Training Schools vs. the Police Academy?


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marklbucla
October 14, 2005, 11:36 PM
I've seen a lot of LEO bashing on this forum with regard to their shooting ability and was wondering how their training compares to the typical weekend training school. Or, in other words, what fraction of the LEO firearm training is covered by the typical two day handgun or two day shotgun course?

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Sunray
October 15, 2005, 12:59 AM
"...fraction of the LEO firearm training..." It's more of an interest thing than the length of a course. Most cops do not shoot as a hobby and have no interest in shooting as a hobby. Nor did most of 'em even see a real firearm until they got hired and sent for training. They see their service piece as a heavy hunk of kit they're required to lug around. Certainly not all of 'em though, but the days of a cop being a shooter before he became a cop are long over. A degree is more important to the HR types.
Up here, our city cops get a total of 12 hours firearm training, as I recall. it might be 8 hours. They are required to qualify annually with their service piece only. They are not required to shoot at any other time. Nor do they get anything but a rudimentary familiarization with a pump shotgun.
I know a guy who was a Toronto cop eons ago who with his partner got assigned to the 'Bank car' one day. The only car with a shotgun in it. Neither one of 'em even knew how to load it. When I was living in TO, the club I belonged to shot ISU(Olympic style bullseye. One handed on yer hind legs.) in a TO league against cops. Some of the young guys would use their service revolver(they have Glocks now I think) for target shooting. No adjustable sights, crappy triggers. (It wasn't a money issue either. At the time a cop with a few years service was paid 50 grand a year, 20 years ago.) We regularly wiped the floor with them and we were the club's Second String. There was a First String cop team too. They could shoot, but still got beaten regularly. Good bunch of guys for the most part though.

The Real Hawkeye
October 15, 2005, 01:13 AM
I've been shooting since I was eight, but have never been to any kind of shooting school. When I get to talking to a cop at the range, I will often ask to shoot his weapon, after offering him a try at mine, and I almost always shoot a much tighter group while shooting faster strings with THEIR weapon than they do. I usually get a stunned look from the cop.

As someone said, they see their weapon as something that they HAVE to qualify with each year. We see them as our primary hobby. Most of them have to clear the donut crumbs out of their actions each year before qualifications.

Sunray
October 15, 2005, 01:52 AM
"...with THEIR weapon..." Geezuz, they let you shoot their service piece? Geezuz, if one of our guys did that he'd get into so much excrement that he'd be permanently assigned to the shoveling detail for the mounted unit just to cover the smell. Wouldn't think twice about letting one of the local guys shoot my stuff though. Under my supervision of course. They're good guys, but most of 'em don't know a revolver from a semi-auto.

lycanthrope
October 15, 2005, 02:01 AM
Having done most of the above, and having seen local LEO's shamed into avoiding public ranges, I'm of the belief that if you wish to learn tactics the weekend trainings can help. If you want to learn to shoot fast and accurately you need to compete and practice with a purpose. You can then apply those skills to the tactics you have learned.

If I could choose, I'd get an IPSC/USPSA grandmaster as a mentor and then learn tactics. Initially, they appear to overlap, but as you go along it's easier to see they don't.

When I began, the 10 second El Presidente drill seemed hard....now I can hit it inthe 4 second range after 3 years of competition. THAT skill will effect your tactics....

Skyviking
October 15, 2005, 02:25 AM
Firearms training is one of the first things cut when budget crunches happen. The problem with firearms training is that it doesn't produce any "stats" other than live vs. dead officers. (Capturing the statistics of incidents that don't happen because officers are highly trained and competent with their firearms is impossible.) Qualification is done only to preclude liability issues.

A large percentage of police officers and government agents shoot only during qualifications. A sign of the times is that numerous law-enforcement get-togethers feature golf matches rather than pistol/shotgun/rifle matches. More than a few administrators and agents have a set of golf clubs in their G-ride's trunk rather than a long-gun. :banghead:

Shooting is a perishable skill. The people who take a week-end (or longer) shooting course are dedicated to improving their shooting skills. They would likely be at the range anyway, while most LEOs would be doing anything else. I know. I'm the firearms instructor for my office.

