Tag: instruction

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

By John Krupa III.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Situational Awareness

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

Visualization

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

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

Vigilance

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

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

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

The Winning Mindset

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, stay safe and Fight to Win!

John Krupa III

Master Firearms Instructor

President / Director of Training

Spartan Tactical Training Group, LLC

About John Krupa III

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

Action Target LETC 2012 a Great Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This year’s classes include:

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

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

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.

Shooting Steel Targets (Part 3)

*Note: This is the last segment of our three-part series entitled “Shooting Steel Targets.” Part One was published in September and Part Two was published in early October in the Action Target Journal.

Many people are hesitant to shoot on steel targets because of bad experiences they have heard of, been the victim of, or witnessed. Over the years, Action Target has been approached time and again by those who have access to steel, welding equipment, and the ability to shoot on their property. Each and every time we hear similar scenarios: I cut up this piece of steel [usually 1″ thick or greater] to use as a target. It should stop the bullets, but they either go right through it or cause unsafe ricochet and splatter.”

That would make anyone a little skeptical to shoot on steel, wouldn’t it?

So, as we publish the concluding segment of information dedicated to shooting portable steel targets, it is vital to include some facts about steel. We have included some information about what steel actually is, the hardness and quality associated with different ratings of steel, and some truths about steel that affect safety.

With more and more companies and individuals manufacturing steel targets, the water has become increasingly muddy where accurate information is concerned. With technical data provided by the American Iron and Steel Institute in Washington D.C., this report is designed to cut through the recent hype and establish a basis of fact for accurate evaluation and comparison.

What is Steel?

Steel is an alloy metal composed of iron and varying amounts of carbon and/or other elements such as chromium, nickel, tungsten, manganese, and so on. Steel with specific properties and characteristics is created by adjusting the overall chemical composition or by altering the various production processes such as rolling, finishing, and heat treatment. Because each of these factors can be modified, there is potentially no limit to the number of different steel recipes that can be created. Currently, there are over 3,000 cataloged grades or chemical compositions of steel available. Steel can utilize a wide variety of alloying elements and heat treatments to develop the most desirable combination of properties.

Steel Hardness and Quality

For steel targets to be functional and safe, they should be made of high-quality through hardened steel that has a minimum Brinell hardness number (BHN) of at least 500. The steel must also provide sufficient strength, toughness, and impact resistance. The Brinell hardness test depends upon the resistance offered to the penetration of a carbide steel ball (1.6 mm diameter) when subjected to a weight of 12.6 kg. The resulting hardness value is computed as the ratio of the applied load to the area of the indentation produced. This test is accepted as a worldwide standard for measuring the hardness of steel.

Truth: There are Two Factors that Affect the Hardness of Steel

The first is the amount of carbon and other alloying elements in its chemical composition, and the second is the manner in which the heating and cooling of the steel is manipulated. These factors are determined at the most fundamental level and affect the finished steel as a whole.

Truth: Steel Hardness Is a Critical Safety Issue

The hardness of the steel is so critical because only a smooth surface will generate predictable splatter patterns. Steel that is not sufficiently hard can develop pits, craters, dimples, and other hazardous deformations. When a bullet hits one of these deformations, it is impossible to predict where the splatter will go, thereby creating an unacceptable training environment.

There are many steel mills located around the world, but only a select few are able to produce steel that is hard enough and of sufficient quality to be safely used for steel targets. HARDOX / SSAB, Bethlehem-Lucas, Oregon Steel Mills, and NKK are major producers of such steel. Each of these companies may have minor proprietary differences in their production methods, but they all must make sheets of hard steel in essentially the same way.

Nevertheless, some suppliers of targets and shooting range equipment attempt to muddy the water and create perceived differences in steel quality where none exist. One particularly misleading claim refers to AR steel as “surface hardened” only. We state the following with all possible force:

Despite the inaccurate claims, AR steel is NOT surface hardened. It is through hardened. Witness the quotes listed below from steel suppliers around the country.

  • Heflin Steel: “Heflin REM 500 abrasion resistant plate is a premium grade wear plate, ideal for extreme abrasion coupled with resistance to impact. REM 500 plate is through hardened up to a 3″ thickness for maximum hardness and abrasion resistance.” (Source: http://www.escocorp.com/heflin_steel/wear/materials.html)

Note: These companies are steel suppliers, not manufacturers or producers. They buy steel from the actual manufacturers like HARDOX / SSAB, and then re-sell it to their own customers.

Action Target uses only high-quality, through hardened steel with a Brinell hardness rating of at least 500, and we use it in every one of our ballistic steel products.

Be careful not to get caught up in the “more is better” mindset. Just because a Brinell hardness number (BHN) of 500 or 550 is good, it does not mean a rating of 700 is better. While you must use steel that is hard enough for the task, going overboard only impacts your checkbook and not the product.

For more information on portable steel targets, Action Target has created one of the most comprehensive documents on the subject. The Action Target Steel Resource Guide (PDF) provides details on the properties of steel, how they relate to steel targets, and why they are important and so much more.

If you are looking for information about a specific target, visit our Portable Targets page of our website.

Shooting Steel Targets (Part I)

*Note: This is the first of a three-part series entitled “Shooting Steel Targets.”  Part Two and Part Three were published in October.

As the world’s leader for shooting range development, Action Target has a diverse line of products to meet the needs of all its customers. If there is ever a request for a target system not currently offered, we have a full team of Research & Development personnel to explore the creation of a new target solution. Many times, however, the training need can be met with some of the simplest targets.

Line-up of AT Portable Targets

Action Target has been hailed as the #1 steel shooting target manufacturer based on our unique designs, which have been developed and modified over 26 years. Our steel targets have been influenced, tested, designed, and used extensively by law enforcement, the military, and Special Forces groups around the world. These groups prefer our steel targets since they do not allow any exposed bolts or brackets on the shooting surfaces. This is a limitation to many designs, but the result is the safest possible steel target available.

When using any of our portable steel shooting targets, please remember these safety guidelines to ensure that your experience of shooting targets is a fun and safe one:

STEEL TARGET SAFETY RULES

1.         Always obey the Firearms Safety Rules listed belowMan shooting with PT Swinger

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 targetsMan Shooting Bobbers Over Shoulder

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

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

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

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

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

15.        Use only non-toxic paint on steel targets

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

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

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

19.        If using frangible ammunition, it is the responsibility of the Rangemaster to test fire all frangible rounds to determine the following:

  • That the projectile pulverizes completely on contact
  • That the projectile does not damage the steel target at the distances you intend to shoot from

For more information about our steel targets or the importance of safety while shooting targets, visit our Portable Targets page on the Action Target website.