10-32 Solutions WI LE Patrol Rifle/Carbine Instructor AAR

The State of Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Bureau through the Wisconsin Department of Justice is instituting a change in the Police Recruit Academy curriculum. One of the changes is that they are actually going to include 16 hours of basic training in patrol rifles. Previously, many recruits would leave the academies to get hired at agencies without any actual experience with an AR-platform rifle or carbine, and many agencies didn’t always place a high priority on giving that training. Sometimes new recruit officers would be sent to a Carbine Operator type course, but just as often if not more they were given backroom familiarization or maybe a quick crash course during some range time.

I followed the progression of the program through posted minutes of the advisory committees. One issue was how to deal with instructor certification. It was ruled that any WI LE Firearms Instructor with any Instructor course of at least 16 hours under their belt prior to the formal adoption of the final DOJ program would be grandfathered in. After that date would need to go through formal instructor course training conducted by a WI Tech College who then employs an instructor that is identified as a Master Instructor, which basically means they are the only one that can teach an instructor level course. It will be significant in the long term, because there will be a much larger time investment required for Firearms Instructors. It will eventually require a nearly three week process from start to finish that will be an investment that few smaller agencies will want to fork out time and dollars for. As attrition occurs for the next ten to twenty years, it is likely that there will be far fewer LEO Firearms Instructors in the state that will be certified to train in patrol rifles. It will remain to be seen what effect that will then have in training quality.

Long story short, I had a one-time opportunity to help contribute to the patrol rifle program in Wisconsin by offering an Instructor course prior to the adoption date, which will be next week. The Independence Police Department sponsored the course, and it was held at the Arcadia Sportsman’s Club in Western Wisconsin. I had Kris Haines, a two-decade veteran of the Arcadia Police Department help me as the co-instructor. Kris was able to bring a lot to the table, as he is the FI for his agency, has SWAT and Sniper assignments, and is an armorer. Firearms Instructors who attended our two-day course were mostly from the Western Wisconsin region, but we did have one from a larger Sheriff’s Office on the eastern side of the state. Many students were supervisors in addition to instructor assignments, and most represented county Sheriff’s Offices.

Weather on both days was full of sun with temps that topped out in the 80’s. Student guns were mostly Colt 6920 types, with a Lauer Custom Weaponry (made for LCW by LMT), a S&W M&P, a Bushmaster, a DPMS, and a BCM 11.5. There was a mixture of rails and standard handguards, but a common theme amongst the guys with standard handguards was that they had still bolted a rail along the bottom for attaching lights and occasional vertical grips. Only one gun was an A2 setup and open sights. Red dots were all various Aimpoints with a couple EoTechs. Aimpoints being what they are ran for everyone that used them, and there were no issues. One shooter with an EoTech seemed to be possibly experiencing zero shift. He worked with it, and is going to keep an eye on it for possible replacement. He said it was new issue from his SO. I went away from EoTech in 2008 and never looked back, but at that time I remembered that models had an F on the left rear of the optic as well as underneath. I could not see such an imprint on the left side as I’m used to, unless they have gone away from that. The picture of the 552 on Eotech’s website still shows an F on the model, so if someone knows for sure if new production models are supposed to still have an F, let me know. The reason that is significant is if the sight is actually pre-Revision F, it is at least 8 years old and not brand new as his boss told him, but it does not have updated electronics inside that were supposed to correct the zero wander issue. In 2006 I had a number of them that I needed to resend in a couple times to address the issue, and they were upgraded to Revision F. I swore off Eotechs finally when I still had zero shifts and substantial battery loss even with Revision F models.

The curriculum the state wants to introduce starts out pretty basic with fundamentals of grip and stance and ends up like the middle of Pat’s COC course with Push/Pull, malfunctions, and proper lubrication of the rifle. It’s not a perfect effort, but not a bad one either. I tried to fill in what I felt were gaps by providing additional info from the notes I’ve kept over the years from other courses and experiences I’ve had myself. We ended up doing a few hours of classroom work on the morning of T1.

