Tag: realism

New Product: Action Target Introduces New 45 Degree Static Target

Action Target is pleased to announce the release of the new 45 Degree Static. Now you can shoot on steel with high-powered rifles at close range!

The 45 Degree Static is the newest member of the AT Static family. With an AR 550 armor steel head plate slanted at 45 degrees, this static target is specifically designed for shooting high-powered rifles* at close distances. Most steel targets, even those made of AR550 armor steel, don’t stand up well to the power of rifle ammunition when shot from distances closer than 100 yards, but the 45 Degree Static’s unique design allows it to absorb the impact of high-powered ammunition from as close as 50 yards.

The 45 Degree Static uses a high angle of deflection to force bullet fragments down toward the feet of the target. Because the steep angle of the target spreads bullet impact over a larger surface area, the 45 Degree Static is perfectly capable of handling .223, .308, and even slugs from only 50 yards, giving you greater training freedom in a smaller area. The head plate is 14” tall and 12” wide making it elliptical in shape, but the steep slant makes it appear perfectly round to a shooter standing 50 yards away.

Just like our standard AT Static targets, the head plate of the 45 Degree Static is mounted to the stand so it bounces when hit, giving you immediate visual feedback and positive reinforcement for accurate shots. The head plate of the target is completely flat with no exposed bolts, clamps, or brackets to cause unpredictable splatter when inevitably hit, and the low profile bullet-shedding stand helps make this one of the most durable targets on the market.

*The 45 Degree Static is made of 3/8” thick AR550 armor steel and is designed for use with ammunitions that have a muzzle velocity less than 3,000 fps. Using ammunition that exceeds this limit may result in damage to the target.

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.

New Product: Action Target Introduces New Sport Plate Rack

Action Target is pleased to announce the release of the Sport Plate Rack. Now you can train like the pros without spending a fortune!

The Sport Plate Rack gives you all the training benefits of our full-size Plate Rack for only a fraction of the price. With six 4” armor steel plates that fall when hit, shooting on the Sport Plate Rack provides instant visual feedback and reinforces accurate shots. And after the targets have all been knocked down, they can be easily reset by pulling the cable attached to the reset lever.

The Sport Plate Rack’s no-weld design and reactive knock down action are ideal for serious target training, but the price makes it affordable for just about anyone. Because it is designed for .22 rimfire ammunition*, this target is also great for family outings, camping trips, or teaching children how to shoot.

The Sport Plate Rack comes with a 30′ reset cable, your choice of a 1′, 2′, 3′, or 4′ stand, and six 4” target plates made of AR500 armor steel that can be easily reversed and interchanged without tools.

*The Sport Plate Rack is made of 1/4” thick AR500 armor steel and is designed for use with .22 rimfire ammunition only. Using ammunition other than .22 rimfire may result in damage to the target.

Order your Sport Plate Rack today!

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Action Target’s Tactical Torso

Action Target is pleased to announce its newest target – the AT Tactical Torso. The AT Tactical Torso is the upgraded version of the popular AT Torso. With two swinging plates to simulate the lethal head and center mass zones, you get instant visual feedback from hitting the right spot. Unlike similar targets, you do not have to shoot the swinging plates back into place. The two plates swing vertically from hinges above the shoot zones allowing them to fall back into place after each hit.

The AT Tactical Torso’s target-within-a-target design is perfect for realistic tactical training situations. Instead of just firing at a large torso target where anything that hits counts, the AT Tactical Torso forces shooters to focus their aim on the small lethal areas of the torso increasing accuracy and precision.

The torso and swinging plates are made of through hardened AR550 armor steel with no exposed bolts, clamps, or brackets allowing you to shoot safely without fear of ricochet or splatter. The rear hinge brackets are also made of armor steel (AR500) to minimize wear and tear from daily use and provide you with a lifetime of tactical training.

Get your AT Torso today!

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LETC 2012: Advanced Firearms Training for Professionals

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. LETC is designed to give department firearms instructors the knowledge and tools necessary to increase their deputies’ skill level in tactical situations. While the classes are specifically designed to be highly advanced courses for firearms instructors, all law enforcement is welcome to participate in the training camp.

This year’s LETC will be held September 10-14, 2012 in Utah County, UT. Classes and activities will be split between Action Target headquarters in Provo, UT, and the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Thistle Firing Range which is located a short drive up the canyon in Thistle, UT.

“This was nothing less than the ultimate training experience and every range instructor’s dream,” says Juan Lopez, a detective from Commerce City, CO, of LETC 2011. “My only question to you is when and how early can I register for attending the 2012 LETC?”

Early registration is now available with a discounted tuition price of $450. Tuition goes to up to $495 for those that register after the July 31st deadline. Payment must be arranged at least 30 days before the start of class (Aug. 11) to avoid being dropped from the camp.

All courses offered at LETC are taught by highly qualified professional instructors, many of whom have decades of experience in firearms training. The instructors are chosen by Action Target from among leaders in the industry and include trusted partners from Safariland Shooting School, Hoffner’s Training Academy, Spartan Tactical Training Group, and others.

“LETC was one of the top training experiences I’ve ever had,” said S/Sgt. Mark Horsley of Vancouver, Canada. “The quality of instructors was outstanding.”

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

All classes are designed to force participants out of their comfort zone and into situations where they have to rely on their instincts and prior training. Even experienced professionals find they are pushed to perform at a higher level than ever before.

J. C. Boylan, a range master from Mesa Community College who has been a firearms instructor for 28 years said, “I can say that because of Action Target’s LETC, I am a better and more confident shooter as well as a better firearms instructor.”

Applicants are asked to list their top eight class choices from which four will be assigned based on class size and availability. Early registration increases the chance that applicants will be placed in the classes they want.

Monday, September 10th is considered a travel day with registration starting 2 p.m. at the Action Target headquarters. After registration, participants will be allowed to tour the Action Target facilities.

