Police firearms training


May 1, 2005, 02:38 PM
**I realize the flamewar potential here, so let me preface this by asking the mods to lock the thread/delete offending posts if it gets out of hand.

A friend of mine is planning on going to the police academy after he graduates from college in a few weeks. Being the gun nut that I am, I've been tempted on a few occasions to invite him to go to the range with me. However, I've stopped myself because I really don't trust him to take gun safety seriously. He's been to the range a few times and hasn't shot himself, but he isn't really a shooter. I figure he'll learn the discipline to carry/use a gun safely at the academy, but an "accident" a cop friend of his was involved in makes me wonder.

This friend is a relatively new cop, but has already been involved in a negligent discharge. The guy's partner shot him in the foot with a .40S&W Glock (not sure which model). Of course nobody "knows" how it happened, but I can guess :rolleyes:. This would be bad enough, but the guy (and my friend) seems to think it's a big joke, and doesn't really seem to realize the seriousness of the situation.

I'm just wondering if cops who aren't already shooters get enough safety training from the police academy and how these kind of "accidents" are dealt with. Before someone accuses me of cop bashing, let me say that I'm really just concerned about my friend's safety. Is there any way I can teach my friend some gun safety without sounding preachy?

thoughts? comments? experiences?

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May 1, 2005, 02:43 PM
I'm just wondering if cops who aren't already shooters get enough safety training from the police academy.


May 1, 2005, 02:44 PM
I know two police firearms instructors. Both of them TAKE safety very seriously and TEACH it very seriously, maybe even more so than the marksmanship aspect of shooting.

Unfortunately, the students/cadets don't always take it so seriously, and stupid things happen by stupid people.

And if he's not necessarily a "gun nut" and plans on carrying a gun every day of his career, he needs to at least pay attention and learn as much as he can, because whether he likes it or not, that sidearm is going to become the one things (along with proper mindset and training) that keeps him alive.


May 1, 2005, 02:50 PM
Just noticed your question and reply about police firearms instructors. may I join in?

May 1, 2005, 03:15 PM
I'm familiar with two of the three police training centers in our state. Safety is paramount in both. Any one not getting real serious usually gets sent home resulting in a career ender. It's up to the individual to decide if they want to retain the info however. The philosophy is "not me, not today" for triple checking for loaded chamber, finger off trigger, etc.

May 1, 2005, 03:15 PM
My instructors were deadly serious about gun safety, to the point of booting folks from class if they wouldn't listen. It's been my experience that police(in CA, at least) get ample safety training, but don't always follow up on it. Range time and training as far as putting the bullet in the target is another story. It was completely inadequate, IMO.

May 1, 2005, 03:59 PM
Hi mikes1. Welcome to THR!

I see that was your first post.

These are not private conversations, so if you have anything to contribute to the thread, feel free.


May 1, 2005, 05:52 PM
38SnubFan summed it up perfectly.
Having taught/teaching firearms to officers and recruits and observing classes being taught, we do our best to hammer in the safety rules since we always run a hot range.
We teach the students to think for themselves on deciding when they need to reload their guns and gas up their magazines.
But it never fails, there are always a few in the class that will never take it seriously, have absolutely no interest in what is being taught, and will try and coast through the class. Some won't shoot a qualifying score, some won't make it through the malfunction drills.
Our only hope is that they are incompetent enough not to qualify before graduation and get dropped from the academy or get flushed during the FTO program.

May 1, 2005, 06:02 PM
that my training was adequate in firearms. Besides the standard mandate training, my department let us "familiarize" ourselves on a close to 1/2 ratio by experienced shooters/instructors with a case of ammunition before even entering academy.

While in academy with firearms we did nothing but draw and holster for an entire day, dry firing the next day, with more draw/holster drills, and finally hit the range with dummy rounds and limited ammo (6 rds per mag) in addition to not loading the weapon until all were on the firing line. With all that in mind, the "home position", trigger finger on frame not touching trigger was emphasized OVER and OVER again until it became natural.

When we actually went through our sequence of fire in mandate, we had one instructor per student. Oh, and while I was an experienced shooter before, we were taught how to make a one hole group at 3 and 7 yards, which was something I could only dream about doing before. We lost 6 guys because of lack of qualifying score (80%+) and most of us were shooting in the 90% range. This is in Georgia by the way.

