Tag: firearm instructors

Illinois Concealed Carry Instructor Fraud: Are Citizens Being Trained Correctly to Carry Concealed Firearms?

By John Krupa III

As citizens rush to obtain their Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL) many unwarily fall victim to instructors failing to properly administer the state mandated training requirements.

The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and the Illinois State Police have received numerous complaints that ISP “approved instructors” are taking shortcuts, skipping required training elements or simply signing off on CCL certifications without presenting any course material at all!

As one of the Senior State of Illinois Certified Master Firearms Instructors I feel obligated to take point addressing these issues to not only alert citizens of CCL instructor fraud, but also contribute to the education of ISP approved CCL firearms instructors state-wide.

Getting your Illinois Concealed Carry License

When people ask me “What’s the best way to find a reliable CCL instructor?” here’s the advice I give them: Take your time, do your research and don’t rush at the first open slot in a class. It’s better to find an instructor you are confident in and wait your turn to train with him / her.LETC 2013 - 186

When you find an instructor on the Internet that interests you, make sure that person is listed as an approved instructor on the Illinois State Police website. If they are not listed on the approved instructor list, but are offering Illinois CCL classes, then it’s a scam!

What is the instructor’s background?

Do the instructors have their credentials available for you to review on their website? If they don’t have their credentials posted on their website, ask them to provide you with a copy of their Professional Vita. If they decline to show you their Professional Vita, I’d seriously question considering them as the person you want to complete your CCL training with.

Keep in mind that the person you select to certify you for your CCL is the person that is required to retain your training records and will be one of the witnesses that will be subpoenaed to court to testify on your behalf. The selection process to secure your personal defense experts starts BEFORE you use deadly force, and begins with the person you select to certify you for your CCL!

When reviewing an instructor’s credentials, you also want to look at the instructor’s experience. Are you selecting a person that specializes in personal defense training? Can they demonstrate the length of their experience on this subject? Will that person be able to provide expert testimony in court on your behalf based on their established experience? You may want to consider avoiding inexperienced instructors with no background so you don’t end up being their crash test dummies.

Get familiar with the Illinois CCL law

Go to the ISP website and download the Illinois CCL Law PDF. It’s a lengthy document (over 160 pages) so I’m recommending students to copy it to a thumb drive and take it to their local print shop and have them print it out. Have the print shop copy it double sided on 3-hole punched paper so you can keep it in a binder. This will allow you to highlight the important issues you need to remember and make notes where needed.

Read the law and become familiar with it prior to attending your CCL certification course. Write down questions on topics you don’t understand and have them ready to ask the instructors as they cover those topics. You are not going to become intimate with this law over a 16-hour course. Ultimately, it will be up to you to know and understand the law.

Review the list of topics the Illinois CCL law requires you to learn

Go to the ISP website and download the Concealed Carry License Firearms Curriculum Approval PDF. This form outlines the curriculum elements that each instructor is required to present to their students in their classes by State law.

Print this form out and bring it with you to class and check off each element as the instructor presents them to ensure the instructor covers all of the elements you are required to learn.

Should the instructor miss any of the required elements that are listed on the Curriculum Approval form or fails to cover them in detail, make sure you ask questions about those elements until you are satisfied that you understand them.

If an instructor deliberately skips any of the elements they are required to teach or refuses to address your questions about elements they have failed to cover, then you HAVE NOT been properly trained as required by State law.

If this happens, I recommend that you immediately withdraw from the class, request that your tuition be refunded and find an instructor on the ISP website that is going to present the course materials correctly.

If you are the victim of ANY instructor transgressions described in this article, you should be aware that the Illinois State Police has investigators assigned to investigate these violations! Any ISP sustained complaints will result in that instructor’s ISP approval ID number being revoked and their name removed from the approved instructor list.

Tips for ISP Approved CCL Firearms Instructors

First and foremost, congratulations if you made the ISP approved instructors list. While many of you have worked very hard to become certified and registered to teach Illinois CCL courses, it is important to know that the bulk of the instructor transgressions that have been reported to the ISP have been committed by a very small percentage of approved instructors.LETC 2013 - 062

With that being said, here are some tips that can help you provide the most professional CCL training courses to your students.

Know the law and protect your students

There is A LOT of responsibility in teaching this program. As an instructor, you have to know the Illinois CCL law beyond a “working knowledge”. Instructors need to be able to understand the law at a level where they should not only be able to teach it, but also be able to explain what they presented as an expert during testimony at depositions and in a court of law.

An instructor must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the Illinois CCL law beyond the familiarization offered to students. If an instructor fails to demonstrate accurate knowledge of the law during testimony, how can the instructor testify (demonstrate) that his / her students were trained correctly?

If a student claims that they did what they were trained to do and it’s proven during depositions and / or court testimony that the instructor did not train the student correctly, the student is at fault for not understanding the law!

In turn, as soon as the student is found liable for punitive damages (or possibly criminally convicted) that student is going to file a vicarious liability lawsuit against the instructor for failure to train (i.e. improper training).

There are many cases that have influenced law enforcement training policy changes along these lines where police officers sued their agency and fellow officers for these very same reasons.

Instructors are responsible for EVERY student they certify! If one of your students is involved in a CCL related use of deadly force incident (good or bad) you can bet that the instructor that certified them is going to be subpoenaed to testify in that case.