Classes start Tuesday morning and will be held every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch will be provided as well as a BBQ dinner Tuesday night and a catered banquet Thursday night which includes a raffle.

The registration form for LETC can be found at https://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!

We hope to see you there!

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect (Part 2)

BY ABNER MIRANDA

Editor’s Note: This is a continuation from last weeks article titled, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect. Action Target has republished this article in its entirety with the permission of the author. Ideas, comments, practices, recommendations, etc. are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of Action Target.

The Action Target Dueling Tree is comprised of six individual 6” swinger plates that slam from one side to the other with each individual bullet strike. Of course one can use these targets in the conventional way of swinging the plates back and forth. Yawn! Why, for goodness sakes, would you squander your range time by just shooting when you could be training? If you spend a little time thinking about it, you can really ramp up the training regimen with these things. Here are just a few of the drills that I’ve come up with so far with just two dueling trees.

First. You have a total of 12 swinging plates; those 12 plates give you a total of 24 individual, customizable targets to work with. And yes, you really should spend the money and get two of these—two is one, one is none. I’ll tell you why later on. By employing various color combinations you can take what is normally a simple target shooting session and turn it into a neuron-scathing race that usually leaves shooters out of breath and laughing pretty hard at the end. However, more than that, they will have made multiple Positive Instant Recognition (PIR) pathways that will stick in their minds. The most basic drill that can be done with this sort of thing is actually with just the factory flat black color that these come with. Once you have both trees set up, which only takes about ten minutes with a socket wrench, you can get started with the fun stuff. You stand the trees side by side then swing all of the plates to the inside of both trees. Next, you want to choose your comfort level as to just how close you want to stand when shooting on steel. Here’s my input on the subject: I have been shooting on steel for several years and have only been hit once when I was standing too far to the side of a student. Understand that when I say “hit,” it was more like being popped by a piece of flying gravel from a mower. Trust me, Airsoft pellets hurt far worse than this.

If you are shooting steel you should know that the mechanics of how the bullet dumps its energy is always going to be in a radial pattern. What this means is if you’re the shooter you’re fine, you will not get hit due to simple physics. However, if you’re the instructor, try standing behind the shooter and giving verbal commands from about a foot back, otherwise you might get stung. Most of the plates that Action Target makes have a slight downward face that deflects the impact energy down towards the ground. This allows you to shoot pistols very close and rifles from moderate distance. Please refer to the instructions that come with your targets and follow what they say as not doing so could result in harm to yourself and damage to your plates.

As you begin shooting the first drill with your dueling trees, you start at the lower left then move to the upper right, then upper left, then lower right, and so on until you have all of the plates turned to the outside. Essentially you’re making an “X” pattern over and over. Twelve shots later you are good and warmed up and you have just completed a more dynamic training exercise than any static paper target session could have ever afforded you. In doing this drill you have engaged multiple targets that required a large amount of swinging of your weapon so as to acquire sight picture for each. The idea here is to engage your target with follow through but not to dwell on it. In a very short time frame you will find that you will be hitting a target while your eyes are already locking onto the next plate. You want to keep moving one to the other as rapidly as possible. Because the dueling trees are so tall I like to do this drill from the 5-yard line with my pistol and from about the 10-yard line with my rifle. I’m 6’4” and I find these trees to be high enough that I’m not shooting down all the time. By staying in close, it forces me to have to really move my sights and body around for each shot.

If you really want to pour on the pressure you can do things like painting each plate a different color on either side. You can repeat colors if need be, just don’t repeat them in the same 12 plate set/side. Next you need to make small discs of wood (available at hobby stores) that have the same exact color combinations as your plates. For example, if you paint a plate blue on one side and green on the other you will need to have a disk with the same color scheme. Do this for all 12 plates then have your range buddy (never shoot alone) set the row of 12 discs out in front of you on your range table with a towel covering them. When your buddy says, “go” they start a timer, you then uncover the discs and whatever color combo is in front of you dictates the order you must shoot in, (from left to right). The problem is that the dueling trees are not left to right, or horizontal to put it simply. They are vertical, and to add insult to injury, your “buddy” has done a superb job of making sure that the discs are staggered so that no two colors are beside the other on the actual dueling tree…don’t you just love it? But wait, there’s more!

While you’re busy taking out plates, you’re uncovering even more colors which are muddying up your concentration so not only do you have to pay attention to the color orders, you also have to pay attention that you’re not re-shooting the same color that is on the other side of a plate. So, now you have to not only look for colors but you have to make sure that they don’t already have a bullet hit on them. Oh trust me, this game gets worse! Now that you have all of your plates flipped over, you holster your pistol, reach down and flip all of the color plates over and, that’s right, you do it all over again.

Meanwhile it is your buddy’s job to be trash talking you the whole time and vice-versa. And yes this is a requirement on my range. I want my shooters talking because I want to split their attention as much as possible so that their brains learn how to run their guns on autopilot. I don’t want rounds being counted because I want you to have to reload at least once, hence the need for two dueling trees. At a total of 24 plates in this drill even an FN 5-Seven will need a reload. If you’re doing this with a rifle it is your buddy’s sworn duty to download your magazines to only about 15 rounds each. Twelve rounds would be too obvious, now wouldn’t it? No, boys and girls, I want you well into your next course of 12 plates when your gun runs dry. I love it!

At the end of this drill you will be wasted, and remember, the clock is running so no dawdling. The time element is crucial because without it you won’t feel the urgency of performance that is so needed to properly motivate you to perform at your best. To not run a timer would be like basketball not having a shot clock…sacrilege!

This write up is just the tip of the iceberg for what I have in store for you. In upcoming issues I’m going to show you some truly creative ways to rethink the use of your steel targets. There are so many more drills that are possible with these highly versatile reactive targets that there isn’t room in this review to show them all to you. Besides, I need to keep you hooked. Until then, practice hard.

About the Author

Abner Miranda is a patrol officer at Signal Mountain (Tenn.) Police Department. He is an FBI-trained hostage negotiator, a tactical rifle instructor and an AR-15 armorer.