May 1, 2005, 07:23 PM
I'm just wondering if cops who aren't already shooters get enough safety training from the police academy and how these kind of "accidents" are dealt with. Before someone accuses me of cop bashing, let me say that I'm really just concerned about my friend's safety. Is there any way I can teach my friend some gun safety without sounding preachy?
In answer to the first question, that depends upon things like: the department or agency, the training officers, and the willingness of the trainee to learn. Most of the problems I have seen in firearms training have been caused by complacency toward firearms and safety and by people who do not pay serious attention to firearms safety be it a trainee, and experienced officer, or an instructor. Firearms and their use can be dead serious business and should always be treated as having such a potential, even when you are having fun with them. I do think most departments and agencies teach a good amount of firearms safety at the academy, at least those I have experienced or heard about.

Now to answer the second question. Do you think that getting 'preachy' ( something a lot of people seem really afraid of becoming) is a bad thing with regards to something that can easily take a life? If being preachy is what is required, then do it. If your friend does not want to hear it, then he can walk away. Of course he can also try to get you to take him to the range again for some more shooting. In that case you should walk away until he gets serious about firearms safety.

Ample and sufficient firearms training does not come easy, nor is it always a fun thing as many would like it to be. It is serious stuff. Sure you can teach with a flair, and throw in some jokes and good war stories, but the object is to teach firearms safety among other things. It often needs to be pounded into the heads of trainees, and then pounded again and again into an officer's head over the many years of his career. There is no excuse for someone being passed through an academy, or staying on the job, when that person routinely acts in a less than safe manner, or acts like a clown with a gun, or acts as if gun safety is a minimal aspect of gun handling.

As for the one guy who shot the other in the foot, I am surprised the officer who did the shooting was ot fired or at least severlely disciplined, then again I am surprised both were not. You said only they know how it hapened. This implies to me they did not give an explanation. If that is correct then many dpeartments would can them.

By the way, it did not seem to me like you were at all cop bashing, just asking a question.

All the best,
Glenn B

May 1, 2005, 07:37 PM
You said only they know how it hapened. This implies to me they did not give an explanation. If that is correct then many dpeartments would can them.
I meant they said they didn't know how it happened; in the sense that most of the NDs I hear about are "I don't know what happened, it just went off" situations where the person either legitimately doesn't realize that they pulled the trigger or their pride won't let them admit it.

There may have been an official reason for what happened, but my friend, who knows the guy who was shot reasonably well, said they didn't know how it happened. I'm also pretty sure neither of them was subject to any disciplinary action.

May 1, 2005, 08:05 PM
I'm just wondering if cops who aren't already shooters get enough safety training from the police academy . . . This question is impossible to answer. Each academy will have different standards, some are great some are poor. So it will depend heavily on how good the program at his particular academy. Beyond that there is the attitude of the individual. Some trainees will follow the rules in an effort to make it through training, but will get very lax once they're out on their own. Doesn't matter if it's the best training in the world if the individual doesn't take it seriously both in training, and continue to take it seriously once out of training.

This is really no different than people who learn gun safety in the civilian world. Some will get good training, some won't. Some will take it seriously both while learning, and continue that attitude for life, some won't.

Here is my advice. Let your friend go to training without any influence from you. That way he will learn what they are teaching at the academy without any baggage from previous training. Then when he's done, discuss his training, and take him shooting. If he got good training, and took it seriously, it will be obvious. If he's developed any bad habits that will be obvious too, and some gentle suggestions can help to fix them.

Here is the problem though. Many people teach their friends to shoot, but the training conflicts with what they will be taught at the academy. I went to training with a guy who had been shooting Weaver stance, and was doing some odd things with his grip. Our training required the Isoceles stance, and the thumbs forward grip. Well he had to unlearn those habits on top of learning all the safety rules for our program, and shooting techniques for our program. It caused him some difficulty. If he had just shown up with a clean slate he would have had a much easier time. We had an excellent training program, both in shooting safety and technique. I was glad I didn't try to train myself beforehand, and also glad enough time had passed since my lousy military training that it didn't hinder me.

Just my 2 cents. YMMV.

May 1, 2005, 08:46 PM
I'm just wondering if cops who aren't already shooters get enough safety training from the police academy

LOL Ask the ATF agent who was talking to a class and shot himself in the foot in front of the class

May 1, 2005, 08:58 PM

When we teach our cops weapons, passing the shooting portion isn't the only requirement.

