proper grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, and breath control. All of these require a degree of concentration and fine motor skills. Unfortunately, in a combat situation, concentration and fine motor skills are sometimes among the first casualties. Training can mitigate this, but officers must be taught to rely on mechanical actions that employ gross motor skills and have as few components as possible.
Utilizing a two-handed grip, standing, and lining up a target using the firearm’s sights is the preferred method of discharging a firearm, but it is not always practical during an adversarial conflict. Of officers reporting their shooting techniques, 71 percent gripped the firearm with two hands. Sixty percent of officers who reported their stance state that they were standing, while 31 percent were moving or struggling. Finally, thirty-four officers reported whether or not they had used their sights, with 44 percent reporting in the affirmative.
Of 62 officers shooting, 58 responded as to whether or not they took cover. Of those 58, three quarters were not able to make use of any type of cover during the incident. Lack of cover can be a factor in the need for a firearms discharge, because a protected defensive position often allows officers to control the pace of an incident.
SHOOTING TECHNIQUE ANIMALS
Of officers who reported their shooting techniques, only 32 percent report gripping the firearm with two hands, which is radically divergent from the 71 percent of officers involved in adversarial conflict who used a two-handed grip.
This likely stems from the fact that animal attacks are often abrupt, close-quartered affairs, in which the animal rushes towards the officer and the officer seeks to ward off the animal even as he or she draws and fires. In all but one incident, the animal was within five yards of the officer.
Only three officers (7 percent of those reporting) used their sights when discharging their firearm during these confrontations, which is dramatically different from the 44 percent of reporting officers who used sights during adversarial conflict.
(Of the total of 62 Officers involved, 34 reported whether or not they had used their sights, and 15, or 44 percent of those 34, reported in the affirmative.)
This, too, likely derives from the immediacy and proximity of most animal attacks. Eighty-four percent of reporting officers indicated that they were unable to utilize cover, versus 75 percent of reporting officers in adversarial-conflict incidents.
Fully 88 percent of reporting officers stated that they were standing when they discharged, versus 60 percent of reporting officers in adversarial-conflict incidents.
In the 41 years, 1971 – 2011, there were13,059 incidents, and 37,373 shots were fired from NYPD Officers guns.
A total of 3,448 subjects were shot (2,399 injured, and 1,049 killed).
The hit rate was 9 percent, and conversely the miss rate was 91 percent.
Whether or not Sight Shooting training or the ad hoc use of untrained Point Shooting is to blame for the dismal hit rate, it calls out for the development of a practical and effective pistol shooting method for use in shooting situations.
I opt for some form of Point Shooting training as the first priority, with Sight Shooting taught as a supplemental skill, because per the NYPD’s SOP 9 study, it is at very close quarters where there is the greatest chance of an Officer being shot and/or killed. That is also likely to be the case for civilian encounters.
For example, from Sept 1854 to Dec 1979, 254 Officers died from wounds received in an armed encounter. The shooting distance in 90% of those cases was less than 15 feet.
Contact to 3 feet … 34%
3 feet to 6 feet …… 47%
6 feet to 15 feet ….. 9%
The shooting distances where Officers survived, remained almost the same during the SOP years (1970-1979), and for a random sampling of cases going back as far as 1929. 4,000 cases were reviewed. The shooting distance in 75% of those cases was less than 20 feet.
Contact to 10 feet … 51%
10 feet to 20 feet …. 24%
As to 2 handed shooting, another finding of the SOP 9 report was that almost without exception Officers fired with the strong hand.
GUNFIGHTS ARE RARE OCCURRANCES
Per the executive summary of the 2011 NYPD Annual Firearms Discharge Report, there were 92 firearms discharge incidents involving members of the New York City Police Department. Only 36 of the incidents were shootings involving adversarial conflict with a subject.
That stat points up the rarity of gunfights given that NY is a city of 8.2 million people, and that there are nearly 35,000 uniformed members who interacted with citizens in approximately 23 million instances in 2011. It’s also an impressive record of firearms control.
HIT / NO HIT STATS
In 2011, 62 NYPD Officers were involved in the 36 incidents of intentional firearms discharge during adversarial conflict.
19 subjects were injured and 9 were killed for a hit percentage of 78 percent using the LAPD method of scoring shooting results.
3 Officers were injured for a ratio of 28/3 or 9 to 1.
In the LAPD 2010 Use of Force Annual Report, there is multi-year data on Officers discharging their firearms at a suspect/s:
In 2007 there were 51 shootings in which there were 33 hits and 18 no hits for a hit percentage of 65 percent.
In 2008 there were 42 shootings in which there were 31 hits and 11 no hits for a hit percentage of 74 percent.
In 2009 there were 36 shootings in which there were 27 hits and 9 no hits for a hit percentage of 75 percent.