M-Rex
October 15, 2005, 02:53 AM
When I went through in '93, we trained with the standard pistol/revolver course at 5, 10, 15, and 25 yards. Shotgun at 15, 25 yards (slugs at 25 and 50 IIRC). We also did 'combat courses' where we ran through specific drills and courses of fire, where we had barricades set up, or vehicles on the range. All in all, it was pretty fun - especially at night. 12 gauge slugs make a rather attractive muzzle blast. I was 'counseled' not to emit a rebel yell after firing slugs at night.

However, I think about 4 other guys, and I, were the only 'gun nuts' in the class. A few had never picked up a firearm in their lives. About a third of the class had done some shooting prior to the academy.

Slingster
October 15, 2005, 10:47 AM
I recently was approached by someone looking for defensive pistol training in preparation for the police academy. He was not unfamiliar with the M16, haven been in the military, but had no significant pistol experience. I provided him with four one-hour lessons, two off the range and two on the range.

He ended up being the best shot in his academy class, and he reported that one of his instructors asked him, "Where'd you learn to shoot like that?" I think in all of his qualifying shoots he dropped a total of six points, shooting all perfect scores but one.

His impression of the academy firearms staff is that they're range officers, not firearms trainers. They had only superficial understanding of technique, i.e., "what to do" but not "how or why it works," and in some cases didn't even know what to do. For example, they were required to shoot from kneeling, but the range officers gave them no instruction on kneeling technique; the cadets had to improvise on their own. As another example, they were given no technique for presentation of the pistol from the holster. A third example: they were told to drop partially filled magazines rather than retain them with a tactical reload.

So, if you attend a good weekend course with a good instructor of, say, 30% classroom and 70% range work, and put in a total of about 15 hours and 300-500 good rounds ("perfect practice, perfect performance") over the two days, I'd say you'd have a 99% chance of exceeding by far the competence level of the average police academy graduate. This is due both to the differing motivations of the students and the differing levels of expertise of the instructors.

El Tejon
October 15, 2005, 10:49 AM
Many years ago after I finished a class at my first "big name" shooting school, the head instructor stated that we were now better trained than 95% of police officers in the nation.

Oh, BTW, what makes you think that all LEOs receive firearms training? I received 0 hours of governmentally sponsored firearms training during my noble tenure as a LEO. I paid my own way and tax payers never paid a dime (hmmm, El Tejon pulling the wagon--that's something new!).:D

My own experience in training LEOs (detailed somewhat on THR and TFL) is that they are not really "into" guns. But they can be converted.:D

The Real Hawkeye
October 15, 2005, 11:00 AM
Many years ago after I finished a class at my first "big name" shooting school, the head instructor stated that we were now better trained than 95% of police officers in the nation.

Oh, BTW, what makes you think that all LEOs receive firearms training? I received 0 hours of governmentally sponsored firearms training during my noble tenure as a LEO. I paid my own way and tax payers never paid a dime (hmmm, El Tejon pulling the wagon--that's something new!).:D

My own experience in training LEOs (detailed somewhat on THR and TFL) is that they are not really "into" guns. But they can be converted.:DThis is true. It is a fairly recent phenomenon to actually train a police officer how to shoot. Before that, it was assumed that your daddy taught you when you were a kid. It was once believed that this was one of the primary duties of a father towards his son.

Highland Ranger
October 15, 2005, 11:39 AM
Another angle - it's more of a frequency of practice (training or otherwise) thing

I've seen this in myself recently.

Haven't had any time to go to the range, then went back after several months - I stink! Took several mags through my trusty 1911 for me to not be embarassed by the targets that came back.

So after the initial, learn what you need to learn courses, LEO's or anyone else taking courses, even quarterly doesn't stack up against the accuracy enjoyed by someone heading to the range every few weeks

Oldtimer
October 15, 2005, 12:24 PM
Markibucia, there is NO standardization of training within the law enforcement community. Each department will set certain standards, and will require officers to qualify at certain intervals, but a LOT of those standards have "eroded" over the years.

