Modern Police Training, Unrealistic Expectations

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None of the following is surprising to anyone knowledgeable about firearms training, which excludes most law enforcement and military personnel.

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (formerly Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education) mandates training for law enforcement in Texas. Here are their requirements for firearms:
http://www.tcole.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Rules%20Handbook_101011.pdf
Page 36

§217.21. Firearms Proficiency Requirements.

(a) Each agency or entity that employs at least one peace officer shall:
(1) require each peace officer that it employs to successfully complete the current firearms proficiency requirements at least once each year;

(b) The annual firearms proficiency requirements shall include:
(1) an external inspection by the proficiency officer, range officer, firearms instructor, or gunsmith to determine the safety and functioning of the weapon(s);
(2) a proficiency demonstration in the care and cleaning of the weapon(s) used; and
(3) a course of fire that meets or exceeds the minimum standards.

(c) The minimum standards for the annual firearms proficiency course of fire shall be:
(1) handguns – a minimum of 50 rounds, including at least five rounds of duty ammunition, fired at ranges from point-blank to at least 15 yards with at least 20 rounds at or beyond seven yards, including at least one timed reload;
(2) shotguns – a minimum of five rounds of duty ammunition fired at a range of at least 15 yards;
(3) precision rifles – a minimum of 20 rounds of duty ammunition fired at a range of at least 100 yards; however, an agency may, in its discretion, allow a range of less than 100 yards but not less than 50 yards if the minimum passing percentage is raised to 90;
(4) patrol rifles – a minimum of 30 rounds of duty ammunition fired at a range of at least 50 yards, including at least one timed reload; however, an agency may, in its discretion, allow a range of less than 50 yards but not less than 10 yards if the minimum passing percentage is raised to 90;
(5) fully automatic weapons – a minimum of 30 rounds of duty ammunition fired at ranges from seven to at least 10 yards, including at least one timed reload, with at least 25 rounds fired in full automatic (short bursts of two or three rounds), and at least five rounds fired semi-automatic, if possible with the weapon.
(d) The minimum passing percentage shall be 70 for each firearm.
(e) The executive director may, upon written agency request, waive a peace officer’s demonstration of weapons proficiency based on a determination that the requirement causes a hardship.
(f) The effective date of this section is January 14, 2010.

The key points are a minimum round count for the qualification (not for any training, practice, or remedial, however…), some minimum distance requirements, a “timed” reload, and a target that is “scoreable” to ascertain that a 70% hit rate was made. “Timed” means that a time limit was stated and enforced but it can as fast (or as slow…) as the department wants. Other strings of fire don’t even require this. In practice, “scoreable” means a full-size humanoid target that has a clear edge/line to score hits or misses only.

Most departments use that point blank declaration to the hilt. When I was an adjunct instructor for AACOG in San Antonio, the qualification we used had 88% of the shots fired at 21 feet or less and 20% shot at three feet from retention and incorporating movement. Everything at nine feet and less was shot one handed and all shots within potential contact distance of the target shot from retention. The few timed strings of fire had generous time limits; many strings were untimed. And our course was more difficult than those used at most agencies.

Foolish people believe this is “progressive” because the distances are more in line with real-world engagements (which is certainly a good idea) however the fatal flaw is these qualifications routinely fail to enforce a time standard more in line with a “speed of life” pace that real engagements will likely take place.

https://firearmusernetwork.com/aacog-leo-pistol-qualification/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/im-a-responsible-gun-owner-seriously/

What you end up with is a qualification that is a relaxed, sedate, inaccurate pus-spraying non-event accepting 70% of the fired rounds slowly splattering a barn-door silhouette anywhere. And then said officer misses most shots when/if forced to do it fast and under stress. Frankly, I’m surprised they managed a 35% “bullet level” hit rate given how lame the course is accepting 70%

Noted trainer and high-level competitive shooter Karl Rehn did a break down of the Dallas Police Department qual course:
http://blog.krtraining.com/shooting-the-dallas-pd-qualification-course-of-fire/

Dallas PD Pistol Qualification Course
Round Count: 50
Target: TQ-15
Passing Score: 80% (200/250)

Stage I – 3 yards: From holster, draw and fire five rounds strong hand only in 10 seconds; transfer weapon to support hand and remain at low ready. When targets turn fire five rounds in 10 seconds, support hand only. (10 total rounds this stage)

Stage II – 7 yards: From holster, fire five rounds in 10 seconds; targets turn away; remain at low ready. When targets turn, fire five rounds in 10 seconds and return to low ready. Targets turn again and again, fire five rounds in 10 seconds. (15 total rounds this stage)