Be thorough in your presentation and cover all CCL elements

Shortcuts are not an option, so don’t skip material or leave anything out. Present the Illinois CCL curriculum as required. Your students are relying on you to be the expert on this. Earn your students trust and give them the confidence that you have their back and they can rely on you if their case ends up in court.

So many instructors are bent on presenting their CCL programs at the minimum standards! If you read the ISP curriculum requirements, you will see that the ISP leaves the discretion up to the instructors to exceed those standards.

This means you can increase the number of training hours to include enhanced course elements; more dry-practice drills, more live-fire drills, extended lectures on combat mindset, situational awareness, conflict resolution, etc.

You don’t need to turn this into a 20 or 30 hour course, but to add another 1 or 2 hours onto your program to make sure your students have everything they need is just another way of showing how professional you are at what you do and that you care about your students safety and wellbeing.

Take pride in the program you present and your students will be proud to have trained with you!

Continue to build your instructor credentials

“As instructors, we are committed to serving our students. We serve our students by striving for excellence in training and being the best we can at what we do. We become the best by constantly training hard and seeking perfection in every task we complete. These are the traits that make us unique.”

– John Krupa III, Chicago Police Department, IALEFI Conference 2007

Whether you’re a brand new NRA Basic Pistol Instructor or you’ve been teaching for the last 20 years, you never stop training! The firearms training industry is constantly evolving and requires us to keep up with training trends and continuous maintenance of our skill-set.

Attend as many training courses as you can. Study what other instructors are doing and see how you can apply new training concepts to your Illinois CCL course. The more diverse your training background is the stronger presence you will have as a professional trainer and expert witness.

Join professional instructor associations such as the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association (ILEETA). Attend annual training conferences and network with your fellow instructors.

In the end, your instructor skills will only be as good as you allow them to be. Don’t let yourself fall into a comfort zone where you start thinking “I know everything I need to know about shooting and teaching”. So many instructors fall into this pit and many never make it out.

Where is the Illinois CCL program headed?

Ultimately, the Illinois CCL program will only be as good as we want it to be. If we allow incompetent instructors to breed incompetent CCL students the potential exists to generate negative case law that could result in stricter CCL restrictions or rescinding the Illinois CCL law altogether.

We have an obligation and responsibility to work together to protect this right that we have worked so hard to establish in Illinois. Let’s train smart, train safe and carry responsibly.

As always – stay safe.

 

About John Krupa III

John Krupa IIIJohn is a police officer with the Orland Hills Police Dept. (IL) and has over 23 years of experience in law enforcement. He has previously served as a patrol officer, rapid response officer, FTO and firearms instructor with the Chicago Police Dept. He is a recipient of the Award of Valor, Silver Star for Bravery and Distinguished Service Award for his actions in the line of duty. He is a certified Master Firearms Instructor from PTI and graduate firearms instructor from the Secret Service Academy, FBI, DEA and FLETC. He holds the rating of Distinguished Weapons Expert with the Department of Homeland Security and has presented numerous courses at training conferences across the country including ASLET, IALEFI, and ILEETA. John can be reached at – jkrupa@teamspartan.com

For more information about training courses offered by John Krupa, visit his website at www.TeamSpartan.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Action Target as a company.

School Shootings – What are we doing to protect our children?

By John Krupa III

The Sandy Hook school shooting shocked the very psyche of this nation. I was numbed by its impact, and as a father of two grade school children, it was heart breaking to even imagine what those parents had to endure in the loss of their children.

As the nation mourned, my feelings quickly turned to anger as I began to analyze the incident. I began to visualize as an Immediate Action / Rapid Deployment (IARD) trainer what possible law enforcement (LE) response solutions could have resolved this situation without loss of life. My conclusion was – none.

Since the shooting, school administrators and law enforcement agencies across the country have become overwhelmed with the task of developing more effective measures to prepare school personnel on how to respond to active shooter incidents.

Where do we start?School

To find the answers to this question, we need to look at the commonalities among previous school shootings from Columbine to Virginia Tech. A close inspection will show that many of the same circumstances existed in just about all of these incidents.

Here are some common traits in many of these incidents:

  • The shooters were aware that teachers and faculty were unarmed. (In some instances, “Gun Free Zone” signs were posted outside the school.)
  • The shooters were aware of the “lock down” procedure and knew that children would not be evacuated or removed from the scene, but instead, would be herded into classrooms behind locked doors.
  • The shooters were aware that law enforcement would eventually respond and knew that they only had minutes to inflict casualties before LEO’s would arrive on scene.
  • The shooters had predetermined that they would not allow themselves to be captured alive and that they would commit suicide to avoid contact with LEO’s.
  • Specifically, in the Columbine incident, the shooters attempted to buy more time to “hunt and kill” people by planting improvised explosive devices and incendiary devices to impede LE response.
  • Also, in the Virginia Tech incident, the shooter chained and barricaded the doors to the building he was in to, again, buy more time to “hunt and kill” people.

What have we learned from these incidents?

In analyzing these gruesome incidents, particularly Columbine, Virginia Tech and now Sandy Hook; unarmed teachers, professors and faculty members were summarily executed when they attempted to resist or confront the shooters.

Many good people – adults on scene at the initiation of these incidents – who tried to do the right thing (unarmed) and protect children and students from being massacred, did so at the expense of their own lives!

