WE are creatures of habit. We are also creatures of indoctrination, training, and pre-set patterns. The concept of an “outlier,” when one practices a specific pattern of physical and psychological behaviors, is that these patterns become imbued and inculcated into future performances.

Some have placed the numeric figure of 10,000 repetitions relative to achieving a “mastery” with respect to any given field of study. High-functioning sports figures display these traits.

My particular field of interest is the application of deadly force. In law enforcement, we are held accountable to a very high degree for each and every action taken in the field. Actions taken must have a legal, moral, and ethical justification to support them and must follow prescribed guidelines set through protocols, practices, and procedures established by the entities involved.

Hollywood does not reflect the reality of the courts. The vast majority of YouTube videos and the like are even less reflective of the realistic demands for personal accountability required within judicial models. For the sake of spin and marketing, much is proffered through various media outlets by training entities that will land one in hot water should one adhere to such flawed techniques and theories.

It is highly improbable that those teaching these techniques will be there for you in court. It is highly probable that, should they be subpoenaed, they would be destroyed within minutes either through depositions or once placed on the witness stand. Absent any validated, vetted, or verifiable documentation of an individual’s claims as to their background, such individuals are often simply lying.

The seminal issue is the following: I have personally observed training regimens wherein entire magazines are emptied into targets only to achieve a slide/bolt locked-back condition, then followed by yet another entire magazine emptied into the same target(s). While this may be great fun and an adrenaline-pulsing event, it sets in motion a dangerous precedent.

When a threat no longer exists, the application of force employed to counter the threat, by law, should cease as well. I am more than aware that theory versus application can oftentimes be disparate in nature. It is one thing to apply theory and/or techniques within a pre-known clinical setting, and quite another to apply those same factors when faced with very real lifeand- death scenarios imposed under severe time constraints.

Juries view force through a different lens than you perhaps do. Perception of force is at times colored by Hollywood fare and the fact that many jurors have never been placed into critical decision-making events. This is not their fault; it is simply a point of fact.

When an application of force is ultimately viewed by juries through video or cell-phone capture, it can easily be misinterpreted as excessive, unwarranted, and unlawful. In some cases, this may be true. In other cases, the force application was, by all applicable standards, fair and just … and yet juries do not view it as such.

This is the paradox of deadly force application. Your actions are ultimately adjudged by those who might never have experienced a scintilla of the decision-making skills and actions that you undertook in fractions of a second. Training must account for the fact that one is expected to cease the application of force when active resistance is overcome.

Static targets do not alter their configuration when engaged. They remain steadfastly resistant while awaiting additional rounds. Steel reactive targets can be set to fall when engaged. These can be purchased for relatively nominal costs. Sophisticated target systems can be set to fall via remote controlled devices or tripped electronic sensors, but such systems are well outside the budgets of most entities. This is when the instructors must use innovative yet realistic drills on simple static paper target systems.

Bear in mind that some suspects may present continual threats for any number of mitigating reasons. Body armor, narcotic influence, the physical ability to overcome high pain thresholds, or simply sheer toughness have often been displayed in documented shootings.

Conducting “pull-back” drills can go toward this effort. Forcing students to stop mid-stride in any given sequence of fire starts one on this path. An instructor stating, “He’s down” is simple and effective. Cheap and basic objects such as balloons and clay targets can readily be affixed to paper targets to replicate when it is no longer a threat. Blind drills on multiple shoot/no-shoot targets force students to mentally work through problems. Limiting the number of rounds in any given sequence also goes well toward this effort.

When individuals are encouraged to “shoot to dry condition,” it sets a dangerous precedent. Many civilianoriented schools run along this format. Advertised as shooting 1,000 rounds in a single day in order to increase attendance tells me one thing: Little, if any, thought is given to problem solving.

It takes time to explain and conduct changing drills. It takes time to reset problems or upgrade complex scenarios. It takes time to properly debrief a student’s actions. It takes time to render debriefs on actual documented shootings that mirror the problems presented to a class. It is not the number of rounds, but the quality of those rounds utilized.

The patterns set in training dictate a student’s performance in the field. Failure to comprehend this salient fact generally results in sub-standard performance.

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