24-time national champion and 5-time world champion Rob Leatham didn’t get to where he is today by luck. In order to be the best, you have to train better than anyone else and that requires daily focused training and superior equipment. In this video, Rob shows how to get the most out of your Action Target Hostage with shooting drills and tips from the pro.
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.
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:
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.
Robert Kelly Wells
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.
J. C. Boylan #26
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?
Detective Commerce City, CO
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
Thanks 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.