One aspect of my carbine program I need to improve is that too often the time gets compressed, but the information I have available doesn’t get trimmed. There was so much that I wanted to present and pass on, however there comes a point where the information becomes too complex and doesn’t flow and contribute to learning. On my end, I need to be more willing to trim information and save it for a later date in order to make the information I’m able to provide within the time span of a higher quality.

Job experience levels were high, which makes for a fast flowing class. Cops are not always gun guys, however, and there are many agencies that in reality fail to do any training whatsoever with patrol rifles kept in the squads. One Deputy relayed that they do no patrol rifle training other than shooting six rounds to qualify. Some have had to rely on training received in the military twenty to thirty years ago, and as we know tips, tactics and procedures have evolved since then. That’s sometimes the fault of managers at the agency who cannot or will not provide the training and support required maintain a certain level. Using the support hand for the charging handle while keeping the weapon hand on the grip was one such difference that some were realizing they had to make an effort to mentally program, and to try and unlearn the habit of using the weapon hand to hook and pull back the charging handle.

Two LEO’s from different agencies in the same county take the time to train together and attend training from outside instructors as well as other schools like I have done over my career. Their attention to this detail showed, as their proficiency was excellent. Their response to malfunctions was immediate and automatic, and a smoothness showed in all their motions and manipulations. The fact that they get to shoot more often in a tactical team assignment also showed as their groups on their targets were always dead on ripping out the center of center of mass, and they were encouraged to start pushing themselves a bit more. They were allowed to maintain their proficiency from their bosses, and it showed!

Uniformed LEO’s are not always able to carry a spare rifle mag on their gear, and many come up with alterate means to carry them. Many agencies and officers compromise and use some form of magazine coupler to provide a second magazine. The advantage is that LEO’s have that spare mag with them right away upon deployment of the carbine. However, one deputy found out one of the disadvantages, and that is using the reload can interfere with the dust cover and the ejection port. When he reloaded, the empty mag on the right pushed the dust cover back up so that empty brass had a possibility of bouncing back into the ejection port and causing a malfunction.

We had a zero discussion that surprised me. At least half of the class had a 25-yard zero. Most could not articulate reasons for why they used it. One used the 36 yard zero as recommended to him from a USMC Marine, another used a 100 yard zero, and a few used a 50 yard zero. We discussed various trajectories of the different zeros and strong points and weak points of all. Wisconsin LESB is recommending a 50 yard zero because the strong points of it allow LEO’s to engage a threat and not need to think about hold overs out to nearly 200 yards. A shooting incident in Columbia Heights MN in July/2001 as well as the SRO response at Columbine and the Safeway Warehouse Active Shooter incidents were used to illustrate the need to potentially engage threats beyond the normal 25-50 yard window commonly seen by LE. In the Columbia Heights incident, an Officer’s neighbor who was later found to be mentally unstable shot that off-duty Officer as he was walking home from shift. Responding LEO’s had to deal with a suspect that was mobile and hunting to kill others, including the Officer’s daughters. A 25 minute mobile gunfight ensued, with average engagement distances of 150-175 yards. Many had pistol-caliber subguns and shotguns as the long guns, not AR’s or M4’s, and bullets were hitting the ground yards short of the suspect. More on this in a bit. Some of those with 25 yard zeros were willing to try a 50 yard zero, and some chose to stick with the 25. One was because of how imbedded it was at his department, and the others because they understood and were proficient with the holdunders required.

We went through the points of stance and grip and basic marksmanship, and I added some biomechanics that I have learned and been trained on as well as the First Best Sight Picture that I’ve found to be one of the best things I have learned in regards to getting hits under stress and combat shooting. The rest of the day involved a course of fire that addressed the skills the state would be teaching recruits, and it was similar to that found at any number of operator courses by any reputable instructors today.

