24-time national champion and 5-time world champion Rob Leatham didn’t get to where he is today by luck. In order to be the best, you have to train better than anyone else and that requires daily focused training and superior equipment. In this video, Rob shows how to get the most out of your Action Target Hostage with shooting drills and tips from the pro.
Category: AT Featured Article
BY SGT. BRIAN C. SMITH
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in S.W.A.T. magazine in September 1999. The views in this article are the author’s own and don’t necessarily represent those of Action Target, Inc.
Over the years, I have trained many police and private security officers in tactical-team operations. I find that the most difficult phase of the training class is the beginning, where I stress teamwork to a group of individuals who are reluctant to cooperate during the first phase of training. This can be due to a lack of familiarity with the other participants in the class, a lack of experience with team concepts, or individual ego problems.
When the topic of teamwork comes up, my first thought, like that of most other people, is of athletic teams, such as basketball and football. My conceptualization of exactly what a team is became somewhat more enlightened when, recently, I watched a team of fire department paramedics work frantically to treat a gunshot victim on a police call that I responded to. The medical jargon, coordination, and smooth choreography of their actions while using their emergency equipment, were a strong indication that they had practiced this scenario before. This incident prompted me to inquire about how often firefighters from several different fire departments trained together to prepare for a crisis. To my surprise, they trained as a team more often than the patrol division of the police department in my area. At the police agency where I’m employed, a five-minute roll call is not sufficient time to discuss topics of survival or practice a tactical scenario that the officer might encounter during his tour.
I also recently attended a circus with my two-year old daughter and watched the high-wire event, where an acrobatic team of four balanced themselves on one bicycle and rode on a tightrope from one platform to another without a mishap. This feat could not have been accomplished without many hours of practicing together as a team, bringing all the principles of teamwork into play. These principles are referred to as The Three C’s: Communication, Coordination, and Cooperation.
Our team’s philosophy of team-building, attempts to phase out the individual mind-set and bring all the members of the team together as one to complete a difficult task. The team members must have confidence that each member will do his part in any given assignment. Each member must know his individual responsibility and what is expected of him in order to perform the task successfully.
Communication is extremely important; a team, organization, or group cannot operate efficiently without communication. This can take the form of verbal or written communication, hand signals, or facial expressions, and must be comprehended by everyone involved to be effective. Coordination follows when each person is assigned a responsibility and performs when expected to. Cooperation is the final step in this team-concept triad. Here, everyone involved is willing to perform and participate.
Discipline is another concept that helps develop team camaraderie during the introduction of the class. A series of guidelines is presented to the group, along with the degree of discipline the group will endure as a whole. In our tactical-team training class, violation of any stipulation in the guidelines would result in a maximum of five push-ups, depending on the severity of the violation.
It’s inevitable that, at some point, someone in the group will commit an infraction for any number of reasons, and, as the group is subject to serving its punishment, one can see the camaraderie developing and the group coming together as a team.
Provided in this article is a low-cost program of team-building events that has proved effective and beneficial in our tactical-team training. It has also been helpful for other types of groups that aim to create a team mind-set among their members, and can, likewise, do the same for your team. The objective of these exercises is to enhance planning, coordination, and communication. This will also create confidence and trust among team members and is what makes the difference between a mere group of individuals and a real team.
- Details: Must get the entire team inside the three-sided structure without touching the ropes or poles. Once inside the structure, the entire team must exit again without touching the structure.
- Penalty: If any team member touches any part of the structure, the team must start the entire exercise from the beginning.
- Equipment: Rope, dowel rods, and tent stakes. Structure is in a triangular formation.
- Details: A member stands on a ladder or platform at an estimated height of four feet. The remaining members must form a human net to catch the person falling backward. Note: the faller must put his hands in his trouser pickets, as a safety precaution, to prevent members of the human net from being struck in the face during the fall. The faller must alert the human net when he is ready to start so that they are prepared to catch him. The participants should be advised not to make jokes about not catching the faller due to the anxiety this creates. Such negative comments could prove to be counterproductive.
- Penalty: If the faller bends at the waist as he falls, this reflects a lack of confidence and trust in the team, they must repeat the exercise.
- Equipment: Stepladder or stationary platform.
- Details: The group is divided into two teams, which are distinguished by colored bandannas; these are also used as blindfolds. One member is selected from each of the two teams to post as the blindfolded player, and one member from the same team is designated to give voice commands for the player to follow on where to kick the ball.
- Penalty: Player must remain blindfolded while the exercise is in session or forfeits the game.
- Equipment: Soccer ball or equivalent and bandannas of two different colors to blindfold the players.
- Details: With a regimented effort, the team must move an eight-foot, 4″x 4″ wood beam with 16 feet of heavy rope that is tied at both ends of the beam. This exercise cannot be completed until the team comes together as one, which sometimes takes a while. You will witness frustration at the start of this event. The maximum number of members on a beam is ten; the minimum is four. Each member faces the same direction with the same foot resting on the beam, and the rope must rest over the same shoulder. The members must move the beam a distance of 75 feet without their hands, then, on command of the instructor, switch positions, facing the opposite direction with the opposite foot on the beam and the rope resting on the opposite shoulder. The team then proceeds back to the starting point.
- Penalty: Should any member’s foot come off the beam or the rope come off the shoulder, the team must return to the starting point.
- Equipment: One eight-foot 4″ x 4″ wood beam per ten people and one 16 foot rope per team.
- Details: Six to eight members line up randomly on a eight-foot, 6″x 6″ wood beam or railroad tie. Each person faces in the opposite direction of the person beside him. Without verbal communication or stepping off the beam, the members are to determine who’s the oldest and youngest, then maneuver their positions so that the oldest person is at a designated end of the beam, with the younger members following in sequence to the opposite end.
- Penalty: If any member’s foot touches the ground or if he makes any verbal sounds, all team members must stop and return to their original positions.
- Equipment: One eight-foot, 6″x 6″ wood beam or a railroad tie per six to eight team members.
BLINDMAN’S FORMATION LINE
- Details: The team is instructed to line up and sound off in numerical order. An area, such as a wall or fences, is designated as the starting point, where the team is to line up in sequence perpendicular to the starting point in the same numerical order. The members are blindfolded and spread out, then given the command to start. Without verbal communication, the members are to find the starting point and then line up in order. The first attempt will appear chaotic, but if the team is allowed to orchestrate a plan just prior to the second attempt, this exercise will appear a lot less complicated.
- Penalty: If any verbal comments are made or if anyone removes his blindfold, the exercise is stopped and resumed from the beginning.
- Equipment: Cloth bandannas to use as blindfolds.
BLINDMAN’S CONFIDENCE RUN
- Details: One member is blindfolded and positioned to run toward a fixed structure (such as a wall or fence) from a distance of approximately 50 feet. The remaining team members are to line up in front of the structure to catch the runner and prevent the runner from colliding with the structure. No verbal sounds are to be made by the team so that the runner isn’t able to judge distance when approaching the structure.
- Penalty: If the runner slows down prior to approaching the structure, this indicates a lack of trust or confidence in the team, and the exercise must be repeated.
- Equipment: One bandanna to blindfold the runner.
About the Author
Captain Brian C. Smith is a 28-year veteran of the Chicago Heights Police Department and is currently serving as Commander of Training and Special Operations. He has 21 instructor certifications and four armorer certifications. Captain Smith has an associate degree in law enforcement from Thornton Community College and graduated from tile 184th session of the FBI National Academy. He is member of the Illinois Tactical Officers Association, National Tactical Officer Association, ASLET, IALEF, and the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, where he serves as Chairman of the Survival Tactics Committee.
For over 20 years, Action Target has been holding the Law Enforcement Training Camp (LETC) to help law enforcement departments across the nation get the quality firearms training they need and deserve. This year’s LETC will be held September 10-14 in Utah County.
The registration form for LETC can be found at http://www.actiontarget.com/calendar under the “More Info” column for Sept. 10-14. Instructions on how to submit your registration can be found at the bottom of page.
Registration will be reserved for the first 160 applicants, so apply today!
Action Target recently completed one more year as the official target sponsor of the Midway USA & NRA Bianchi Cup. The National Action Pistol Championship, now in its 33rd year, was held in Columbia, MO, and featured many of the world’s top shooters competing for the prestigious cup. Action Target provided products and services again this year to ensure the range was in top operating condition.
“The Bianchi Cup is unique from other shooting competitions because it uses turning targets and other target systems a bit more advanced than you would normally see at a competition,” said David Mathis, Director of Marketing for Action Target. “Those systems are what we specialize in at Action Target, so working with the NRA to support this match is something we are proud to do each year.”
The Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club (formerly the Chapman Academy) has hosted the Bianchi Cup every year since its inception and has used Action Target products and systems for nearly 20 years. This year, Action Target added new target clamps to speed up changing targets and provided maintenance for all of the range’s target systems. The Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club also offered a practice range, separate from the main range, where competitors could arrive early to check their equipment and practice for the match. Action Target provided plate racks and paint for competitors to use as they warmed up on the practice range.
Founded in 1979 by law enforcement veteran and holster innovator John Bianchi, the Bianchi Cup began as a shooting competition designed to test law enforcement officers’ skill with a pistol. The competition challenged shooters’ speed and accuracy using barricades, alternative positions, and timed events. It did not take long for the match to gain popularity among the shooting community with many top shooters attending from all over the world.
The Midway USA & NRA Bianchi Cup features four different matches shooters can compete in: The Practical, The Barricade, The Moving Target, and The Falling Plate events. Shots are fired from 10 yards up to 50 yards with the shooters’ scores determined by their accuracy on each target. The shooters’ final scores are the sum of their scores for all four matches. This year 237 shooters competed for the national title with the Bianchi Cup going to Doug Koenig, who has won it a record 14 times.
In addition to being the official target sponsor, Action Target is also the sponsor for the women’s championship, won this year by Julie Golob for the third time.
Three of Action Target’s staff also participated by shooting in the competition. David Mathis, Mike Stilwell, and Chris Hart competed more for bragging rights around the office than to win a national title with Mathis coming out ahead.
By Captain Brian C. Smith
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Chief of Police, Volume XIX. The views in this article are the author’s own and don’t necessarily represent those of Action Target, Inc.
