Last week I expressed my concerns over the potential dangers of changing holsters. If you are going to change holsters make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and make sure you have a solid training plan in place. This week we are going to explore some key elements of that training plan.
I have asked a couple of internationally recognized behavioral scientists for their opinions on the best way to train officers to avoid them reverting back to the old draw stroke in the middle of a violent encounter and not being able to get their gun out of the holster. Both were reluctant to offer an opinion as the research has not been done in this area. When I explained my thoughts to them, bot felt I was probably right, but the reseacrch had not yet been done.
I believe one of the most critical errors trainers make is to believe that spending four, eight or 16 hours standing on the range drawing from the new holster, going through standard qualification shoots, and shooting a few other static drills will somehow engrain this new habitual behavior in their officers. It is easy for trainers and officers alike to get cocky thinking everyone is really slick with the new draw stroke and send officers out into the field believing they are ‘trained’ and will perform in a gunfight like they did on the range. These beliefs however, may turn out to be fatal.
Some time must be spent on the range drawing the pistol from the new holster to familiarize officers with the new draw stroke. As quickly as possible officers however, officers must be put into contextual environments where they have to draw the weapon in environments more closely simulating deadly force encounters. This means officers must practice drawing and engaging threats:
- While they are moving forward, sideways and to the rear.
- While seated in their vehicle and while exiting their vehicle.
- In close quarters environments.
- From the ground.
Officers have to practice drawing and engaging a real threat in realistic environments and they have to be placed in scenarios where they have to assess and respond to a threat by drawing their gun and shooting the subject.
Effective training takes time, it takes effort to develop it and write the lesson plans and it takes resources to execute it. The payoff however, is well worth the effort you invest. If you and your agency are not prepared to INVEST the time and resources to train officers properly then maybe you should not be buying new holsters.
If you are a trainer and have made all the arguments to your administration as to why you need to INVEST adequate time and effort to train officers and have lost that battle, then make the most of the time you are given. Do not complain that the agency does not care and simply go through the motions with the time you are given. Give officers as much as you can in the time you have and then give them suggestions on what they need to do on their own. Talk to the control tactics instructors (DT instructors) and get them to incorporate drills into their training as well.
As an officer, if your agency has changed holsters and not INVESTED the time to train you properly then stop complaining about it and INVEST in your own safety and well being by doing the training yourself.
You must continually find ways to have everyone in your agency embrace training as an investment, not an expense. It is an investment in officer safety, officer well being and officer professionalism. The better trained officers are, the less likely they are to overreact or under react in the field.