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Law Enforcement vs. Military Instruction

By Ryan Johnson

04/10/2018

With available courses of instruction ranging from simple concealed carry classes to full blown hits of tactical splendor on training structures, where does one find the best outlet for instruction and who is best suited to provide that instruction. I've had the opportunity to attend firearms related courses from a myriad of sources stretching from former military Special Operation personnel, local law enforcement, federal entities and civilian based instructors. All I felt provided a varying array of information from daily use techniques to the last ditch method for problem solving.

I'd like to provide some insight of my experiences and opinions on how I was affected by various training courses based on their delivery, method of instruction and instructor background. My intent is to assist those who wish to seek training and provide them with an idea of where to find what they are looking for.

My intent is to assist those who wish to seek training...

First off, my intent isn't to bash, invalidate or speak negative about any of the training outlets I've mentioned above but rather provide my personal insight into the value of the training I was ultimately able to retain. This also isn't an attempt to label any specific group of trainers but to provide those who haven't had such extensive and varying opportunity to attend such a wide array of courses.

From the Law Enforcement instructor side, I commonly found myself working more static type drills where movement was just a slide to the left or right in order to get off the X, on a range with defined boundaries for the firing line, which you did not move forward of for any reason during evolutions. Not all, but some of the LE instructors I encountered were less likely to run the drill themselves but rather explained it without a demonstration of the course of fire. One issue I find with this was leaving students wondering what the capabilities of the instructor were and the full potential of said drills when done at a proficient level. Again, not all bad but as a personal preference I find it to be very beneficial to be able to see a drill performed at a stellar level when learning as it gives the student a real strive. Fundamentals as a jumping off point to courses was also something I noticed quite a bit with LE taught courses. A great foundation for setting the tone for a multi-day course where the student has the real opportunity to see their personal growth throughout the training as drills become more complex. These are just a few of the noticeable formats I wanted to cover with respect to LE taught courses.

One issue I find with this was leaving students wondering what the capabilities of the instructor were...

On the military side of training the course of instruction for me translated in the following ways which differ from LE instruction. I found military or prior service instructors to be fast out of the gates with instruction that was full steam ahead. Most would run a drill solo to show its full capability when done correctly. A keen emphasis on fundamentals but fundamentals performed at a greater pace to achieve a more real-world result. I also found drills being performed on more asymmetrical ranges or layouts with targets having more separation and varying distances between them. A greater emphasis on sector responsibility and knowing where your buddies are while conducting drill also stood out as a distinct difference. The need for and use of movement during and after courses of fire seemed to have more substance during the courses I attended which were taught by military instructors. Again, all great stuff for learning to become a more well-rounded shooter.

A greater emphasis on sector responsibility and knowing where your buddies are while conducting drill also stood out...

Of the two types of instructors I’ve spoken about I have learned much from both. Courses offered me a wide range of tactics I would and would not use, based on my abilities and situations encountered. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the one that provided me instruction that I feel best translates to a real world encounter, so with that being said I tend to favor military or prior service military instructors, purely my opinion. This takes nothing away from the countless law enforcement trainers who have a multitude of invaluable training to provide our community of students.

In summary, with so many outlets for officers to seek out training and the wide array of available resources sprouting up daily, I would venture to say the days of “any training is better than no training” are coming to an end. Vet your sources for training and do your research when it comes to the countless companies who claim to know this or that. Make the quality of the training you’re receiving a priority because in the heat of the moment, what you’ve absorbed will result in the outcome, good or bad.

...the days of “any training is better than no training” are coming to an end.

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Article By Ryan Johnson
Law Enforcement, Shooting, Long Range
Former U.S. Army Infantry and current SWAT officer on the West Coast. His experience as a shooter and sniper is as valuable as his perspective from both military and law enforcement careers.

Comments

Recordra12
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this helps a lot, I’ve been looking to take a class or two and now I know which one I should take. Thanks!
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