So the question that needs to be asked is – “Who really is the first responder?” Is it the LE officers arriving on scene minutes later to handle the situation, or is it the adults capable of taking action that are actually on scene when the incident initiates?

Situational7Maybe we as law enforcement officers need to reevaluate our IARD strategies and reconsider other solutions in defining who the first responder should be.

In retrospect, what if these very same teachers, professors, and faculty members that ran to the gunfire in these incidents were properly trained in the use and application of handguns for personal defense? What if these “first responders” were trained in basic IARD concepts so they could react accordingly and take the appropriate actions to stop the active shooters before they could inflict casualties?

Something has to change! People can’t wait anymore for an LE agency to receive a 911 call of shots fired in a school, dispatch that call to units in the area, and then have it take precious minutes for officers to respond and deploy while the shooter indiscriminately executes his victims. We’ve seen this reactionary response repeatedly in these incidents, and it’s just not working!

Thousands of officers across the country, including myself, have been trained in IARD tactics. I run the officers at my agency through an eight-hour in-service IARD training program annually, and it’s just not enough. The time has come where we need to look beyond reacting to school shooting incidents and find a way to have first responders on-site, ready to go when an incident starts.

Where do we go from here?

Since Sandy Hook, I’ve had many discussions and debates with other officers and trainers from various LE agencies on how to resolve this issue and here are some of the solutions that have been brought up in these conversations.

School Resource Officers (SRO) – The knee-jerk reaction after a school shooting incident is always to put police officers in the schools or hire campus police.

The problem with this solution is budget cuts and man power shortages just won’t allow LE agencies to provide enough personnel to adequately cover all the schools in all the school districts. Think about how many schools are in your school district and ask yourself, where will those officers come from?

Also, because of the thin blue line, each school will be lucky if they have one officer assigned per school day. Keep in mind that the SRO will only be there during regular school hours – 0800 to 1600. There won’t be coverage for after school functions or evening sports events.

There are a lot of holes that need to be filled in this solution process. Grade school, high school, and college students should not have part-time or partial protective coverage – it should be constant. We haven’t even included student coverage for off campus events such as away games or field trips!

Off-duty and retired LEO’s – This is a great idea to resolve the man power shortage issue, but again, where is the money going to come from to fund their payroll budget? Paying off-duty or retired LEO’s at an hourly rate would cost a small fortune, and we’d still have to deal with the coverage issue as discussed above.

Security guards – In addition to the previously expressed concerns, now we’re looking at a cheap “deterrent” and the question is, will they be armed? Having unarmed security guards responding to a shooting incident will have the same results as unarmed faculty – and we’re back to square one.

Armed teachers and faculty – Of all the buzz words that have drawn debates across the country, “armed teachers” has been among the most controversial. While this is nothing new to some school districts in Texas and Arizona, the overall concept, in general, has been met with rigid opposition.

In reality, it makes sense. School districts can have a select group of teachers, professors, and school faculty trained in the use of handguns for personal defense as well as basic IARD tactics in how to respond to and deal with active shooters and how to interact with officers arriving on scene.

Advantages of using armed teachers and faculty:

  • There is no need to hire extra personnel, but instead use existing school personnel with more responsibilities.
  • There is no need to seek funding or create new budgets, but instead rely on the use of school personnel already on salary.
  • School districts can rely on select teachers and sports coaches to provide coverage during and after school activities, sports events (home and away games), and field trips.
  • Having more than one armed teacher in a school (possibly two or three at a time) will allow for coordinated first responder engagements of active shooters.
  • Allows for use of school personnel that have extensive knowledge of the facility they work in and have a better chance of controlling and dominating terrain.

Conclusion

Armed teachers may not be the answer to every scenario, but having the advantage of trained school personnel on-site and ready to take immediate action is the true definition of first responder!

Ultimately, it’s not a question of “if” another school shooting is going to happen, but when and where? Will we be ready?

As always, stay safe, remain vigilant and fight to win!

John Krupa III
Master Firearms Instructor (ILETSB)
President / Director of Training
Spartan Tactical Training Group, LLC

About John Krupa III

John is an active duty police officer with the Orland Hills Police Dept. (IL.) and has more than 22 years of experience in law enforcement. He has previously served as a patrol officer, rapid response officer, field training officer, and firearms instructor with Chicago PD. He is a graduate firearms instructor from the Secret Service Academy, FBI, DEA, and FLETC. John is founder and president of Spartan Tactical Training Group and has previously presented at training conferences across the country with the AFTE, ASLET, GTOA, IALEFI, ILEETA, ISOA, LETC, MidTOA, MTOA, NTOA, and TTPOA.

For more information about training courses offered by John Krupa, visit his website at www.TeamSpartan.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Action Target as a company.

Omaha Law Enforcement Trainer Recognized For Exceptional Performance

Officer David Staskiewicz receives Range Master of the Year Award from Action Target

PROVO, Utah – Officer David Staskiewicz was recognized by Action Target as the 2012 Range Master of the Year for his continued excellence in law enforcement training.  Action Target founder Addison Sovine presented Staskiewicz with the award at a ceremony held in his honor on December 13th.

“Officer Staskiewicz has done an incredible job in with the Omaha Police Department,” Sovine said. “Action Target has had the pleasure of working with him on several projects in the past, and we hope to continue our relationship in the future.”