If they fail safety at any time- they fail

If they fail immediate /remedial action - they fail

If they fail assy/disassy/operator maintenance - they fail

Our problem is that the qualification isn't that hard

May 1, 2005, 09:01 PM
LOL Ask the ATF agent who was talking to a class and shot himself in the foot in front of the class It was DEA, that's why his T-shirt had DEA written across the back. It never ceases to amaze me how some people have such a blind, illogical, hatred of the ATF that they will blame everything on that agency. :rolleyes:

May 1, 2005, 09:14 PM
Hi all, just this weekend I had a casual chat with a neighbor from around the corner who is on the local police force. He stopped by the garage after his son's baseball practice at the field down the street. I was depriming a bucket load of fresh cleaned .45. He noted the large amounts and variety of brass etc, (I shoot .357, .45, 9mm, .380, 7.62x25 and 7.62x39 and reload for .357, .45 and .380) and the 1911 on my hip then asked jokingly.....shoot much?? We got to talking and he asked how often I get to the range to shoot....to which I answered at the least.....every other week for 2-3 hours....He seemed dumbfounded at my response. I asked him the same....he stated outside of qualifications, every now and then...Now it was my turn to be dumbfounded. It amazed me to think here is a guy (and he stated it's typical of most of his fellow officers) that carries a gun daily to serve and protect who barely handles his firearm let alone shoot it regularly. Funny that I as a civilian have more hands on firearms time and familiarity with my firearms than this police officer did.
This is one of the things that bugs me about this state I live in also....Illinois has no carry laws....We as gun owners... train, practice, compete, repair, reload etc yet with all that we are denied the right to carry. And here my neighbor is a local LEO who carries everday both on and off duty yet tells me he gets much less hands on or range time than I do.
Please don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for all LEO's...they swore an oath to serve and protect and they wear the uniform and badge as proof of that oath. It just bothered me after talking to my neighbor and realizing that as a LEO he and a number of his fellow officers spend little time with thier firearms practice. My town is not a small town but not a large city either....75,000 and I always thought we had a very progressive police department...what gives????
Sorry if I hijacked the thread....it seemed related at the time....

Steve in PA
May 1, 2005, 10:33 PM
Alot of people seem to think that because someone is a LEO they should live and breathe firearms. The fact is most LEO's are not gun people, most LEO's will never ever have to draw their weapon in the line of duty and most of their day to day duties have very little firearm involvement. There is alot more to police work than guns.

Most people who work live for their day off so they can go to the range. Most LEO's live for the day off to where they can sleep, spend time with the wife/kids, mow the lawn, fix the gutters, do anything that gets them away from what they do for a living.

Most LEO's don't get paid to shoot. I know some of the bigger depts pay their LEO's or have some type of reimbursment for them, the vast majority don't. I try and go shooting at least once a week, mainly because I like to shoot, secondly because I'm a LEO Firearms Instructor and need to be proficient and third because I like to be prepared.

This third reason should be sufficient for all LEO's, but as I said trying to fit everything in is very difficult. I have shooters that probably don't go to the range at all until a few weeks before quals. I'm always leaving memos saying quals are coming up in 2,3 months, etc.....and if they want or need help, pointers, etc......to let me know. So far......no takers.

May 1, 2005, 11:00 PM
i see your point Steeve, but there's a big difference between not having the time/wanting to go shooting every week and putting a bullet in your partner's foot.
Since I'm taking a full load of classes, I have only had the opportunity to shoot 4 times this year and 3 times were over spring break. But, I'm almost certain (as certain as you can be) that I wouldn't "accidentally" shoot someone in a non-life threatening situation.

May 1, 2005, 11:22 PM
. . . putting a bullet in your partner's foot. Sorry, but this is at the extremes. You can always find a few examples at the far edges of the bell curve, but they don't tell you much about the size and shape of the curve.

Also, just because someone devotes time and energy in shooting and going to the range, does NOT guarantee they are doing so safely, and that they will not have a ND. Often experience, and familiarity "breed comtempt." Meaning complacency sets in, safety rules are ignored, and then those experienced people have NDs.

May 1, 2005, 11:49 PM
This topic reminded me of an incident nearby within the last couple of years where a veteran off duty officer was attending a live event at a large theater with his wife and accidently discharged his personal carry weapon during the performance. No one was hurt but many people were publically calling for the book to be thrown at him. Nothing much became of it though because there was a reasonable explanation for the incident. However, if it had happened to an ordinary person, they would probably have received much harsher scrutiny. ;)

Jeff White
May 2, 2005, 03:37 AM
Everybody who thinks that police officers should train with their firearms more, raise your hand.....OK, it looks like it's unanimous...Great, it's hearby resolved that all police officers should train with their firearms more. :D

Now everyone who's for increasing their taxes to pay for the additional training raise your hand.....Come on guys, raise your hand...you unanimously voted that we should train more, even the officers here voted that way....What's the problem?? It's just a little more money to hire more officers to cover the street while the rest of us are on the range....And heck there are some great deals on ammunition these days....Why isn't a tax increase to pay for additional training worth it?? :confused: Inquiring minds want to know.

