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Shooting proficiency of the average police officer

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by HOOfan_1, Aug 29, 2012.

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  1. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    There is somone on a non-shooting themed message board trying to convice everyone that civilians should not use handguns for self defense.

    He is trying to back up his reasoning by pointing to several recent New York police shootings. In one shooting he claims that officers no more than 3 feet from the suspect with guns already drawn, missed the suspect several times. The other incident is the recent shooting at the Empire State building.

    He reasons that if "highly trained police officers cannot hit their target, there is no chance civilians will be able to hit their target with a handgun".

    Having known several police officers who were also shooting enthusiasts and by the admissions of police officers on this board. I am aware that not all average beat police officers are "highly trained" in markshmanship. I know one officer who says he is only asked by his department to shoot a couple of times a year.

    I keep trying to convince the poster on this other board that he is completely and utterly overemphasizing police training in his argument.

    Anyone else have any input on how proficient the average, non gun enthusiast police officers are with their side arms?
     
  2. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    I know Sam1911 posted his personal experience in another thread, even regarding how good SWAT members are, but I've heard that some cops have to get special permission to even practice with their duty weapon. My understanding is that if the cop isn't a gun nut, chances are he'll shoot the minimum amount to qualify and wear that god-forsaken-brick until he needs to qualify again.

    The poster on the other board should probably also be enlightened as to how much training there is for the "non-elite" (i.e. civilians), and how that training might be more practical than shooting at stationary targets 1-2 times per year.
     
  3. dom1104

    dom1104 Member

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    Although its in vogue to say that cops cant shoot well, my experiance has been the opposite.

    I shoot at a range, most often the only other folks there are police.

    And they are shooting pretty damn well thank you very much, and I notice it is full powered +p 40 cal HPs, not walmart bulk pack.

    The whole "Civilians shoot better than cops, cops are just a bunch of unskilled donut eaters" thing in my experiance has been largely false.
     
  4. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Let me say something first off, to anyone thinking of replying: We do NOT do cop-bashing threads, so don't let anything you say be construed as such. Keep everything as factual and unbiased as possible. Your actual understanding of and experience with police training procedures and schedules, and qualification requirements, is entirely welcomed. Bashing is not.

    Also, something to keep in mind:

    One of the very best shooters I've ever met (a guy who finished the first Sanctioned IDPA match I ever shot with not only the winning score, but a total points down count of THREE :eek:) is a NJSP Detective Sargent. He once told me, "If you offer a cop a new pen or a new gun, he'll take the new PEN. It's something he'll actually get to use."

    Cops are issued guns, of course, and most folks believe that the gun is somehow the primary factor in their job. But many cops go through their entire career never having to fire a shot in the line of duty. To be good at their jobs, cops have to be masters of a lot of different tasks. They have many skills they have to employ every day or every week. Shooting is not one of them.

    We train cops to do many things, and spend as much time and money on that training as budgets and schedules will allow. But that's not "enough" and it never will be "enough" to insure that they will be able to meet the challenges the might face. And shooting skills are pretty far down the list.

    "Good cop" and "good shot" are neither mutually inclusive, nor mutually exclusive.
     
  5. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    Are they average police officers, or are they also gun enthusiasts, or just officers who want to be more proficient.

    "I know a lot of police who shot a lot" is not even remotely the same as "all police train a lot"

    Like I said in the original post. I also know several police officers who are gun enthusiasts and shoot a lot. But they all tell me that they are not getting that experience because their departments are asking them to.
     
  6. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    Those might be the gun-nut police, and not the non-gun-nut police. I am not of the belief that putting on a badge is going to lower your accuracy. I am of the belief that someone who treats guns as something to qualify with and then wear is someone who isn't really paying attention to the required skillset for marksmanship and probably won't hit very often.
     
  7. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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  8. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    Sorry Sam I missed that one.
    "Cops are bad shots" is not my message.
    I am more trying to refute the assertion that civilians should not use handguns because they can not possibly be as proficient as average police officers.

    Anyone can be as proficient with a handgun as they decide to be and as their training allows them to be. Civlians can be just as proficient as even the best police marksmen. I just don't agree with the assertion that missed shots and collateral damage in a few police shootings points to the fact that handguns are a poor tool of self defense for civilians.
     