A good friend, Deputy Gloria Anderson of the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, who is aware of my background in firearms training, expressed on several occasions about several of her female co-workers who were experiencing difficulties in passing their departmental service weapon range qualification. During one of these conversations, when the topic arose, I began to pry into some of the problems the female co-workers were experiencing with their weapons and departmental qualifications. I later determined that it appears the problem of the ladies in mention, may be a fear of their weapon due to lack of familiarization.
I extended an offer for the female deputies to attend a class that was designed and developed for shooters to become more familiar with their weapons, whether it’s their duty or off-duty weapon. This course was developed for the Chicago Heights Police Department, during that period of time in the mid 1990’s, when former United States President William Clinton signed the bill that proposed to increase the population of police officers nationwide by 100,000. On a local level, our agency’s sworn personnel had increased by 25 percent with a constant flow of turnover of police officers leaving other police agencies to join our agency and vice-versa. Our police personnel were leaving this department to seek better job opportunities and all the police agencies in our area were experiencing the same problem.
Our agency’s rules and regulations specified what weapons were approved for duty and off duty carry. Therefore, police officers from other agencies that were seeking employment with the Chicago Heights Police Department that were sworn in to serve on this police department must adhere to the current weapons policy and could only carry the two weapon manufacturers that we’re specified.
That’s why this eight-hour course was designed to familiarize the newly appointed police officer with the operations of his/her weapon, if they had to trade or purchase a weapon that would meet department specification. This course would allow a newly appointed police officer transitioning from another police agency to participate with their new firearm and challenge the many scenarios that the course had to offer and to familiarize themselves with their weapon.
Deputy Anderson organized a group of female police officers to participate in the class with hopes that the females would be more familiar with their firearm and overcome their fears. The class was scheduled for October 15, 2005, at the Harvey Police Department outdoor range. The women who reported to the range were all seasoned veterans and displayed an attitude, a degree of cockiness, and at the same time somewhat apprehensive because of not knowing what to expect. The female officers were from Cook County Sheriff’s Police, Markham Police, and the Federal Reserve’s Bank Police. The class was briefed of the overall class itinerary, along with range rules and expectations.
These expectations included our philosophy on a military style of regiment discipline in the class where any infractions that occurred on the range will result in penalties and the shooters as a class must suffer the punishment of three push-ups per penalty. Once the logistics were covered and the shooters’ equipment was inspected, the class proceeded to the firing line. The class is titled SURVIVAL SHOOTING TACTICS FOR ARMED CONFRONTATIONS, where each shooter is expected to bring approximately 300 rounds and anticipate getting dirty by shooting in a variety of shooting positions.
The class started by practicing reloading drills with dummy rounds and later progressed to live fire. Then after a series of live fire exercises, where the shooters were directed to reload quickly, some shooters were still reloading with nonchalant attitudes. The class then progressed to the next stage of a dueling drill where each shooter stood ten feet apart and was armed with “Simunitions”—converted semi-auto pistols with empty magazines in the weapons with one magazine loaded with one “Simunition” round and placed in the shooter’s mag pouch. The shooters were wearing paintball masks for safety, when on the command; the shooters faced each other, reloaded quickly to shoot their opponent before being shot.
During this drill, the feedback from the class was they now understood the importance of the quick reload and this drill began the humbling process among the women and the attitudes and their resistance began to diminish. We estimated that by the conclusion of the class, the group must have performed approximately 60 pushup for the penalties committed by the class members. Also at the conclusion of the class, the female officers openly admitted that prior to attending this class, that they thought they were familiar with their weapons. They also expressed that they now realized that their departmental qualification is only to test their accuracy in achieving a qualifying score for department records, which does not prepare them to shoot under stress or manipulate the weapon under stress or challenge themselves in job related scenarios.
The female officers were very appreciative and expressed a desire to establish an advanced class to further challenge and enhance their skills. It was a fulfilling moment to witness the women during the pushups and challenges that we put forth to members of this class, that this training may save their lives. They left the class enlightened, humbled, and confident in what they had achieved this date.
About the Author
Captain Brian C. Smith is a 28-year veteran of the Chicago Heights Police Department and is currently serving as Commander of Training and Special Operations. He has 21 instructor certifications and four armorer certifications. Captain Smith has an associate degree in law enforcement from Thornton Community College and graduated from tile 184th session of the FBI National Academy. He is member of the Illinois Tactical Officers Association, National Tactical Officer Association, ASLET, IALEF, and the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, where he serves as Chairman of the Survival Tactics Committee.
AT Rimfire Sport Dueling Tree
Nutnfancy recently posted a video review of Action Target’s Rimfire Sport Dueling Tree. Just like our full-size Dueling Tree, the Rimfire Dueling Tree has six steel plates that spin to the other side of the target when hit, allowing you to shoot all day without going downrange once to setup or reset the target. Nutnfancy explains how the Rimfire Dueling Tree provides the fun and excitement of a dueling tree with ammo that costs a fraction of the price! Click the video thumbnail to watch now.
Nutnfancy is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, a popular YouTube product reviewer, and a long-time user of Action Target products.
Range owners who are preparing for a new build must consider every possible revenue stream since it is their responsibility to ensure the range is profitable. During this process, many range owners believe they will be able to entice local law enforcement into using their training facilities and have this be a major source of revenue. This timeless debate–whether or not a relationship with the local law enforcement should be a major part of a range’s business plan–should be carefully considered before embarking on range construction.
The main thing to remember when considering whether or not to form an engagement with law enforcement is “don’t assume anything.” While developing a business plan, if it is assumed that law enforcement will participate in the range’s program and will, therefore, help the financial plan of the facility, firm commitments must be made. Even if an owner has a good relationship with the local law enforcement, commitments should be put in writing so they become binding. Keep in mind that typically, a law enforcement agency cannot give a firm commitment to a facility that is in the process of construction, so range owners must understand that they take upon themselves this risk until a written agreement can be met.
However, if for some reason a range is lucky enough to be an exception to these common procedures and a binding engagement with law enforcement is formed, the build must include the installation of turning target systems. Turning target systems are imperative due to the fact that most law enforcement agencies require officers to qualify on a timed course that has the ability to turn targets from edge to face in a set amount of time.
Another consideration while planning should be the total cost of the range facility. Range owners must take into account the maintenance, service, utilities, and other expenses that are associated with the upkeep of the facility. Experience shows that these many expenses, in addition to the increased expense required to enable law enforcement to use the range, often render it unprofitable for the range to contract with law enforcement. Now, this is not to say that a range shouldn’t support local law enforcement, but what a range owner must realize from the very beginning is that the business plan should not be structured around an agency. Generally speaking, law enforcement use is not a viable solution in a business model.
Lastly, always remember that there is a crossover point on the return on investment compared to the operating costs and the potential income. One of the greatest values of the range is when it is used as a marketing and sales tool for a quality store. Both need to work as a team in order for them to reach their maximum potential. Range operations can seldom stand on their own on an indoor range complex and law enforcement can seldom be included as a key contributor in the range’s business plan.
Before beginning your next project, speak with one of Action Target’s Territory Managers to ensure that your range is optimized for maximum performance and results.
PROVO, Utah— In today’s hard-hit economy, two local Utah businessmen have been named finalists of the 2012 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Kyle Bateman and Addison Sovine of Action Target, Inc. are among a handful of entrepreneurs to be named finalists in the Utah region, which includes Wyoming and half of Idaho. These local businessmen were selected from more than 1,700 applicants because of their significant impact on their surrounding business community.
“It is an honor,” stated Sovine. “There are so many great companies in this area and I am grateful to be listed among them.”
But being a successful entrepreneur in today’s economy does not come easy. “It has required a lot more work than I might have imagined early on,” said Bateman. “It is hard to comprehend how many things there are to do and how much work you will have to put into your business to make it successful. Having said that, I am still amazed that things have worked out as well as they have.”
Sovine and Addison founded Action Target out of an auto body shop in 1985. Their business idea was created atop the hood of a police vehicle, followed by their tireless work and hours to bring their ideas to the country. Since that time, Action Target has become the industry leader in shooting range design and Portable Steel Targets.
Sovine and Addison are in the running with 32 other finalists for this year’s top honored award. Ernst and Young developed the Entrepreneur of the Year Award program to celebrate successful entrepreneurs. It has grown into an award program that spans more than 140 cities in 50 countries. This year’s Utah region winners region will go on to compete against winners from other regions around the country, and subsequently the world. Utah Region winners will be announced on June 7, 2012.
Action Target Media Contact:
About Action Target Inc.
Based in Provo, Utah, Action Target is the leading manufacturer of custom shooting ranges and portable steel targets for military, law enforcement, Special Forces groups, tactical training schools, and commercial applications. Since its founding in 1985, Action Target has become the world’s largest shooting range equipment manager.
In 650 B.C., Archilochus said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” Although this saying is thousands of years old, it still holds true today. In a way, it governs Action Target in its training development.
Action Target developed the Action Target Academy (ATA) to provide world-class firearms and range development training to agencies and individuals throughout the country who have not had the opportunity to train with Action Target Portable Targets. The entire foundation of Action Target’s approach to firearms is embodied in the Action Target Academy. In today’s industry, there are many roadblocks to having successful firearms trainings, but ATA courses examine the challenges facing today’s firearms training requirements, shooting range management issues, and also demonstrates how using modern shooting range equipment helps alleviate roadblocks, creating safe and efficient firearm programs.
Action Target found recent success through their academy. Both the Phoenix Police Department and Maricopa County in Arizona invited Action Target to come and teach some of their firearms instructors. The course gave both law enforcement departments a chance to experience a full line of portable targets under various scenarios that tested and evaluated their combat shooting skills. In addition to learning how Action Target Portable Targets can be used in everything, from basic marksmanship to advance combat tactics, both groups participated in live fire drills, creating a more realistic approach to training. More importantly, they learned how easy designing an effective job-related firearms training scenario can be. ATA realistic training scenarios prepares shooters for the real thing and also allows participants to mirror the psychological response of combat stress, helping them to define how they would engage in real life combat.
Host an Action Target Academy event and learn more about topics such as: the realities of today’s gunfight, qualifications versus training, legal and financial consequences of inadequate training, shooting range design, and equipment. To find out more about removing the obstacles keeping your agency from training as you would fight, please visit: http://www.actiontarget.com/shooting-academy or contact Richard Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now in its sixth year, the Media Day at the Range is the biggest media event in the world for the hunting and shooting industry and Action Target has been a supporter from the beginning. The Action Target Safety Award was created to acknowledge the Media Day exhibitor that fostered the highest level of firearms safety during the shooting event. Receiving the only perfect score among 70 fellow exhibitors, Remington Arms earned this year’s Action Target Top Safety Award.