I went through the LAPD academy back in 1971, and was issued a S&W model 15 revolver. The range training was on a DAILY basis, and I went through about 2,000 rounds of .38 special ammo while in the academy.

The LAPD required all officers to qualify once per month back then....compared to the NYPD, which had once per YEAR qualifications. The statistics clearly disclosed that the YEARLY qualifications by the NYPD was "unacceptable". They had a 14% "hit" ratio in all of their officer-involved shootings, while the LAPD had a 71% "hit" ratio. Practise DOES make "perfect"!

A few things astounded me, back in 1971. Less than 5% of my academy class (back then, it was all male) had prior military experience, and only about 30% of my classmates had EVER fired handguns! The training, however, brought most of us up to the same level before we graduated.

The "civilian" shooting courses are usually VERY limited, and don't fully cover such things as "tactical" positioning, the laws governing all of the liability aspects, and the "reverance for life". A LOT of the training that I went through thoroughly stressed the "Background" of a shooting situation (i.e., what is BEHIND your "target"), the "Age" of your "target" (minor/adult?), the "Liability" aspect, "Knowledge" of the crime (i.e., a FELONY or MISDEMEANOR), and the "Seriousness" of the crime. It was instilled in me...that "BALKS" acronym! Another thing that was instilled in me was the difference between shooting to "kill" and shooting to "stop". Liability issues being that they were, even back then, the training was set up to "shoot to STOP" an armed suspect from continuing to be a threat.

In trying to condense this a bit, one of my pet peeves through the years was the continual erosion of the training process, and that more and more officers didn't know "SQUAT" about firearms.... including their ISSUED handguns! I tried to do my part by having "show-and-tell" sessions during the daily briefings....familiarizing officers with firearms that they might come into contact with during their tours. It HELPED, but it wasn't enough. Toward the end of my career, having gotten into a training position, I set up numerous "reality" training sessions, including using blank cartridges AND paintball guns. Those training sessions were successful and very worthwhile, but I doubt if anyone has been able to continue what I started....due to budgetary cuts, etc.

My advice would be for you to at least look into the possibility of become a RESERVE police officer, to find out what your local agency has to offer in the way of training. By doing that, you won't be fully committing yourself, but you MIGHT find it to your liking! I know that the LAPD reserve officers go through almost the same training as the "regular" officers, but it is spread out over a much longer period (reserve officers only attend courses a couple of times per week, as opposed to the full 8 months of DAILY training that a full- time police officer goes through).

Lastly, as someone else pointed out, shooting skills are "perishable". If you set them on a shelf for any extended period, it tends to dull your acquired skills considerably. I'll cop out on myself, for I haven't been as active a shooter as I thought I would be, over the past 4 years since I retired! I still have the "eye" for accuracy, but I've slowed down quite a bit! Some of that slowing down can be blamed on "old age", but MOST of it is because I don't go out practise shooting as much as I used to do! Sad to say, but this "old man" can probably "WHUP" many of you young guys that THINK that you're some sort of "Rambo"! Call it "experience", if you want. I call it long-time, instilled knowledge that I gained when I was younger, dumber, and able to retain everything that I learned! I've probably FORGOTTEN more than some of you young "studs" will ever learn! I certainly HOPE, however, that you will listen to my words, so that you will be able to survive!

marklbucla
October 15, 2005, 12:56 PM
So the Antis are wrong in assuming that LEO "firearms handling" training is better than the training we get from say two weekend courses? Or at very least ignoring team tactics, using firearms in arrests, and stuff that's pretty much for Law Enforcement only?

PaladinVC
October 15, 2005, 01:03 PM
Our firearms section was eighty hours - two straight weeks. First few days were basic safety and operation instructions, as well as range protocols. Then we hit the range and fired 2000 9mm and 200 12ga over the course of the remaining sixty or so hours.

It was mostly two or three rounds in a magazine. Draw, fire the drill, clear, check and return to holster. One evening of adverse light shooting toward the end, and some basic injury drills, like one-handed reloads and operationg the 870 with just your left hand. That's tough stuff.

I had shooting experience, and improved considerably during the course. I started out doing about 200 push-ups per day on account of my various bad habits, but I corrected them with time.

