Sacrifice is the surrender of something for the sake of gaining something else. At a firearm’s instructor development school here in Oregon a regional law enforcement officer and lead instructor of the class said, “we might need to sacrifice safety for realism in firearms training.”


I got an e-mail from an officer from Missouri who was asking about the training he just participated in. I was appalled at the drills being taught. The instructors had students moving down-range going to theoretical cover or concealment while other students were firing live rifle rounds past them. This Missouri cop was so freaked out he didn’t go back, and considered filing a formal complaint. I asked how the instructor had prefaced this drill. The instructor said, “the movement forward and gunfire going by you will get you acclimated to gunfire … like if you’re ever in a fight.” I’m not sure you’ll ever get “acclimated” to incoming rifle fire.

As a modest instructor of firearms for a few decades I think my job is to get my students acclimated to the concept of using — and not leaving — cover unless it’s life threatening to stay there. I would never let some knuckle-head who calls himself an instructor, or student, shoot past my head — ever. How many people do you know who you’d want behind you with a loaded gun in a fight? Better yet, how about in training?

I remember reading about the SWAT cop from the Port-land area and the Fort Wayne, Fort Custer cop killed — in training. There have been many law enforcement students killed in training by other students, and my personal favorite, the deaths of students at the hands of the instructional staff. So, I guess the training could fall into several areas that should be considered.


Using unloaded rifles Clint demonstrates a dangerous drill. If you do this for real, you’re an idiot. Just don’t.





This training program is all about tradition. It goes on, unimpeded by progress of any kind. It’s bad and outdated; and all too often the range staff is comprised of instructors who haven’t updated their own gun handling skills in more than a decade. Heaven forbid we work on any gun handling fundamentals.


These guys are famous for “cool shit” like the Flaming Monk Drill and they’re damned dangerous to the people they train and to the departments they serve. Maybe instead of shooting past students heads, maybe they could work on some simple stuff. Does that sound too boring? I think addressing a lack of personal awareness and application of personal tactics along with basic firearms skills might be a good place to start.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at how many cops were killed last year in environments that you work in everyday; the same types of calls, same time of day and same types of threats. Detectives call these things clues and if anyone on the planet should know about clues it should be cops. LOOK at where cops work, LOOK at where cops get killed. Maybe training should address these issues and leave the cool shit to the movie industry.


It’s damn tough for most agencies to sufficiently budget for firearms training, let alone bullets. This being the case now would be a good time to consider how to use the limited budget and training time wisely. Get the most for the money you do have. Use it to develop and nurture the perishable skills officers aren’t practicing.

Maintaining the basic, safe shooting skills may — just may, save an officer’s life. It’d be worth it and you really don’t have to do that tactical ninja, black magic voodoo shoot bullets by the head stupid stuff.

By the way, a sacrifice can also be the killing of a victim on an altar. Hopefully for you cops it won’t be on the altar of training, because personally, I think we sacrifice enough police officers every year on the altar of the street.

Train safe, work safe.