Tactical Innovations was hired by Media Day at the Range to develop a scorecard and provide eight safety auditors to judge the 70 plus shooting exhibitors. The score was determined by basic safety criteria such as providing hearing and eye protection, controlling ammo, and safe handling of firearms on the firing line. The scorecard also awarded points for higher levels of safety such as posting rules, having a first aid kit at the shooting station, having a shooting coach at the station, and other necessary safety procedures.
Remington Arms was awarded the trophy at the Action Target SHOT Show booth during the first day of SHOT Show 2012. Not only did Remington win the trophy and bragging rights, but they received $3,500 toward next year’s fees. Congratulations to Remington Arms for a job well done!
To Our Action Target Journal Readers:
We want to thank each of you for making 2011 a great year for Action Target. Over the last 26 years, Action Target has been proud to provide training equipment for the police, for the military, and for the sport shooting industry as a whole. We are thrilled by the success of our weekly newsletter, The Action Target Journal, which has now kept our law enforcement, military, and the general shooting industry informed for more than a year.
The goal of our weekly newsletter is to inform our loyal readers about the happenings and developments within the firearms industry. Due to the enormous success and participation in our newsletter and to better fulfill the needs of our readers, Action Target is proud to announce that starting March 2012, we will begin publishing two separate Action Target Journal newsletters each week.
Because our readership has grown to cover a diverse group of readers, having two weekly articles allows us to better meet the different needs of a greater number of our readers. One newsletter will focus on law enforcement news and events while the other focuses more on the sport shooting community. Both newsletters will continue to offer Steel Deals and readers are more than welcome to participate in both newsletters. We are confident the additional newsletter will continue to be beneficial in delivering timely and relevant articles to readers.
Again, thank you to everyone who has participated in the newsletter and has offered suggestions and input. We want you to know that we do listen and value your needs and opinions. If you have any comments or feedback regarding our exciting new newsletter addition, please contact us or post your comment to this article.
Action Target, Inc.
Las Vegas, NV — Media Day at the Range announces its partnership with Action Target to create the 2012 Media Day Safety award. This award will be given to the media day exhibitor that holds to the highest standards of safety during the shooting event on January 16, 2012. Each exhibitor will be judged by a panel of safety auditors that will score each exhibitor on their firearms safety practices during the event.
Action Target is a leading global supplier of superior shooting range products, equipment, design, manufacturing, and training for law enforcement, military, and commercial ranges. Action Target is recognized for developing innovative new firearms training technology, and for having the experience to properly apply that technology to solve today’s safety issues on firing ranges all over the world. “We have been a major supporter of Media Day at the Range for many years and being the sponsor of the 2012 safety award is an honor for us,” said Chad Burdette, Portable Target Manager for Action Target.
Scoring and grading each exhibitor at the shoot will be based on specific safety criteria of handling firearms, ammunition placement, and maintaining a safe environment at their shooting station. The winning exhibitor will be awarded the Action Target safety award trophy at the Action Target SHOT show, booth (#10564), on Tuesday afternoon January 17th during the show. The safety award winner will also receive $3,500 toward their 2013 SHOT Show Media Day at the Range shooting lane.
In its sixth year, SHOT Show Media Day at the Range will host over 120 exhibitors and over 1000 media members of the hunting and shooting industry. This award will give recognition to that industry member that is an example to all others of the importance of safely demonstrating their products to the media on that day.
For additional information concerning SHOT Show Media Day at the Range, contact:
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will soon train in their new state-of-the-art outdoor baffled firing range. This new range includes Action Target’s high quality outdoor Total Containment Trap with a Screw Conveyor collection method. Both innovative systems make recycling much easier by catching all fired bullets in one 55 gallon barrel.
The new outdoor baffled firing range has a variety of tactical target systems, creating a multitude of training scenarios and environments that increase the range’s ability to do more than simply “qualifying” police officers.
Both ranges at the Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office include the follow training equipment and scenarios:
- Running Targets—Essential for training since real-life threats do not stand still
- Turning Targets—Used to create training environments promoting quick decision-making on how and when to take the shot
- Multiple Threats—Programming “multiple adversaries” into gun fights and combat courses enhances training beyond single threat scenarios
Each training technique and target system is controlled by SmartRange—a computer software system that allows replication of “real world” scenarios. When engaging in a gun fight, officers experience several physiological changes to their bodies. Training in these realistic scenarios replicates this type of stress to help the officers learn how to handle it in a way that is safe and successful. When the moment does arise to put their training into action, they will have already learned how to more effectively manage their stress during action.
The range design includes input from Lt. Pupke (Pinellas County Sheriff), Lt. Littlejohn, Sgt. Chaisson, and Action Target. Everyone involved is pleased with the results of this fine training center. Action Target hopes to hold a training seminar at the range this coming spring, inviting local agencies to come and enjoy some great training on some great equipment.
We are proud of the foresight and planning done by Pinellas County, their leadership, their officers, and the citizens they serve. Thanks to the efforts of this agency, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is now ready for anything the future holds for their department, putting the Action Target motto into action: “Better Equipped, Better Prepared.”
Action Target recently unveiled four new accessory products that are now available in the online store. In addition to purchasing each accessory separately, an Accessory Package is also available which includes all four products at a discounted price, just in time for the holiday season.
AT Drop Pouch: The AT Drop Pouch is a great range tool to hold your magazines, rounds, and even a water bottle. The pouch includes a bungee cord closure and a Velcro flap to secure contents. A reinforced 1/2″ hole at the bottom allows any unwanted debris or water to drain out. This pouch can mount to any belt or rig for easy access. Read More →
AT Gun Case: The AT Gun Case is fully padded and can hold one handgun and five magazines. The dual padded inside zipper pocket and the lockable zipper slides add additional safety and protection. The reinforced carry handles provide an extra convenience when transporting your firearm. There is an outer Velcro piece for adding patches. Read More →
AT Shooter Bag: This shooter bag is made from durable, heavy-duty nylon and features nine total pockets (including a large central pocket), seven magazine compartments in the outer zip front pocket, a removable carrying strap that clips to two chrome plated steel D-rings for quick attachment, an external ID pocket, and full wrap-around nylon handles. Read More →
AT Utility Tool: This multi-functioning utility tool includes a can opener, a bottle opener, wire cutters, one two-inch ruler, a standard-sized flat head screwdriver, a small flat head screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver, a mini saw, a knife, one two-sided file, regular pliers, and needle nose pliers. The utility tool also comes with a nylon case for easy carrying. Read More →
Accessories Bundle*: Christmas is just around the corner, so Action Target is offering a holiday special. This Accessories Bundle includes an AT Shooter Bag, AT Drop Pouch, AT Gun Case, and AT Utility Knife for just $75.00 $64.95, including shipping and handling. *Quantities are limited. Free shipping and handling only applies to orders placed before 12/02/11 Read More →
Designing and building ranges for many years with Action Target, Mike Stilwell has been actively involved in countless shooting range projects, including his own successful 16 lane commercial range, Rangemasters of Utah. Having 13 years experience of owning and operating an Action Target range is what made Stilwell an excellent person to help design and build a range for the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD).
When Stilwell first became associated with the WSPD, they presented him with hand-drawn sketches, lots of notes, and passion to build a world-class indoor training facility. WSPD required more than the typical 25 yard police range. They wanted to build one of the longest indoor ranges found in their geographic region.
Stilwell first met the team from WSPD four years prior to this range build. He met Sgt. Bricker and Sgt. Hinson at Action Target’s Range Development Seminar held each year at Camp Butner, NC. Due to the lengthy process of getting their range started, Sgt’s Bricker and Hinson were no longer on the police force when the range was completed; however, the personnel change did not stop the project from moving forward. Stilwell is currently finishing the ranges with Sgt. Nelson and Lt. Watson to make the dream of building a world class training facility a reality.
The Winston Salem Training Academy is an indoor shooting range project currently being installed. It has two ranges, with one being 50 yards and the other 100 yards in length. There are tactical ranges with multiple Total Containment Traps–Version 4 (TCT4) bullet traps, with an open mouth throat for cross lane and tactical shooting. The TCT4’s have a screw conveyor lead collection system, inverted dual track runners, and 180 degree turning D-TaPS Target Systems. Both ranges are rifle rated and have 3/8” AR500 steel in the trap and on the baffles. The walls and ceilings are treated with PEPP acoustical material to ensure generous sound dampening, creating a comfortable area to practice shooting. The Winston Salem Training Academy is designed by the world-class A&E firm of Clark Nexsen with Dan Walker and Bobby Cummings taking an active role. The GC awarded the project was Branch & Associates from Roanoke, VA with Jerry DeVault as the Project Manager (PM). Clark Nexsen and Branch also designed and built the ranges at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), which ATI was fortunate to be a part of.
Action Target and Stilwell consider it an honor to be a vital part of this world-class facility and to work with all of the individuals who made this project happen. Special thanks goes out to the Firearm Instructors of Winston Salem, both past and present, Bryan Dahlberg—Project Manager for Action Target—and Jerry DeVault—Project Manager for Branch & Associates—for their long, tireless hours.
If you’re ever near the WSPD, give them a call to set up a date and time to take a tour of their new facility. If you are considering an indoor or outdoor range project and are in the Mid-Atlantic States region, contact Mike Stilwell at email@example.com
Other recently completed projects include:
- South East Territory – Browns Ferry Police Department
- South West Territory – Orem Police Department
- South Central Territory – Midwest Police Department
- North Central Territory – Green Bay Police Department
- North East Territory – Montgomery Police Department
- North West Territory – Three Sites
- East Central Territory – Shooters Edge, LLC
As the world’s leader for shooting range development, Action Target has a diverse line of products to meet the needs of all its customers. If there is ever a request for a target system not currently offered, we have a full team of Research & Development personnel to explore the creation of a new target solution. Many times, however, the training need can be met with some of the simplest targets.
Action Target has been hailed as the #1 steel shooting target manufacturer based on our unique designs, which have been developed and modified over 26 years. Our steel targets have been influenced, tested, designed, and used extensively by law enforcement, the military, and Special Forces groups around the world. These groups prefer our steel targets since they do not allow any exposed bolts or brackets on the shooting surfaces. This is a limitation to many designs, but the result is the safest possible steel target available.