  9. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    I'd like also to make a call that we avoid SPECULATING in this thread. That really does no one any good. If folks can post actual training procedures and qualifying requirements for departments they know of, that might be more helpful.

    The bald truth is that relatively few people who carry a gun get a great deal of what many would consider "good" training, and even the square-range proficiency of gun carriers is far below what might make us all comfortable when we consider that those people may be faced with a shooting problem in a public place at any time.

    This applies to both police officers and to average citizens who carry a weapon.

    While it may be useful to burst the misconception that police are "highly trained" it probably won't help your argument much to also point out that only some small minority of the shooting and gun-carrying public are either.
     
  10. kimberkid

    kimberkid Member

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    Our range has about 10% of LEO members so over the last 20+ years I've the opportunity to relax and shoot with many of them. The private range I'm a member of is closed to all but LEO's the first Friday of every month and a lot of them use it ... as well as their own department ranges and they appreciate it because its less familiar to them, which in itself is good practice.
     
  11. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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  12. dom1104

    dom1104 Member

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    To those who think my relating my experiances is of no value because they are only the "Gun nut cops"....

    well how the heck am I supposed to account for the cops I DONT shoot with?

    My Magic 8-Ball?
     
  13. Bikewer

    Bikewer Member

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    I've been in police work for 40+ years. Seen an awful lot of coppers shooting at the range, and talked with a lot of them about firearms and shooting.
    I think you can make the case that there are essentially two types of police officers regarding proficiency/interest.
    There are officers that tend to be "involved" with firearms. They achieve a high degree of proficiency. They are interested in the weapons, the gear, the ammunition, the training. They see this as an important part of their job.

    There are also those who are not "involved". They carry the weapon because they have to. They are not interested in firearms or shooting, and only attain such proficiency as necessary to qualify. (and that's a pretty low standard on most departments)

    The question would be... What is the percentage of each? I think it varies considerably by department. In some, there is a "culture" that fosters proficiency. It becomes a point of pride. The department has good training facilities and supplies the officers with ammunition and time to train.
    Others don't. You may qualify seldom and with minimal standards, and actually using the weapon is not looked on favorably. This is mostly a matter of where the department is and what it does.... A small department in a "bedroom" community might not feel the need for proficiency as great as one patrolling the "mean streets" of a big urban area with lots of gang and drug activity.

    Another factor.... For about as long as police departments have kept records of such things, officers have scored about 25% hits on opponents in combat situations. That's regardless of practice or training.
    Reason? It's well-known now that the stresses, both mental and physical, of combat badly affect fine motor control and accuracy.
    Any number of physical and psychological phenomena may take place. Tunnel vision, hearing deficit, time compression, physical rigidity.....
    Doesn't happen to everyone, of course. Some people remain calm and collected in combat and are highly effective. Others become essentially useless. This has been known for a very long time.
    Remember the Chuck Yeager comment about "only 10% of fighter pilots actively engage the enemy; the rest are just along for the ride"?
    Seems that goes back to some Greek lad commenting on soldiers way back then.....
    I suppose we do better on average than soldiers... I understand during WWII it was reckoned that at least 100,000 rifle rounds were fired per enemy casualty.....
     
  14. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    I think someone more familiar with police training methods would be better able to answer, Dom. But the point is, the cops that you see at the range - unless they're required to be there - are there by choice, and are therefore not the stereotypical inaccurate officer.

    Although, if you're from a small town, being able to say that you see the majority of the deputies in the local range, you can say that you know the majority in your area practice regularly and are proficient.
     
  15. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    Not to get to far off topic but I was at the local range about a year back and two young cops were there shooting their Glocks. I was shooting a Ruger Security Six .357. Both young men seemed really interested in what I was doing. After talking for a while they told me that neither of them had ever fired a revolver! I had to show them how to open the cylinder and then how to eject the empties. They had no idea of the difference between double and single action either. I let them both shoot it and they both liked it. In fact they liked it so much that I let them shoot up all my ammo. That is OK though, they let me shoot all the 'free' department issue ammo I wanted through their Glocks plus I kept all the brass. By the time I left both of these young officer wanted a .357 Magnum for personal use. I just can't get over the fact that two young policemen in their mid twenties had never fired a revolver before.
     
