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Thread: Big Fish in Small Ponds; Insularity in LE Firearms Instruction

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    Big Fish in Small Ponds; Insularity in LE Firearms Instruction

    @AMC has recently posted several this with regard to his experiences with LE firearms instructors and programs which have resonated with me. Most recently in the Blackhawk T series holster thread:

    https://pistol-forum.com/showthread....50#post1349750

    Quote Originally Posted by AMC View Post
    Working with my T Series L3D RDS holster today doing some Blake's drills to just really push my trigger speed and transitions. I have been out of competition shooting for most of the pandemic, so I haven't been working some skill development as well as I could.

    I am by no means fast.....I am old and broken. But I am sadly faster than most of my staff....just because they don't really understand what fast really is.
    This mirrors my experiences with most of the FI’s at my agency. The exceptions are always those that compete or seek training outside our “bubble” and a few former FAMS who left our agency or USBP in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and returned for reasons outside the scope of this thread. They were being trained by people like Mike Pannone, Kelly Venden, Jim Smith, Mike Seeklander, etc.

    Some some don’t know what they don’t know and some are intentionally hiding in their “small pond.” IME there tends to be a correlation between the “hiders” and the screamer / no demo bullies in red shirts AMC discussed in another thread.

    How (and why) do we get LE FI’s to expand their horizons and thereby raise all (or at least done) boats ?

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    To the question, I think it really depends on agency culture and policies. How are instructors selected? Culture comes into play in a broader sense in terms of whether or not the agency has a culture of proficiency. Just that alone can "raise all boats" so to speak.

    My agency has a very antiquated policy about assignments and transfers to most units. Most assignments have a "waiting list" so to speak for officers wanting to transfer there. Officers can have I believe 3 active transfer requests to different units current at any time. Some units, such as EOD, EVOC and the Range also have a testing process that applicants must pass. There is no interview process for the Range. Applicants do not need to demonstrate any special interest in shooting, or have any relevant coaching or teaching experience. It was a "cool gig" that got you off the street (our range staff are full time). New staff attended Firearms Instructor School, Academy Instructor Certification Course, Less Lethal Instructor, and possibly Patrol Rifle Instructor School. That was it....forever. And it showed in the program, which was mired in early 90's training dogma for years.

    One of the first things I pushed for when I took over was outside training for the staff. In 4 years, I was able to get 2 Instructor courses from Sig Sauer Academy for our guys. It was a game changer, and hugely eye opening for the staff. It got them to buy in to the changes we were making to the Basic Academy program. It isn't perfect, but it is vastly superior to what it was.

    Three of us at the range had for years been attending private sector training on their own dime/time. But I can't force the others to spend money on their own training, and civil service laziness is a more powerful force than shame for some folks.

    We instituted Staff Training, and I had the guys running kind of a "Drill of the week" for a while. But when I wasn't there....nothing was being done but Call of Duty on the cell phones. I have recommended to my replacement that he push hard for a Instructor Qualification that has to be shot monthly by the staff....but he'll face a ton of pushback for that. My recommendation was a version of the Bakersfield test shot on our target (5" 10 ring, 9" 9 ring, silhouette about 1/4 bigger than a "C" zone). Little tougher scoring than the original, but a suitable "Instructor" standard, in 10 rounds.

    My very long winded way of saying if you don't have an adequate selection process that picks people who are passionate about both shooting and teaching their fellow officers, most motivation will only go so far. It worked for awhile in my place, but now that I'm leaving I see things slipping back into the easy safe old ways.

    Like everything specialized: selection, selection, selection.

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    Just wanted to clarify some things, for some folks around here who know some of my staff. Some of these guys are extremely dedicated, extremely knowledgeable, and extremely proficient. My regular shooting partner just retired 2 weeks ago. USPSA M Class in Production and Carry Optics. Passionate about trying to make cops better. Another of my staff, one of the armorers in fact, is the best all around shooter in our department. Can shoot ANY gun you hand him well, from handguns to shotguns to Thompson 1921a1's (we have 7), to precision rifles. @Wayne Dobbs has been to our range and worked with this person several times, and can attest to his knowledge and professionalism. A couple of the other guys really embraced the changes we made, and started to get enthusiastic about shooting. With myself and my partner leaving, and uncertainty about leadership, they both jumped ship from our primary range. What is left is the folks who love not being on patrol at this point. Absent the ability to institute a standard like I suggested....where if you don't pass you're pushing a radio car next week, I don't really know how to motivate some folks. Lord knows I tried.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by AMC View Post
    ...to Thompson 1921a1's (we have 7)...
    Holy shit! Not to derail this thread, but tell us more about those. Any TTPs on how to shoot/employ?

    The best we had were a couple of MP40s taken from bikers back in the day, plus a re-activated M1A1 Thompson DEWAT taken off the street. It's a damned shame these went to the smelter.

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    I found trying to motivate firearms instructors to do anything but count holes and wear red shirts challenging. (Actually I got instructors issued red shirts so I may have contributed to the problem.) My former department wasn't terrific about sending people to outside training, but it wasn't bad about it either. I met Wayne Dobbs when I attended Officer Survival Instructor School in Miami way before I became a firearms instructor. Most instructors didn't really care.

    My favorite example was a discussion of the need for training in one-handed shooting. An instructor opined that we should train officers to place their off-hand in front of their neck when firing one-handed because that would provide protection to a vital area not covered by body armor. OK, so you came up with this based on ballistics knowledge, forensic medical training, your visit to some goofy school, YouTube, nothing?

    Things have improved (not really) since I was retired. Those red shirts have been replaced by red hats.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john c View Post
    Holy shit! Not to derail this thread, but tell us more about those. Any TTPs on how to shoot/employ?

    The best we had were a couple of MP40s taken from bikers back in the day, plus a re-activated M1A1 Thompson DEWAT taken off the street. It's a damned shame these went to the smelter.
    PM coming, so as not to derail the theead.

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    When I started trying to push our firearms training out of the bubble, I met with a lot of resistance. Ultimately, I dealt with this by using host spots for classes for our cadre who then bought into what I was trying to do. We raised a second generation of instructors under those same expectations.

    When I was on the board of the state LE FI organization, it was a losing battle.

    Until people recognize that the state standard is a minimum and that high scores on the qualification is a measure of who can whisper the loudest, you're stuck.
    I had an ER nurse in a class. I noticed she kept taking all head shots. Her response when asked why, "'I've seen too many people who have been shot in the chest putting up a fight in the ER." Point taken.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AMC View Post
    PM coming, so as not to derail the theead.
    Actually I think we're all kind of interested in those Thompsons. Feel free to start another thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlw View Post
    the state standard is a minimum and that high scores on the qualification is a measure of who can whisper the loudest.
    This ^^^ is signature line material.

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