Action Target Produces Portable Target Course Book

Firearms instructors and administrators have an obligation to officers and to the public they serve, to do everything possible to ensure their firearms training and qualification programs are all they can be. However, many programs around the country struggle to provide realistic and quality training for their officers and there is often a lack of resources to help remedy such problems. That is why Action Target has developed a course book for their Portable Targets.

The specific purpose of the Portable Target Course Book is to “ensure trainees a program that is designed to develop trainings that are safe, test fundamental skills, increase and enhance movement, improve the target selection thought processes, and enhance overall tactical awareness.” Action Target’s Portable Targets have become an industry standard and leader and the course book allows for a better overall training experience.

Trainings must be expansive enough to test the trainees in as many ways as possible. Using the course book, trainings intentionally provide a more difficult setting than the typical experience might call for. In order to truly help an officer through training, the training must incorporate more movement, more rounds fired, greater difficulty of targets, multiple target acquisition, and more reloading situations. They must also include low-light shooting and one-handed operation of the gun to truly prepare an officer. Remember, the more difficult the training program is, the better prepared the officers will be to survive a lethal force encounter without injury to innocent parties.

The Portable Target Course Book is made available to anyone for any training purposes. People are welcome to use, copy, and modify the courses offered in the course book in order to help their trainings become top-notch. The courses are most effective when they are used as a foundation for more specialized exercises that will reflect individual training needs. After all, these courses should not be seen as an end, but as a beginning.

To download your free copy of the Action Target Portable Target Course Book, visit https://www.actiontarget.com/portable-targets and use the link at the bottom of the page in the “Related Pages” section.

Removing Roadblocks with the Action Target Academy

In 650 B.C., Archilochus said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” Although this saying is thousands of years old, it still holds true today. In a way, it governs Action Target in its training development.

Action Target Academy LogoAction Target developed the Action Target Academy (ATA) to provide world-class firearms and range development training to agencies and individuals throughout the country who have not had the opportunity to train with Action Target Portable Targets. The entire foundation of Action Target’s approach to firearms is embodied in the Action Target Academy. In today’s industry, there are many roadblocks to having successful firearms trainings, but ATA courses examine the challenges facing today’s firearms training requirements, shooting range management issues, and also demonstrates how using modern shooting range equipment helps alleviate roadblocks, creating safe and efficient firearm programs.

Action Target found recent success through their academy. Both the Phoenix Police Department and Maricopa County in Arizona invited Action Target to come and teach some of their firearms instructors. The course gave both law enforcement departments a chance to experience a full line of portable targets under various scenarios that tested and evaluated their combat shooting skills. In addition to learning how Action Target Portable Targets can be used in everything, from basic marksmanship to advance combat tactics, both groups participated in live fire drills, creating a more realistic approach to training. More importantly, they learned how easy designing an effective job-related firearms training scenario can be. ATA realistic training scenarios prepares shooters for the real thing and also allows participants to mirror the psychological response of combat stress, helping them to define how they would engage in real life combat.

Host an Action Target Academy event and learn more about topics such as: the realities of today’s gunfight, qualifications versus training, legal and financial consequences of inadequate training, shooting range design, and equipment. To find out more about removing the obstacles keeping your agency from training as you would fight, please visit: https://www.actiontarget.com/shooting-academy or contact Richard Matthews at richardm@actiontarget.com.

The Head-Shot Cadence Drill

By Richard Mann

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

Gunsite Instructor Il Ling New believes one of the best ways to train with a defensive handgun is to practice head shots at moderate to extended ranges; meaning as far out as 20 yards. At first glance this may seem a bit extreme but consider that if you can consistently and quickly get heads shots at these distances, center punching a troll at between three and five yards should be easy.

The most common way to practice head shots is to draw from the holster and fire a single shot at the head of a target. Action Target’s Steel Hostage Target works great for this because you can use either the square head of the silhouette or the flapper head that will swing from side to side when hit. This flapper target actually adds a new dimension to head shot training that is impossible to achieve just about any other way.

Regardless of the defensive handgun training that you conduct, training to only deliver one round is not tactically sound and does little to advance your skills, especially when working at varying distances. One question firearms instructors often get asked is, “How soon after my first shot should my next shot be?” In other words, students want to know what their shot cadence should be. The answer is, of course, as fast as you can get hits, and this will vary as your ability increases.

With the Action Target Steel Hostage Target you don’t need a shot timer or an instructor telling you you’re shooting too slowly. Since the flapper target swings from side to side based on energy imparted to it by the bullet, the further away the target is, the slower it will flop over to the other side. The time it takes the target to flop lets the shooter recover from recoil and reengage the target at a new location.

This is realistic because it’s doubtful a bad guy will stand still while you are shooting at him and the greater the distance to the target, the more time it will take you to recover and align your sights. This time is matched very well by the flapper target. If you are ready to shoot as soon as it reappears, you’re shooting fast enough and not too fast, if you get a hit.

Here is a simple drill you can use to practice head-shots at varying ranges while fine tuning your shot cadence:

  • Set Action Target Hostage Targets at 5, 15, and 20 yards
  • Start by practicing at each individual distance, engaging the flapper target only
  • After you are consistent at each range, engage all the flapper targets starting with the closest and moving to the furthest, with at least two shots each (more shots at each range are even better if your handgun has a higher capacity).
  • If you only have two Action Target Hostage Targets or limited ammo capacity, place one at 5 yards and the other at 20.

You don’t need a shot timer. Your goal is to engage each flapper target as soon as it reappears. Do this often and you’ll become at-one with your proper shot cadence at near and far ranges. This drill, coupled with the Action Target Steel Hostage Targets, offers a simple mechanical solution to a complex firearms training problem for shooters of all abilities.

To read more from Richard Mann check out his blog Empty Cases, www.empty-cases.com.

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.

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.”

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.