  16. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Member

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    Don't forget that just because you see a L.E.O. it doesn't mean he is a patrol officer. There's a lot of jobs in police work that don't have much to do with using firearms, such as fingerprints, evidence collection and storage, and admin. Ideally, these folks should be good shots but the cost to train them is just prohibitive and what would be the purpose?

    Please don't criticise until you've walked a mile in their shoes. Are you sure that, when the crap is raining down, you could do better? A real shootout at bad breath range ain't like a relaxing day at the range.
     
  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    These days there are many 20 something folks who have never shot a revolver. More for us.

    People are people. Some shoot well, some don't. Some react to surprise and immediate danger well, and some don't. Some train a lot, and some don't. Some need to train a lot to stay proficient (Proficient, not top of the game), and some don't. Cops, fireman, lawyers, truck drivers, doctors, mechanics, it doesn't matter.

    In general, police have more training than civilians, but that does not mean civilians should not be able to own guns. Pure foolishness.
     
  18. ny32182

    ny32182 Member

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    I have the unique opportunity to help officiate a police only outlaw action pistol charity match every year that is put on locally. It is a great event that raises money for a great cause.

    I get to see ~120 police shoot this match every year. I can say the average skill level at this match is unquestionably lower than the average skill level at club IDPA and USPSA around here. But the trick with the "averages" there needs to be accounted for. You are comparing the police who like shooting enough to volunteer to go to this match, against a subset of non-police who are FAR more motivated to shoot than the average handgun owner.

    All the winners of the police match are invariably competitive shooters also.

    What does this tell you; probably not much other than whether you are employed as a police officer does not dictate whether you can become highly proficient with a handgun. It requires self motivation and dedication either way.

    The average police is not what I would consider "proficient". Nor is the average handgun owner in the USA. If I had to guess I'd say the average police is probably a little better than the average non-police. At least the police have had some training and have to shoot 100 rounds a year or whatever. Virtually anyone I know who owns a handgun who is not police and not a competitive shooter has most likely purchaed the gun, put 50 rounds through it (if that) and promptly stuck it in the sock drawer where it has remained for "home defense" since approximately the late Cretaceous period. These people, who in my experience account for at least 99% of all handgun owners in the US, are certainly not going to be BETTER than the average cop.
     
  19. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    I've known a number of LEO's that were interested in shooting, and pretty good. A couple that were outstanding. It's all been pretty well covered in the above comments, though as to the original post, we do have some reports of average people doing some very good shooting, such as the guy in Texas recently that made 5 hits for 6 shots at about 50 yards or so (reported as 165 yards, but more likely 165 feet), and the one several years ago where a guy shot a guy off an officer, making, from the account I read, 100% hits of the 5 rounds fired while the officer and man were wrestling for control of the officers gun and the man was beating the officer. Years ago, Cooper wrote of an incident where two officers encountered an armed man, both shot their 9mm magazines dry I believe, making a half dozen hits of the 30-32 rounds fired, he fired 4 rds from a 44 mag revolver, making 2 hits on each officer (their vests saved them). This isn't trying to make a point about police officers in general, but simply points out the inaccuracy of the argument that untrained citizens can't hit as well as a police officer. Some of both do very well.
     
  20. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    OT, NY, but I know people who buy the sub-compact single stack pistols so that they can easily carry it, and then don't carry and leave it in a corner of the house.

    I would have thought the opposite because of the views in those locations. When I think of smaller communities, I'm thinking of people who use their weapons for everyday life, such as hunting; and bigger cities it's generally urban locations that tend to have a bigger push for gun restrictions and a more anti feel to it. I would assume a greater percentage of folk from the backwoods would be gun enthusiasts than people from the city.

    That's just an assumption, though, based on the culture of those locations. Your comment was based on the needs of the job. Two different factors to consider.
     
  21. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    Let me preface by saying my dad was NYPD for 33 years - he fired one warning shot in all that time while on duty. He qualified every year as markman with his M&P (that HE paid for Sam) and that was it

    IF they employ their other skills, and successfully, they shouldn't have to employ the use of the gun
     
  22. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    If this were true, then the cops wouldn't need guns, and thus they would never be issued.
     
  23. Mac's

    Mac's Member

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    I've carried a weapon and a badge for over twenty years as a full time officer with a large western law enforcement agency. I've also been the owner/operator of a firearms business since way before that time and since then. I can only speak of my own experience.