Everyone qualified eventually, though some took two tries, and there were a few I wouldn't have wanted firing past me in a fight. In general, I could have made a list on the first day of shooting of the cadets' names and how they'd do at the end of the class, and been pretty much spot on.

As was said before, it's a matter of interest and attitude. The meek resisted familiarity and the macho resisted instruction, so they shook out about the same. The interested and humble led the pack throughout, and I'm guessing those are the sort who would sign up for a course.

pax
October 15, 2005, 01:14 PM
So the Antis are wrong in assuming that LEO "firearms handling" training is better than the training we get from say two weekend courses? Or at very least ignoring team tactics, using firearms in arrests, and stuff that's pretty much for Law Enforcement only?
Mark, it doesn't really work to try to compare.

First, as was outlined above, training and training requirements vary wildly between departments. Some departments allow an ordinary patrol officer to have a shotgun on the rack, a rifle in the trunk, a primary handgun on the belt and a backup handgun on the ankle -- and expect the officer to qualify with all of those every couple months. Other departments allow their officers to carry only one handgun, and require a qualification score only once a year. Most departments fit somewhere between those two extremes and LE Academies vary according to what the departments they serve require them to teach.

Second, not all weekend courses are alike. A weekend course from a big name trainer will often be of higher quality than one from Joe "NRA" Blow. Despite what someone said above, a good-quality civilian class does indeed cover the legal and ethical considerations governing the use of deadly force. They all teach the safety rules and no trainer in his right mind would fail to remind his students that they are responsible for every bullet that leaves their guns, not just those that hit their intended target.

Finally, as has been said repeatedly above, a class is only the beginning of learning to shoot. The real work begins when the class is over. No matter how intensive the class, no matter how excellent the instructor, the only thing a class can really accomplish is to show you what you need to know. It is your job to get out and practice so much that not only can you do it right every time, it would take conscious effort to do it wrong. Neither a LE Academy nor even the highest quality shooting school is going to do for the students what the students need to do for themselves.

pax

Shooting is a perishable skill, but regular practice is a good preservative. -- me.

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. -- Oscar Wilde

El Tejon
October 15, 2005, 01:23 PM
mark, yes, the antis are wrong about how wonderfully trained the police are.

BTW, why do you believe that non-LEOs do not train in team tactics?

The purpose of education is to affect a change in thinking. Those that pay their own money to train realize how little they know. They understand that training never ever ends.

LE agencies see firearms training as something to be "checked off" and over. It's a matter of perception.

RavenVT100
October 15, 2005, 02:01 PM
My advice would be for you to at least look into the possibility of become a RESERVE police officer, to find out what your local agency has to offer in the way of training. By doing that, you won't be fully committing yourself, but you MIGHT find it to your liking! I know that the LAPD reserve officers go through almost the same training as the "regular" officers, but it is spread out over a much longer period (reserve officers only attend courses a couple of times per week, as opposed to the full 8 months of DAILY training that a full- time police officer goes through).

I looked into that, actually. Since I genuinely want to help out the community and am interested in LE, even though I know reservists here aren't issued weapons and don't carry (if I was interested in a career that centered entirely on using weapons, I'd be in the military). However, I was promoted at work shortly thereafter and never really had time to pursue it further. I may in the future.

The scary thing is that on the application, they requested an itemized list of all the firearms I own, model, serial number, and condition. To put it politely, I have no idea why they would need this information. Obviously, being in this state they have access to the list of handguns I own. Maybe you can enlighten me.

orangeninja
October 15, 2005, 02:06 PM
Many Federal agencies spend a ton of money and time training thier officers to shoot. Notables are the Marshalls, Air Marshalls and FBI. Alas, my Dept. is not one of them. Our Department gave the rangemaster position to a guy that got promoted to Sergeant but couldn't do squat. He's least destructive on the range so now he is the range master. Our firearms training is abysmal.:cuss: :banghead:

Lupinus
October 15, 2005, 02:06 PM
Maybe so they know in advance what situation's they can call on you for?

For instence, if they know you own a high power hunting rifle with a scope to match and need someone for a sniper role that you are a better guy to call in as calvery then a guy that only has handguns or shotguns. Or only modestly powerful rifle's.