Action Target Announces Early Registration for 2011 Law Enforcement Training Camp

Law Enforcement Training

For 20 years, Action Target has hosted one of the most comprehensive training camps for law enforcement in the United States. Law Enforcement Training Camp (LETC) is a week-long curriculum consisting of four eight-hour classes that are taught by world-class firearm instructors.

Law Enforcement TrainingThis year’s LETC provides highly qualified instructors with backgrounds consisting of the Safariland Shooting School, Hoffner’s Training Division, Team Spartan, GLOCK Training, Bill Rogers Shooting School, and the Action Target Academy. Combining high caliber instruction with an effective and comprehensive curriculum makes LETC one of most anticipated events among law enforcement agencies from the U.S. and abroad.

This event creates an opportunity for more hands on practical application of training, idea sharing, the exchange of great stories among advanced trainers and fellow law enforcement officers, and of course, the most trigger time. Each year, those participating in LETC take what they learned and incorporate that knowledge into their existing firearms training programs to help their academy and in-service personnel become more effective.

LETC provides students the opportunity to select a different course to take each day. Some of the courses available this year at LETC are:

  • LETC TrainingHigh Performance Handgun
  • Patrol Rifle/Carbine
  • Ultimate Shotgun
  • Rapid Deployment Patrol Rifle Operator
  • Emergency Medical Response for Firearm Instructors
  • Shoot, Move, & Communicate
  • Glock Armorer
  • Reactive Shooting on Steel for Speed & Accuracy
  • Advanced Practical Handgun
  • Success with Remedial Shooters

LETC

LETC will be held September 12-16, 2011 in Provo, UT. Don’t waste any time! Register by July 31, 2011 and only pay $450 to enjoy a week of shooting and learning from the best law enforcement firearms instructors in the US. Regular admission pricing for LETC begins August 1. Hosting sponsors provide for some scholarships, so please contact your territory managers to see if you qualify.

For more information on LETC, or to take advantage of early registration savings, visit the Training Calendar on our website, or download our information packet and registration form (PDF).

Free Action Target Webinar featuring Hufcor’s FlexTact

We know that scenario training can be expensive and difficult to create. In most cases, staff members are required to travel to off-site facilities and spend an average of 4-8 hours reconfiguring a single scenario, shortening time spent actually training.

That is why we are proud to offer you a scenario training system that configures scenarios in less time increasing your training time – Hufcor’s FlexTact.

What’s even better is that Action Target is holding a free webinar entitled “Scenario-Based SIMS Training with FlexTact” to help you understand more about the product, how it saves you time, improves scenario training, and better prepares your organization for the myriad of threats and situations they will find themselves up against.

About Hufcor FlexTact

The Hufcor FlexTact is an innovative, affordable and moveable panel and track system that is designed for public safety training centers. It allows law enforcement and military trainers to quickly reconfigure layouts on its rugged tracks and trolleys to create different scenarios for various room-entry and clearing techniques. The system allows room changes to be completed in minutes. It effectively creates scenarios that presents the training needs of police, fire, rescue, SWAT teams, homeland security and military police. Currently, the FlexTact is being used by criminal justice colleges, regional training facilities, local law enforcement agencies and commercial range owners.

About the Webinar

During this 30 minute webinar, Scott Staedter, National Commercial Accounts Manger for Hufcor, Inc. will:
·      Introduce the Hufcor FlexTact
·      Discuss the benefits of the FlexTact system
·      Explain how the FlexTact system is installed within existing facilities
·      Present testimonials from current clients using the system

Update: This webinar has passed, so please visit our Online Trainings page to view the full, archived video of the webinar.

Why Train on Moving Targets?

Written by Dennis Tueller

Too much of our firearms training is static. That is to say, we seem to spend most of our time and ammunition shooting at single, motionless targets standing directly in front of us. Since this scenario has little to do with what we encounter on the street, why do we continue to train this way? One reason may simply be tradition, or “…because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That’s not a good enough reason for me either, so what say we just forget that one. Other reasons might include: “We don’t have any moving target equipment” or, “We have enough trouble just getting our trainees to hit the targets that are standing still!” These are valid concerns, and in this article I hope to offer some suggestions and advice that will help you to overcome them both.

First, we should consider the reasons why we need to include moving targets in our firearms training. Let’s review some of the common dynamics we now recognize from the hundreds of real-life police gunfights studied over the years. The vast majority of these confrontations happen within 10 feet or less, and the time span of actual shooting is usually less than 3 seconds. 60% to 70% of these altercations occur in an environment of low, altered, or failing light. Nearly half of the time there are multiple adversaries to contend with. While the statistical studies don’t usually specify the type or degree of the movement involved, we know that people move – especially when they are fighting. Movement to retrieve a weapon, movement to attack, movement to or from a covered position, movement to break physical contact. The fact is, real targets in the real world really move, and our firearms training needs to prepare us for this reality.

Clint Smith, internationally known firearms instructor and the Director of Thunder Ranch, often uses this simple demonstration. He will raise both of his hands up about head high, palms forward. His left hand remains motionless, but he moves his right hand erratically up, down, and back and forth. While doing this, he asks the class, “If one of my hands represents you as a target that is about to be shot at, which target would you rather be?” The answer (for most of us) is obvious. We would choose to be the moving target, because we know that it is much more difficult to hit a moving target.

For years, Clint and many other enlightened firearms instructors have trained their students to move as part of a reflexive response to an armed attack. This is one of the best ways to include movement into your range work. Even if the targets on your range are simply attached to posts in the ground, and the only time they move is when the wind is blowing really hard, your shooters must learn how to move. Taking a lateral step to the right or left while presenting the firearm and issuing a verbal challenge is a simple and worthwhile tactic which should be introduced when your trainees have demonstrated an ability to safely draw, fire, and hit a close-range target in a timely fashion.

Now that you have your shooters moving themselves, you can also teach them to accurately engage moving targets. It’s best to start close, three yards or so, with the target moving at a moderate pace. This is both to instill confidence in the shooter’s ability to hit an animated target, and to create a realistic representation of the kind of target they might have to engage in an actual gunfight. At first, the shooter remains stationary (preferably working from behind some kind of cover prop) while shooting at the mover.