    Our Department requires qualifications twice a year. Most but not all of the leo's that I know, will only shoot four times a year. Twice for qualifications and the day before qualifications to practice. Most of them will barely pass. Many of them have to do it again at least once. After the first do-over, remedial training is required. All of the ones in the "barely pass or fail" category is a non shooter..meaning they don't enjoy it.

    Some of them shoot very well. Fast shots but accurate, fast but smooth reloads, good scanning, target evaluations, etc. Every one of the ones in this group are "gunners"...meaning that they enjoy shooting and do it in their off duty time.

    A specialized qualification..such as SWAT or SAR, does not mean that they are expert shooters! An example of that: Our Department has open range times several times a year. You use the range, shoot "their" ammo but it's a controlled course with range masters, etc. They set up a course and then run you thru it for scores and times. It doesn't count for anything but it's fun and free!

    On this particular day, the course was: Run 25 yards to a barricade, draw your weapon and shoot seven poppers, all staggered at ranges from two to seven yards. The poppers were metal plates rigged to fall down if you got a solid hit on them. On that day, I was the only "regular" to show up. Everybody else was Detectives, Command Staff and SWAT! I'm thinking oh boy: Prima donna's, brass and expert shooters. I'm gonna embarrass myself.

    I end up #3 in line...behind two SWAT guys all tacti-cooled out. The first one takes off and it sounds like WW3 downrange. I'm counting rounds. 39 40 41 rounds! Then it's the second guys turn. He takes off and it's a major shoot out down range. 37 38 39 rounds! I'm thinking I don't have enough ammo. I've already figured out that there's something else going on downrange. Extra threats must be popping up all over the place down there, each requiring that it be shot.

    My turn comes up, I jog to the barricade, draw my weapon while scanning for threats. Seven poppers. First shot, one down. two, three uh oh! Three was a hit but not solid enough to knock it down. Second shot into three, it's down, four, five. six and seven...all down. I drop the mag and do a tactical reload. I'm scanning for the next threats...and realize the range master is yelling at me. I'm done. I got them all. Huh? Only eight rounds? But but...

    I got the high score of the day and learned several things.
    Command Staff can't shoot. None of them day was any good, not even close.
    Some Detectives can shoot well but most can't.
    SWAT are uhmm...ahh... well...noisy! Everyone of them out there that day was just spraying and praying. They were fast on the draw, fast on the reloads and could play hide and seek really well but accuracy seemed to be a distant consideration.

    The bottom line(s). LEO's are people too. Some of them can shoot well. Most are just average shooters. Some of them are just flat out dangerous to everybody around them. They get more training than the average citizen but many of them had never even held a firearm of any type prior to getting into that line of work. Unfortunately, many Departments train that you shoot until the threat is no longer threatening. Most civilian shooters that I know can shoot more accurate but not as fast as most LEO shooters that I know. (Does that make sense?) Personally, I would rather be teamed up with a hillbilly from West Virginia than a SWAT commando from New York City. Keep yer powder dry, Mac.
    Tuff-Gun Finishes. The Name Says It All.
    Mac's Shootin' Irons
    http://www.shootiniron.com
     
  24. Gunnerboy

    Gunnerboy Member

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    Last police involved shooting in my hometown, the Police fired 78 rounds at a man armed with an wasr 10 and shotgun, they were exchanging fire from 40-50 yds at each other from behind each others vehicles, the Police had 6 hits in the criminal, the criminal who fired an estimated 17 rnds had 1 hit, moral of the story... sometimes accuracy isnt what brings you home its just keeping enough lead down range until someone can get the shot. ( this was in the county so nothing but trees and hills around)
     
  25. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    Once our local IPSC champ spent a day at the range with the 6 member swat team coaching them on shooting techniques, speed reloads and such. The very first thing he did was to have them line up 10 yards away from a row of steel plates about a foot in diamiter. When someone blew a whistle each cop was to draw and shoot the plate directly in front of him. The IPSC champ was in the middle. Not only did he knock down his own plate much faster than anyone else, after several turns he drew and fanned down everyone elses plate, 7 in a row before, before any of the swat team members made a single hit! The rest of the day went much like this. It was not that the cops were bad shots, it is just that they came up against an expert who fired about a thousand rounds a week.

    The department was so embarriesd that they never asked him back.
     
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