Firearms Instruction School: Final Day
Sorry I hadn't posted this yet, but I was busy on Friday night and my computer was not working on Saturday.
On this day, we first took our written end-tests.
We then went to the range, and practiced administering qualifications.
We had, the night before, written three courses of fire. One was a basic TCLEOSE qualification course, to show that shooters had shown basic proficiency with a firearm. The TCLEOSE requirements are that the shooter must:
--demonstrate how to take down his pistol and clean it,
--display safe gun-handling skills at all times,
--fire 50 rounds (at least 5 of which must be duty ammo), scoring at least 70%, on a course of fire that includes:
- --at least 20 rounds at a range greater than 7 yards,
- --at least one string of fire at 15 yards, and
- --at least one timed reload.
Are you already figuring up how EASY such a course could be made to be? Note that there is no specification for how LONG you may have to perform the reload. The variety of TCLEOSE qualification courses is wide. I've seen some that had 12 rounds (6 + 6), with a reload, to be fired at 50 yards in under 17 seconds. Then too, I've seen some that had just 5 rounds at 15 yards, 15 rounds at 10 yards, and all the rest at 7, 5, and 3 yards, with the super-slow reload stage at 3 yards. (These were called "the Chief's course of fire.")
For backup guns, that "Chief's course" actually makes a lot of sense, when you think of shooting sightless or near-sightless tiny mouse guns.
Most firearms instructors pride themselves on writing their courses of fire for main duty guns a little harder than the strict requirements by TCLEOSE. The host agency, for example, requires a 100% hit rate.
Then we had to administer a "Training" course of fire. I used this opportunity to train my fellow students on malfunction drills. I had them load up empty cases randomly into their magazines, some backwards, to make them deal with the ensuing problems under stress. I had their neighbors load their mags for them, and they had a GREAT time with it. I got a lot of grins and thumbs-up on that.
I then gave them my Transition/Familiarization training course of fire, in which I made them transition from their strong hand to their weak hand, and continue firing. In one string, I had them (for time) reach down with their weak hand and pick up the gun that they had theoretically dropped, and gun down the target weak-handed, one-handed. In another string, I had them shoot around one side of a barrier, then move to the other side, using weak-hand supported. Then they shot around the barrier using weak-hand unsupported. They liked these.
I had some strong opinions, by the end of the week, on how a mass qualification should be run.
While I LOVED the turning targets (I agree that in real life, the signal that will induce us to shoot will be almost certainly be a visual clue), with the preset times already dialed in, I had to be realistic about the qualifications that I would be running in the future I didn't use the remote to turn the targets. I used my whistle, instead.
Except in special exceptions, I told my class to keep their guns full. I HATE R.O.'s that insist on shooting me dry, only letting the line load when they're ready. This creates a lot more fiddling with their guns than is needed.
I told the line how many rounds were to be expended in a given string, and would tell them to load and make their weapons ready and snapped down, before I would give them the course of fire. Otherwise, shooters do like I do, and think, "Can I load now? Can I load now? Is he going to forget to tell us to load our guns up ?" I will then of course completely miss the range officer's instructions.
Demanding that the gun be shot dry on every course of fire sure does make for a longer qualification, and it demands a lot more administrative manipulation of the firearm than is needed. This does not actually prevent accidents. Keep it in the holster, and administrative reload in the holster, gang.
Likewise, I do NOT order "eyes and ears" on until after I have asked if anyone didn't understand the course of fire. Muffs and earplugs can really hurt your ability to understand.
I ask, "Is anyone NOT ready?" This seems to get those who are not ready to speak up a little more.
I tell the shooters that the only signal to fire will be a whistle, and that I yell "time!" at the end of the time period. (I don't like "Up," or "Threat," or half a dozen other firing commands. I especially hate "gun" as a firing command.) I want them to associate a single sound with the shoot command on my range. With people's ears muffled and probably ringing, I don't want shooters mis-hearing an innocuous phrase like "I'm tired" as "Fire!"
Because I had some revolver ammunition leftover, I shot many of the courses of fire with the Model 10.
I also challenged the other especially gunny fellow to attempt headshots at 50 yards (I had a nice group, just left of the head, darn it. Only one in the head.)
The SWAT guy then challenged us to leave our field stripped pistols at the 5-yard line, and we ran from the 50 yard line to them, reassembled them, and fired 5 head shots. As I was fitting my recoil spring into my issued Glock 31, it occured to me that I had forgotten my hearing protection, and that I could hear the SWAT guy racking the slide. I quickly covered my ears while he shot, very near the concrete bullet trap, over a concrete floor, in a covered range. I then finished my reassembly, and fired my five shots one-handed, with my right ear pressed to my right shoulder and with my left hand pressed against my left ear. My group was certainly tight enough, but Second Place is first loser, you know? (Note: the SWAT guy had long since begun to put his pistol together before I came pounding up to the 5 yard line.)
We ended up shooting some fun guns that one of the instructors brought. He brought an H&K USP Match, and an H&K Mark 23 SOCOM. I was astonished at the ridiculous size of the Mark 23, which I had never fired before. But it was quite accurate at lobbing .45 acp rounds through the paper. The USP Match, however, wasn't wasn't just "quite accurate." It was a frickin' laser. Friends, I didn't want to shoot well with the pistol. But when you pick up a pistol for the first time, and can't tell where your second and third shots went at 10 yards, and only get the clue when the single little hole widens slightly from the fourth shot of brass-cased Blazer-- well that tends to give you some respect for what a pistol is capable of.
Oh, and why didn't I want to like the H und K? Because I suck, and they hate me. The firearms instructors at the host department told us repeatedly about how much it bites, dealing with HK customer service. For example, they got to realizing that some of their magazine springs were beginning to take a bit of a set, after 10 years. So they called HK, and asked about new magazines. They were told that replacement magazines would be $58 apiece. The firearms guy, stunned, said, "Look, we have 150 sworn officers. We only issue HK's. We buy a lot of parts and accessories. We want to buy 3 mags apiece, plus a few extra. Call it 500 pieces. Can't you give us a break on the price, here?"
Long sigh. "Okay. You can have them for $39 apiece. But ve only haff 18 in stock."
"Oh, really? How long until we can get the rest of them...?"
"Ve don't know. These are hand-made, in Deutschland."
They had a lot of stories like this.