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I recently had the opportunity to observe police officers, from a variety of agencies, complete a standard qualification shoot. The course required officers to fire a designated number of rounds at a stationary target. Although a time limit for each target existed, the demand seemed reasonable. By the end of the day, I noticed that a large percentage of the scores were below average. I believe a number of factors contributed to this conclusion, but overall it boiled down to a simple lack of practice.
This particular team of officers had not been required to qualify in some time. This lack of practice was clearly noticeable on the range. I saw officers having difficulty locating and disengaging safety mechanisms, as well as, mishandling fresh magazines during a reload. During one exercise, an officer stopped the qualification due to a stove pipe malfunction. Although this was not a combat course, the response to such a common and simple problem should have been second nature, comparable to the wiping of ones nose after a sneeze.
Its unfortunate that so many of us are unfamiliar with such an integral tool. Finding time in a busy schedule to practice is a sometimes difficult and daunting task. Locating a range that will accommodate a variety of shooting techniques provides another challenge. My suggestion is to take advantage of the opportunities that avail themselves to you. Dont pass on the free range time or discounted ammunition because the result is 10 minutes in gun cleaning. We respond in the same way that we have practiced. Practice.
J. De Masi, Ofcr.
Whittier Police Department
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position of On-Duty. They send it, you read it.