Stage IIa – 7 yards: Set up pistol with five total rounds on board and two five round magazines in pouch. When targets face, draw and fire five rounds; slide lock reload; fire five more rounds, execute a second slide locked reload and then fire five more rounds in 30 seconds total. (15 total rounds in this stage)

Stage III – 15 yards: Draw and fire five rounds in 15 seconds. (5 total rounds this stage)

Stage IV – 25 yards: Shooter starts one step right and one step behind barricade. When targets face, move to cover, draw and fire five rounds in 30 seconds. (5 total rounds this stage)

These test standards are NOT the answer to the question “what level of proficiency is desired to have acceptable performance in a gunfight?“. They are the answer to the question “what are the lowest possible standards that can be used to assess whether someone is a danger to themselves or others if armed in public?”

– Karl Rehn

Qualification courses this weak are the norm among military personnel as well. It’s worth noting that a two seconds per shot pace is used during Precicion Pistol (Bullseye) National Match Course competition, however, competitors are doing that one-handed at 25 yards on a target with a bullseye (nine-ring) 5.5 inches and a 3-inch ten ring inside, not a full-size TQ-15 silhouette using most of the 24×40″ sheet it’s printed on.

Contrast this to Mr. Rehn’s useful Three Seconds or Less which can summed further as stating defensive shooters need the ability to move offline (left or right), present from concealment/duty rig, and land three center hits at three yards/meters/paces in less than three seconds. Mr. Givens and his 63+ gunfight-winning students suggest training your first hit to land in about 1.5 seconds.

From Tom Givens

https://www.policeone.com/police-training/articles/482251006-New-study-on-shooting-accuracy-How-does-your-agency-stack-up/

Hitting (or missing) the mark: An examination of police shooting accuracy in officer-involved shooting incidents
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/PIJPSM-05-2018-0060?journalCode=pijpsm

The Force Science Institute recently reported on a study conducted by several researchers who used the Dallas Police Department as an example of a modern, big city police department’s firearms training and field performance. The researchers were shocked at how poorly the DPD officers did in actual shootings in the field, a reaction generally shared by members of the public at large when they find out how dismal typical police performance with firearms really is, as opposed to the Hollywood movie/TV version of how cops shoot.

The mindset of the researchers can be summed up by this quote from their study: “although the amount- and quality- of firearms training received by officers over the last century has improved considerably, there appears to have been little improvement in shooting accuracy”. Implicit in that quote is an assumption that today’s officers get a lot of firearms training, and that the training received effectively prepares them for armed conflict. Wrong!

First, their findings. From 2003-2017 the Dallas Police Department had 231 Officer Involved Shootings (OIS). A number of these involved multiple officers, so to get a better picture of individual performance, the researchers discarded those and looked only at incidents in which a single officer fired at a single suspect. They found 149 OIS’s that met that criterion.

They looked at hit rates in two ways, “incident level” and “bullet level”. On an “incident level” basis, they found that officers got at least one hit, regardless of the number of rounds fired, in about 54% of the shootings, just barely over half of the time.

However, on a “bullet level” basis, they found that out of 354 shots fired, there was only a 35% hit rate. One-half of all officers missed with every shot they fired, including one officer who fired 23 misses and no hits. This means that six out of every ten shots fired was a miss. How does this happen?

Let’s look at this “amount – and quality- of firearms training” in Dallas, which is actually a very representative sample. Officers qualify with their firearms once per year. That’s right, once. The course of fire they “qualify” on is a joke, essentially a sobriety test for anyone with any skill at all with a gun. I, or any other competent private sector trainer, could take a brand new shooter, with no prior training or experience, and have them pass this course of fire at the end of one day of range training. DPD officers receive “firearms training” once every two years, consisting of 50-100 rounds of firing in exercises and scenarios. That’s it.

Now, let’s take someone who does not know how to drive a car. We’ll give them a few days of driving instruction, but only at very low speed in the empty parking lot, with no traffic. They will then not drive at all for a year. After a year, we’ll have them drive the car from Point A to Point B on the parking lot, again with no traffic. Then, again no more driving once they leave the lot. Some nine months after that, they will be directed to respond to a life-threatening crisis by jumping in a car and roaring off at 120 miles per hour on an expressway filled with traffic. Think they would do well? That’s exactly what DPD does with their officers when it comes to firearms.

