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Brian Willis

Brian Willis

Brian Willis is a retired officer, trainer and author who now serves as deputy executive director for the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA).

William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

Setting Goals: Aim High

Apply the fundamentals of firearms training to your other training work, and take pride in your success.

May 16, 2011  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Photo: Scott Smith.
Photo: Scott Smith.

A trusted firearms instructor recently expressed frustration with the recruits at his academy. Because some aren't natural shooters, he must constantly remind them that every shot is aimed. Projectiles don't miraculously appear on the target. The fundamentals are the same for each shot: you aim each one.

When I review the Daily Observation Report (DOR), I note that there are 31 tasks for the field training officer (FTO) to evaluate the field training recruit (FTR) on each day. Without reviewing each one, here's a parallel from my rangemaster. You must apply all of the fundamentals for each of the 31 tasks each day. You can't shoot from the hip on some and aim at others and expect to excel. Each task stands for specific knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that you must satisfactorily pass to complete the program.

Now some are building blocks for more intensive performance. For example, you must be able to investigate a basic motor vehicle accident before you can investigate a more complicated one with intoxicated drivers or injuries. So it stands to reason that the fundamentals are the same for many tasks, including shooting.

When you're standing at each station on the range, the fundamentals are the same. You must possess certain elements of the basics to give you a comfort level so you can progress. Your FTO must feel that you have mastered these basics before you are exposed to a more difficult task. So take aim at the basics; they add up to prepare you for the big challenges.

Just as when you attended the basic marksmanship training and you were trained to fire at large, close-range targets to learn grouping and fundamentals. As your skills increased so did the demands placed on your marksmanship. It's no different in the FTO program. Your FTO will expose you to the basics and ramp you into more varying degrees of difficulty. When your comfort or confidence wanes, so does the degree of demands placed on you. This allows you to aim again.

Your training sets your career compass. Each assignment and promotion brings more complex demands, so you take aim at them. I'm not going to bore you with maxims regarding work, striving, and things that make you stronger. You've heard them before, and seen the motivation posters on the academy walls.

When you go to the range, take pride in your score, bragging rights, and confidence. It's no different than the FTO program. All fundamentals must come into play for a passing score. Your pride and integrity won't let you fail. You'll drive a little harder: your inner drive is your aim at this targeted goal. Aim high; your career is in front of you.

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

R. G. Montgomery @ 5/17/2011 5:57 PM

Chief Harvey is correct on this issue.

I must take issue with a phrase used in this article. There are NO 'natural shooters'. Some people have good eyes and hand-eye coordination and such, but no one, NO ONE is born a shooter.

(If the firearms training officer used that term seriously, he or she should be moved to the motor pool and let them be a 'natural tire changer', because he or she is a doofus. But I digress.)

Likewise, no one is a natural report writer. Grammar, spelling, and logical construction are taught and learned, not innate. Talk to a three year old sometime if any doubt exists. Have them orally report the day's activities.

The same applies to observation, interviewing, logic and other skills. Pursuit driving comes to mind.

All skills have to be desired, followed, studied and sought. The more one knows about everything, the better one can do anything.

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