To hit a moving target, one must apply the same basic principles of marksmanship needed to hit a stationary target, i.e.: sight alignment, trigger control, and smooth follow-through. Keep the sights aligned in the center of the target as you track its movement. At the same time the trigger finger is applying steady, even pressure on the trigger until the shot breaks. Here’s the critical part: as the shot breaks, continue to smoothly track the target as you recover from the recoil and reacquire your sight picture and allow the trigger to reset as you prepare to make additional shots. The tendency is for us to stop swinging the gun with the target at the moment of firing, thus resulting a shot going where the target was, instead of where it is going. In my experience, this lack of follow-through is the most common cause for missing shots at a laterally moving target. Yes it is challenging, but the only way to learn to do something well is to practice doing it. As skill and confidence improve, we can increase both the speed of, and the distance to the target, and eventually reintroduce movement by the shooter.

For this sort of training to be possible, of course, you will need some kind of a moving target system. For those of you with an extremely tight budget, a bit of imagination and resourcefulness are in order. Here’s an example: with a little red wagon, a target and stand, some clamps, stakes, pulleys, and a length of rope (don’t forget the duct tape and bailing wire) you can put together a crude but effective moving target system powered by manual labor. If you train on an indoor range, there is probably a target retrieval mechanism in place that can be used to simulate a target that is charging or withdrawing, often with more than a little swinging and bouncing movement included for good measure.

For more advanced solutions, Action Target offers several options for animating your targetry. One of the simplest is the AT Swinger . This is a single, portable target stand with a pivoting mechanism and a weighted counter-balance that allows the target to swing back and forth through a 180 degree arc. The movement of the target is controlled by simply pulling on a cable which is attached through a pulley at the base of the stand. Several of these PT-Swingers can be linked together so the range officer can pull a single cable that will cause the entire bank of targets to swing back and forth in unison. This can allow you to work with a full line of shooters all at the same time.

The Action Target Track Runner is a premiere moving target system designed to be part of a permanent installation. It provides a smooth, wind-proof way to move one or more target carriers laterally at variable speeds. The range officer uses the control box, which is connected to the target system’s electric motor, to start and stop the targets and change their speed and direction. Because of the Track-Runner’s power and advanced design, steel targets can even be incorporated on the target carrier to provide instant visual and audible feedback.

One of our most versatile pieces of equipment is the portable AT Runner . This system uses a motor and control system similar to the Track Runner, but instead of being mounted on a permanent track, the target carrier is suspended by an overhead steel cable. The motor and pulley mechanisms are each supported by single piece of 8-foot long 2×4 lumber. The whole thing can be set up, virtually anywhere, in less than 20 minutes. Because of its portability, the target can be set to run perpendicular to the line of fire, or at differing angles. One of my favorite uses of the Portable-Runner is to set it up as a charger. We can run the target directly at the shooter, who must smoothly back up away from the attacking target while drawing and shooting. Combine this setup with the Action Target 3-D (cardboard torso supported by balloons) silhouette target, and you have a realistic looking threat that will now react to accurately placed shots by by falling to the ground.

No matter what kind of range equipment you may have, I hope you recognize the critical need for instructing our trainees in the important tactical and marksmanship skills they need to accurately and effectively engage moving targets. In our earlier review of police gunfight statistics, I didn’t mention the numbers that reflect our real-world marksmanship performance. These numbers will vary a bit from year to year, but the U.S. national average hit-ratio is about 1 out of 6, or roughly 15%. That is, for every six shots deliberately fired by officers during armed confrontations, only one of those six shots will hit its intended target. That means that 85% of the shots fired during these gunfights are hitting something other than the intended target, often causing expensive property damage, injury, and sometimes death. You don’t need me to tell you about the unpleasant financial, political, and emotional consequences that can result from these errant bullets. Do you think that our officers would achieve better results in their real-world shootouts if they were regularly training on moving targets? I do too. It is up to us as firearms instructors to provide these kinds of training opportunities. We can do better. We must do better. Many lives depend on it. ‘Nuff said. Now, let’s get moving!

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:

FIREARMS SAFETY RULES

1.             Treat all firearms as though they are loaded.

2.             Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are on target and have decided to fire.

3.            Point the muzzle in a safe direction at all times.

4.             Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

STEEL TARGET SAFETY RULES

1.             Always obey the Firearms Safety Rules listed above.

2.             Always wear hearing protection and wrap-around shatter resistant eye protection

3.             Always stand at least 10 yards from the target when using handgun calibers.

4.             Always stand at least 100 yards from the target when using shotgun slugs.

5.             Always stand at least 100 yards from the target when using rifle calibers like .223 and .308.

6.             Never use rifle calibers on handgun rated targets.

7.             Never use ammunition that exceeds 3,000 feet per second at the muzzle.

8.             Never use ammunition that travels below 750 feet per second.

9.             Never shoot BB’s, steel shot, or air gun pellets at steel targets.

10.             Never use more powerful ammunition than the target is rated for.   (Green tip, armor piercing, etc.)

11.             Never shoot on steel that is cratered, pitted, or damaged in any way.

12.             Hard ground surfaces under the target should be covered with plywood or boxed pea gravel.

13.             Targets should be placed with a 3 foot lateral and deep offset from the adjacent target.

14.            If shooting multiple targets, angle of engagement should not exceed 20 degrees.

15.             Use only non-toxic paint on steel targets.

16.             Inspect all targets before using for damage, functionality, etc.

17.             Shooters and observers must wear long pants (no shorts), long sleeve shirts, a cap or hat with a brim, and closed toed shoes.

18.             Instructors and observers should stand behind the shooter and observe all safety rules.

19.            If using frangible ammunition, make sure it is designed to disintegrate into powder on impact.

The same velocity rules apply to frangible ammunition as well.

