When I began my career in law enforcement, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar called Bullet Proof Mind, which was put on by Lt. Col Dave Grossman.
At the time, I was attending all the training courses my department would send me to, and this was part of my training in defensive tactics and firearms.
I remember the thought process I went through as a young 23 year old police officer and being more black and white at the time. I reasoned that if someone was going to kill me or one of my brother officers, I would have no problem pulling the trigger.
Several critical incidents later, I see the futility in my thought process, and I am thankful I have matured a bit 20 years later. Killing a human being isn’t so easy, especially at close range. FBI statistics state that most gunfights happen at approximately 10 feet and are over in less than 3 seconds, but many, including police officers and CCW permit holders don’t necessarily prepare for this as much as they should.
While at the Bullet Proof Mind training event, I bought Col. Grossman’s book On Killing.
I read the book with a lot of interest because like most people, I wondered if I had what it took to pull the trigger as part of my duty. None of us really knows whether we will or won’t until we are there in the heat of battle.
The book is well worth the read. I liked it 17 years ago, and I recently picked it up and read it again in a couple of days. In the book, Grossman examines firing rates of soldiers in past conflicts including the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
The firing rates, or the percentage of soldiers engaged in shooting their weapons in battle during WWII were estimated to be about 15-20%.
However, in Vietnam, the firing rates were as high as 95%. Grossman theorizes the method of training was radically changed. The soldiers in WWII trained by practicing on bull’s eye targets, while soldiers from the Vietnam era trained on figures of human beings and utilized reactionary targets that fell or went away when struck.
The whole process of training was examined in light of the necessity of classical conditioning and operant conditioning in the training environment. Grossman examined how soldiers and police officers with modern training, react to a threatening stimulus and respond with violence of action using their firearm. The same is true when utilizing empty hand tactics.
It’s the idea they have been there before in combat, in realistic situations, and they react as if on auto-pilot. The concept of shoot – don’t shoot. and the necessity of judgement has also been worked into the training.
This is the type of training I have been subject to throughout most of my career and I have experienced its value first hand. Although I have had this training, I don’t relish the thought of ever having to use deadly force – no sane person does.
The advent of air soft and simunition rounds has made it possible for anyone to weave this type of training into your security training. In my opinion, nothing beats time on the range, as long as the training incorporates realistic combat training, as opposed to static target practice.
Does your team incorporate this kind of training into your training process?
In addiiton to adding this type of training, I recommend anyone who has the potential to use force defensively to read Grossman’s book On Killing.
Not only does it highlight the value of training, but also examines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the causes and effect, and how you can avoid the trauma of a deadly force encounter, as well as so much more.
In the coming weeks, I will be writing about 2 incidents that have happened recently at different churches that will make you think.
One incident includes a member of CSA, a head of a security team in a large church, who was conducting active shooter training on his campus when a young man who had killed his family, packed up the family car with weapons, and headed to the church for a possible confrontation. He later revealed his whole family was killed and this church security leader accompanied the boy and pastor to the house where the family was found deceased.
In the second incident, a church security team member observed a distraught man leave the worship center and head out to his car. He followed him out and engaged him in conversation and learned the man had gone to his car to retrieve a weapon and commit suicide right there in the church parking lot.