Self-Defense Targets – Training to Win

Police firearms training in the 1960's. (Photo from NRA).

Police firearms training in the 1960’s. (Photo from NRA).

The firearms community has grown phenomenally over the last 25 years, and continues to show amazing improvements in manufacturing, innovation, and skills training to complete the experience. These advancements have helped law enforcement respond to increasingly complex critical incidents. The development of highly accurate bean bag rounds as a less lethal option, polymer striker-fired handguns that reduce weight but improve accuracy through consistent trigger pulls, and the implementation of the Taser are just a few of examples of technological advances that have enhanced the law enforcement response to threats in our communities.

However, despite all the impressive improvements there is still one area that remains a matter of significant concern in use of force training – the targets that we engage in practicing deadly force engagements. Though we have made significant steps beyond the simple bulls eye targets of the early 20th century, the silhouette targets being used by too many are simply preparing officers to fail.

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Got Ammo? You Better Stock Up!

An armory from Southwest Solutions.

An armory from Southwest Solutions.

Have you checked your department’s armory lately? If not, you had better convince the people in charge to start stocking up like a modern-day Prepper! How many hollow point duty rounds do you have? If you think you have enough, you might want to think again! Those agencies caught by surprise when the civilian ammunition market was choked dry during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, would do well to pay attention to the military’s latest move that could have significant impact on civilian and law enforcement ammunition supplies.

The United States Army has been in the process of defining the bidding process to prospective manufacturers for the Army’s new “XM-17″ Modular Handgun System. The official move towards the XM-17 have been years in the making, but in recent months the decision has been solidified, and the bidding process has already begun. This new handgun system has been talked about for years, as the decision to replace the 30-year old M9 (Beretta 9mm) has been on the table for several years now. However, one particular comment about the proceedings should have every civilian law enforcement agency at full attention, and preparing for a new crunch in the availability of duty ammunition.

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Professional Shooters Talk Pistol Grip

Perhaps the most indicative feature of pistol shooting in relation to accuracy is the shooter’s grip on the handgun. In the above video shooting professional Michael Seeklander, of Shooting Performance (as well as Personal Defense Network and Top Shot Season 1), breaks down some key fundamentals in the shooter’s grip that can provide an outstanding grip and form, while seriously reducing recoil effects.

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Should Officers Use Their Front Sights During A Gunfight?


About the Force Science Institute

The Force Science Institute (FSI) is a research organization founded by Dr. Bill Lewinski, PhD. in Mancato, Minnesota. Dr. Lewinski is a 30-year clinical psychologist in human behavior who has focused his career in the area of police psychology. He created the Force Science Institute and dedicated its research to the study of human perception and reactions during dynamically developing situations, emphasizing the response of police officers during use of force encounters.

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Rob Leatham Talks Trigger Pull

Rob Leatham professional shooter and instructor

Rob Leatham professional shooter and instructor

Rob Leatham – Professional Shooter/Trainer

Rob Leatham is a world renown professional shooter sponsored by Springfield Armory. During his time competing in professional shooting competitions he has amassed an impressive list of credentials and awards to prove he is the real deal when it comes to shooting handguns.

Here are just a few of Rob’s accomplishments:

  • 6-time IPSC World Champion
  • 20+ USPSA National Title Holder
  • Law Enforcement & Military pistol trainer for 25+ years.

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Roll Call: A BSD Challenge Video!

Traffic Stop Training

The Passenger Side Approach is a critical component of officer safety during traffic stops.

A little over a week ago I started the Quarterly Challenge on BlueSheepDog. The intent of the challenge was to keep officers sharp on some of the most critical skills necessary to survive the streets. I haven’t receive very many responses or comments so I have no idea how well the Q1 Challenge was received. There were four challenges included in the first quarter (Q1) challenge:

2015 BSD Q1 Challenge

  1. Perform (10) perfect handgun draws in a row before each shift (Safety Check!)
  2. Review at least (1) officer involved shooting (OIS) video per week for lessons learned
  3. Accept the 100% off-duty firearm carry challenge
  4. Plan at least (1) special family event each week.