Personaly, I wouldn't fill it out. I prefer the goverment know as little about what weapon's I have as humanly possible.

RavenVT100
October 15, 2005, 02:50 PM
Maybe so they know in advance what situation's they can call on you for?

For instence, if they know you own a high power hunting rifle with a scope to match and need someone for a sniper role that you are a better guy to call in as calvery then a guy that only has handguns or shotguns. Or only modestly powerful rifle's.

Heheh....err....no.

I think it's more like, you know, what's that term for when you dangle the sharp hook in the water with some bait on it? Someone help me here.

Then again, the app looked like it was the same one they were using back in the 1960s, so who knows.

patrol120
October 15, 2005, 02:57 PM
Oklahoma's Police Academy shoots well over 1000 rounds over the course of six days. Doesnt sound like much, but you have to consider that for every hour spent shooting, there is two hours of dry firing and weapons handlig skills on a cold range. Overall, the training is quite good, if extremely outdated. (i.e., the Weaver Stance, shooting from 50 yards, etc.)

Overall, I think it varies by department. In rural depts like I work in, most officers are shooters, if not avid enthusiasts. In larger Police Departments, it is often the opposite. To be honest, it doesnt matter. A gun fight is 99% mental. In polie work, I think that in the grand scale of things, shooting is one of the least important skills.

That doesnt mean I dont love it, and practice. A lot. Matter of fact, I have earned the dreaed "gun guy" tag at the PD, and even in surrounding ones.

RavenVT100
October 15, 2005, 03:35 PM
I wouldn't say Weaver is outdated. Weaver is the stance I feel the most comfortable with. It's "whatever works for you."

Although I can switch to modified weaver (chapman) no problem. I am not sure if I could ever get used to isosceles.

444
October 15, 2005, 07:26 PM
Something to consider:
It is repeated over and over on internet gun forums that civilians are better pistol shooters than police officers. I think that one big reason for this is that the internet gun forums are populated by civilians that enjoy beating their own drum.
I have no doubt that a small minority of law enforcement officers are serious shooters (whatever that means). Most have probably not received a lot of gun training. Most probably only fire their weapon when required to qualify. Most would not be impressive at a shooting range or at a match.

But

It is pretty safe to say that millions of firearms are in civilian hands in the US. What percentage of these American civilians are serious shooters ? What percentage of these gunowners have received ANY formal training at all ? What percentage have actually taken this two day class of which you speak ? How many regularly fire the guns they own ? How many would be impressive on a range or at a match ?
My experience is: very few. A tiny minority. The people on this board are "into" guns enough to spend their leisure time discussing them on this board and I bet very few of the private citizens among this group have had any formal handgun training. I bet very few have ever competed. I bet that less than half the people on this board fire their guns more than once every couple months and even then do far more plinking/noise making than serious training to get better in marksmanship or tactics.


That is obviously just my take on the subject. I have no axe to grind either way. I am not a LEO and never have been. I have taken 7-8 week long formal shooting classes however. And in those classes, a stong majority were LEO or military with only a few being civilians.
It is easy to make generalizations about "good" civilian shooters vs. obviously bad law enforcement shooters. But, I think the whole complexion of the argument changes when we look at both as groups: ALL police officers and ALL private citizen gun owners.

MikeIsaj
October 15, 2005, 07:57 PM
At the prison I worked at, the armed escort unit trains 40hrs annually. We were told that made us the most frequently and best trained LE agency in the county. I thought that was a disgrace considring the likelihood of a cop shooting was much greater than the likelihood of one of us shooting.

The state qualification course was a joke. I scored a possible the first time with a county weapon I'd never fired before. And I'd call myself a "fair" shooter.

I shoot with a few local LEO at my indoor range. I help them with the basics I learned in the Marines. They help me with tactics. We both benefit.

c_yeager
October 15, 2005, 09:45 PM
One can find a lot of cops attending civilian training schools on their own dime, if that gives you an idea. They have to train for a LOT of crap at the academy, and much of that is mandated by the state. This leaves a lot of the more basic training (like firearms) getting pushed into the corners.

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