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Ten Tips for On Target Academy Firearms Training
Posted by Dr. Richard Weinblatt on 02/11/2013 at 6:58 PM

The prospect of firearms training in the pressure-filled law enforcement academy setting is either loved or hated by cadets. Few blocks of instruction, save for physical training and defensive tactics, conjures up such extremes in emotion. As a certified firearms instructor and an executive over basic police academies, I have seen first hand the issues that trip up aspiring gun-toting law enforcers. This column has been crafted to offer firearms training bound recruits tips for success using a vital tool of the professional law enforcer.

1) Automatic Safety. The cardinal concept of firearms training is that of safety. Academies routinely distribute a document containing rules of safety on the police firing range. Most have the students read, sign, and return the document. Find out what those rules are in advance and be sure to be familiar which each important mandate. Make compliance with such standard rules as “assume every firearm is loaded,” “never point the firearm at something that you don’t want to shoot,” and “be aware of what your target is and beyond” automatic. Not having to apply thought to those mandates will free you up to concentrate on the psychomotor skills needed for excellent marksmanship.

2) Strength Training. A major problem that detracts from working on shooting skills is a lack of upper body strength. Effecting particularly small-framed men and women, handguns made heavier with ammunition and long guns such as shotguns strain and distracts struggling shooters from refining their skills.

3) No “Windage.” Firearms instructors will do target analysis and point out where the grouping of rounds are hitting the paper. Often troubled shooters decide that simply moving the grouping by compensating with the front site is the solution. Referred to as the “windage” method by seasoned firearms instructors, this is not a true solution and really cheats the student shooter of developing good trigger control skills. For example, if the right-handed shooter is mashing the trigger, target analysis sees this manifested as the grouping falling low and to the left. The “windage” shooter places the front sight high and to the right of the target area to improperly compensate. This is not a good technique and should be avoided.

4) Don’t have a mind of your own. Many instructors get frustrated by recruits that ask for help on the line, get it, and then go back to what they were doing wrong. Different firearms instructors will make divergent suggestions. Try them out and see what works best for you. Problems come when students go back to their own flawed ways once the instructor shifts the focus from them to another student. Listen to the firearms instructors and try it their way.

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