When using any of our portable steel shooting targets, please remember these safety guidelines to ensure that your experience of shooting targets is a fun and safe one:
STEEL TARGET SAFETY RULES
1. Always obey the Firearms Safety Rules listed below
2. Always wear hearing protection and wrap-around shatter resistant eye protection
3. Always stand at least 10 yards from the target when using handgun calibers
4. Always stand at least 100 yards from the target when using shotgun slugs
5. Always stand at least 100 yards from the target when using rifle calibers like .223 and .308
6. Never use rifle calibers on handgun rated targets
7. Never use ammunition that exceeds 3,000 feet per second at the muzzle
8. Never use ammunition that travels below 750 feet per second
9. Never shoot BB’s, steel shot, or air gun pellets at steel targets
10. Never use more powerful ammunition than the target is rated for (green tip, armor piercing, etc.)
11. Never shoot on steel that is cratered, pitted, or damaged in any way
12. Hard ground surfaces under the target should be covered with plywood or boxed pea gravel
13. Targets should be placed with a 3-foot lateral and deep offset from the adjacent target
14. If shooting multiple targets, the angle of engagement should not exceed 20 degrees
15. Use only non-toxic paint on steel targets
16. Inspect all targets before use for damage, functionality, etc.
17. Shooters and observers must wear long pants (no shorts), long sleeve shirts, a cap or hat with a brim, and closed toed shoes
18. Instructors and observers should stand behind the shooter and observe all safety rules
19. If using frangible ammunition, it is the responsibility of the Rangemaster to test fire all frangible rounds to determine the following:
- That the projectile pulverizes completely on contact
- That the projectile does not damage the steel target at the distances you intend to shoot from
For more information about our steel targets or the importance of safety while shooting targets, visit our Portable Targets page on the Action Target website.
Action Target has recently released the first of five training videos on YouTube featuring world champion shooter Rob Leatham. The videos feature instruction from Rob and the drills he uses in his own training. Each video showcases a different type of steel target in Action Target’s Portable Target line.
The first video includes drills and skill demonstrations as Rob practices on the PT Plate Rack . The remaining four videos, to be released in the upcoming weeks, will emphasize how to train on other steel targets like the PT Static and PT Dueling Tree . This group of training videos was filmed at Rob’s home range located at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club in Mesa, AZ.
“The cool thing about these videos is that they are real training videos and not some promotional piece where we only talk about Action Target,” said David Mathis, Marketing Director at Action Target. “Rob shows you some of the drills he uses in his own practice, and explains the purpose and relevance of each one.”
Rob’s resume proves that these drills work. Rob began shooting in the late 70’s and soon became one of the top shooters to watch at local and national competitions. He currently holds 24 national titles, including five world titles and 16 consecutive years as the Single-Stack National Champion. A professional shooter for over 20 years, Rob currently shoots for Springfield Armory and Safariland. When Rob is not competing, he is a sought after firearms instructor for both law enforcement and military.
“Working with Rob on this was a great experience and it really showed his level of skill,” added Mathis. “Except for one or two drills later in the day when we were all hot and tired, each of the drills you see was shot in one take. Rob is just that good. And his level of understanding of the mechanics and what is going on while you are shooting matches his shooting ability.”
We are excited to bring this form of virtual firearms training to shooters around the world through the Action Target YouTube page. Whether viewed by a law enforcement officer, a casual shooter, or a serious competition shooter, these training videos are designed to help all shooters increase their skills when using a pistol.
Go to www.youtube.com/actiontarget to view the first training video with Rob. To receive updates on when other videos are released, visit the sign-up page for the free Action Target Journal newsletter or subscribe to the Action Target YouTube channel.
The Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) recently named Action Target the official target manufacturer for their group of Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) enthusiasts. This announcement runs in tandem with Action Target being named the official target manufacturer for the world’s largest single action shooting competition, End of Trail.
Action Target has worked with SASS for many years. Our targets have been used with increasing frequency at regional, state, and club shooting matches. Action Target is also the preferred target choice at other CAS events prompting Action Target to work with SASS World Champion, Gene “Evil Roy” Pearcey in developing the industry’s most portable, economical, durable, and independently reviewed steel target, the Evil Roy Practice Target . This innovative target has endured some of the most grueling and comprehensive torture tests, but performs flawlessly each and every time. Some of the most respected independent reviewers in the firearms industry, such as Nutnfancy, have tested and evaluated the Evil Roy, giving extremely positive reviews.
Evil Roy was instrumental in creating his target namesake. He has also been working with SASS in the development of rules, shooting stages, and weapon characteristics to include Wild Bunch Action Shooting as the opening stages of 2011’s End of Trail.
“Wild Bunch Action Shooting will employ the use of a 1911 pistol rather than single action revolvers, SASS legal pump shotguns, and lever-action rifles,” stated media contact and dedicated SASS member, Lamar “Coyote Calhoun” Shelnutt. “The idea for the equipment and dress used in the sport is based on the 1969 movie, ‘The Wild Bunch.’ SASS is proud to have a great relationship with Action Target that goes much deeper than just their high quality targets.”
The End of Trail main match took place last month at Founder’s Ranch, New Mexico. The competitors participated in twelve individual stages, shooting four stages per day. End of Trail is a four gun event where each shooter is required to perform using two six-guns, a rifle and a shotgun in each of the main match stages. Shooters are expected to fire up to ten pistol rounds, ten rifle rounds, and up to six shotgun rounds in each stage.
If you are looking for good family fun, then come see the SASS members shoot with weapons of the era while dressed in period attire during the End of Trail and other CAS events throughout the year!
For more information about SASS, the End of Trail, or Wild Bunch Action Shooting, please contact Lamar “Coyote Calhoun” Shelnutt or Misty “Misty Moonshine” Miller at (505) 843-1320.
Action Target, Inc. recently upgraded the target systems used at this year’s NRA/Midway USA Bianchi Cup match range in Columbia, MO. This year’s upgrade was completed as part of Action Target’s sponsorship of this prestigious championship, preserving the long standing relationship Action Target has with this event.
Nearly 20 years ago, Action Target’s Co-Founder, Addison Sovine, traveled to the Bianchi Cup to install new target systems at the Chapman Academy Ranges. Since then, Action Target equipment has powered all the range systems for this event.
“I remember when we first arrived at the range, Ray Chapman took a look at what we were doing and you could tell he was a bit skeptical,” said Sovine, recounting his first year at the Bianchi Cup. “But by the end of the week, everything had worked great, Ray was convinced, and he and I became good friends.”
Even though Green Valley Rifle & Pistol Club has taken over range operations, Action Target continues to provide the target systems for both the range and the Bianchi Cup. This year, Action Target upgraded the turning target systems on the Practical and Barricade ranges by including a new control system that retains compatibility with the previous shot-timer controls while adding the option of computer or wireless controls for the future.
Action Target also manufactured new steel plates for the Falling Plate and Colt Speed events. They also upgraded the control system for the Falling Plate event. This event was controlled by a computer for the first time this year.
In addition to the main event ranges, Action Target provided a new Reactive Target System (RTS) to the Bushmaster Tactical Carbine side match and new portable plate racks to the Bianchi Cup Practice Range. RTS targets are designed from a self-healing polymer capable of receiving several thousand rounds each and also features an electronic scoring system to record hits on each of the targets.
“It’s been a great privilege for us to be involved with the Bianchi Cup. This is one of the longest running championships in the shooting world and Action Target is honored to be able to add our name to the list of organizations that support and sponsor the match,” stated attendee David Mathis, Director of Marketing at Action Target. “The match has operated with Action Target systems for years and we plan to continue our support to keep the Bianchi Cup going for many years to come.”
In addition to being the official target sponsor of this year’s match, Action Target also sponsored the Women’s Award with Jessie Abbate winning the Women’s Championship.
For the past two years, Action Target has been the official target supplier for the youth shooting program, Scholastic Steel Challenge (SSC). “We’re very pleased to have Action Target as our official target. Not only have they provided us with an excellent promotional target package that clubs can manage, they are also bringing their 20-plus years of range and target expertise to the aid of coaches and clubs to make sure our kids are competing in a safe and fun environment,” said Scott Moore, director of SSC.
We are one of many companies that play an active role in the success of the Scholastic Steel Challenge event. Other supporters include The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Smith & Wesson, and the Outdoor Wire Digital Network—all have provided significant amounts of funding and shooting products in support of this event.
“Action Target is very excited about the Scholastic Steel Challenge and the expansion of the pistol shooting sports it represents. We’re proud to be part of this growing, industry-wide effort to bring new shooters into the world of competition shooting and we look forward to working with ranges and teams all across the country,” said Chad Burdette, Portable Target consultant for Action Target.
The Scholastic Steel Challenge is a national team-oriented youth shooting program developed by the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA) and is partly funded by a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. This program is open to young men and women ages 12 to 20 and offers the opportunity for a four person team to compete for the national title in the Action Pistol Discipline of Speed Shooting. The SSC competition is a family sport of “speed steel” designed with an supportive environment taught by trained adult coaches who focus on the safe handling and use of handguns.
The SSC competitive format is based on the Steel Challenge, the nation’s most successful handgun competition. We adapted the competition format to provide an enjoyable, safe, and action packed competition for both beginner and experienced shooters.
Click each link below to view the Scholastic Steel Challenge stage diagrams:
This year, Action Target is offering a discounted steel target package for teams and ranges participating in the program and will provide technical support during the question and answer section of the program’s website. This allows the opportunity for company experts to assist ranges and teams in their efforts to expand shooting opportunities.
If you have questions regarding the target packages offered at discounted rates for SSC affiliates, please contact Chad Burdette at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For more information about the Scholastic Steel Challenge, please visit their website.
Commercial indoor firing range developments are a vital addition to any community. They not only provide a safe and accessible shooting location for private citizens, they also provide a firearms training facility for local law enforcement agencies. Action Target Range Consultant Robb Anderson recently completed the SharpShooters USA commercial shooting range project that demonstrated Action Target’s desire to provide shooters of all skills levels with an enjoyable and safe training facility.
The Sharpshooters range project began two years ago and, with the help of Tom Deets, Ken Burson and Action Target, became the most efficient, innovative and modern indoor shooting range in the Atlanta market.