For the past ten years, Officer Staskiewicz has been the Omaha Police Department’s range master. During that time, he has overseen the closing of the department’s 30-year-old indoor range and was instrumental in the opening of the new Public Safety Training Center ranges four years ago.

The new center includes a firearms simulator room, rooms for weapon, ammo and target storage, a room with 20 stations for weapon cleaning and two indoor shooting ranges equipped by Action Target with advanced tactical training technology.

“Coordinating the fair use of all three ranges can keep you busy, but these facilities are an incredible training tool,” Staskiewicz said. “We have up to 25 local and federal agencies that train on one of our ranges throughout the year.”

According to Staskiewicz, the last thing a police officer wants to do is discharge his or her firearm, but training for those occasions where force is necessary is extremely important.

“Shooting is a perishable skill that needs to be practiced on a regular basis”, Staskiewicz said. “It’s extremely important to train our officers under similar conditions, especially elevated heart rate shooting.  It’s our job to prepare our officers to react to a situation so they can go home to their family at night.”

In addition to running his agencies three ranges, Staskiewicz oversees the firearms curriculum for his 800 officer department.  He has always been willing to share his lesson plans and training tips with other agencies and trainers over the years.   Some drills they conduct on the indoor tactical range include split-second threat identification, accuracy and speed training, as well as ambush drills in a patrol car with the windshield removed, drop targets and flashing lights to add to the stress.

“Along with providing common sense firearms training, our goal is to provide a safe training environment,” Staskiewicz said. “I’m honored to have won Range Master of the Year, but the best reward is seeing our officers go home at night after a situation.”

About Action Target Inc.

Action Target Inc. is a privately owned business headquartered in Provo, Utah. As a world leader in shooting range technology with more than 4,000 products and 40 patents for the systems it designs and manufacturers, Action Target has installed thousands of shooting ranges across the United States and in 25 other countries around the world. Action Target also designs systems and conducts firearms training for law enforcement and various military divisions. For more information on Action Target, visit www.ActionTarget.com. To learn more about Action Target products or to purchase items online, visit www.ActionTarget.com/store.

Combat Mindset – Are You Ready for the Next Active Shooter Incident?

By John Krupa III.

Our nation was shocked yet again by another senseless mass murder on July 20th when deranged psychopath James Holmes walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and murdered 12 unarmed citizens and wounded more than 100 others.

With the increased frequency of mass murder incidents in our nation – Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and now Aurora – are you prepared to deal with the next active shooter incident when it happens in your backyard?

As a police officer and professional trainer, I can’t emphasis enough (law enforcement officers and armed citizens alike) how important it is to remain vigilant, maintain situational awareness, and be ready for anything – anytime, anywhere!

I teach personal defense courses to law enforcement officers and civilians across the country on how to respond and react to active shooter situations, and while the rules of engagement may differ based on situation, the combat mindset is the same.

There is a long history in the evolution of combat mindset and how we prepare the mind for combat going all the way back to World War II with Rex Applegate’s publication Kill or be Killed. This was followed by two excellent short books in the ‘70’s by Jeff Cooper: Principals of Personal Defense and Color Codes of Awareness.

Fast forward to the late 90s and early 2000s and we have Dave Grossman’s fascinating research On Killing: The Psychology of Killing in War and Society as well as Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge by Bruce Siddle. Do a quick search on the Internet and you’ll find a plethora of articles and publications by writers from all over the country supporting combat mindset research and development.

But once we have absorbed all this combat mindset information, how do we use it, and how is it applied in real world situations such as active shooter incidents?

I like to break it down the same way I learned it:

Situational Awareness

A catchy phrase, but what does it mean? I think the Color Codes of Awareness best summarizes how you should be conducting yourself in your everyday travels – stay out of condition white (the lowest awareness level of Jeff Cooper’s color code), be aware of your surroundings, identify specific problems or threats, and be prepared to execute a tactical plan to deal with each threat as it presents itself.

Visualization

Part of being prepared to deal with a situation is to play the “what if” game in your mind everywhere you go. As a field training officer for the Chicago Police Department teaching new recruits how to work the mean streets of Chicago, one of the first things I would teach them is to always be prepared for the unexpected. I challenged them to think about locations we would respond to for calls before we arrived. Visualize the interior of a structure or building upon approach, and always play the “what if” game. Think to yourself, “If this or that happens, what would I do?”

The same game can be played off-duty or as a civilian. If you walk into a store, bank, mall, theater, etc., your head should be up and on a swivel. You should be looking around for things out of the ordinary (running through the Color Codes of Awareness), looking for things that are odd or out of place, paying attention to detail, and always looking for a point of egress. I call this the “Krupa relaxed paranoid mode,” because that’s exactly how you feel, but this is what you need to do to develop Situational Awareness.

Vigilance

A trait that can’t really be taught but is learned through life experience. Alertness is the first principal of personal defense. Some people have it, some never will.

Obviously, victims are never to blame when tragedy strikes, but there are some actions and habits that may decrease your chances of survival in dangerous situations. The people in the most danger are what I like to call “sheeple.” We’ve all seen them – people that walk around every day like wandering sheep in condition white, oblivious to their surroundings. Just stand outside on a busy street, public transportation hub, or in a mall. Everywhere you go, people are walking around with their heads down, texting or operating one of the many electronic devices that have become an integral part of our daily routines and way of life.