The day ended with a homework assignment of looking for changes that would need to be made to policy to either parallel with the State’s minimum curriculum or that they would want to do to improve the quality of their program. The second assignment was to identify a deficiency with either their agency’s program or that they see in their officers and come up with a drill and lesson plan to address it.

T2 started with a zero confirmation. This didn’t take long, and I directed everyone back to the rear of the square range. There was a roll to the ground at 200 that prohibited seeing the target in prone, so I directed students to stop the threat from 175 yards, reminding them of the Columbia Heights incident. Every single student used dots or open sights to hit the target, and all were surprised that not only could they do so, but that they maintained tight groups and they didn’t need drastic aiming points like over the targets head or anything. Everyone mentioned they have never gotten a chance to shoot a patrol rifle at that range before, and a new confidence developed. The 11.5 BCM shooter had been chided by a supervisor that such a short barrel would be highly inaccurate. His groups were easily the tightest of the class, with 4/5 shots holding about 4-inches. He took pictures as proof.

I pushed the students further back to an area where we could continue to shoot. They were asked to pick their poison of three possible distances, the closest of 245 yards, to the furthest of 328 yards. Everyone went to the 328 yard position, and while the results were not as impressive, everyone still understood elements of their zero trajectories a bit more, the importance of fundamentals, and that if they needed to they could be effective at that extended range.

We wrapped up the skills course of fire. One of the final things we went through was malfunctions. Now, this class was designed as an instructor class and was not specifically intended to be a operator shooting class with a round count that stresses guns. However, it was ironically this section where we had some guns fail. One was experiencing repeated issues that was attributed to an older magazine. The lone DPMS locked up twice and needed to be mortared hard both times. A second Colt needed to be mortared the very last string of fire. From the previous maintenance discussion we had, it is believed that the lack of lubrication, heat of the day, and warming up of the guns demonstrated exactly my points of why proper lube is needed.

We closed the day with some classroom discussions and demonstrations of various gear options, weaponlights, and discussions on qualifying dogma versus areas we as instructors should be conducting training in because of case law, but also for the betterment of our officers we’re responsible for. Overall it was a good course, and gave everyone present numerous lessons for improvement.

LE Bi-Annual equipment maintenance: Is there anything you can refine, make more efficient, or eliminate? Part 1

I was going through my equipment the other day during my bi-annual maintenance checks. During that time, I swap out items from the previous seasons and put in clothing and other kit for the seasonal changes. I do maintenance on items that require it, and it gives me a chance to go over and handle all the various kit items I use or carry depending on the duty. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Soldier, LEO, or prepared Citizen ( or Civilian, some people go back and forth for what the proper word is for the law abiding people that make up our nation.), this is a ritual that many do. There is always equipment, gear, or kit (Depending on the term you prefer to use.) that one either uses more often than others or relies on for more a broader spectrum of tasks than others.

I can go a number of directions with this opening paragraph, but one thing that is also good about this ritual is one also sometimes gets around to making changes that they’ve been meaning to do. One also has the opportunity to make things better and refine what they are using. There are many things that are nice to have, but can be left in a “Maybe” bag back in the vehicle rather than the “Go-Gear” that’s meant for grabbing right now for the matter at hand. I’m guilty of the kitchen sink syndrome. My early years as point man on the SWAT Entry Team many years ago started me down that road as I tried to carry items to meet the wide spectrum of possibilities that building searches and rural duties entailed. I was known as the one who had doorstops, had more than two magazines, and probably had some extra handcuffs to deal with more than anticipated persons inside a mobile home on the reservation during a search warrant. I still think most of the items I carried were necessities (However, did I NEED another baton or ear plugs?). I just think now there are smarter ways to go about it.

A couple of examples of my “kitchen sink” rig setups.