Some of the features of the SharpShooters Range Project include:
- Three separate bays with eight lanes in each bay
- Bay #1 is a “Fixed Firing” range consisting of two 50 Cal lanes and six lanes designed for 223 and 308 rifle use
- Bay #2 is a “Fixed Firing” range consisting of eight lanes designed for 223 and 308 rifle use
- Both Bay #1 and Bay #2 are installed for ADA handicapped shooters
- Bay #3 has a hybrid range design for public and Tactical Training for local law enforcement community
- All three bays include the Mancom Instructor Stalls and are equipped with Mancom “Touch-n-Go” Target Retrievers
- All rear and side walls are covered with PEPP acoustical tiles by Acoustical Services.
All three bays include the Mancom Instructor Stalls and are equipped with Mancom “Touch-n-Go” Target Retrievers.
The SharpShooters Range has quickly become a popular favorite among Atlanta’s shooters and law enforcement. Recently, 20 agencies participated in a two day seminar – Modern Firearms Training – that allowed attendees the opportunity to give back to the communities that supported this range.
In a testimonial, a member of SharpShooters USA wrote:
“Since the doors were opened to the public, your staff has made it their policy to ensure everyone feels welcome. It is obvious they intend to make the experience comfortable and enjoyable to all comers. Yesterday I had the privilege to witness a situation that took that attitude to a unique level.
In the lane next to mine were a father and son. The son appeared to be in his early teens. It was obvious they were a bit new at this and enjoying a genuine “father-son” afternoon together. Each took turns with a pistol and one could sense they found the experience both new and exhilarating. I noticed a short lull in their shooting and soon realized it was because they were changing weapons. They had an AR.
Moving away from my lane to dispose of a spent target, I saw Range Safety Officer Shaun Kennedy stepping forward to ensure all was about to go well. As I approached the trash can, the father and I exchanged a nod and I asked if that was his rifle. “No, it is a rental. We are visiting from Canada and don’t have access to anything like it there. This may be the only chance my son will ever have to shoot one.” As the dad and I stood back closer to the wall, Shaun continued a brief explanation to the son of the mechanics and safety issues of the weapon. From the gentle manner with which he talked to the young man you could see his intent was to ensure the son was comfortable, safe, and confident enough to enjoy what he was about to experience. The youngster thoroughly enjoyed what followed while a very proud father watched. The look passed between them after the last round was fired was priceless. They asked if they could have a spent casing. Shaun retrieved one with a broom.
For all the right reasons, nothing happened that you should be aware of. Nothing went wrong. An alert Safety Officer made certain of that.
For all the right reasons, something happened that you should be aware of. An alert Safety Officer made certain two novice shooters, a father and son, went home with a newfound sense of shared pride from what they accomplished and an afternoon of great memories.
Kudos to your staff.”
Congratulations to all the SharpShooters USA Staff and Robb Anderson for a job well done!!!
Other Recently Completed Projects:
- Belmont Firearms & Range, NH (Matt Brinkerhoff)
- Federal Reserve Bank, Memphis, TN (Jason Snell)
- Duke Nuclear Energy Plant, NC (Mike Stillwell)
- Houston Police Department, TX (Aaron Ludwig)
- Ankeny Police Department, IA (Chris Hart)
If you are interested in our products and are in the south-eastern states, contact your Regional Representative Robb Anderson. For all other areas, please visit our Contacts Page to find the territory manager for your area.
801-377-8033 ext. 124
Eric Clapsaddle of the Orlando Police Department recently made the journey with his wife to Action Target’s corporate offices located in Provo, Utah. During his visit, Clapsaddle attended an award ceremony where he received the first 2011 Action Target National Rangemaster of the Quarter Award for Quarter-1, 2011.
This event was one that Provo City Mayor John Curtis was not going to miss. As a public official, Mayor Curtis has a vested interest in the safety of his constituents. Following the announcement of this award ceremony, he cleared his busy schedule to attend and present the award to Clapsaddle.
There was standing room only in our Action Target main hall as Mr. Clapsaddle received his award. Other distinguished guest that attended this event included Action Target’s President, Tom Wright and the Co-Founder / Executive Vice President, Addison Sovine.
From Left to Right: Mrs. Clapsaddle, Eric Clapsaddle, Addison Sovine,
Mayor John Curtis, Tom Wright
This award ceremony marks the first of four that Action Target will present this year as part of their recognition program. At Action Target, we are deeply involved with many Rangemasters and want to your feedback about which types of individuals should be considered for these awards in the future. Nominations from peers and a deep knowledge of the individuals being considered play a significant role in our selection process.
Prior to launching this year’s award, we spoke with many industry professionals to help establish some aspects a nominee must have to qualify for this award. Listed below are a few aspects that will be considered during the nominating process.
Each nominee should have several of the following:
- Lifetime of Service / Years of Service
- Contributions to their department’s firearms training
- Contributions to their region, state and industry in firearms training
- Changes to POST requirements
- New / innovative training standards
- New / innovative tactics
- Expert witness testimony
- Subject Matter Expert for firearms and/or training
- Active resource for feedback on training, tactics, equipment and standards
- Partner to develop / modify equipment to enhance training effectiveness
As stated, these are only some of the characteristics we consider prior to deciding upon a recipient. This recognition program includes our clients, all Commercial Ranges and US Military and law enforcement organizations in the US. Those selected for the award will receive recognition in our weekly newsletter, on our website, in our main office and will receive a personalized award.
If you would like to nominate a peer, please write a letter using your organizations letterhead and send the letter via email to ATNewsletter@actiontarget.com detailing why we should consider the person you are nominating, or visit our Programs page for more information and to fill out a nomination form online. Upon receipt, our marketing department will do their due diligence regarding each nomination before making a decision.
We want everyone to help spread the word that at Action Target, we fully support firearms training programs and the individuals who have had a profound impact within this industry.
This customized award is only a small token of gratitude, recognition and appreciation we have for Eric’s contributions to law enforcement firearms training.
Congratulations Eric Clapsaddle for being selected as the first 2011 Action Target National Rangemaster of the Quarter.
At Action Target, we know the recent economy affects everyone in different ways. That is why we are finding new and creative ways to help agencies take their used items, like old guns & ammo, and turn them into credit toward purchases in the future. Take for example our recent partnership with Southern Belle Brass. When a department collects their spent brass casings, they contact us and we arrange to have those items picked up and sent to Southern Belle Brass. They then weigh the items and send Action Target a check and the amount is credited to that department’s account allowing them to purchase Portable Steel Targets, Clearing Traps , Portable Runner systems or any other item they may need.
We have now created a new way agencies can reinvest in their firearms programs lessening the money lost to their city, county or department’s general fund.
Does this look familiar? Most departments and agencies have guns that are no longer in service simply lying around, which is why we have developed a trade-in option that makes those items work for you. We accept any amount of old duty firearms, confiscated guns, class 3 weapons, and ammunition. Turn your old guns & ammo into cash.
These trucks contain over 16,000 guns collected from the Los Angeles area in a single year. Our new trade-in option allows the Los Angeles department to turn these guns to be turned into new targets and equipment for their training program!
Here is how it works:
- sold for cash or trade in value
- stripped for parts value & destroyed
- on-site stripping (250 gun minimum)
- distributor strip & destroy service available
- sold for trade value
- stripped for parts value & destroyed
- on-site stripping (750 gun minimum)
- distributor strip & destroy service available
Class 3 Weapons
- Transferable: Collector sales
- Non-Transferable: Parts value & destruction
- Case lots: all calibers accepted
- Sold for value or traded for another caliber
- Confiscated: options available
- This program is ATF-NFA approved with bids provided by Policetrades.com
- We accept any quantity of firearms from 1-10,000
- We offer a parts stripping & destruction program to provide value for agencies unable to trade duty, confiscated and/or surrendered guns
- Use this credit towards any of your range projects or equipment with Action Target or Law Enforcement Targets. No expiration.
With today’s budgets, let us help you enhance your training with our new products. Simply look around your department or agency, find the guns, ammunition or firearms that you are not using and send them to us for credit today towards future purchases!
For more information on this program, other types of equipment not listed that may qualify or our full line of shooting range equipment, please contact Chad Burdette at email@example.com or (801) 705-9113, or visit our Programs page. To download a PDF describing this program in more detail click here.
As a leader of innovative solutions for firearms training, we recently announced the addition of two new items to our product line, the Pelvic Torso and Sport Rack, at the 2011 Shot Show in Las Vegas, NV. In this week’s newsletter, we will highlight the Pelvic Torso and how to utilize it to enhance your training.
Until recently, there were only paper targets replicating the pelvic area of the body, but with the Pelvic Torso, you now have the first and only steel target option in the world that simulates this area. The steel provides instant feedback to multiple senses as you hear the bullet strike and see the steal plate swing upon impact.
The idea to design the Pelvic Torso came from inquiries from law enforcement and the military for a training element that gave them a tactical solution when engaging with a specific type of threat. As they engaged with threats wearing body armor and no clear head shot, the pelvic girdle became the optimal target area. When an individual is struck in the pelvic girdle, the bullet strikes the ball-and-socket area, which not only causes immense pain but immobilizes the threat completely. If you are participating in disabling drills, the Pelvic Torso is the best training option in the market.
The Pelvic Torso is designed to have two 4” round reactive and auto-resetting head plates added to a non-reduced torso-type head plate. These “bolt-on” options are able to attach to your existing Static Target Stand or Evil Roy Practice Stand . We recommend using the torso head plates to protect the reactive components and keep all bolts/brackets out of the shooting zone, although it can be used with the Hostage and Full Size IPSC Torso Head Plates . This allows the splatter to continue to be directed down from the head plate and will not be redirected toward the shooter.
Since the Pelvic Torso is still in prototype mode, it is not yet available for sale. However, if you are interested in purchasing one of these in the future, please let us know:
For more information, download the Pelvic Torso Cut Sheet here (PDF). Stay tuned to for next week’s newsletter focusing on our new Sport Rack.
Action Target was recently represented at Shot Show 2011 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV from Jan 18-21. The overall scope and size of our booth represented the overall growth success of our company for the last 25 years. The amount of traffic generated this year was astounding. We hardly had a minute to catch our breath and we are grateful for it.
Many of the attendees were drawn in by the impressive design of our booth. It stood 20 feet tall and 60 feet wide, contained two meeting rooms, impressive graphics with accurate reductions of a Modular Armored Tactical Combat House (MATCH) and Total Containment Trap (TCT).