People are walking into each other, walking into obstacles, walking into oncoming traffic, falling off train platforms, and falling down stairs because they are oblivious to what is going on around them! In order to avoid this dangerous distraction, people need to put those devices away, minimize their use in public, and get back to being aware of their surroundings. You will never have situational awareness if you are not vigilant.

The Winning Mindset

To avoid becoming a victim, there may be a time when you have to use various levels of force, up to and including deadly force for personal defense.

The last three principals of personal defense are needed to accomplish this task – decisiveness, aggressiveness, and ruthlessness. Jeff Cooper was specific in selecting these last three principals, and he combined them as the primary elements of what he believed is necessary to win the fight when you’re at the phase where the meat meets the metal.

Once you have made the decision to execute a tactical plan, be decisive in its execution. Aggressiveness is needed to overcome your adversary – dominate the threat! Ruthlessness is necessary in the application of ANY level of force that may cause death or great bodily harm to stop an assailant’s deadly actions.

Ultimately, the person that possesses superior mindset, tactical aptitude, and situational awareness is the person that is most likely going to WIN the fight!

It’s not a matter of if another mass murder active shooter incident is going to occur but when and where! ARE YOU READY?

For more information about our training courses, visit our website @ www.TeamSpartan.com

As always, stay safe and Fight to Win!

John Krupa III

Master Firearms Instructor

President / Director of Training

Spartan Tactical Training Group, LLC

About John Krupa III

John is an active duty police officer with the Orland Hills Police Dept. (IL.) and has over 21 years of experience in LE. He has previously served as a patrol officer, rapid response officer, FTO and firearms instructor with Chicago PD. He is a graduate firearms instructor from the Secret Service Academy, FBI, DEA and FLETC. John is founder and president of Spartan Tactical Training Group, Director of Training for the DS Arms LE Training Division and has previously presented at training conferences across the country with the AFTE, ASLET, GTOA, IALEFI, ILEETA, ISOA, LETC, MidTOA, NTOA and TTPOA.

Action Target LETC 2012 a Great Success

Action Target’s annual Law Enforcement Training Camp ended Friday as instructors and trainees parted ways after another year of advanced law enforcement training.

This year’s LETC was attended by 147 law enforcement officers and firearms instructors from across the country and the world. More than 20 states were represented with officers from California and Oregon to Florida and New York. While LETC is traditionally a domestic law enforcement camp, as its fame has spread throughout the world, we’ve increasingly received requests to attend from foreign law enforcement agencies. As in years past, we were pleased to welcome officers from Canada, but this year was especially unique with the addition of participants from Brazil and China.

On Monday, Sept. 10, officers arrived at Action Target’s headquarters to sign in and pick up their gear which included personalized water bottles and dog tags. They were also able to tour the facilities where all of Action Target’s products are designed, engineered, and manufactured.

Classes started Tuesday morning at the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Thistle Firing Range. New to this year’s training classes were George Harris’ Combat Skill Drills for Firearms Instructors, Bob Schneider’s Shoot House Training, James Washington’s Training for the Fight with the Pistol, and Brian Hoffner’s Extreme Close Quarter Battle Tactics with Hands, Knife, and Pistol. A total of 12 instructors participated from a variety of organizations including Spartan Tactical Training Group, Safariland Shooting School, Hoffners Training Academy, Glock Training Division, Police Training Division, JDS Tactical, and Fusion Tactical and Combatives.

On the first day of class, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office explosives department set up a demonstration to kick things off with a bang. A charge was placed on the hill next to the uppermost firing range and was connected to several additional charges that ran down the hill and along the periphery of the range. To demonstrate the delay mechanism’s non-electric shock tube technology, a sniper shot the main charge from atop a storage container setting off a series of explosions down the hill. The explosives department also demonstrated several forced entry explosive mechanisms as well as a unique steel puncturing technology consisting of a coil of explosives wrapped around a beer can.

Wednesday night, more than 50 officers at the camp put their skills to the test in the Dirty Harry shooting competition as they vied for free tuition at next year’s LETC. Participants were required to shoot 21 colored knock down targets from three corresponding colored boxes. Shooting the wrong color or shooting one of the six no-shoot targets meant instant disqualification. Law enforcement officers from Utah crushed the competition taking first, second, and third places. Officer Rob Wilkenson of the Utah Highway Patrol took the grand prize winning by more than five seconds with a time of 23:19.

A banquet was held Thursday evening to honor the dedication and sacrifices of law enforcement officers throughout the nation and the world. McKenzie Matthews began the banquet by singing the “Star Spangled Banner” and was followed by Provo Mayor John Curtis who gave the welcome speech. The night’s program centered around the memory of the brave men and women who lost their lives in the protection of our freedoms. The Payson High School Pipe Band performed ‘Amazing Grace’ as photos of law enforcement officers who died by gunfire this year were shown on a projector screen during a special memorial for fallen officers. A memorial was also held for law enforcement who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack. Deputy Chief Steven J. Silks of the New York Police Department, a participant in this year’s camp, spoke of his experiences that day and shared a firsthand account of the bravery exhibited by the brave men and women he served with during that catastrophe.

The camp ended Friday afternoon with a few final classes before attendees began their long journeys home to locations across the nation and the world.

We at Action Target were honored to have so many exceptional officers at this year’s camp, and we hope that each one took home something new that they can share with the men and women they serve with. Superior law enforcement training has always been one of our corporate missions, but we couldn’t make that happen without the continued assistance of our instructors and the participation of the world’s finest. To everyone that attended, instructed, or helped, we thank you and hope you enjoyed your time with us.