I’m reminded that this phenomenon is not limited to just me. I see it still occur when I look at various plate carriers that LEO’s set up for Active Shooters, or others set up as so-called SHTF rigs. They are weighted down with six to twelve rifle magazines, two-to four pistols magazines, a large first-aid pouch, and various sized utility pouches, and all the gear I used to carry on my Blackhawk Tac-Vest and then some. Now, some environments may require such heavy loadouts, but there are many that don’t, or they can be accomplished more efficiently. I know that as I get older and I see more and more officers and citizens around me with back troubles, I want to be more efficient.

The mission drives the gear. In other words, the task or goals you are trying to accomplish should dictate what gear you use and how. Active Shooter response needs require a kit setup that is not only accessible and quick to get into the environment, but it also something that doesn’t inhibit efficiency of movement. The huge turtle-like armor carriers or loaded plate carriers stored in the trunk of the squad aren’t either. I also look at what it carried, and I ask why someone needs to carry a first-aid kit instead of a more compact gunshot kit, or why they need to carry 2-3 extra pistol magazines in addition to ones on the belt, instead of more efficient patrol rifle/carbine reloads. I like to ask those I work or train with why they carry or set things up the way they do to understand as a trainer the thought processes some people use. There isn’t always a right or wrong answer, and the person’s real needs, not perceived ones, are sometimes a very reasonable explanation. A reasonable explanation to me is the officer that knows that he will not always be able to use the carbine, so he balances out an appropriate amount of spare magazines for either weapon platform and understands the compromise. Others don’t have a reason they can always clearly articulate, and others a light bulb comes on with factors they didn’t think about.

This is a good time of year to go through your gear, or kit, and evaluate what you have and why, and how you carry or use it, and why. Is there a better way that’s more efficient? Are you using equipment to help you accomplish your tasks, or are you trying to make stuff from other tasks and goals work for this one?

10-32 Solutions-What makes a good target?

What makes a good target? I have been asking that question over the past year as I have been evaluating different targets to use for the drills and evaluation criteria I have been working with on the different courses I am working with. It depends on what you are working on or need the target for. There are so many to choose from sometimes to the point of too many. There are bullseyes, silhouettes, photo targets, B-27, B-29, IALEFI, IPSC/USPSA, poker, darts, groundhogs, and Osama. Even a bullseye isn’t just a simple circle. There is slow fire pistol, rapid-fire pistol, 50-ft small bore, 50-meter small bore, MR-31 reduced to simulate 600 yards, etc… Sometimes the black circle is designed to correspond to the width of the front sight, and I have never known the reasoning behind how the widths of the scoring rings are determined.

A lot of training that I have done over the years has been with a simple, blank sheet of 8.5×11 copier paper. The sheet of paper matches the size of the vital organs in the torso, and will simulate the size of a brain target when folded or cut into fourths. A 9-inch paper plate can accomplish the same thing very inexpensively.

I started out my career with the ubiquitous B-21 silhouette. I have yet to point a gun at someone wearing a suit, but the profile is obviously that. The scoring areas are incredibly generous, with the main 5-ring pretty much taking up the entire upper half of the body. If you hit body and not an appendage, you were good. No real emphasis was placed on correcting hits that were in the stomach or abdomen area, since they were getting qualifying scores. Over time the target changed to a man holding a revolver, but the scoring rings were the same. There was absolutely no focus on getting hits to the upper center of mass where they should be.

Another qualification target I’ve had to use is the B27. This guy still wore a suit, but he didn’t look like he was posing in the mirror anymore. This target had an oval bullseye over the torso area with four scoring rings and a center X ring. Performance could be evaluated based on the points accumilated, and it made sense that more hits to the center should be rewarded. The problems that surface with this target, however, is that head shot that should be rewarded are not even considered. And the center of the bullseye ends up being towards the middle of the torso or diaphragm area, which is in reality below the organs you would target for terminal effectiveness. It promoted hits to the stomach area which may not stop a fight nearly as soon as hits to the heart or CNS.

