Tag: guest article

Accuracy After Injury: How Will You React in a Firefight When Suffering from the Symptoms of Shock?

By: Brian C. Smith

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

Approximately 16 years ago, I had a conversation with an old “salty” veteran police officer over lunch. He was sent by his police agency to attend a firearms class that I was teaching as a way of punishment for his actions that were defined as unsafe firearms tactics by his police agency’s administration. The class I was teaching was titled “Survival Shooting Tactics for Armed Confrontations,” which was a one-day, eight-hour course at the time. The course has undergone many revisions and updates since then. In our conversation, I soon realized that this officer has probably forgotten more than I will ever know or experience in my police career. I found myself taking mental notes while conversing about details he had mentioned on how he survived in a few of his encounters with close call situations.

The officer then hit me with a question, “How would being injured in a fire fight encounter affect your firearm accuracy?” Being young and cocky, my response was, “That should not matter, sight alignment and sight picture would be the same. I still should be able to hit the threat no matter what.” The old salty police officer looked at me as he leaned back in his chair and just smiled. After a few moments of both of us just staring at each other, the old guy said, “I will give you credit for being a good firearms instructor, but I can see that there are some things you have yet to experience in this life as a police officer.” After that brief lunch, it was as if I had just been educated by one of the three wise men.

I then researched how the human body is affected by blunt trauma and what physical symptoms that person will experience as well as how these symptoms would affect a shooter’s accuracy in a fire fight. In my research, I discovered the medical condition that may apply is referred to as “neurogenic shock.” This is a condition where the human body suffers a minor injury or traumatic experience. In the condition of neurogenic shock, the most common symptoms include:

  • A fast, weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Feeling faint, weak, or nauseous
  • Dizziness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Blue lips

The symptoms start developing approximately 90 seconds after the incident occurs. This time span can vary due to age, physical condition, or pre-existing health problems.

I have personally suffered from this condition many times when I have sustained a minor injury while playing sports or engaging in other physical activities. I have witnessed the common treatments of this condition as having the person lie on their back with feet slightly elevated to raise their blood pressure, keep them warm by covering the person’s torso with a blanket or garment, and administer fluid. A person can develop this condition by suffering a dislocated finger, sprained ankle, brachial stun to the torso, or the unthinkable – a gunshot wound.

From this research, I developed a shooting drill that we have included in the “Injured Officer” segment of our firearms training curriculum named as the “Equilibrium Drill.” This helps our training staff to illustrate two different concepts on how your condition may affect your firearms accuracy.

1. Physical reactions that may compromise your firearm proficiency due to an injury

2. Diminished firearms accuracy due to inebriation

Also, while serving in my former position as Director of Training with the Chicago Heights Police Department, one of my duties was to orientate and prepare the new recruits graduating from the academy for their new assignments. This included an orientation class that consisted of about 16-18 hours (two consecutive days) of training that was to be completed just prior to being assigned to an FTO (Field Training Officer). This Pre-Field Training Officer’s course curriculum consisted of topics such as handcuffing, expandable baton, OC pepper spray, and an eight hour handgun course on survival tactics at the range. My prior experience and perils as a young officer qualified me when I recited the common cliché, “Been there and done that.” I have an understanding of young male police officers, full of testosterone, and how they are capable of making many mistakes in the infant stages of their careers. We found it necessary to always discuss with the recruits the topic of off-duty encounters, which is included among a variety of topics on consuming alcoholic beverages and developing “beer muscles” while patronizing a liquor-serving establishment. Therefore, this shooting exercise also emphasized the outcome if a police officer were to be engaged in a firefight while intoxicated.

The “Equilibrium Drill”

(Simulating shooter intoxication or neurogenic shock as a result of an injury)

Target: 3 metal pepper popper plates or 3 large round balloons – I suggest you use 12-16 inch diameter balloons.

Distance: 40 feet (from the target to the established firing line)

Ammo: 5 rounds, no magazine exchange or reloads required

Weapon: Pistol or revolver

Shooting Position: Kneeling, sitting, or prone

Exercise

A. Shooter loads and makes ready, then places the weapon on the ground with muzzle pointed double down range.

B. Shooter steps back approximately 15 feet away from the weapon.

C. Shooter stands in the center circle of 2-3 range officers with his arms folded across his chest.

D. The range officers spin the shooter around in a circle for approximately one minute to create the dizziness effect.

E. After the one minute, the range officer will give the command “Go,” at which point the spinning will stop and the shooter must attempt to get to his weapon while dizzy and dazed.