Here is a photo shot of our both taken about an hour before the show opened on the last day:
- Reactive Target System (RTS) – These self-healing targets are best fit for close quarter live fire engagements. We wanted to create a viable solution to meet the significant demand we have received from organizations and agencies all around the world. Some of the benefits of the RTS are the ability for the target to fall when struck, count the hits a target takes in a cost effective manner and you will not need to manually count the holes anymore during qualifications. Major benefits of the RTS include the ability of the target to fall when struck and the ability to count the number of hits to a target in a cost effective manner rather than manually counting the holes after qualification rounds. We devoted an entire article to this innovative product line last week.
- Real Terrain Range (RTR) – Chuck Habermehl helped to develop the concept of the Real Terrain Range to bring a complete realism to training scenarios. At Action Target, we scoured the globe looking any current option narrowing our focus to a company that has been designing Hollywood movie sets for years. Their unique approach and materials allow pullets to pass through a simulate such as a rock, tree or wall causing no ricochet, splatter, inhalation or visibility hazard if any negligent discharge occurs. The RTR design allows Action Target to recreate any training environment you need.
- FlexTact by Hufcor – FlexTact is the quickest and easiest reconfigurable shoothouse on the market today. As the exclusive worldwide distributor of FlexTact, Action Target was fortunate to have this small example of the system in the booth along with Hufcor’s training staff. The FlexTact increases the quality of your training and throughput and can benefit law enforcement, military and fire departments. The panels are suspended by an overhead railing system which allows you to recreate any building layout in minutes. There are panels are designed with doors, windows and graphics to truly enhance the realism. This is a great compliment to Action Target’s MATCH.
- Pelvic Torso – The Pelvic Girdle was one of two new steel target prototypes brought to the show. It received a great response, and gave us the opportunity gather feedback that we will put to good use as we continue working on this target as a training solution. This prototype can be added onto an existing Action Target Hostage , IPSC Torso or Full-Size IPSC Torso target. It easily bolts onto the stand, has no welds and replicates the pelvic girdle. There are two swinging plates that will react when hit. With many agencies training on disabling drills, the Pelvic Torso is the only steel target on the market that addresses this training need. Look out for an article on this product next week.
- Sport Rack – As a world leader, Action Target has been asked time and again for a portable plate rack. Our existing Plate Rack has the highest quality and design that organizations all around the world over have used with much success. It is however, difficult to carry for long distance shooting which is why we were excited to announce our new Sport Rack. It looks just like a miniature version of our larger model, but it does not have true plate rack properties. The Sport Rack has four inverted round target heads, with no welds, so that when struck they swing upward, similar to the target movement on our horizontal dueling trees . Once again, there was a great deal of interest in this prototype, and look out for a full article about it in two weeks.
If you are interested in the Sport Rack or Pelvic Girdle and would like to add your name on our waiting list to be notified when they are for sale, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions or are interested in speaking to one of our Range Consultants, please Contact Us.
At the 2011 Shot Show in Las Vegas, NV, we announced that Action Target is now the worldwide exclusive dealer of Reactive Target Systems (RTS) products. The great advantage RTS has over other systems currently on the market is the ability to build upon a base system. Shown below are all color options of the Static Package that includes a Self-Healing Torso Target , pole and base .
These self-healing Torso Targets can take approximately 2,000 rounds or more, depending on the caliber and distance, before needing replacement. The targets are lightweight and can be left outside all year long making them a great addition for any shooter.
The Static Package becomes reactive when adding the RTS Smart Joint . This innovative joint allows the shooter to engage the target at any distance, falling when struck. For scenarios when a falling target isn’t ideal, a pin can be used to keep the target upright. Shown below is the Smart Joint mounted into the base:
If you want to make your training even more dynamic, add the hit-counting capability to your target. Using a specific algorithm, the RTS hit sensor reads each hit through a transmitter, sends the hit to a digital display , and informs you how many rounds struck the target. The hit-counting ability reads all calibers, including paintballs, Simunitions and Airsoft. As seen below, the digital numerator uses the same pole and stand as the target, allowing you to have your display stand out of the line of fire, yet remains visible.
As one of the most economical hit sensor/hit counting target systems available, available, this system can increase throughput for training and qualifications by 20-40%, allowing for more “trigger time.”
The RTS system has so many possibilities and applications for all segments of the shooting market, and we want to help you incorporate it into your training programs. RTS makes the difference, so contact a member of our team today!
Written by Dennis Tueller
Too much of our firearms training is static. That is to say, we seem to spend most of our time and ammunition shooting at single, motionless targets standing directly in front of us. Since this scenario has little to do with what we encounter on the street, why do we continue to train this way? One reason may simply be tradition, or “…because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That’s not a good enough reason for me either, so what say we just forget that one. Other reasons might include: “We don’t have any moving target equipment” or, “We have enough trouble just getting our trainees to hit the targets that are standing still!” These are valid concerns, and in this article I hope to offer some suggestions and advice that will help you to overcome them both.
First, we should consider the reasons why we need to include moving targets in our firearms training. Let’s review some of the common dynamics we now recognize from the hundreds of real-life police gunfights studied over the years. The vast majority of these confrontations happen within 10 feet or less, and the time span of actual shooting is usually less than 3 seconds. 60% to 70% of these altercations occur in an environment of low, altered, or failing light. Nearly half of the time there are multiple adversaries to contend with. While the statistical studies don’t usually specify the type or degree of the movement involved, we know that people move – especially when they are fighting. Movement to retrieve a weapon, movement to attack, movement to or from a covered position, movement to break physical contact. The fact is, real targets in the real world really move, and our firearms training needs to prepare us for this reality.
Clint Smith, internationally known firearms instructor and the Director of Thunder Ranch, often uses this simple demonstration. He will raise both of his hands up about head high, palms forward. His left hand remains motionless, but he moves his right hand erratically up, down, and back and forth. While doing this, he asks the class, “If one of my hands represents you as a target that is about to be shot at, which target would you rather be?” The answer (for most of us) is obvious. We would choose to be the moving target, because we know that it is much more difficult to hit a moving target.
For years, Clint and many other enlightened firearms instructors have trained their students to move as part of a reflexive response to an armed attack. This is one of the best ways to include movement into your range work. Even if the targets on your range are simply attached to posts in the ground, and the only time they move is when the wind is blowing really hard, your shooters must learn how to move. Taking a lateral step to the right or left while presenting the firearm and issuing a verbal challenge is a simple and worthwhile tactic which should be introduced when your trainees have demonstrated an ability to safely draw, fire, and hit a close-range target in a timely fashion.
Now that you have your shooters moving themselves, you can also teach them to accurately engage moving targets. It’s best to start close, three yards or so, with the target moving at a moderate pace. This is both to instill confidence in the shooter’s ability to hit an animated target, and to create a realistic representation of the kind of target they might have to engage in an actual gunfight. At first, the shooter remains stationary (preferably working from behind some kind of cover prop) while shooting at the mover.
To hit a moving target, one must apply the same basic principles of marksmanship needed to hit a stationary target, i.e.: sight alignment, trigger control, and smooth follow-through. Keep the sights aligned in the center of the target as you track its movement. At the same time the trigger finger is applying steady, even pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks. Here’s the critical part: as the shot breaks, continue to smoothly track the target as you recover from the recoil and reacquire your sight picture and allow the trigger to reset as you prepare to make additional shots. The tendency is for us to stop swinging the gun with the target at the moment of firing, thus resulting a shot going where the target was, instead of where it is going. In my experience, this lack of follow-through is the most common cause for missing shots at a laterally moving target. Yes it is challenging, but the only way to learn to do something well is to practice doing it. As skill and confidence improve, we can increase both the speed of, and the distance to the target, and eventually reintroduce movement by the shooter.
For this sort of training to be possible, of course, you will need some kind of a moving target system. For those of you with an extremely tight budget, a bit of imagination and resourcefulness are in order. Here’s an example: with a little red wagon, a target and stand, some clamps, stakes, pulleys, and a length of rope (don’t forget the duct tape and bailing wire) you can put together a crude but effective moving target system powered by manual labor. If you train on an indoor range, there is probably a target retrieval mechanism in place that can be used to simulate a target that is charging or withdrawing, often with more than a little swinging and bouncing movement included for good measure.
For more advanced solutions, Action Target offers several options for animating your targetry. One of the simplest is the AT Swinger . This is a single, portable target stand with a pivoting mechanism and a weighted counter-balance that allows the target to swing back and forth through a 180 degree arc. The movement of the target is controlled by simply pulling on a cable which is attached through a pulley at the base of the stand. Several of these PT-Swingers can be linked together so the range officer can pull a single cable that will cause the entire bank of targets to swing back and forth in unison. This can allow you to work with a full line of shooters all at the same time.
The Action Target Track Runner is a premiere moving target system designed to be part of a permanent installation. It provides a smooth, wind-proof way to move one or more target carriers laterally at variable speeds. The range officer uses the control box, which is connected to the target system’s electric motor, to start and stop the targets and change their speed and direction. Because of the Track-Runner’s power and advanced design, steel targets can even be incorporated on the target carrier to provide instant visual and audible feedback.
One of our most versatile pieces of equipment is the portable AT Runner . This system uses a motor and control system similar to the Track Runner, but instead of being mounted on a permanent track, the target carrier is suspended by an overhead steel cable. The motor and pulley mechanisms are each supported by single piece of 8-foot long 2×4 lumber. The whole thing can be set up, virtually anywhere, in less than 20 minutes. Because of its portability, the target can be set to run perpendicular to the line of fire, or at differing angles. One of my favorite uses of the Portable-Runner is to set it up as a charger. We can run the target directly at the shooter, who must smoothly back up away from the attacking target while drawing and shooting. Combine this setup with the Action Target 3-D (cardboard torso supported by balloons) silhouette target, and you have a realistic looking threat that will now react to accurately placed shots by by falling to the ground.
