What police recruits and rookie cops need to know about firearms
I have served on many hiring boards and a candidate response that I will always remember. When asked “Why do you want to be a police officer”, the candidate replied, “Well, I’ve always loved guns.”
The idea that all police officers are “gun freaks” has not been unusual in recent decades. But what if you’ve never shot a gun? It may not be as disadvantageous as you fear. I’ve heard more than one gun instructor quote the adage that it’s easier to teach a new shooter than it is to break the bad habits of an experienced shooter. Being a good learner and respecting your material is enough.
Even as a country boy whose dinner depended on the occasional hunting forays into the woods behind my house, I was never a rambunctious gun enthusiast. Our house had the typical rural collection of working long guns and pistols, and I had mine along the way. I’ve had the opportunity to wield a variety of weapons in the military, and for most of the past four decades I’ve had a handgun on my hip. But when my law enforcement colleagues talk about comparing guns and ammunition and optics and add-ons, I’m quickly overwhelmed.
So what do cops need to know about guns? Keep reading to find out.
Know your own weapon
Your service weapon and backup weapons should feel as familiar in your hands as your favorite cup of coffee – in every shape and angle, from any holster, at any temperature, in uniform and in plain clothes. Know it in your left hand and in your right hand. Know it when you are on your stomach and when you are on your back. Know it blindfolded. Know this after you jog and do push-ups. Know it when it rains or snows.
During stress, your sense of touch and time can be distorted. You’ll likely be doing what you’ve done most of the time, which means your hand will go to where your service holster is, even if you are in plain clothes with an ankle holster. If you own or shoot a variety of guns, mentally rehearse and redirect to the weapon and equipment you have to give your brain an alert.
Know what ammunition you are using on duty and whether it is compatible with the firearms of your fellow officers and those of neighboring jurisdictions. Since most of your shooting practice may not be with the same types of cartridges you use in service, pay attention to the feel of your service ammo when you shoot with it. Be aware of its potential to penetrate anything other than paper targets.
If your vehicle has long guns, know how to unlock and deploy them under duress. Know what they are loaded with, as well as the distance and penetrating capacity of these cartridges. Understanding range and penetration can educate an officer on the type of cover needed when faced with a long gun. Know if security is on or off by touch. This will take deliberate practice, as long guns are used and fired less often than other police firearms. Know what to do with it if you need to deal with a suspect.
And, of course, know how to clean and lubricate your gun.
Know the modifications
Many officers are tempted to have their weapons “settled”. Adjusting the trigger resistance and adding sights and lighting configurations can dramatically change the way the weapon is handled, sheathed, and used. While flashlights have added a lot to service weapons, their lights are additional and used to identify and acquire a target, not as a substitute for a flashlight. Lights and laser sights add to the number of fine motor skills needed to operate your firearm and are worth practicing.
Know how to make guns safe
The TV cop’s plan of stashing any recovered handguns in his waist or pocket is not the most sensible approach when he encounters guns during a search. Packing a recovered weapon for forensic examination is another class and can be accomplished at leisure, but securing a weapon to put it immediately out of the reach of a suspect must be done quickly and safely. completely safe. Even what appears to be a familiar weapon can have alterations and malfunctions that may surprise a manager.
A great way to learn the different ways firearms are set up for safe, extracting and disassembling cartridges is to explore gun displays where you may be exposed to a variety of weapons. . Always assume the weapon you pick up is loaded, lethal, and has an unstable trigger.
Know improvised weapons
A search for images on the Internet for “improvised handguns” yields a frightening variety of deadly weapons that may not be immediately recognized. Small guns hidden in belt buckles, cell phones and cigarette packs pose a threat that could be overlooked. Documenting the existence of these types of weapons (check with your local jail for examples) can help justify your research.
Keep in mind that projectiles don’t have to be factory-made bullets to do harm. Painful distraction from a projectile can disorient an officer long enough to put him at a greater risk of attack, including a blow to the face and, in particular, the eyes. This means that toy guns or modified paintball guns pose a risk of injury.
Hearing protection on the firing range is essential, as is the recognition of gunfire sounds in the real world. When interviewing witnesses or hearing a call to 911, the comparison to fireworks, explosions, or car flashback (a rare occurrence in modern vehicles but still in the minds of witnesses) is common. Having an idea of what a fully automatic firearm looks like or what a “silencer” looks like on a firearm can be of value.
Police officers as well as civilians may not take cover when they are unsure that a shot is fired due to preconceptions of what it looks like. The films are a terrible recreation of the sounds of guns and the effects of bullet holes. Live demos, when available, are the best, but there are also plenty of live crime scene recordings and video demos that could be helpful.
Train, train, train
Nothing you train will be exactly what an officer will face in a real shooting incident, but the more you know about your weapon, the less doubts and decisions you will have in mind when shooting. ‘a deadly encounter.