F. Upon reaching his weapon, the shooter will take a shooting position on his knees or prone and engage the targets in a rapid fire manner.

Results

It is rare that a shooter in the class has been able to hit all his targets while dizzy, although there have been some exceptions. This exercise involves a great deal of humor, along with a certain reality among the class in witnessing each other’s reactions while dizzy.

This exercise has proven to be a positive illustration for the recruits, teaching them the risks of carrying a firearm while consuming alcoholic beverages in a social setting with other officers or their families. It also allows them to experience the symptoms of suffering a bullet wound so they can be aware of how it will affect their accuracy. Once recruits are aware, they can learn how combat those symptoms and regain a measure of accuracy when shooting. I encourage officers to assume a shooting position low to the ground such as kneeling, sitting, or prone. Experience has revealed that the longer you attempt to stand while suffering from shock the more likely you are to faint.

I also encourage recruits and veteran officers to remain in the fight until the threat is down or stopped. Fainting during the fight is not an option. The officer is expected to give 100% to the end and hope for a positive outcome.

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.

Understanding Sight Gears

By John Krupa III of Spartan Tactical Training Group and Action Target Academy

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

As a professional trainer, my research and experience have brought me to the conclusion that shooters use sights three different ways when responding to deadly force situations. I call them Sight Gears, as the shooter switches or changes “gears” in how they use their sights based on reaction to existing threats.

  • Sight Gear #1 = Perfect Sight Alignment – Is typically used under controlled conditions where the shooter is not subject to stress related factors that are conducive with the physiological response of the body under stress. The heart rate is under 140 BPM and the shooter minimizes movement, seeking the “perfect” shot. This gear is most commonly used during shots involving distance (usually 25 yards and beyond) or surgical shot placement where the shooter needs to make a partial body shot or head shot on a threat up close.
  • Sight Gear #2 = The Flash Sight Picture – This gear rules the world of gun fighting, especially with handguns! It is considered a complex motor skill where the shooter still has the ability to see/use their sights and is not affected by vasoconstriction. The heart rate is around 140 to 160 BPM and combat breathing is required to control the heart rate and flood the body with oxygenated blood to keep vasoconstriction at a minimum. The sight picture is no longer perfectly still during execution of the shot (usually due to dynamic action) and the front sight “wobbles” in the rear sight box, independently from the overall movement of the sight picture. Combat hits come quicker using this method; however, shot placement is managed by selecting an area to hit on the threat vs. a precise point of impact. We call this application Tactical Speed Shooting. This sight gear is most commonly used with handguns from 15 yards to as close as two yards.
  • Sight Gear #3 = Front Sight Proximity Shooting – This gear is used when the shooters heart rate is roaring at about 165 to 180 BPM. The shooter is limited to gross motor skills and vasoconstriction has temporarily impaired the ability to focus on the front sight. Binocular vision and focus will remain on the threat until combat breathing reduces the heart rate and oxygenated blood is restored back to the eyes. We call this Front Sight Proximity Shooting, as the top of the handgun and front sight area are visible to the shooter in the peripheral, but completely out of focus (when the pistol is at full extension and indexed on target). Using this technique, the shooter is conditioned to be aware of the handguns proximity in relation to the threat and is able to get multi-shot, devastating hits on the threat quickly by indexing the pistol to where the shooter is looking. When we run the 6-shot drills in our pistol courses using this sight gear, we are seeing shooters get six hits on target, in about a 4” to 6” group on the threats center mass in an average of 1.00 to 1.25 seconds! Conditioned shooters are applying six rounds in sub .90 seconds! This gear is most commonly used by shooters during spontaneous deadly-force confrontations at three yards and in.

While this is a general summary of what we teach in our training courses, the goal of this article is to encourage instructors to prepare students to learn how to use their sights other than just perfect sight alignment!

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 more than 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.

Team Building Concepts: Training Exercises That Will Bring Your Team Together

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.

LIVE-WIRE EVENT

  • 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.

CONFIDENCE FALL

  • 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.

BLINDMAN’S SOCCER

  • 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.

LOG MOVEMENT

  • 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.

BALANCE-BEAM SHUFFLE

  • 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.

—————-

LETC 2012

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!

 

Click to watch highlights from LETC 2011.

These Girls Wanted a Fighting Chance

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.