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Action Target’s Law Enforcement Training Camp is Just Around the Corner!

For more than 20 years, Action Target has held the Law Enforcement Training Camp (LETC) to help police departments across the nation get the quality firearms training they need and deserve. With this year’s training camp starting in just a few days, we’re excited to get things rolling. For those of you who will be attending, here’s what you can look forward to (and for those of you who didn’t register in time, this is what you’ll be missing!).

The training camp officially begins Monday, September 10 with registration starting 2 p.m. at the Action Target headquarters in Provo, UT. Since participants will be arriving from all over the nation and a few from across the world, Monday is considered a travel day, and no classes will be held. After registration, participants will be allowed to tour the Action Target facilities where we manufacture the target systems and shoot houses trainees will be using throughout the week.

Classes start Tuesday morning and will be held every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday the 14th. Lunch will be provided at the range as well as a BBQ dinner Tuesday night and a catered banquet Thursday night. Thursday night’s festivities also include the “Dirty Harry” shooting competition and a raffle for Action Target gear and other prizes.

The greatest prize you’ll receive at LETC, however, is invaluable experience and training. All courses offered at LETC are taught by highly qualified professional instructors, many of whom have decades of experience in firearms training.

This year’s classes include:

  • Advanced practical handgun
  • Combat skill drills for firearms instructors
  • Ultimate shotgun
  • Extreme close quarter battle tactics with hands, knife, and pistol
  • Rapid deployment patrol rifle operator
  • Training for the fight with the pistol
  • Emergency medical response for firearms instructors
  • Shoot, move, communicate
  • Glock armorer’s course
  • Reactive shooting
  • Shoot house training
  • Ground combatives and weapons retention training

If you are already signed up for this year’s training camp, we look forward to seeing you in just a few days. We guarantee this will be one of the greatest training experiences you will ever have. If you somehow missed the deadline, don’t worry. There’s always next year.

Law and Order (Part Two)

Written by Keith Mehlin

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 2, 2010. Due to the popularity of the article and the number of new subscribers since it originally went out, Action Target has decided to republish this two part series.

(Continued from last week…)A local firm was hired for the design of the range. We simply told them that we wanted indoor/outdoor ranges, how big we wanted them, and that we wanted classrooms large enough to seat 100 students at tables, which could also divide into smaller rooms. They did a tremendous job in laying out a preliminary plan. Both the police department and the sheriff’s department had firearms instructors who had visited an Action Target built range in Utah to observe that design. Those instructors, the sheriff and I sat down with the designers and came up with the final plan.

One of the largest learning curves for me was how to handle the air and lead contamination in the indoor ranges. One of the best decisions we made was to take the advice of Action Target and use a vendor out of Chicago who has been involved in building ranges around the world. The knowledge they brought to the project was invaluable.

One example of their contribution dealt with what came to be the final layout of the range. We had originally wanted a 20 station, 25-yard indoor range, a 10 station, 50-yard outdoor range, and a 5 station, 100-yard outdoor rifle range. During one of the pre-construction meetings, the representative from Careys, which was the range air handling vendor, asked if we normally had more than 10 people doing firearms training at one time. We normally do our training on the shift and do not have more than 6 or 8 officers at one time shooting. He suggested that we put a wall down the center of the indoor range, thus making two 10 station 25 yard ranges. That way we would only have to run one air handling system at a time under normal situations, saving us a tremendous amount of utility money over the long haul. It would also give us another range which gives us more flexibility when we schedule other agencies.

We ended up with a training facility that consists of two, 25 yard 10 station indoor ranges with state of the art Action Target computerized target systems and a 50 yard, 10 station out door range with the same target system. The ranges have outside doors in which we can pull vehicles onto the range or place anything we need to use to train in cover and concealment on the ranges. We were unable to obtain enough money to build the rifle range, however the building was designed so that that range could be added on at a later time.

The facility also has classrooms with removable walls. We can seat 100 students at tables with the walls removed, or have three classrooms that each seat about 35 students. All three classrooms have computers attached to LCD projectors for visual presentations. There is a wireless internet system throughout the entire building. We were able to physically separate the classrooms from the indoor ranges so you have little or no noise from the ranges while you are in the classrooms. We also have a weapons cleaning room with numerous stations. All stations have compressed air available for the cleaning of weapons. There are locker room facilities and a large break room that overlooks the entry way. The outdoor range has a separate control building that is also used for storage. There are bleachers near the outdoor range for times that an instructor needs to get the students together to stress a point or instruct all in a specific technique.

If I could give one piece of advice to those contemplating a new range, that would be to make sure that you have a competent person to oversee the construction of the building. We were quite fortunate to have access to the Council Bluffs Building Superintendent, Dennis Kuhlmann, who oversaw the entire project, from initial planning to the final walk-through. He has extensive experience in new building projects and was an invaluable asset to us during the entire project. Because of his experience and expertise, we avoided a lot of snags and problems as he took care of them with the general contractor, Action Target, and Carey’s.

To be able to work on and be part of a project that gave our officers one of the nicest training facilities in the country was quite satisfying. The range and classrooms have been accepted by both the instructors and the officers who are trained there. Practically all of the agencies in the Omaha metro area have either used the range or toured it and I have not heard one negative comment. I thought for sure that we would hear at least a couple of “you should have done this”, or “you should have done that” comments, but we have not heard one. We held an open house for the public which was very well attended. All of the community members who toured the facility were impressed. It all came together quite nicely and we are quite proud of the facility.

