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A lot of hackneyed phrases are floating around out there. One of them is, if you practice garbage, after 20 years you’ll end up with perfected garbage. The antithesis of this is, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Both have validity.

Unfortunately, what Robert the Bruce learned from watching a persistent spider while hiding in a cave may not apply to the struggling pistolero. When you’re battling to hit the target on a firing range, it doesn’t help to have the local sage tell you to “remember Bruce and the spider”—especially if he doesn’t have any constructive information. So you wind up with either arachnophobia or a backstop full of expended projectile garbage. Or as a last resort, you could try a different approach to the problem.

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Recently, on a working vacation with the family, we watched a movie wherein the hero traveled to the center of the earth in order to save it. Now being the curious sort, I figured out the degree of plausibility of such an endeavor. Here it is: The earth’s core is estimated to run at a balmy 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Titanium melts at 3,034 degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure at the core is estimated to run in the neighborhood of around 3.6…

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Ask a man what color the sky is, and he’ll tell you it’s blue. Ask a woman, and before answering she’ll inquire as to whether it’s day or night, if there’s a blinding snowstorm occurring, if you’re outdoors or ensconced in a cave, if it’s during a solar eclipse, or if it’s aurora borealis season. But while it is generally agreed that men and women process information differently, is there a valid basis—as some people assert—for weapons and tactics training…

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I am the bullet—and I have no conscience. You will treat me with respect because, once I leave, you have no control over my actions. Once I’m gone, I will do as I please, governed only by the laws of physics. And the next time you see me, I will have done my work, bringing on your life a potential gamut of emotions ranging from pleasure, satisfaction and exhilaration to anger, pain, grief and regret. Use me wisely and with…

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Necessity may well be the mother of invention, but sometimes she breeds a bastard child. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, which fostered ingenious mechanical designs without a follow-up of mental deficiency, the computer age has sometimes led to a “better way” of doing things, but with an attendant loss of brainpower. Much like someone who is slightly physically impaired, the constant unnecessary use of a crutch can—and will—eventually lead to the inability to operate without that crutch. So it is with…

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Time waits for no man.

And in the field of firearms and tactics training, time is a precious commodity, as it determines everything that is—or can be—covered in a curriculum. Irrespective of the course content—be it a rank beginner’s pistol class or some high-speed low-drag super-secret ninja course for battle-hardened soldiers—the overall allotted time constraints will decide the outcome of the training.

Sometimes the instructor cadre have flexibility as to the overall hours, days, or weeks available to attain the desired objective, and sometimes they don’t. The latter are often restricted by vagaries of life such as ignorant bean counters or simply the fact that there are 24 hours in a day. You can’t make up your own 26-hour-day calendar.

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For many individuals, as well as for many agencies, “a” way to do something becomes “the” way to do it—the only way. Once we learn something and really adopt it as our own, it can be difficult to change.

This is particularly true at law enforcement agencies. One generation of instructors selects the next generation from those who have best learned and internalized the way they were taught. As this process continues, concepts, tactics and techniques harden into, “The way we always do it”—from doctrine to dogma, beyond the reach of any question.

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Reloading is good, but I don’t want to have to do it in the middle of a fight.

— Robbie Barrkman


Like many sagacious comments, the wisdom is buried in humorous words, but is also deep-rooted in battle experience. And unlike the many mindless “I thought of something cute, now buy my printed t-shirt” slogans, you can actually learn something from experienced people.

You have two choices: learn from sages’ experience or be taken for a sucker. If you’re willing to admit you’re not Heaven’s Gift to Gunfighting, study the words of the wise. If you just want to look cool, buy the t-shirt.

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