The bottom line is, most police departments don’t care if their officers can shoot well. They don’t care about the officers’ welfare nor about the public’s safety. “Qualification” once per year has been consistently held to be inadequate by U.S. courts, yet it is still the standard in many areas. “Training” every two years is criminally negligent, but that’s “good enough” for these agencies.

Learn from this example. Whether you are a law enforcement officer, or Joe Citizen with a carry permit, the agency you work for or who issued your license is NOT responsible for your life. You are! Seek out competent training. Make time for relevant practice. Handle your emergency life-saving equipment often enough to obtain and maintain proficiency with it. Remember that recency trumps almost everything in retention of motor skills, so get to the range more than once a year. One day you may be very glad you “exceeded the mandated standard”.

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Tom Givens and Mas Ayoob

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https://www.glocktalk.com/threads/summary-of-gunfights-by-students-of-tom-givens.1619533/

From Mas Ayoob

I didn’t keep count of mine over the years. Success rate has been the same. One was wounded by a guy who ambushed him on the street and shot him in the leg; when the gunman saw my grad drawing his .357 he fled into a crowd, and my guy didn’t shoot for fear of hitting a bystander. I think my folks may have had a higher percentage of home invasion shootings vis-a-vis street incidents.

Here is Tom Givens‘ reply:

“I am on the road teaching, so this will have to be fairly brief.

First, to the best of my knowledge, one student of mine was robbed at gunpoint while armed and elected not to draw his weapon. He was caught unaware and when he first saw the robber the suspect had a gun pointed at my student. The student elected to comply and the robber took off running as soon as he had the wallet. The student was unharmed, but by sheer luck. His situational awareness sucked. Since neither side fired any shots, this event is not included in our stat’s.

“I never said my students were pumping gas in a majority of their incidents. I said the majority of the incidents occurred on parking lots. We have had students engaged on the parking lots of gas stations and convenience stores, but also the parking lots of banks, grocery stores, large malls, restaurants, strip shopping centers, and office buildings. They have also been engaged in driveways, garages, front yards, and a few in their homes.

“Parking lots in this country are not dark, with rare exceptions. Commercial locations, especially, tend to be very well lighted. I have seen my sights better on a convenience store parking lot at 3:00am than on an overcast day at 3:00pm.

“I hope this helps.” — Tom Givens

Minimum Defensive Shooting Skills
https://firearmusernetwork.com/minimum-defensive-shooting-skills/

Tactical Reload

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http://www.gunnuts.net/2015/07/16/magazines-and-reliability/

Magazines and reliability
by Tim aka TCinVA

Dropping magazines, especially partially loaded ones, on the ground is often very hard on the magazine. Apart from dirt, mud, and other detritus that gets inside the magazine, baseplates and feed lips will sometimes crack, and tubes will sometimes bend or dent. This fact is, believe it or not, where the so called “tactical reload” came from.

I actually discussed this with Tom Givens in his Intensive Pistol Skills class a few weeks ago. In the early days of Gunsite the gun that 99.99% of people showed up with was a 1911. In those days there was no Wilson/Rogers 47D magazine and folks didn’t show up to classes with massive piles of magazines for training. Everyone was using GI or factory Colt magazines in their guns. Dropping these magazines on the crushed granite of the range ended up destroying them to the point of students almost put out of commission because they didn’t have any functional magazines left. If the magazines never hit the granite, then you never have that problem, right? VIOLA!! The “tactical reload” as we know it was born.

Just think: All that arguing about reloads you see on the internet dates back to a practice adopted to get around the fact that 1911 magazines circa 1977 sucked out loud. Stew on that one for a bit without getting depressed. I dare ya.

Guns April 1964
See page 18
http://www.gunsmagazine.com/1964issues/G0464.pdf

Tactical Light Use

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“I worry less about it as the need for a light in the CCW fight paradigm is damn near zero. I note that in exactly none of the 62+ CCW shootings that Tom Givens students were involved in was a light used, or needed. When you have an armed robber in your face the need to PID the target is greatly reduced. CCW folks don’t, or shouldn’t, be chasing people into dark holes.”

-Chuck Haggard

http://www.policeone.com/police-products/duty-gear/flashlights/tips/5322302-Proper-use-of-weapon-mounted-lights/

“I’ve never encountered a civilian CCW holder with a weapon-mounted light that had a clear idea of when to use it or how to use it. Handheld I strongly recommend as a tool for life. WML… get training before you throw on one, then decide. To get them thinking, I ask them how they will feel pointing the gun at their family to identify them.”