I don’t think that there are any major changes that we would make if we could do it over again. Adding the 100-yard rifle range would be one of course, and I believe that we will add that in the near future. Other than that, we are quite pleased with how the facility turned out. It meets our expectations quite nicely. We now can train regardless of the Iowa winters, do night training at high noon, and still train in inclement weather on the outdoor range. We have state of the art classrooms for other types of training and meetings which are available at all times. Over all we are very pleased and proud to have this training facility for the officers of Southwest Iowa.

Tactical Training Tips: Key Points for Instructors & Shooters

By Jeffrey Denning

Editor’s Note: The views in this article are the author’s own and don’t necessarily represent those of Action Target, Inc.

Action Target hosted their 20th Law Enforcement Training Camp earlier this year. While pondering some of the unfortunate recent tragedies that have struck the law enforcement community nationwide — including a higher percentage of lethal attacks against police officers as well as the accidental shooting death of a 24-year-old corrections officer — I thought I’d offer some tactical tips to law enforcement training instructors.

Now, although this piece mentions officers and may be geared towards law enforcement in general, all the points can most definitely apply to the tactical shooting community as a whole. Here’s my advice:

Repetition is the law of learning. The more students accurately perform a variety of techniques, the more comfortable they will become. Tactical training drills allow officers to develop individual skill and assist in building muscle memory.

Muscle memory is a kinesthetic phenomenon whereby specific muscular patterns and movements become ingrained. When movements are repeated over and over, eventually these movements can be performed without conscious effort.

Under such extreme stress, cognitive ability is diminished and thought process is narrowed acutely. When facing the stress of lethal confrontation, officers should not have to think about basic weapons manipulation or marksmanship fundamentals; if they have to think about these basic fundamentals under stress, their chances for losing increase.

On the other hand, regular practice and difficult, realistic, and challenging drills will increase survivability. Repetitive training, therefore, is vitally important when considering survival and life-saving tactical techniques.

As with any type of improvement, officers can never increase their ability unless they fail on occasion. No person can develop unless they try something new and push themselves to the limits. Failure or imperfection on a specific technique or drill is likely to occur. The idea is to have officers meet successes. Small improvements provide satisfaction which, in turn, buoys individual esteem and maintains interest and encourages persistence.

As a training instructor, here are some of the key points to remember during every range training opportunity or any tactical firearms training period.

1) Individuals that are considered “experts” in their chosen field are extremely good at the fundamentals. Focusing on the basics is a positive thing. On occasion, give students something fun too. No one wants to be bored at the range.

2) When training, it is important to remember the end goal: preparing for lethal confrontations. In order to maximize training, (a) the individual shooter should envision that each and every shot during the tactical evolution is, in reality, a lethal force situation; and (b) trainers should mimic real world events. For instance, in my last custom tailored Patrol Rifle Course, I had police officers wear the same Active Shooter go-bag that they carry in their squad cars. I had them reload from that pouch. The feedback was positive, mostly because the training mimicked real circumstances. In short, train as you fight. Don’t say, “In reality we’d do this but we’re not going to train like that.” That’s cheating yourself and your team of valuable training! Cheating or foregoing reality will get someone hurt or killed in the long run.

3) Give students several tools to fill up their tactical toolbox, but focus on what will work best. Remember, it’s not a good tactic if it doesn’t work well (a) on the move, (b) in low-light, or (c) under stress.

4) Start out slowly. Speed will come in time. Or, perhaps once you’ve done some drills at full speed, slow down to quarter or half speed until techniques are perfected, then speed back up.

5) Weapons handling skills can increase dramatically without ever shooting a single round. Dry and/or dummy round training periods are extremely helpful and are all too often overlooked. The nice thing about that is the price is right. With the budget crunch, remember, weapons handling skills doesn’t mean you have to shoot a lot of rounds. In fact, dummy rounds work wonders.

6) Firearms are inherently dangerous. Safety briefings and safety are occasionally thought of as the same thing; we’ve said it and we’ve heard it said a thousand times. Unfortunately, it’s under that premise when accidents happen. Don’t think it will never happen here. Creating an atmosphere where everyone’s comfortable enough to say, “Watch your muzzle” or “Get your finger off the trigger,” is essential. No egos among the instructors or the students. Remember, always keep safety first.

Use these tips for a safer, and more effective, training environment and continue to hone your skills and keep adding to your tactical toolbox.

About Jeffrey Denning

Jeffrey Denning is a former SWAT team leader, security contractor, undercover Federal Air Marshal, and Iraqi War Vet. He is the founder of Warrior SOS and writes tactical articles for Guns.com.

Action Target Holds Successful LETC 2011

Law Enforcement Training Camp (LETC) 2011 was a recent success for Action Target and we’d like to thank all who helped and attended this unique training experience. Here’s what some of the attendees had to say about it:

Dear Rick,

Please accept this letter of appreciation to all of the Action Target staff and instructors for their efforts in making LETC 2011 a huge success. This was the second LETC that I have attended and I was equally impressed with this one as much as I was with the first one I attended in 2010. The professionalism of the instructors, the level of instruction, the use of state of the art target systems, the coordination of training, and events made for a superior training and networking environment. I highly recommend LETC for a unique and truly outstanding training experience.