That folks is the number one reason why firearms (and just about all the other training is inadequate too). Good training costs money. Money to pay the officers while they are on the range. Money for overtime for the other officers so someone is there to answer calls while the other officers are shooting. Money for ammunition. Money for ranges. Money to send officers off to instructor schools. Money to keep the instructors current or bring in guest instructors.

And why don't we have the money for this? It's because you folks, who are our bosses, don't want to pay for it all.

Let's look at a hypothetical small police department in Small town USA. Smalltown is town of about 12000 about 75 miles from a major metropolitan area. Smalltown PD has 20 sworn officers and a very pro-training attitude. Let's say for discussion purposes that each officer makes $18.00 per hour. They are fortunate enough to have two certified firearms instructors, one of which was certified 9 years ago and the other was certified two years ago. Neither instructor has been able to get away to attend any update courses in a few years. The chief is very training oriented and he wants to shoot 4 times a year. He'd like to shoot more, but 4 shoots a year will stretch his budget to the breaking point. Each officer will receive 4 hours training at each shoot.

The lead instructor schedules each shoot to run an 8 hour day and a makeup. Half of the officers shoot in the morning and half of them in the afternoon. Night shoots must be scheduled over two days for each session because the department wants to be a good neighbor to the people who live near the range and they try not to shoot past 10PM. So it takes 4 evenings to get the night shoots in. That doesn't count makeups, so lets say 6 evenings to do the 2 night shoots.

Now each firearms instructor has other duties within the department. So he/she has to stop doing those duties while they are on the range teaching and while they are prepping and recovering the range. So just for discussion sake, lets say that it takes 4 hours prep time to conduct the training (that is very conservative) and 4 hours to recover (clean up range, tabulate scores, prepare after action review so that lesson plans can be updated etc.).

So the cost in wages for our two instructors to conduct the 4 shoots per year is: $27.00 per hour (time and one half because they are doing it on their days off, because they have other jobs) X 208 hours (16 for each instructor for each day shoot + 16 for each instructor for each makeup day + 12 hours for each instructor per night for the night shoots) and you've spent $5616.00 out of your OT budjet just for the instructors. Now lets pay the other 18 officers 4 hours OT each for each of the four shoots: That's 16 hours per officer per year at $27.00 per hour. 288 hours at $27.00 per hour is $7776.00 out of your OT budget. The total is $13,392.00 to train 20 officers for 16 hours a year. But wait, were not done yet. We've still got more money for wages coming out of our budget. We have to figure in 7.65% which is what we have to pay the fed.gov for the employers contribution to social security. So $13392 + $1024.48 and we're up to $14416.48 for our 16 hours of training. But wait, we're still not done; Smalltown USA has to pay workmans comp insurance, unemployment insurance and the city's contribution to the health insurance and lets just say for the sake of our example here that all of those contributions add $10.00 an hour to the cost of an officer. That's another $4960 to the total for wages. So now the very minimal amout of 16 hours of firearms training a year is costing the city $19376.48. So our chief, being the smart guy that he is, asks the city council for say $25K for firearms training in his budget. That pays for the 16 hours per man of training and buys ammunition, maybe even gives him a cushion to send one of the instructors upstate for an update course.

Unfortunately all of the city council members aren't also THR members, so in the council meeting where they are discussing the budget he gets asked questions like, Chief, why do you need 25 thousand dollars for firearms training? Didn't they teach all your officers how to shoot in the academy?" and "I don't know why we need to shoot anyway, no Smalltown USA police officer has ever fired his weapon in the line of duty except that time a few years ago when officer Smedley shot that rabid skunk by the restaurant and then the owner tried to sue the city because the smell supposedly got into the meat in his freezer." "I'm not sure it's a good idea we get the guys used to shooting things, we don't want another fiasco like that." and "You know 45 years ago, when I was a kid and my uncle Bob was chief, we never had to spend 25 thousand dollars for firearms training. Uncle Bob took us kids down to the city dump when the officers were practicing and let us shoot. It was informal, some of the guys were real good at shooting cans and rats, and it didn't cost no dnaged 25 thousand dollars...We got along just fine in those days."

But Smalltown USA has a good chief, and he talks to the council about the Supreme Court decisions regarding liability for failure to train, and he talks about the duty of the council to have the men and women they hired to serve and protect the citizens of Smalltown the most proficient as they could be given the city's resources, and the council approves the budget.

