"Amateurs do it till they get it right. Professionals do it till they can't get it wrong." That's one of the mantras of Jeff Gonzalez, director of training for Trident Concepts.
Gonzalez aims to make his students work, and his philosophy was clearly in operation recently at a firing range outside Golden, Colo. The late September sun was playing hide and seek in the clouds above the Rocky Mountains, and the afternoon was chilly and windy, but every officer participating in Gonzalez' rifle skills program was sweating.
They had been shooting for hours. Empty .223 brass carpeted the cement of the range. And Gonzales showed no signs of stopping.
Hours later in a debriefing following the training session, Gonzales explained the reason that his training was so exhausting. "This program is physically demanding because I want you to be able to focus when you are tired."
The debriefing revealed that the students were tired, but they really felt they had accomplished something by participating in Gonzales' class, which was sponsored by Precinct Police Products and 5.11 Tactical as part of the 5.11 Training Alliance.
"We shot more ammo today than we do in our three-day urban rifle program," one of the officers said. "But I'm not complaining. There was a good pace to the day and no down time."
The one-day program that Gonzalez, a former Navy SEAL, teaches as part of the 5.11 Tactical Training Alliance program is compressed from a five-day course that he normally teaches. And it's a real good deal for all of the officers involved. Other than the cost of ammo, it's free.
Dan Costa, CEO of 5.11 Tactical, approached Gonzales about his idea for bringing low- and no-cost training to law enforcement trainers two years ago. And Gonzales has been on board ever since, teaching nine sessions across the country.
The typical 5.11 Training Alliance program consists of two days of training and a luncheon.
The second day of training in the Denver area was conducted by Steve Tarani's Operational Skills Group. Although Tarani himself was not present, his staff put the officers through a series of intense physical combat maneuvers.
One of the key areas of the training was weapon retention. Officers were taught a variety of moves to prevent and end gun grabs. They were also taught to verbalize commands as they trained. So the gym where the training occurred echoed with yells of "Let go of my gun," as the officers learned to neutralize and counter various gun grab attacks.
Each 5.11 Training Alliance program is organized by a local distributor of 5.11 Tactical products.
In Colorado, the program was hosted by Precinct Police Products. Which meant that Precinct extended invitations to local agencies to send their officers.
For the firearms training, Precinct hosted about 20 officers. For the physical combat training held the next day, Precinct hosted another 30 or so officers. Then for the luncheon on the second day, Precinct fed 120 local officers, including command staff.
The luncheon gives the officers involved a chance to network and also a chance to see the latest 5.11 products.
"Obviously, the folks who come to the training are going to have the opportunity to undergo some high-quality, advanced training," says Gonzales, who helped develop 5.11's new line of tactical and duty gloves. "The folks who come to the luncheon also get an opportunity to make new contacts and learn about some gear that could be important to them down the road."
The Colorado session was the 11th 5.11 Training Alliance Program held this year. Other sessions were held in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Los Angeles; Cerritos, Calif.; San Diego; Austin, Texas; Maple Grove, Minn.; Lenexa, Kan.; Kennesaw, Ga.; Virginia Beach, Va.; and Lexington, Ky.
For more information about the 5.11 Training Alliance, visit www.511trainingalliance.com.