Sincerely,

Robert Kelly Wells
Training Sergeant
Teton County Sheriff’s Office, WY

Dear Action Target,

In September, I had the opportunity to attend the best firearms training of my Law Enforcement career. I participated in the 2011 Law Enforcement Training Camp at Action Target in Provo, Utah. I found the entire process, from registration to range time, was put together by a very professionally run organization. Each and every time I sent an email or made a phone call, I received a quick and informative answer. If the person I needed to contact was not available, I was put in touch with another person who was ready and able to answer my questions.

I was provided with all the maps and directions I needed to find my way to Action Target, the hotel, and the range. I called Action Target to advise them I was running late for registration and was told not to worry—someone would be there. I can say I was truly impressed with the high level of professionalism exhibited by all of the Action Target staff I encountered. Your company is an organization which treats its customers like family. I will never forget the warm, friendly service I received from Action Target.

The firearms training and range were excellent. I have been a firearms instructor since 1984 and trained with some outstanding trainers. I felt that we as shooters were treated as equals to the instructors and not as trainees. I can say because of Action Target’s LETC, I became a better and more confident shooter as well as a better firearms instructor. In less than a month I was back on the range with my officers teaching them some of the skills I learned at LETC. Overall their scores came up and I could see a difference between this shoot and their last shoot. I will continue to use the skills I learned from LETC to bring up the skill level of those I instruct. I recommend LETC to all of the shooters in my Department. I am already making plans to attend LETC 2012. I am in the process of getting approval for the purchase of Action Target steel targets to improve the firearms instruction I provide to my Department.

In closing, I would like to thank the Action Target family for all of the things you do to assist our Nation’s Police and Military in their chosen profession. The training and equipment you provide us is first rate. You may never know, but I can tell you that your training and equipment will and has saved the lives of our American heroes. In doing so, you have made yourselves heroes as well. Thank you again for your products and training; you help keep us safe.

Respectfully Submitted,

J. C. Boylan #26
Range Master
Maricopa County Community College District, AZ

Dear Mr. Matthews,

My name is Juan Lopez and I have been a law enforcement officer for 15 years. During my tenure as a police officer, I have carried the position of range instructor and department armorer. I recently had the pleasure of attending the September 2011 LETC Conference in Provo, Utah. I would like to take a moment to personally thank you and the Action Target staff for hosting such a phenomenal conference. This was my first time to your facility and I commend your staff for their dedication and passion. One of the things that impressed me was how your staff’s operating skills added to their expertise. Their commitment was very visible. The intensity of the conference was welcomed and it was a true privilege to be amongst the world’s best instructors in the business. I can see why your reputation of being one of very few companies out there to teach one of the most comprehensive training camps in the United States holds to be very true. The training was beyond thorough, your staff’s hospitality was over the top, and this training was hands down the most bang for your buck! The detailed lesson plans helped me to document and remember what I learned at the conference so I can continue to develop my skills as well as pass this training on to our officers who were unable to go. This was nothing less than the ultimate training experience and every range instructor’s dream. My only question to you is when and how early can I register for attending the 2012 LETC?

Sincerely,

Juan Lopez
Detective
Commerce City, CO

Rick Matthews,

I’m writing to commend Action Target on the outstanding experience provided at the 2011 LETC.

Action Target has created an outstanding training environment supported by the commitment, energy, and skills of both the instructors and students. As a student and instructor in 2011, LETC is the training highlight of my 26-year policing career.

Congratulations and well done.

S/Sgt. Mark Horsley
Patrol District 2

Vancouver, WA

911 Commemorative Logo for LETCThanks again to everyone who participated in and helped make LETC 2011 a success! It is sincerely our privilege and honor to be able to work with the most dedicated, selfless, and hard-working members of the law enforcement community each year.

LETC 2012 will be held again in Provo, UT from September 10-14, 2012. Visit our Action Target Academy Calendar page to learn more about next year’s event, download our information brochure with more information, and read about the other types of trainings and seminars that the Action Target Academy will be holding throughout the country in 2012.

End of the Fiscal Year Drawing Near

With the end of this fiscal year right around the corner, now is the best time to obtain one of our innovative training solutions with your remaining budget. At Action Target, we understand that each company’s internal dynamics have different needs and time lines. That is why weapons training units, Rangemasters, firearm instructors, and others associated with their organization’s training division continually reach out to us during this critical time of year.

Action Target Conducts Firearms Training

Spending your remaining training budget at the end of a fiscal year – to minimize the risk of losing it next year – sometimes takes creativity. Last year, we worked with an agency whose training budget consisted of five different accounts. Each account had varying levels of funds still available requiring an invoice for each one. With a little strategic planning, this agency placed five different orders with Action Target that were shipped at same time but charged to their different training accounts. Our dedicated sales staff helped this agency with their complex purchase and provided them with the equipment they needed. We are ready to do the same for you.

Whatever your training needs, we have the solution. If you are under a significant time constraint, we can help. Call us today and let our sales staff help you maximize your remaining budgets by providing the best training solutions available.

For an immediate purchase, visit our online store: www.shopactiontarget.com

Our current online specials:

For product requests not available through our online store, please contact the Range Consultant for your geographic territory. They will work with you to stretch those last few budget dollars into your training solution.

Go online or call today!