Rangemaster: Behind the Scenes in Firearms Training

Those of us who have either worked in law enforcement or closely with public safety personnel know there are many other positions that support a first responder.  Courts have bailiffs, the jails and prisons have correctional deputies/officers, all of which are sometimes the “forgotten cops” since they are not always in the public’s view.  There are a host of supporting positions as well.  Some of these are detectives, gang, drug, multi-jurisdictional task forces, air units and SWAT.  Action Target recognizes and respects public safety personnel at all levels, whether in a highly visible position or not.

One of the segments of public safety that is vital to a first responder’s success is training.  When a peace officer is on or off duty, they are usually carrying a firearm.  Therefore, firearms training is paramount to their surviving a critical incident.  The training program designed for most agency is specific to the threats they encounter.  These programs are developed within the state Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) requirements, but are still unique to the agency.  Most of the time, the coursework is established by the Rangemaster.

What is a Rangemaster?  What do they do?  If you are Orlando Police Departments Rangemaster, your work never ends.  You are responsible for  training and qualifying 750 officers with handguns, shotguns, and rifles, specialized weapons training, less lethal weapons, as well as maintenance, repair and armorer inspection of over  1800 weapons. You are responsible for all daily and long term operations of one of the largest indoor gun ranges in the country, coordinating training with local, state, federal and military organizations, and the list goes on and on.  The ultimate goal with this title though, is to help prepare officers with the skills they need, to survive the challenges they face in today’s world.

Eric Clapsaddle is Action Targets “Rangemaster of the Quarter” because he does just that.  The efforts made by him, and ultimate results of those efforts,  have far exceeded national averages in a positive way.  He has gone above and beyond, and continues to constantly re-evaluate and improve.  Who benefits…..the Citizens of Orlando and the Officers who serve that community.

Why is his Training so good?

Because he prepares his officers for “REAL WORLD” situations.  The National averages show that about 90% of police gun fights occur at night.  Therefore, Orlando does about 90% of their training in “low light to no light” conditions.   Why…..because it is what they will face.

This training includes “Multiple Adversaries” because again, in the real world, 67% of all gun fights have 2 or more bad guys.

Additionally, officers training and qualifications include live fire combined with decision making under significant stress. This helps prepare them for real life shoot/ no shoot incidents. Is that a cell phone or a gun?  Remember, the time to make these decisions is about 1/4 of a second. Realistic training helps prepare them too make the right decision.

The scenario’s used are replica’s of real life situations re-created.  They include moving adversaries, because the bad guys don’t just stand still.  Innocent bystanders get in the way, and have to be worked into the scenario’s as well.  You have to work and look for cover, and the scenario’s include these props as well.

Eric, who has an Engineering degree,  designed several unique features in the equipment used at the facility that help make the training more real, and better fit the training needs of today’s officers.

The training that is done becomes very real and recreates the stress felt in a real gunfight.  It thereby prepares the officers so they can deal with adrenaline dumps, tunnel vision, and hearing issues, to better defend themselves and the public they serve.

The bottom line to all of this is…..Officers return home at the end of their shift, and the Public is better protected from criminals.

The Ultimate compliment a Rangemaster can receive is when his training efforts have paid off…..and an officer knows it, saving his life or the life of a citizen.  The results of Eric and his staff, will never know the unspoken “thank-you’s” for those they have saved.

At the recent Chiefs of Police convention held in Orlando, many Top Notch Trainers were able to see first hand some of the techniques and scenarios used by the Orlando Training Department on their Tactical range.  Now, months later, I am still getting phone calls about how fantastic that was.

Agencies from not only the United States were blown away, but representative’s from Taiwan, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Brazil, New Zealand, England, Spain, and the list continues, were impressed as well.  They were impressed with the Facility, but more importantly, how the facility was used with real world scenario’s.  This was where the rubber met the road, and this is where we have seen no finer training anywhere.

An example of the results are this…..

The National average for misses in gunfights (at a distance of about 9 yards or less) is approximately 80% based upon statistics from the FBI’s study on gunfights.  For the Orlando Police Department, their hit percentage is around 86%.  This is a result of the efforts of Eric and his staff.  What a fantastic job!  Our hats are off to him and that is why we recognize “Eric Clapsaddle” from the Orlando Police Department as Action Targets ” Rangemaster of the Quarter.”

Training on Steel (Part One)

Written by Ben Kurata

Why train on steel?

The shooter learns faster. Traditional cardboard or paper targets only give the shooter and the coach one feedback, visual. If the bullet holes on the target are not visible (example: 5.56 mm at 100 yards), then the shooter and the coach have to play instant recall to try and determine what the shooter did well and what needs improvement. There is often a delay of several seconds if not minutes before the shooter receives feedback on how (s)he did, and it is difficult if not impossible for the shooter to remember what the sight picture, grip, and trigger press looked and felt like for each and every shot.

Why does the shooter learn faster on steel?

Let’s assume that we are conducting handgun training at traditional handgun fight distances, 15 yards and closer. When training on steel, when the shooter hits, they receive immediate feedback not only visually (the strike of the bullet on the steel) but also auditory feedback (the distinct “ping”).

If the target is a reactive steel target, the shooter also gets the additional feedback of having the target fall or move.

I would also argue that at Close Quarter Combat distances feedback is so immediate that the shooter remembers what the sight picture, grip, and trigger press looked and felt like for each successful shot.

While coaching by the instructor on cardboard or paper tends to be diagnostic, I find that coaching by the instructor on steel tends to be faster and more immediate. (“On the second shot you pulled low and left,” etc. vs. “Low. Low. Hold higher.”) Rather than concentrating on the not so good shots, the shooter and the coach can concentrate on the HITS.

