Tag: qualification

Shoot Houses and Shoot House Training

By Bob Schneider

I was first introduced to live fire shoot house training in 1986 at the world famous Gunsite Academy in northern Arizona. I had already been a Denver, Colorado, police officer for more than 10 years and was then a member of its full-time special weapons and tactics team (SWAT). Prior to transferring to SWAT, I was a patrol officer assigned to the northeastern quadrant of the city and county of Denver.

As a police officer, I had to search many businesses after silent alarms had been tripped as well as respond to calls that put me inside someone’s house. I had been trained to conduct building searches and how to handle calls inside structures, but I had not been exposed to firing live ammunition in that training arena. Was I sufficiently trained to conduct such police actions? I believed I was, but my eyes were opened to a higher level of training that my department had not exposed me to.LETC 187

In 1993, my department received a civil judgment against it for not providing adequate training to its police officers. My department had not provided “periodic target course shoot/don’t shoot live training under street conditions, particularly for officers on the front line.”1 We had required our officers to qualify once a month (later changed to quarterly) on a live fire course on a square range. This traditional range is exactly the same as all firearms ranges in the country used for law enforcement qualification and training. But our qualification courses did not require decision making, had little to no movement by the shooter, and was performed under adequate lighting conditions. The qualification target would turn and face the shooter which initiated the officer to present his/her weapon and fire the required number of rounds into the target before it edged away. This is the standard for all law enforcement agencies in the country. Then, some type of score is given for the officers’ records. If the officer passed, no further action was required. No additional training was given.

We know today that periodic qualification is just the beginning for our officers’ records. Continuing education is required in subject areas such as changes in the law or department regulations relating to the use of force, other options available other than the use of deadly force, and the list goes on. We now know we have a responsibility and obligation to expose our officers in training to as many situations as possible that they may encounter on the street.

If you believe you do have a responsibility and obligation to train your officers to the highest possible level, and your officers may find themselves in a structure like a building or house or business, then you need a live fire shoot house.LETC 190

Historically, live fire shoot houses have been made out of old automobile tires, plywood, cinder blocks, and other material that stops bullets. My SWAT team even made portable bullet traps that allowed us to make any building into a live fire shoot house. With today’s modern technology in clean ammunition and live fire shoot house construction, we have no excuse not to train our officers in live fire indoor simulators.

Companies such as Action Target make an excellent portable bullet trapcart Small. Its design and construction allow law enforcement agencies to tailor a structure to their environmental and economic needs.

I call it the “pay now or pay later” program. You can either pay now to build an indoor live fire simulator or you can pay later for not providing this level of training to your officers. You make the decision. If it was my decision, I would pay now. I would play every possible card in my deck to get a live fire shoot house.

Contact Action Target for options about getting your shoot house. I am confident that they will help you with your needs.

About Bob Schneider

LETC 191
Bob Schneider conducting training at the Action Target Law Enforcement Training Camp in 2012.

Bob Schneider retired from the Denver, Colorado, Police Department after 21 years of service. He spent 18 years assigned to his department’s full-time special weapons and tactics team. He is a certified firearms and less-lethal weapons instructor and has taught classes to federal, state, and local law enforcement officers as well as to U.S. and foreign military units here and overseas. Bob has developed several firearms and tactics courses to include training scenarios that are being used by popular simulator manufacturers. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado, with his two sons, Dylan and Jake.


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.

1. Zuchel v. City and County of Denver, Colo., 997 F. 2d 730 – Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit 1993.

Action Target Renovates Ohio Indoor Range

Action Target first worked with Ohio State Highway Patrol back in 1999 when we installed our “state of the art” Total Containment Trap. When it was determined the Highway Patrol would renovate the rest of their existing facility in 2011, we were contacted directly by the architect for specifications on the new equipment that would be provided. Because of the quality, performance, and robust nature of our Total Containment Trap, it was the only piece of equipment not removed and replaced in the 2011 renovation. Due to the heavy use of the range, the project was to be completed on an extremely tight time-line with only six weeks of manufacturing time. Action Target acted as a sub-contractor to Williamson Builders Inc. and together completed the tremendous facility in the time required.

This 24 lane, 25 yard indoor range now provides officers a variety of training options, including timed training qualification courses and decision making drills. In addition, the total containment trap system, and tactical baffle layout allow for dynamic cross lane firing and moving and shooting drills, accomplished under the watchful eye of the RSO through our clear ballistic glass stalls. Such dependability, quality, and versatility are completely unique to Action Target’s design. We thank Ohio State Highway Patrol for their continued business and support!

Range Project Spotlight: New Range In Pinellas County, Florida

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.”

Training on Steel (Part Two)

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:


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.


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.