No matter what kind of range equipment you may have, I hope you recognize the critical need for instructing our trainees in the important tactical and marksmanship skills they need to accurately and effectively engage moving targets. In our earlier review of police gunfight statistics, I didn’t mention the numbers that reflect our real-world marksmanship performance. These numbers will vary a bit from year to year, but the U.S. national average hit-ratio is about 1 out of 6, or roughly 15%. That is, for every six shots deliberately fired by officers during armed confrontations, only one of those six shots will hit its intended target. That means that 85% of the shots fired during these gunfights are hitting something other than the intended target, often causing expensive property damage, injury, and sometimes death. You don’t need me to tell you about the unpleasant financial, political, and emotional consequences that can result from these errant bullets. Do you think that our officers would achieve better results in their real-world shootouts if they were regularly training on moving targets? I do too. It is up to us as firearms instructors to provide these kinds of training opportunities. We can do better. We must do better. Many lives depend on it. ‘Nuff said. Now, let’s get moving!
Written by Ben Kurata
In a previous article I discussed the advantages of training on reactive steel, the primary one being a dramatically shortened learning / performance improvement curve. Other advantages include cost effectiveness. Say WHAT? Isn’t steel expensive? Well, if you are your department’s Range Master or Chief Firearms Trainer, how much do you budget a year for paper or cardboard targets? Cardboard or foam backers? Staple guns and staples? 1” x 2” sticks to staple the targets to or 2” X 4” frames and particle board? How many staple guns grow feet and walk off the range each year? How much time is spent per relay stapling up new paper or cardboard targets? What about high wind and rain? The point is, you can shoot on steel in all kinds of weather, and all you need is a spray can of paint to re-spray the target(s) for the next shooter(s).
I’m going out on a limb here, but I would like to toss out the idea that all in service training for patrol officers can be done on steel and not use a paper or cardboard target at all. I’m even going to take the idea further and say that qualification can be shot on steel. If you are like most departments, 70 – 80% hits in an acceptable area of the target and the officer passes qualification until the next time. All you have to do is measure the surface area (square inches) of the acceptable target surface on your qualification target and find a steel target that is the same shape and has the same surface area. When firing qualification, each officer firing has a coach (another officer) behind the shooter that has a score sheet of rounds fired at each stage. All the scoring officer has to do is count the number of hits and record the number of misses at each stage. At the end of the course, tally up the misses, multiply by your factor (50 rounds, each round worth 2 points, etc.) and you have the qualification score.
Now, I understand that for documentation purposes, some departments are locked into shooting a paper target that can become a part of the officer’s documentation. I’m just saying that after working with problem shooters for over two decades, I’ve had the quickest and best results by giving the “problem” shooter a steel target that was smaller than their qualification target, bringing them up to accuracy and speed on the smaller steel target, and then having them shoot on their qualification target. Every “problem” shooter that I worked with in this fashion had no problem going back to their department and easily passing qualification.
I have no explanation for why this works, other than a famous line from a Mel Gibson movie, “Aim small, miss small”. If your department still uses a qualification target the size of a horse blanket, you’ll always have a certain percentage of shooters who will miss even at the 3 yard line.
To train / shoot on steel safely at CQB distances (less than 10 yards with a handgun), you need two things:
1. High quality, well designed steel targets;
2. Pulverizing ammunition.
At the end of this article I’ve attached the Steel Safety Rules that Bank Miller and I wrote a few years ago. Keep in mind that they were written for conventional ammunition. The most consistent splatter patterns are with FMJ (ball) ammo. A 100 yard standoff safe distance when shooting rifle or shotgun slugs seems excessive, but I personally saw a 5.56 mm jacket come off a steel target and cut a shooter at 47 yards from the target, and know another Range Master that had a similar mishap at 60 yards.
First, the steel:
– At least AR 500 (nobody reputable in the industry uses anything less).
– Completely smooth and flat target surface, free of any dimples, pock marks, etc.. (Dimples and pock marks will turn an incoming round right back at the shooter.)
– No protruding bolts, brackets, etc.. These will cause erratic splatter patterns.
– Target face turned downward at about a 20 degree angle. This will cause about 80% of the splatter to go downward.
– Targets should be secured at the end of each training session. If not, you-know-who will show up with green and black tip 5.56 mm and there goes a $200 or $300 steel target.
You can read the rest in the Steel Safety Rules at the end of this article. Now I’d like to turn to pulverizing projectiles. Chances are you’ve never heard of the term “pulverizing projectiles” unless you’ve been around myself or Bank Miller. Well, for some time, we have taught in our Range Master class that the term “frangible” is misleading for two reasons:
1. SAMMI, who sets the standards for modern ammunition, has not determined a standard for “frangible”.
2. Even conventional ammunition is frangible if it hits something hard and dense enough. If you shoot a 50 BMG into a granite boulder big enough, the projectile will “frange”. It’s just a question of how big and sharp the “franged” pieces are and how far back they will travel.
Here’s what I mean by “pulverizing projectile”:
1. No jacket! If is has a jacket, the jacket will peel off and come back.
2. When the projectile hits the steel, it completely pulverizes into fine particles like sand, with no pieces larger than a pencil lead, and no broken skin on the shooter or the people standing to the left and right of the shooter.
Since the days when the SIGARMS Academy was the first totally non-toxic frangible range in the country, Mr. Miller and I have tested all “frangible” ammo that comes into our possession by a stringent protocol. I won’t go into it here, but if you are interested, contact me through Action Target.
Just for clarification, most manufacturers of high quality frangible (pulverizing) ammo manufacture non-toxic variants. That means that there is no lead or other toxic heavy metals in the primer or cartridge. If you are shooting on a “clean” (lead-free) range, this is what you want. But if you are shooting on a conventional range that has had leaded ammo shot on it, you can save some money by purchasing the same ammo with leaded primers.
Here are the Steel Safety Rules:
FIREARMS SAFETY RULES
1. Treat all firearms as though they are loaded.
2. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are on target and have decided to fire.
3. Point the muzzle in a safe direction at all times.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
STEEL TARGET SAFETY RULES
1. Always obey the Firearms Safety Rules listed above.
2. Always wear hearing protection and wrap-around shatter resistant eye protection
3. Always stand at least 10 yards from the target when using handgun calibers.
4. Always stand at least 100 yards from the target when using shotgun slugs.
5. Always stand at least 100 yards from the target when using rifle calibers like .223 and .308.
6. Never use rifle calibers on handgun rated targets.
7. Never use ammunition that exceeds 3,000 feet per second at the muzzle.
8. Never use ammunition that travels below 750 feet per second.
9. Never shoot BB’s, steel shot, or air gun pellets at steel targets.
10. Never use more powerful ammunition than the target is rated for. (Green tip, armor piercing, etc.)
11. Never shoot on steel that is cratered, pitted, or damaged in any way.
12. Hard ground surfaces under the target should be covered with plywood or boxed pea gravel.
13. Targets should be placed with a 3 foot lateral and deep offset from the adjacent target.
14. If shooting multiple targets, angle of engagement should not exceed 20 degrees.
15. Use only non-toxic paint on steel targets.
16. Inspect all targets before using for damage, functionality, etc.
17. Shooters and observers must wear long pants (no shorts), long sleeve shirts, a cap or hat with a brim, and closed toed shoes.
18. Instructors and observers should stand behind the shooter and observe all safety rules.
19. If using frangible ammunition, make sure it is designed to disintegrate into powder on impact.
The same velocity rules apply to frangible ammunition as well.
Written by Ben Kurata
Why train on steel?
The shooter learns faster. Traditional cardboard or paper targets only give the shooter and the coach one feedback, visual. If the bullet holes on the target are not visible (example: 5.56 mm at 100 yards), then the shooter and the coach have to play instant recall to try and determine what the shooter did well and what needs improvement. There is often a delay of several seconds if not minutes before the shooter receives feedback on how (s)he did, and it is difficult if not impossible for the shooter to remember what the sight picture, grip, and trigger press looked and felt like for each and every shot.
Why does the shooter learn faster on steel?
Let’s assume that we are conducting handgun training at traditional handgun fight distances, 15 yards and closer. When training on steel, when the shooter hits, they receive immediate feedback not only visually (the strike of the bullet on the steel) but also auditory feedback (the distinct “ping”).
If the target is a reactive steel target, the shooter also gets the additional feedback of having the target fall or move.
I would also argue that at Close Quarter Combat distances feedback is so immediate that the shooter remembers what the sight picture, grip, and trigger press looked and felt like for each successful shot.
While coaching by the instructor on cardboard or paper tends to be diagnostic, I find that coaching by the instructor on steel tends to be faster and more immediate. (“On the second shot you pulled low and left,” etc. vs. “Low. Low. Hold higher.”) Rather than concentrating on the not so good shots, the shooter and the coach can concentrate on the HITS.
More than one experienced instructor / shooter has put forth the idea that feedback provided by shooting on steel is so immediate that it actually enters the subconscious mind faster than the conscious mind can process all of the stimuli associated with conscious sight picture, grip, trigger press, etc.1 I can speak from my own experience that based thousands of dry fire repetitions with tens of thousands of live fire rapid fire strings, when firing a semi-automatic pistol in rapid fire I am not conscious of sight picture or trigger press as traditionally defined. I am very conscious of the rear outline of the slide (as it is in constant motion), the feel of the pistol in my hands and the trigger reset. With traditional cardboard or paper targets I do not get any feedback until I shoot the pistol to slide lock or the pre-determined number of shots and lower the muzzle. When shooting on steel, I get immediate feedback on each and every shot I fire and if I don’t hear an immediate “ping” after firing a shot, I know that I didn’t hit, and I need to do something differently for the next shot.
In other words, as the student progresses in his/her skill level, (s)he starts correcting him/herself before the coach can diagnose and offer suggestions. At this level, the shooter becomes his/her own coach. I have found that with a little practice, any individual who is motivated enough can easily fire 4-6 rounds a second from a semiautomatic pistol and have all the rounds strike in an acceptable area of the target at 7 yards. When firing this rapidly, you can’t be consciously thinking of “front sight focus, surprise trigger break” for each and every shot or the rate of fire will drop to 1-2 shots per second.
Well, assuming that both the Officer and the armed assailant in a shooting encounter are equally motivated, would you rather be sending or receiving 4-6 hits per second?
When firing at this rate on steel targets, the auditory response takes third place in perception after the visual (the blur of the rear of the slide crossing into an acceptable target area) and the tactile (the reset and pressing of the trigger). The reason is, if you wait for the “ping” on the steel, you will have delayed your response time by about a half a second or 2 outgoing / incoming rounds. I learned a long time ago while shooting on the Action Target Dueling Tree or Plate Rack that if I waited for the “ping” of my first target, my opponent was usually hitting his second, or even third target. I learned to see an acceptable sight picture for the first shot, press the trigger and immediately shift my eye focus to the second plate while muzzle of the handgun, rifle, or shotgun was still lifting.