In 2010 there were 40 shootings involving 75 Officers discharging their firearms at a suspect/s. There were 26 hits and 14 no hits for a hit percentage of 65 percent
In 2011 there were 63 shootings in which there were 47 hits and 15 no hits for a hit percentage of 75 percent.
I think that the LAPD scoring method, if I understand it correctly, way over-simplifies the results and puts a positive spin on the results that may help one in getting a merit pay increase or a performance award, but neglects the obligation and responsibility to provide Officers with the best practical tools (including shooting methods), to use in their self defense and in defense of civilians.
The 78 percent hit rate by NYPD members (using the LAPD method of scoring shooting results), does not call out loudly for investigation into and the development of more practical and effective shooting methods.
However, the historical miss rate of over 90 percent of shots fired, certainly does, from the standpoints of Officer safety and effective self defense, and the danger that errant rounds pose for civilians at or near the place of shootings.
For example, on Friday morning, 08/25/2012, in Manhattan, NY City, a gunman shot and killed a former coworker, and then he was shot and killed by the Police.
Two Officers shot 16 rounds at the man who was wielding a .45 caliber pistol after he engaged them in a gun battle. The gunman was hit 7 times for a hit rate of 44% OF SHOTS FIRED. That rate is poor, but still way better than the historical hit rate of less than 10%.
According to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, nine passersby were wounded by the police in the gun battle. Three sustained direct gunshot wounds, while the remaining six were hit by fragments. All injuries were caused by police, Kelly said.
As to the NYPD stats, they do not routinely breakout situations in which lots of rounds were fired, where multiple officers were firing, or where there were multiple hits.
However, when there are large amounts of data gathered over time, those factors will not greatly influence the miss rate, which is a key indicator of shooting effectiveness. Even making significant adjustments in the data, won’t change it that much.
In regard to shooting effectiveness and per the report: all “NYPD service pistols are “double action only” (DAO), meaning they have a two-stage trigger pull for each round fired (unlike single-action weapons, which can be “cocked,” resulting in a one-stage trigger pull, which is smoother and easier).”
“Additionally, all NYPD weapons are also modified to have a heavier-than-stock 12-lb trigger pull; this diminishes the likelihood of unintentional discharges but also affects aiming. Nevertheless, it balances the fact that NYPD pistols do not have safeties, and are carried “hot,” with a round in the chamber. The NYPD uses a 124 grain, hollow-point bullet that is designed to prevent over-penetration and ricochets.”
It also makes the use of a standard marksmanship or competition grip in the middle of a CQB situation, just wishful thinking.
That’s because with a standard marksmanship or top competitor competition grip, the thumb is not supposed to push against the gun, and the index finger is supposed to be held aloof from the gun and squeeze the trigger smoothly back to the rear until the shot breaks TO INSURE THE ACCURACY OF EACH SHOT taken.
And per the literature, you’ll have a crush grip on the gun, so your chance of torquing it down and around to the left with your shots falling low and left, will be great. The historical NYPD miss rate of 90+ percent attests to that.
Here’s a link to an article in Handguns Magazine which shows pics of the grip of Brian Enos and Dave Sevigny. In the picture of Brian Enos’s grip, his thumbs do not touch the gun.
The description under the pictures reads: “Brian Enos believes one of the keys to a successful grip is having no contact by the thumbs along the side of the gun. The grip should happen strictly in the palms and fingers. Photo by Nidaa A. (Right) Dave Sevigny does touch the side of the gun with his thumbs and also considers that an important part of his technique.”
Here’s a link to the article.
As to competition shooting, I doubt that making one hit per COF makes for a score of 100 percent as is the case for scoring LAPD shootings. I also doubt that double action guns with a 12 pound trigger pull are “standard issue” for competitions or used by most top competitors.
Developing muscle memory / learning habits that won’t carry over to real life CQB situations, IMHO, could be dangerous to your health if you have a gun for self defense.
About 1/2 or more of the shootings in NY and LA occur from about 6 pm to 6 am when seeing the sights if there would be time to use them would be problematic. There also would also be the possibility that you would not be able to focus on them anyway, due to the activation of our instinctive FOF response that occurs in real life threat situations, and which results in the loss of our ability to focus on near objects like the sights.
IMHO, Police and the millions of civilians who have a firearm, are deserving of more than a shooting method that has a proven miss rate of more than 90 percent of the time when used in life and death close quarters situations where there is the greatest chance of being shot and/or killed.
If “we” can put a man on the Moon, you would think that “we” could come up with a shooting method that has an effectiveness rate of more than 10%.
How about jumping out of a plane with a parachute that has such an effectiveness rate?
Here’s a link to an article by Larry Seecamp on why his guns come without sights.
And here are links to four recent threads addressing shooting effectiveness.
Point Shooting Success Rates
Point shooting Vs Sight Shooting
Point Shooting Vs Sight Shooting Handgun Training Effectiveness – LAPD
The Connection Between Combat And Range Results