I had a unique opportunity this past weekend as my company spins up for deployment. A soldier that I am deploying with coordinated with a local SWAT team member and instructor to come in on his day off to teach us weapons transition drills. Dan (not his real name) is prior Army and a SWAT team member and instructor for a number of years. Dan had a great ability to bridge the gap between a pure SWAT mentality and the military way of doing things. For those that don’t know the difference between the two, and there are many, but generally, SWAT has a ton of laws that they need to abide by and worry about, excessive force in other words. Soldiers? not so much. But Dan did a great job and kept us moving for almost 7 hours. I got to thinking during the instruction what kind of money would a training firm charge for this? $500-700 a day? per person?
We ran an number of transition drills between our carbines and sidearms. Movement drills to and from a threat, subduing a threat physically, but mostly stopping a threat with a weapon. Creating distance from a threat so you can utilize your weapon, failure to fire drills, clearing your weapon after a stove pipe or a double feed on both a carbine and sidearm. On and on. I was physically tired after the day.
A couple drills we did that fell in the more than difficult category was shooting, reloading, and clearing a jam (stove pipe and a double feed) with only your strong side arm while our weak side arm was disabled. In this instance, we tucked our weak side hand into our belts behind our backs. Then we reversed the drills using only our weak side hand/arm and disabling our strong side. Crazy stuff. Recharging your weapon was the most thought provoking. How do I rack my slide? Short answer, anywhere you can. Vest, holster, the heel of your boot, anywhere you can. Now the former drills where with a sidearm, we did the same weak side and strong side drills with our carbines later in the day.
Some take away’s for me?
Keep calm, go through the steps. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
Advanced weapon skills are only solid fundamentals.
The Beretta M9 sucks! I carry a M&P and have shot 1000’s of rounds through my sidearm. The Beretta is heavy, the spring is heavy while racking the slide, the safety sucks balls, the magazine release is in an awkward place, the trigger is heavy, the magazines do not like to leave the well without a lot of persuasion and cursing and on and on. Can you tell I’m not a fan? But I told myself that this is going to be on my chest rig for the next year, I better get used to it and made an effort to learn and embrace the differences.
SWAT tactics are different than military tactics, but useful knowledge to have in the brain vault.
Free training is great!
Stay in the fight, stay in the fight, stay in the fight!
Weapons transition training is a great tool to have in the skill bag.
Two and three man drills add more complexity than just a one on one threat.
Shoot, move, communicate.
Monday was a great training day, after spending all day Saturday and Sunday getting physicals and shots for some of the weirdest stuff you can imagine.
I really didn’t want to write this story as a nanner, nanner I got some training and you didn’t type of thing. But wanted to impart that if you have the ability to get any training you need to do it. There are many schools of thought on weapons training and the more you can experience the better you will handle yourself in a stressful situation. I decided months ago that instead of taking an all inclusive packaged deal vacation to Mexico or some other third world country I would treat myself and WF to a shooting class, or first aid, or survival class of some sort. In my mind, money better spent than ducking and dodging time share hawkers.
Just a side note, and a short story. My neighbor called me early this morning, she had water leaking in her kitchen. After I figured out the source of the leak I ran to Home Depot to get some parts.
I was talking to Tom, the plumbing guy that I know and was telling him about the training I had this past weekend. Tom is an older Vietnam vet, prior Army. Tom told me that back in the day when he was in the service they never received any type of training I explained above. He looked at me very wistfully and said I was pretty lucky and he was grateful that the Army is offering advanced training to some of its soldiers. He never had the opportunity and probably could have used it back in the day. I could tell there was a story behind those eyes but didn’t want to press. He walked away and around the corner to the next aisle. We as a country, did those vets dirty many years ago. Damn shame.