More than one experienced instructor / shooter has put forth the idea that feedback provided by shooting on steel is so immediate that it actually enters the subconscious mind faster than the conscious mind can process all of the stimuli associated with conscious sight picture, grip, trigger press, etc.1 I can speak from my own experience that based thousands of dry fire repetitions with tens of thousands of live fire rapid fire strings, when firing a semi-automatic pistol in rapid fire I am not conscious of sight picture or trigger press as traditionally defined. I am very conscious of the rear outline of the slide (as it is in constant motion), the feel of the pistol in my hands and the trigger reset. With traditional cardboard or paper targets I do not get any feedback until I shoot the pistol to slide lock or the pre-determined number of shots and lower the muzzle. When shooting on steel, I get immediate feedback on each and every shot I fire and if I don’t hear an immediate “ping” after firing a shot, I know that I didn’t hit, and I need to do something differently for the next shot.

In other words, as the student progresses in his/her skill level, (s)he starts correcting him/herself before the coach can diagnose and offer suggestions. At this level, the shooter becomes his/her own coach. I have found that with a little practice, any individual who is motivated enough can easily fire 4-6 rounds a second from a semiautomatic pistol and have all the rounds strike in an acceptable area of the target at 7 yards. When firing this rapidly, you can’t be consciously thinking of “front sight focus, surprise trigger break” for each and every shot or the rate of fire will drop to 1-2 shots per second.

So What?

Well, assuming that both the Officer and the armed assailant in a shooting encounter are equally motivated, would you rather be sending or receiving 4-6 hits per second?

When firing at this rate on steel targets, the auditory response takes third place in perception after the visual (the blur of the rear of the slide crossing into an acceptable target area) and the tactile (the reset and pressing of the trigger). The reason is, if you wait for the “ping” on the steel, you will have delayed your response time by about a half a second or 2 outgoing / incoming rounds. I learned a long time ago while shooting on the Action Target Dueling Tree or Plate Rack that if I waited for the “ping” of my first target, my opponent was usually hitting his second, or even third target. I learned to see an acceptable sight picture for the first shot, press the trigger and immediately shift my eye focus to the second plate while muzzle of the handgun, rifle, or shotgun was still lifting.

Another, more practical reason for trusting your first shot is that in a real-life encounter, you probably won’t hear a “ping” from your adversary. You may not see any immediate reaction at all. There can be many reasons for this. First, and most likely (about 80 – 85% of the time nationally), is the possibility that you missed the threat entirely. That is why we train, train, and train some more. The second reason is that you hit, but did not hit a part of your attacker’s anatomy that would trigger an immediate reaction. (If you have the opportunity to attend one of Dr. James William’s excellent seminars, “Shooting with X-ray Vision”, do so.) The third reason may be that you hit, but the caliber / projectile configuration just didn’t perform as advertised. All of the above are good reasons for training to shoot and hit fast and repeatedly, and the quickest way to do so is to shoot on reactive steel.

In a subsequent article, I will go over how to shoot on reactive steel safely.

Sources:

  1. Bank Miller, Conscious and Subconscious Training on Reactive Steel, The Firearms Instructor, Issue 47.

Reactive Steel Shooting – Auto Popper

Reactive shooting is the skill a police officer must rely on when confronted with a suddenly hazardous situation. It is a critical skill that can save officers’ lives, and it is the result of conditioned hand-eye coordination developed by training on Action Target air-powered reactive steel systems.

As we learn more and more about the human dynamics involved in armed

confrontations, we understand that physical skills that require conscious thought or intellectual processing tend to break down rapidly under high levels of stress. If defensive skills and responses are not programmed in at a subconscious level, the sudden stress may cause us to fumble, freeze or panic. It is in this environment that reactive shooting skills are needed.

Such reflexive shooting skills can be taught through the use of extremely short time limits, thus pushing the shooter to function at the limits of reaction and response time. This can be compared to learning how to hit a fast moving ball with a bat or racket, or developing the reflexes to block a punch or kick at full speed. Reactive steel targets provide the instant feedback required to program an officer’s reflexive shooting skills effectively and efficiently.

In the effort to provide more insight into Action Target’s line of Reactive Steel targets, you are presented with the Auto Popper™.

Auto Popper™

AutoPopper for Steel Targets

  • Reactive steel with automated reset
  • Multiple control options
  • Knock-down action
  • Through hardened AR500 or AR500 Brinell S
  • Multiple target head options
  • Portable or permanent installation
  • Tall or short legs

The Auto-Popper™ is an extremely versatile generalpurpose actuator that is used to lift a wide variety of targets. Instead of walking down range after each drill to reset your pepper poppers by hand, you can now reset them automatically with the just the push of a button.

If your scenario requires something other than steel targets, you can quickly change the head attachment to a lifter arm that will accept any size paper or cardboard target. You can even configure the unit for use with military E targets or full size three dimensional targets.

You can add an optional control valve to each Auto-Popper™ for independent control over each target, or you can use a single valve to control a group of targets simultaneously.

The Auto-Popper is an adjustable actuator that lifts a steel or cardboard/plastic target into view of the shooter by remote control. The rise time of the target can vary from 0.50 seconds to 10 seconds. The power is adjustable to allow the actuator to be used with all types of handgun loads. The Auto-Popper has about 60 ft-lbs of torque in the horizontal position tapering proportionally to 0 when vertical. It can be used with steel, paper, cardboard, and large 3 dimensional targets. The Auto-Popper is capable of independent or tandem operation, it can be used with hit sensors, and it can be controlled by our SmartRange control software. The unit is self-armoring, protecting itself against bullet hits from standard handgun loads coming from a direction within +/-25 degrees of perpendicular.

A Row of AutoPopper for Training

The Auto-Popper is pneumatic powered with a pressure operationTarget Type that Can Use AutoPoppern range of 40 psi to 100 psi. It can also be triggered by a 12V signal of less than 60mA. The actuator uses 10.6 cubic inches of air per actuation. It utilizes a “proportional force” cam lifter system to control the reset action and lift action smoothly and reliably. The Auto-Popper is totally field repairable – a complete field rebuild operation can be done by standard range personnel using standard hand tools. The target plate is reversible and easily changeable.