Roll Call Video below!

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UTM Civilian Target Ammunition (CTA)

Universal Training Munitions Civilian Target Ammunition

Universal Training Munitions has announced the release of their Civilian Target Ammunition (CTA) at the 2015 SHOT Show. The CTA round is based on the similar UTM Target Bullet Round (TBR) that is used in military and law enforcement training worldwide. The U.S. Military, and several law enforcement agencies have been training with the UTM Target Bullet Rounds for nearly a decade. There have been over 198 million rounds made to date, in a wide variety of calibers.

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Officers Charged in Careless Deaths

Barely two months into 2015, and we have two police officers, from different large police agencies, criminally charged for the reckless or negligent killing of another human being. Sadly, I have to agree with the criminal complaints and I’ll explain.

The Oath of Office

When you swore the oath to become a police officer, you entered a profession with tenants that call you to rise above the expectations of the rest of society. That oath puts a spotlight on you both on and off-duty, because a free nation demands that those who the people have given authority to arrest, be free from immorality, incompetence, and illegal nature.

When the office of police officer is carried out with integrity and zeal for justice, the entire community proudly proclaims it’s just and honorable nature. When the office is misused or abused, the community properly excoriates those who have violated such a sacred trust. That trust is also held by the officers you work for, and a failure to uphold that standard of your oath rightly brings a higher level of scrutiny because of the higher level of trust.

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Universal Training Munitions (UTM)

UTM RBT training kit

UTM RBT training kit. The officer uses his personalized rifle, with UTM bolt carrier and magazines.

A few years ago Richard and I were invited to attend a special showing of the Universal Training Munitions (UTM) while we were at SHOT Show. I’m really glad that we attended. During that UTM showing Richard and I were able to fire both UTM rifle and pistol rounds through a converted AR-15, and converted Glock 9mm. Considering those two weapons platforms are what my department issues as on-duty firearms (albeit a Glock .40 cal.), I felt comfortable performing a solid evaluation.

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The Open Carry Dilemma – Part II

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is part 2 of a 2-part series on the increasingly difficult phenomenon of open carry by law-abiding citizens. In Part I the laws and actions of lawful gun owners in general opened the discussion into a hotly debated arena of gun ownership today. Part II will look at the legal responsibilities of law enforcement, and provide suggestions to law enforcement’s response to lawful citizens who open carry.

The Law Enforcement Response

So where do the current laws leave today’s law enforcement officers? In a very difficult situation full of legal land mines, that’s where. The law enforcement officer’s job is already difficult, but understanding how to properly handle citizens lawfully carrying firearms is really a newer phenomenon in the numbers we are seeing today. It is also a situation that officers must master in order to maintain officer safety and not infringe on a civil right.

passenger side approach traffic stop

The Legal Responsibility of Law Enforcement Officers

At one time or another every law enforcement officer swore an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the Constitution of the State they work in. The iconic ‘to protect and serve” is heavily influenced by this oath, and provides the foundation that all officers should work from in deciding how to handle any situation. Sometimes the application of laws can be somewhat cloudy, but the beacon of correct decision-making always goes back to the Constitution.

The most legally dangerous decisions law enforcement is faced with making are those that require decisions in a fraction of time. Thankfully the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently sided with officers faced with dangerous situations that evolve very rapidly to determine if the officer’s actions remain within Constitutional guidelines.  The landmark case of Graham v. Conner laid out the legal standard judging whether an officer’s actions were “objectively reasonable”, even if ultimately they were wrong in their initial observations or decisions.  An even stronger admonition by the Supreme Court is that officers must be judged by what a reasonable officer would have done given the same set of circumstances.  Officers cannot be judged by the micro-analyzed view of 20/20 hindsight that is often the measure used by the media and attorneys.

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