Fast forward 5 months. The first shoot of the year has been completed and the planning for the second is well underway. The senior firearms instructor is enrolled in an update course and he should be back before the next shoot...But, there's been a crime wave in Smalltown. People in the area have discovered how to cook methamphetimine. And they are doing the usual stupid things that goes along with that. Burning down their houses and sheds and garages when they lose control of the reaction, getting into high speed chases with the Smalltown officers when they are pulled over for routine traffic violations and they have rolling labs in their cars. All of this increased activity has caused overtime for the department to soar. You can't just send an officer home at the end of his shift when he has reports to write that must be in the hands of the states attorney the first thing in the morning etc.

Our stallwart chief is on the phone with mayor, because he's running out of money for day to day operations. The mayor is sympathetic but he doesn't have any money. Look chief, I understand there is a crisis, but there isn't anymore money in Smalltown's budget. The EPA is going to fine us if we don't get this new update installed at the sewer plant, we've already cut street and sidewalk repair to nothing, We got a grant for new trees in the park, but we have to pay our share, and if we don't we have to send the money back, and we've already spent it. You're just going to have to keep operating with the money we gave you at the bginning of the fiscal year."

So the chief calls in the firearms instructors and says, guys, what's the minimum state standard for firearms training? We have to keep this dept operating, and as much as I hate it, we have to cut the training to the minimum.

That, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls is a pretty simplified example of why police officers aren't trained to the standards you and I think they should be.


Steve in PA
May 2, 2005, 08:46 AM
What he said :D

May 2, 2005, 09:54 AM
If my job mandated that I strap on a weapon every day, and my survival hinged on being able to defend myself and those who I promised to protect and serve ...I would be damn sure that I could use said weapon to the best of my ability...which would include practice beyond the yearly qualifications that most departments require.

I have a CCW permit...which means I do strap on a weapon every day...and I practice as much as possible...because it's a matter of survival...mine !


May 2, 2005, 12:37 PM
I had a similar relevation one time when a new student joined a martial arts class I was in back in college... he was a police officer, but had never done any martial arts before, and was pretty awkward with his body. Kinda sobering.

Me, I just took the first (written) exam for the Seattle Police Department yesterday. Can't afford to spend much time on the range right now (I go every other month or so), but maybe if I get the police job I'll have a bit more cash.

May 2, 2005, 02:10 PM
I was a law enforcement firearms instructor for just over 28 years. Every class I took and taught safety was the first point covered and was repeated throughout the class. That is the key "in the class" unfortunately outside of the classroom or training situatoin the insturctor has no control over the student, and yes there are too many within the profession who do not take firearms safety serious. AS for training, there seems to be two camps, those agencies who have been sued over a police shooting and those who have not yet been sued. Agencies who have been through the court process and know first hand the cost of a bad police shooting seem to have much more training and training money than those who have not. Police shooting settlements are running in the area of 3 to 4 million each. That is a lot of training. And believe me training is much cheaper than litigation.
As for the number of police officers who do not take carrying a firearm seriously, that too was always a mystery to me. but since I have retired it is now someone elses problem.

May 2, 2005, 10:58 PM
I've been a law enforcement instructor for over 20 years, and currently work with law enforcement firearms instructors on a daily basis. I have worked with more than 250 instructors over the past decade. Without exception, they have been serious, dedicated professionals who are absolutely devoted to firearms safety.

Unfortunately, as we instructors say, "You can lead a student to knowledge, but you cannot make him think." The competence of anyone, law enforcement "professional" or not, with firearms is largely dependent upon their maturity level. Here, I'm talking about a mental quality -- not an age. I've known 15-yr olds that I wouldn't hesitate to hand a loaded weapon to and have them follow me into the woods (or an alley, for that matter). I've known 40-yr old officers that I wouldn't want in the same county with me if they were in possession of a loaded weapon. The vast majority of the thousands of officers I've trained have been serious professionals who handle their weapons safely. A handful have not, and have inevitably had their s**t jumped into by their firearms instructors. And just as inevitably for these Bozos, it just goes in one ear and out the other. I'm afraid Nico's friend sounds like one of these. I hope he grows up before he hurts himself, one of his colleagues, or an innocent bystander.

May 3, 2005, 01:21 PM
Some time ago I assisted in a Hunter Education program ane we were priviledged to use the County range. All the local law enforcement authorities used the range (we were the only non LEs allowed). The ammo storage was an aluminum garden shed situated between the range officer's tower and the classroom. It had multiple bullet holes .......

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