Through the years as a law enforcement trainer, and now for my business, I discovered a reoccurring pattern of factors that heavily influenced the performance of students in my classes. I was able to identify this pattern of factors while training new recruits as well as in-service officers and seasoned operators. There were five distinct factors that really helped influence their performance. I realized that these five factors always need to be present during the training evolution, whether it is a one-day training or a year-long phase training process. All five need to be present to achieve a high level of training success. I have listed the five factors below, but we will only be able to dissect one of the factors in this article. I will explain the contents of the other factors in future articles. So, for now, we will be solely focusing on speed factors.
- Speed factors
- Internal factors
- External factors
- Learning factors
- Application factors
We need to be able to perform at high levels during high-stress situations on the street. And we also need to be able to do it with our actual weapon platforms under live-fire conditions.
In military and law enforcement circles, speed factors have been used in training curriculums for as long as I can remember. Nonetheless, we are going to break down the contents of this training concept so that you can understand its inherent value and hopefully be convinced to start regularly weaving the concept within all your higher-level training evolutions.
Speed factors, just as with the other factors, are key components that can assist you in increasing your performance. There is a reason why my company focuses our training classes on “stress performance.” We try to avoid titling our law enforcement courses by descriptors like “basic, intermediate or advanced,” unless necessary. This is because we want you to know and understand that our classes are built specifically for real-life law enforcement encounters. We need to be able to perform at high levels during high-stress situations on the street. And we also need to be able to do it with our actual weapon platforms under live-fire conditions. That is the foundation of “stress performance” training within each of our courses. Therefore, we title our classes “Close-Quarters Combat for Law Enforcement,” “Counter Ambush Handgun Tactics for Law Enforcement” or “Combat Rifle for Law Enforcement.”
One of the cornerstones built into our high-stress performance training is what I call “live-fire scenarios.” Live-fire scenarios are high-level training scenarios that most law enforcement courses would not normally attempt. And if they did, it would usually be conducted using Simmunitions® or airsoft weapons. The obvious reason to avoid a high-stress live-fire format in a real-life training scenario is because of safety concerns. Let me give you an example. Answer the following question honestly: “As a regular line or patrol officer, even fresh out of the academy, have you ever participated in a live-fire training where you or other officers were consistently positioned in front of the firing line during the evolution?”
Most of you will answer “no.” The second question is, “Why?” Because it is too dangerous, right? Well, if you can ensure that all five previously listed performance factors are present within your training regimen, you can decrease the safety concerns and start participating in higher-level stress performance training.
Now, let us talk about why you would even want to put an officer in front of the firing line during training. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires 60 inches of hallway passing space for facilities in California. This is pretty much the space we use (give or take a few inches) for our live-fire active shooter response hallway assault training. This evolution is set up for a two-officer element conducting a live-fire assault on an active shooter threat at the end of a five-foot-wide school hallway.
The scenario includes buddy-bounding tactics, where officers are alternating forward positions on their side of the hallway while sending rounds down range. As you can imagine, each officer is placed in front of the firing line multiple times as they conduct the 40-yard assault.
Yes, there are safety concerns. Yes, each officer has their back to their partner officer firing from behind them. Yes, if this evolution is conducted haphazardly, there could be disastrous consequences. And finally, yes, this is the reason most officers have never participated in this type of live-fire scenario during their careers.
But if you avoid training at your highest stress level during realistic scenarios, you cannot expect to see a high level of performance during the real encounter. This can easily be supported by the Risk Matrix Analysis, which Gordon Graham (co-founder of Lexipol) does a wonderful job of explaining in his risk management keynotes. I will speak on the Risk Matrix Analysis another time. For now, the issue comes down to whether you want to train for high-risk/low-frequency events (think active shooter or live-fire building entries). If you choose not to, it can be disastrous for your community. But, if you choose to do it (and you can conduct these high-level trainings safely), you can expect to perform at your best when it counts. Therefore, implementing each of the five factors can help you increase your performance.
Even as some of you read this, there may still be a lingering thought in your mind that the hallway assault scenario is not safely achievable in a live-fire format for non-operators. If that is the case, I want to quote Henry Ford. “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
Additionally, Armitage Tactical has conducted this specific live-fire drill with at least 500 officers in the last 10 years, and we are still in business. So, it is definitely feasible. OK, let us move onward and break down the “how-to.” Please note that this is not an exhaustive breakdown because it does not include the other necessary factors, but it will give you a good understanding of how to implement the speed factors within your training regimen.
The speed factors are related to the speed of the training process. It includes three different speeds — crawl, walk and run. Again, you may be at least vaguely familiar with the concept. But now, we are going to give a brief breakdown and explain the process. Having a certified law enforcement firearm instructor present during the training process will be safer. So that is what is recommended.
Crawl. This speed equates to a super slow-moving and gradual step-by-step process where you continue to progress with incremental advances. Although it will feel robotic at times, this slow succession rate helps ensure that you are allowed every opportunity to absorb all the details of the technique in a very methodical format of action. In this sequence, you should be repeating the technique or tactic over and over at a very slow and phased pace in a non-live-fire format. Once you believe you have grasped every nuance of the technique, you can move on to the next speed.
Walk. This stage is broken up into two parts. Both parts are conducted at a slow speed (walking). The first is in a dry (non-live-fire) format. During the dry portion, you should be able to perform the task safely in its entirety at a walking pace (conducting multiple full evolutions) while your partner gives you any necessary verbal feedback without interrupting the flow of technique from beginning to end. Once you are positive that you have grasped the entire technique or tactic to the point of “knowing it like the back of your hand,” you can move on to the second portion (walkthroughs with live fire). Again, when feeling safe and very comfortable with the whole technique, it may be time to move to the next stage. Note: This walk stage benefits from having a firearm instructor present that can observe your movements so that the overall execution of the technique can be evaluated, especially for safety issues.
Run. This stage is also broken up into two parts (dry and live). Move at this speed conducting dry runs multiple times, striving for perfection in the tactic prior to moving on to the live-fire portion. At this juncture, you should be able to perform the task to the expected standard, on your own, in real-time. During the sequence, the firearm instructor should be in an overwatch position acting only as an “observer” and “safety officer.” The entire technique should be conducted from beginning to end without much feedback from the firearm instructor (this is an indicator that you are really grasping the technique and can do it safely). Again, because you have repeated this tactic at all the previous speed levels, the firearm instructor should not need to intervene unless there are safety concerns.
If you implement the speed factors into your normal training regimen, you will begin to increase your performance in an established, steady and methodical way. Even as a stand-alone, the speed factors can help you achieve a higher level of training as you start adding more realistic scenarios to your live-fire training.
If you have any questions, please get in touch. Otherwise, #staysafe and #stayready.
As seen in the November 2022 issue of American Police Beat magazine.
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