Thursday, September 10, 2009

Intro to Firearms...

Sorry all that I have been MIA. Last week we had a really big test, plus inspection, plus we had firearms training. This week we have arrest control and more firearms training. Its all fun but let’s talk about the really fun stuff…….. the firearms training. At the Jefferson County Academy, the first few firearms classes are taught within a classroom setting without ammunition. If you are a future recruit, rest assured, the extent of your firearms training has no bearing on what you will be taught. The instructors will assist and teach in the accepted methods of firearms according to Jefferson County accepted policies. If you have no experience with firearms, there is a good chance that you will probably be shooting better then anyone by the end of the class. You will have no previously taught or acquired habits that don’t agree with Jefferson County Policy. However, in this class we accomplished two things. The instructors taught us how to clean our weapons and how to draw the weapon out of the holster. Both were fun. We had to be able to get the weapon out of the holster and be ready to shoot in less than 1.5 seconds. That sounds fast but everyone made it. Now I know what you are thinking, good recruits or good instructors? Well jokingly I would say good recruits, however I truly think it is a mixture of both. It was also made clear to us that there are several active officers that are capable of accomplish this action in less than 1.0 seconds. Believe me….that is quick and not an easy accomplishment with police holsters and the other equipment hanging all over.

Now, I have been warned that there will be multiple times throughout the academy that moments of realization of what we are actually training and gearing up for will occur. I think the first firearms training class was one of those moments. When we started to work on our draws I came to the realization that not only will I have to do draw my weapon, point it at an individual, and be ready to use it if necessary. But I will also have to accomplish this faster than the criminal I am facing or truly bad things will happen. While this realization was sinking in, our instructors were explaining practice and the importance of muscle memory because once you are in a situation that could escalate into a gun fight, you will experience multiple adrenaline dumps into your system and I quote “everything we are teaching you will go right out the window and muscle memory will take over.” While that is reassuring, what I took away from it is the same as everything else we have been doing. Practice! Practice! Practice! I have commented in other blogs about the connection of sports, team plays, muscle memory, and practice. But once again, here is another example of expected practices and policies that must be repeated again and again and mastered. You must be good at what you are doing or it might cost you your life or a much worse, a fellow deputy’s life.

I don’t want to end on a down note. I have quite a bit of experience with firearms and safety. I have been very impressed with our instructors and their approach to this necessary part of our training. To be honest, following their lead, I am much more excited then worried. I realize that the policies and procedures, especially the firearms training, that are being taught are not to make the recruits afraid, nervous, or worried about what could or will happen as a deputy. It is to ensure that no matter the situation, no matter how stressful, grievous it may become, all recruits will be prepared to control any situation, mental or physical, and will go home at night. I feel I will always be able to go home after my shift for I will be given the tools and knowledge to do so and I will practice and train to perfect them.