How much firearm training do law enforcement officers receive?
February 28, 2012
Law enforcement firearms training encompasses a variety of weapons and situations. One of the aspects of training involves the effective use of handguns. Law enforcement always carry an automatic pistol as a means of self protection, as well as to protect the public. Most officers never have to fire their weapon on duty, but if they do, they want the assurance that they know how to do it safely and effectively.
Close range law enforcement firearms training is a must for officers who regularly come in contact with people who may have weapons. An officer never knows if a civilian they’re approaching has a gun, so they must always be prepared to draw their pistol at a moment’s notice. Drawing and firing at close range is something that every law enforcement officer must learn, as well as learning how to use close-quarter combat skills to disable and aggressor.
During law enforcement firearms training for close quarter handgun drawing and firing, a closely placed, turning cardboard target is used to simulate a person drawing on an officer at close range. Because officers are often at close proximity to strangers, the proper training can become life or death matter if the person has a weapon. This can happen when an officer approaches a car they’ve pulled over, or when an officer on foot patrol is questioning someone. Law enforcement are trained how to spot this potentially lethal situation and quickly react to it by drawing and firing their handgun.
Law enforcement firearms training also includes dealing with multiple attackers. Statistics show that 60% of the time a firearms assault will involve more than one shooter. An officer is trained how to respond without jeopardizing innocent people in the process. Domestic disputes are some of the most dangerous calls law enforcement officers make and many times if one party in the dispute pulls a gun on an officer, another family member will join in. For that reason, law enforcement are trained not to have tunnel vision and to be aware of and respond to multiple shooters without injuring innocent parties.
Another aspect of law enforcement firearms training involves minimizing the loss of fine motor control due to stress. As stressful situations escalate, blood flows towards our organs and away from hands and feet as a protective measure in the fight or flight response. When this happens there’s a loss of fine motor control, which can negatively impact the way an officer handles and fires a gun. When training in marksmanship, an allowance for loss of complex motor skills should be factored into the equation. Through repetitive training, an officer will become more able to react effectively without losing as much control over their weapon.
Law enforcement firearms training must also take into account lighting issues. Officers are taught never to shoot farther than they can see and many times they’re working in dimly lit situations or darkness. They must be trained to shoot effectively in a variety of lighting situations in order to increase their tactical advantage and avoid hitting a bystander.