-Ken Nelson

Metrics vs Mediocrity

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Tom Givens and Rangemaster is a renowned instructor and training facility. Givens has had over 60 students involved in documented fights and his experience is one of the best track records of personal defense students in the United States.

Every student trained by Tom Givens at Rangemaster that was forced into a fight that had a gun available won their fight.

Givens is also a successful competitive shooter and trains his students in a competition-compatible approach. Givens’ advice for being successful in a self defense encounter includes preparing in a manner nearly identical to that taken to do well in a shooting match.

Here are words of wisdom from one the most successful and proven defensive shooting instructors in the United States.
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Observations From 5,000 Gunfights

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From John P Correia

I’ve watched about 5,000 gunfights at this point, and the patterns that emerge are pretty clear. Some thoughts you might want to consider that I don’t think that the training community really wants to hear:
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Competition vs. Street Training

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Competition vs. street training — again, and why my opinion has wiggled around

by Ralph Mroz

Over the years I’ve written a few articles on the difference between training for match competitions and training for the street. I have found that my opinion has changed over the last few years in that I find more value in competitive-orientated shooting that I used to. In no particular order, here’s the things – pro and con – that have influenced my current state of mind on the matter:

  • There is a lot more to street self defense than shooting, but shooting is a critical and central component of it.
  • Competitive shooters are the best pure shooters, so if you want to learn to shoot, competitive training is how you’ll get good at it.
  • Competitive shooting can train some bad habits into you. For example, you can shoot too fast (that is, faster than you can assess the situation), cover is treated as an inconvenience rather than a life-saving opportunity, you shoot without vocalization, penalties for misses are not life-destroying, among others. [Editor’s note: All of these can – and are – mitigated by course design if that is the goal.]
  • You can mitigate the disadvantages of competitive training by doing it only as a sideline compared to street training or by shooting competitions with street gear and using street tactics. You can also modify competitive training drills to be more realistic while retaining their shooting improvement quality.  [Editor’s note: A significant portion of all effective training, for competition or otherwise, is developing fundamental skills. Concerning firearm use, there is no difference in fundamental skills with street training or competition.]
  • Now that so many men have retired out of our top-tier special forces (Delta, whatever 6 is called this week, and so on) and are teaching serious members of the public and LE, we have more insight into their training methods, which, and this is important, have been validated in copious close-quarter combat engagements since 2003. One thing that strikes me is just how much a good deal of their training seems to resemble competitive training, which is no real surprise in that every SF unit has a top competitive shooter that they regularly get instruction from.
  • Competitive shooters, in order to get an edge, slick up their guns with a too-light trigger. Yes, Rule Three is the ultimate safety, but on the street you have to expect to get startled, bumped, trip and fall, as well as get into physical struggles. During these events your finger can involuntarily come onto the trigger, and a trigger weight less than 5 pounds — and ideally more — is just too light.  [Editor’s note: All military and many civilian venues (notably Production/Stock/Standard divisions) mandate equipment and modifications suitable for issue and/or field/street use.]
  • Tom Givens’ record of all of his 60+ (armed) students winning their gunfights is impressive, and Tom trains in traditional, competition-compatible, technique.
  • Things like acquiring a sight picture and resetting the trigger — both foundational competitive techniques — do seem to have value under stress. The trigger reset seems to become subconscious programmed, and whether or not you can actually acquire a sight picture under stress (I believe it depends on the amount of stress you are under compared to what you have become accustomed to), you are certainly building kinesthetic memory which seems to hold up sufficiently well.

Some additional points:

Competitive shooting need not encourage bad habits. Things like shooting too fast and cover use can be addressed with course of fire design based on the goals.

A significant portion of all effective training, for competition or otherwise, is developing fundamental skills. Contrary to popular myth, competitive shooters do not conduct training or practice by shooting full competitive courses repeatedly. Instead, they drill fundamental skills, the same base skills that apply to all firearm use. Let’s ask a top competitive shooter about this:

When I shoot a match, I break down a stage into basic shooting functions. I then practice those functions as a drill until I perfect my performance. I only train using drills… Stages are too complicated and don’t allow you to properly improve a specific area.

Rob Leatham

If a long time, top shooter like Mr. Leatham trains by breaking everything down into a drill to train functions/fundamentals, then so do the rest of us. And training functions is the same for every task we need to train for.

Concerns with equipment, such as slicked up guns with a too-light triggers, can be addressed in equipment divisions forbidding such modifications. Military matches require as-issue gear and ammo, for example.

This “problem” is overstated anyway.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/ken-hackathorn-selective-memory/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/tag/rooney-gun/

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