The actuator body and front shielding are both constructed of sandblasted and painted 3/8” armor plate steel (AR500). A lumber façade is attached to the actuator to cover the primary steel structure and prevent splatter. The hose and control wires are in a protective sheath. The hose connections use simple push-in type connectors. The actuator provides an interface to EMT carrier for simple installation. The actuator is easily mounted on any flat surface, or it can be placed on legs to elevate the target.

If you would like some more information about the Auto Popper™ or other Reactive Steel products, please contact the Territory Manager for your region.

Enhance Training Realism

Be honest. How many people reading this have attended or even taught a training course where you have used 2’X4” pieces of lumber to outline a room? How many of you have used this wood-outlined configuration for dynamic or static entry training? What about searching rooms outlined by strips of wood? These concepts are good at building on classroom instruction and enhancing the fundamentals necessary for entry and clearing. But is it great? Realistic?

Don’t worry, we both know the answers.

It is time to demand more out of training. The list of “props” that have been used by law enforcement and the military in training to add realism would take too much time to list. The days of telling an academy recruit, “Now simulate these pieces of wood are a room and this is the door,” are over. The technology of today allows us to have better training materials. Current technology allows us to have more realism added to our training scenarios. It allows us to train in controlled settings that are as real as possible without actually being in a free-standing structure, which has been vacated for your coursework.

There is nothing wrong with conducting your training in a real building. Personally, in the past I have run my recruits to several locations in various cities for them to get the most realistic training possible. If your organization is lucky enough to have established relationships with businesses, warehouses, apartment buildings and private homes, then you know just how challenging having a training course in those locations can be. It takes a significant amount of time and effort to set training dates, coordinate with all parties involved, ensure your class know the location, have enough parking space, obtain approval from the neighbors and/or city if necessary. Wouldn’t it be much easier to have training that encompasses all of those types listed in a single structure?

Of course! It would be great to have that type of capability in a single location. Is it possible and is it cost effective? Those are the key questions. And, by the way, the answer is yes, it is!

The days of training our first responders, SWAT, corrections and military personnel with the most realistic and safe training using only one building are here! The answer can be found with Action Target and our newest product, FlexTact®. Action Target has recently partnered with Hufcor to be the Exclusive World Wide vendor for their FlexTact® movable wall training system.

The FlexTact® system is currently used for non-live fire training only. Since non-live fire training can really be conducted anywhere, what is so great about this system? It’s simple. The system can be completely be reconfigured within minutes. For example, in a matter of a few minutes, you can transform your office scenario to a warehouse then into a residential setting. If you need to serve a high risk warrant and want to realistically structure your breach training, the physical layout of the residence can be duplicated with the FlexTact system.

Since FlexTact® is only available from Action Target, we have been receiving requests from all areas of the world on how to incorporate this revolutionary training system into a new building or existing structure. The great aspect of FlexTact® is that it can be placed in either! Those interested in FlexTact® are from the commercial, military and law enforcement communities. The FlexTact® system compliments our core expertise in live fire ranges and shoot houses such as the M.A.T.C.H. (Modular Armored Tactical Combat House) live fire structure shown below.

Top View of FlexTract Training SystemThe FlexTact® system employs the following:

  • Rugged 16 ga. welded steel frames resist impacts
  • High Pressure Laminate surfaces are easy to clean and resist impacts
  • Quickset bottom seals hold walls in place during exercises
  • Overhead architectural aluminum tracks allow panels to move smoothly and quickly into place
  • Side bulb seals allow panels to be configured quickly
  • Specially designed passdoors for entry exercises.
  • Optional window inserts and glass walls panels for diversified training scenarios.

FlexTract Moveable Training SystemPlease notice from the picture that everything is suspended from above. There are no grooves in the floor, which means there are no tripping hazards. The FlexTact® system has an overhead railing system built on a grid pattern that can be self-sustaining or tied into the existing beams of a building. The panels can be moved quickly and set onto the floor with rubber feet that keep them in place. These panels accommodate full impact breach doors for entry training. They have frangible window options that can be struck with shotgun less than lethal rounds, training with explosives like Stingball Grenades or Flash Bang technology.

In addition to those already listed, you can enhance the realism of FlexTact® even further with the following options:

  • Low light / No light capability
  • Doors with handles that actually shut
  • Wall graphics for custom scenes / murals
  • Standing targets
  • Foam furniture / props

This system has already been installed and used in many locations. It has been used by more than just law enforcement and military. This technology allows for firefighter training by filling the structure with smoke and having to search. Fire Departments from local, state and federal agencies are discovering the multiple uses for FlexTact®. They are also finding it is easier to obtain funding for a training structure that can be used for multiple purposes.

Man Training in FlexTract Training SystemImagine having a 40’x40′ room, like a typical gymnasium. It is a big box with a wooden floor. How many of you have a room like this somewhere? I would bet that most of you have something similar that is the property of your agency. What is that space being used for? Storage? Offices? Mat room for Arrest Techniques / Defensive Tactics? Classroom? Now imaging having all of those capabilities in just one room! With FlexTact®, you can quickly reconfigure that room into anything that supports your training needs.

This is the most revolutionary new product for public safety training! The capabilities are so substantial, that it warrants a further look. Action Target welcomes you to review it for yourself. Here is the FlexTact® Brochure for you to review.

Two Shooters Training in FlexTract Training SystemTake a look and you will see that FlexTact® will meet your training needs and can be placed in almost any existing building or incorporated into new builds. If you have a project currently underway and want FlexTact® installed, our lead time is as little as (5) five weeks from design approval to installation!

You will not find a better option for a realistic structure that can be used for such diverse applications. As the industry leader, Action Target asks you to contact us today to learn how we and the FlexTact® system can support your training needs. Enhance your training realism today with FlexTact® by contacting Action Target!

To learn more about Action Target and its full line of products, please visit www.actiontarget.com. For additional information on Tactical Breaching Door technology, please contact one of our Action Target Representatives, Law Enforcement & Commercial, Federal, Military or International.