[T]he research shows that officers on average are only marginally better than lesser-trained shooters in terms of getting rounds on target
Despite being a low percentage occurrence, a high stakes event such as a fight warrants developing sufficient skill and is the reason police and military expend resources attempting to build this. Success rates are sometimes lacking. Hit rates and percentages are bandied about. Some suggest curriculum changes, increases or decreases to standard square range exercises, changes of doctrinal shooting positions, and the increased or decreased emphasis of sighted fire.
Here is the terrible truth almost everyone fails to address. Any change in doctrine, curriculum, or funding is doomed to failed improvements until a progressive skill standard is enforced. It doesn’t matter if the number of required qualifications are quadrupled if participants are continually held to the same, elementary, basic, easy, low standards merely sufficient to graduate academy/recruit/basic training. And training isn’t “advanced” unless it includes an actual, measured skill assessment students are held to, one that increases in difficulty over time. The number of training hours or successful qualification results are meaningless until faced with scored tests that are more challenging over time.
Studies of this nature continue to find police and military personnel are only slightly more skilled than those never having fired a gun before. This is because most police and military personnel are in fact only slightly more skilled than those never having fired a gun before.
Based on the personnel chosen for “expert”, “intermediate”, and “naive” groups in this study, every one of them are actually at a novice level. There’s no difference in results because there is no real difference in skill between them.
The skill difference between a completely untrained shooter, marginally-qualified personnel, and personnel capable of “expert” or near “perfect” qualification scores is marginal. They’re all still novices, though some of them are slightly worse than the others. It’s like the difference in mathematics knowledge between a second-grade child scoring a 70 or 90 on an elementary arithmetic quiz. It’s the reason there is no connection found between combat and qualification range results.