Another, more practical reason for trusting your first shot is that in a real-life encounter, you probably won’t hear a “ping” from your adversary. You may not see any immediate reaction at all. There can be many reasons for this. First, and most likely (about 80 – 85% of the time nationally), is the possibility that you missed the threat entirely. That is why we train, train, and train some more. The second reason is that you hit, but did not hit a part of your attacker’s anatomy that would trigger an immediate reaction. (If you have the opportunity to attend one of Dr. James William’s excellent seminars, “Shooting with X-ray Vision”, do so.) The third reason may be that you hit, but the caliber / projectile configuration just didn’t perform as advertised. All of the above are good reasons for training to shoot and hit fast and repeatedly, and the quickest way to do so is to shoot on reactive steel.
In a subsequent article, I will go over how to shoot on reactive steel safely.
- Bank Miller, Conscious and Subconscious Training on Reactive Steel, The Firearms Instructor, Issue 47.
Written by Ben Kurata
Thoughts on equipment placement, conditioned response, reaction time, Hick’s Law, the 21 foot guideline, and the OODA loop
Disclaimer 1: I do not consider myself to be an expert on any of the above topics. I am, however, really good at asking questions. I am a serious student of human behavior under stress.
Disclaimer 2: In no way what I write should be misinterpreted as passing judgment on the Officer(s) involved. In the past, I have been judged by people who were not beside me when bad things happened. I refuse to be a “Monday morning quarterback” to situations I was not involved in.
Disclaimer 3: The above title gives the reader an insight into how my mind works. I struggle on a good day to have an independent thought. I have had the privilege, however, to have trained with some absolutely brilliant thinkers / operators / teachers. I will attempt to give them the credit they deserve.
Recently, a transit Officer was convicted of homicide after he shot an individual to death while attempting to control the subject’s behavior. According to the Officer’s testimony, he thought he was reaching for his Taser but discharged his duty firearm instead, killing the subject.
Now, I am not here to pass judgment on the Officer’s actions, as I was not there. But for some time, I have recommended that Tasers be mounted on the duty belt on the non-dominant side, with the grip pointed backward, NOT in a cross-draw position. Why? Well, over the course of his / her career, a LEO may pull their handgun from its holster hundreds, maybe thousands of times during in-service training and qualification. A LE Trainer may pull a handgun from its holster tens of thousands of times.
How many times does an average LEO pull a Taser from its holster and discharge it? In most departments that I have trained with, after initial training (with its “special” videotaped moments), the only time a Taser gets pulled from its holster is when it is used on a subject. I know of no in-service or qualification live fire course of fire for the Taser.
What’s the point?
Well, many years ago, someone much wiser than I will ever be said:
“Under stress, you will revert to what you do most often or most recently.”
I only wish I could remember who told me that so I could give them credit. The point is, the dominant hand has been conditioned by hundreds (if not thousands) of repetitions to access and fire the handgun, not the Taser.
Similarly, I wish I could have a dollar for every time I saw on the range a cell phone or pager get pulled from the belt and forcibly stuffed into the magazine well of a weapon. Why? Because the operator was reverting back to the location and object on his / her duty belt that (s)he accesses most often in the course of a day – dozens of times.
Many years ago, fellow Action Target Instructor Dennis Tueller established the 21 foot guideline which has been misinterpreted over the years as the “21 foot rule”. While not diminishing the validity of what Dennis established, I can say that for the average LE Instructor (who, in theory, should be smoother and quicker at presenting the duty handgun from the duty holster) the average reactionary gap when wearing a Level II or Level III retention holster is more like 40 – 60 feet. That is with the outcome pre-determined – draw the handgun and place one or two well-placed shots on an inert practice target. Under the stress of a life -threatening attack, reaction time can double, quadruple, or deteriorate even more. Why? Well, some definitions may be useful:
“Reaction time has sometimes been described as a function of Hick’s law:
(1) H = log2(n + 1).
(2) H = Σ pi log2(1/pi + 1).
H = the information-theoretic entropy of a decision.
n = the number of equally probable alternatives.
pi = the probability of alternative i for n alternatives of unequal probability.
The time it takes to make a decision is roughly proportional to H, the entropy of the decision (the log of the number of alternatives), i.e. T = k H, where k ~ 150 msec” 1
Now, I have no idea what that means, but it may be useful in calculating the probability of getting a raise or the budget you submitted. “Entropy of the decision” is the scientific way of saying “brain cramp”! What is important to note is that formula was established by test subjects that were not being presented with life-threatening stimuli, and under ideal conditions, reaction time is a logarithmic, (12, 22, 32, etc.) not an arithmetic (1 + 1, 2 + 1, etc.) variable.
Now, how many use of force options does the average Officer have?
- Verbal instructions / commands;
- Empty hand techniques;
- Aerosol spray;
- Lethal force, which can include:
- Folding knife;
- Baton, if targeted on “red” areas of the anatomy;
- Patrol Rifle;
- Improvised weapons (“Bumper – 06”);
And, let us not forget that word that has been pounded into every Officer’s head (and we have to share the responsibility for this one): Liability.
Now, let’s add the one factor that throws almost all probability theory out the window: Life – threatening stimuli.
A concept which may be more useful in understanding actual reaction time under life – threatening circumstances may be USAF Lt. Col. (Ret.) John Boyd’s OODA loop. It is not my intention here to recap my understanding of the OODA loop. (For an excellent summary, please locate and read Ken Good’s article, “Got a Second? Boyd’s OODA Cycle in the Close Quarter Battle Environment”.) Suffice it to say that after being in and running a few force-on-force simulations, most people (including myself) make mistakes in the initial Observation phase and then get caught in what Ken Murray describes as a “goofy loop” 2 – unable to make an appropriate decision as to what to do next. Or, caught on the reaction (wrong) side of the action / reaction curve.
Well, let me just throw this out for thought:
- All less lethal tools (including radio, pager, and cell phone) on the non – dominant side of the duty belt / LBE, etc., accessed and practiced with the non-dominant hand.
- All lethal force tools on the dominant side of the duty belt, accessed and practiced with the dominant hand.
Now, please don’t misinterpret me. I am not saying to stop practicing wounded / disabled drills. Now, more than ever, I practice accessing, shooting, reloading, and clearing stoppages with the non – dominant hand AND EYE only. It all boils down to, “Under stress, you will revert to what you do most often or most recently.”
(If you are the trainer who said that to me many years ago, please contact me so that I can give you proper credit.)
2. Kenneth R. Murray, “Training at the Speed of Life, Volume 1”, copyright Armiger Publications, 2004.
Written by Benjamin Kurata
*This is the second entry in a 2-part series on Long Gun Function Testing. The first entry was published two weeks earlier.
In a previous article, I covered function testing the AR-15 / M4 patrol rifle and variants. Now, let’s turn to that old standby of the police arsenal, the 12 gauge pump shotgun. It’s a common misconception that the 12 gauge pump shotgun is maintenance free. Certainly, the majority of shotguns I’ve seen were evidence of this misguided belief. The police shotgun has to be routinely cleaned, lubricated and function tested the same as any other duty weapon. One area that most shooters overlook when cleaning and lubricating the police shotgun is the magazine tube. The tube is made of steel, and the magazine spring and shell follower are made of steel. (If the shell follower in your shotgun is a thin plastic cap, discard it and get the steel one. If the plastic cap breaks inside the magazine tube, you’ll have to put the shotgun on to the workbench to get it to work again.) When the shotgun is carried in “cruiser carry” mode, the magazine spring is compressed against the interior of the magazine tube. Let some moisture get into the magazine tube, and corrosion of magazine spring can occur.
Whenever I disassemble, clean, lubricate and function test my shotgun, I push a bore brush and patches wet with solvent through the magazine tube until the patches come out clean. I finish up with a clean patch moistened with lubricant followed by a clean, dry patch. A wipe down of the magazine spring with some lubricant completes the maintenance on the magazine tube.
Function Testing of the Pump Shotgun:
- Make certain that there is no live ammunition in the magazine tube or chamber. With the bolt back, a quick physical check through the loading port by touching the magazine follower and the empty chamber gets the task done.
- Pump the fore end all the way forward. Try to pull the fore end back. The fore end and bolt should remain locked forward.
- Put the safety on “Safe”. Press the trigger, hard. Nothing should happen.
- Point the muzzle in a safe direction and press the trigger. You should feel / hear a normal hammer fall. Keep the trigger depressed.
- With the trigger depressed, roll the shotgun sideways so you can look through the ejection port. Slowly work the fore end all the way back and then forward. You should see the shell lifter rise up when you start the fore end forward. Continue to push the fore end all the way forward while keeping the trigger depressed.
- Slowly let the trigger forward until you feel and hear the disconnector reset. It won’t take much forward motion of the trigger, and the reset will be subtle. The reset on my personal Remington 870 feels about the same as my 1911A1 Colt. Yes, all modern pump shotguns since the model 1897 Winchester have disconnectors.
- Press the trigger again. You function test is now complete.
Function Testing the Police Semiautomatic Shotgun:
- Make certain that there is no live ammunition in the magazine tube or chamber. With the bolt back, a quick physical check through the loading port or the ejection port by touching the magazine follower and the empty chamber gets the task done.
- Let the bolt go forward by pressing the bolt release button. The bolt should move forward sharply and lock into the rear of the barrel.
- Point the muzzle in a safe direction and put the safety on “Safe”. Press the trigger, hard. Nothing should happen.
- Point the muzzle in a safe direction and press the trigger. You should feel / hear a normal hammer fall. Keep the trigger depressed.
- With the trigger depressed, roll the shotgun sideways so you can look through the ejection port. Slowly pull the charging handle to the rear with your non-dominant hand and ease it slowly forward. As the bolt starts forward, you should see the shell lifter rise up. Work the charging handle back and forth a few times. You shouldn’t feel any unusual binding, just slight resistance when the bolt unlocks and a slight “bump” as the bolt body passes over the hammer.
- Pull the charging handle all the way back and let it fly forward.
- Slowly let the trigger forward until you hear and feel the disconnector reset. Again, this won’t take much forward motion of the trigger and is subtle (compared to the disconnector reset on say, an AR-15).
- Press the trigger again. Your function test is now complete.