Numerous target designs have come out over the years. Some are humanoid shaped, some are targets made from actual posed photos. Some have outlines of human organ placement on them while others have different pasters with weapons, cell phones, and even alcoholic beverages printed on them to aid in decision making. Some of theseand other designs and additions have been worthwhile, while others have been pure gimmicks.

So what makes a good target for defensive training or weapons qualifications? It depends. I found that out the hard way as I was searching for targets to fit what I wanted to do and work on. So I decided to make my own. I’ve always been a fan of the thought processes that went into the EAG target design by Pat Rogers of EAG Tactical (www.eagtactical.com ) and Tim Lau. The main target zones are a simple 8-inch circle with a two inch column on top that goes up to a four-inch trapezoid. You’re either in or you’re out for drills that require hits in vital areas. It’s only outlined in a light grey, and is invisible beyond five yards or so. The vitals sit inside a tombstone shaped colored body that also provides a frame of reference of human torso dimensions. The tombstone is additionally set inside an outline that fits dimensions familiar to IDPA and USPSA competition shooters. Additional shapes for various training are strategically placed on the sides, and overall it can be used for handgun or rifle training applications.

I audited a course for Dave Timm and Mike Davis of Timm Training, (www.timmtraining.com or http://www.patroltactical.com ) and saw the results of thought processes of the target they designed for their needs. The cross on the Timm Training target is excellent for trigger control drills, and I’ve always liked using numbers along with the different shapes to aid in target identification drills. The dimensions of the circles aid in their drills as well as establishing initial zeros as well as maintaining accuracy standards. It shows a lot of the competition background that Timm has and uses, and ends up being a very good target for how they instruct fundamentals.

I figured if I was going to need to design a target, I wanted to make the logistics as easy as possible with one target, as well as keeping costs down. It’s an investment to do your own, so one target needed to manage most of the drills that I would use. I initially was determined to make the target as large as the B-21’s and B-27’s I was familiar with so I could have more space for the alternate shape targets. I talked to Kevin Eyre of Milwaukee COPS. Kevin also has a competition background as a Class A USPSA Champion, and has a fondness for those target dimensions. We’ve used cardboard IDPA targets for many of the classes we’ve taught together, simply because he had a bunch and they fit in readily available frames. We had a good conversation over scotch, and we refined it to the point it now became. I say we because after we were done the design was something that met his needs as well, and he had enough input to warrant his logo being placed on it as well.

The 10-32 Solutions/Milwaukee COPS target is currently at the printer. It uses outside dimensions of 19×30 so that it will fit with IDPA/USPSA target frames. Head/Brain CNS shots utilize an inverse triangle two inches below the top of the target, and have equal four-inch sides. Other targets I’ve used with circles, squares or trapezoids to represent this area work as well, but I’ve always felt the upside down triangle fit the dimensions of what I am trying to hit more. A two-inch vertical strip connects the CNS zone with an eight-inch circle center of mass zone that quite frankly works very well already as a dimension, so I didn’t want to mess with it. Inside are one-inch squares with a one-inch center dot, and all of these areas are outlined in a light color that will not be visible past a few yards. Two four-inch circle shapes are set up as additional accuracy aids as well as standards, with one maintaining traditional rings and the other a dot and half inch grid squares for fine tuning any zeroing.

So what makes a good target? I still don’t think there is a single one that can do it all. I’ve outlined some of the mental processes I took on to better myself, not to say that this target is the answer, but to encourage your own thoughts on what you like or need or don’t need. Part of the fun of this was evaluating my needs and ideas, and cross checking them with the knowledge and fundamental skills learned over the years from masters of shooting skills. Does a target like this work for you? And if not, what would, and why?

EAG target is also available at https://tangodown.com/shop/tangodown-eag-target-mctar-02/

Timm Training/Patrol Tactical target is available at https://www.letargets.com/estylez_item.aspx?item=TIMM-1