Scott Usry: There is a difference between qualification and combat. In training, we need to expose our officers to the possibility that two rounds will not be sufficient to handle the problem, but a failure drill is not possible. Therefore, as instructors, we vary the number of rounds that our students shoot at the targets during training to break the habit of shooting just two rounds each time.

About the author

Scott Usry is Director of Training at GTI Government Training Institut in Barnwell, South Carolina (USA).

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Two Rounds: The Difference Between Qualification and Combat

The Article

As law enforcement officers, we receive many hours of instruction on the use of firearms over our careers.

Starting with the basic mandate, we are taught how to draw our sidearms and fire the rounds into targets to stop threats.

We are taught that we should fire a standard defensive response or two rounds to the center mass of the threat target, and if that does not stop the threat, then we should fire one round to the cranial vault as a failure drill.

We are told over and over again…

We are told over and over again to watch our front sight and not to jerk our triggers.

We are told to pin the trigger to the rear, and once we fire the round, then we are to slowly release our trigger until we feel and hear a positive click or trigger reset.

While this is all good information, if you are shooting in a sterile environment, we work in a tactical, ever-changing world.

Where Theory Meets Practice

So why do we train this way?

Why do we teach our new officers to shoot this way?

How can we fix some of the training scars that we are incorporating into the training of our officers?

Why do we teach officers to only fire two rounds?

The answer to that question is multi-faceted.

One of the main reasons we teach the standard defensive response is for qualification purposes.

Agencies have to ensure that their officers are proficient with their weapon systems.

There must be a standard to do this.

Officers will shoot a set number of rounds during a set time limit from a specific yard line.

When this is done correctly, then an officer can be said to be proficient with their weapon.

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Why is this important?

The short answer is that there is a difference between qualification and combat.

In training, we need to expose our officers to the possibility that two rounds will not be sufficient to handle the problem, but a failure drill is not possible.

Therefore, as instructors, we vary the number of rounds that our students shoot at the targets during training to break the habit of shooting just two rounds each time.

This ensures that the officers think the incident through and not just go through the motions.

“What does your body do prior to any training?

Does that movement have a protective response?

If yes, then why aren’t we integrating this into all our training?”

Training Equals Officers Who Think on Their Feet

We want the officers to be able to evaluate the incident and act accordingly, with the appropriate number of rounds.

We want “thinkers that can shoot and shooters that can think,” not just officers who are robots.

The only way to develop this type of officer is through proper training.

We teach our officers not to jerk the trigger when they shoot and pin the trigger to the rear.

We tell them to slowly release the trigger until they feel and hear a positive click, then start to squeeze the trigger again.

While this is great for bullseye shooting, combat may require a rapid deployment of multiple rounds in order to suppress the threat that you are facing.

In light of that, we should be training our students to not move their weapon while firing, then pull the trigger however fast they need to.

They can jerk the trigger as long as they don’t move the gun.

We are looking for combat-effective shoots to stop threats in order to protect the public.

As Law Enforcement Officers, we are accountable for every round shot, so we need to be better trained with our firearms.

Finding Credible, Real-World Training

How do we combat the issues with firearms training?

We look for training from credible, experienced instructors.

We seek knowledge from qualified people who have been where we want to go.

We continue to be students of the game and always looking to better ourselves and our profession.

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Photos by Dave Young | GTI

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