The top 5 gun videos for starters
Video #1: Defensive Shooting
Video #2: Combat Handgun
Video #3: The Art of the Dynamic Handgun
Video #4: The Art of the Gun
Video #5: Security Shotgun
FEATURED IN TACTICS AND WEAPONS
Once a cop has a solid base of shooting fundamentals and understands what’s required to “run a gun,” I believe information provided in a book or video can enhance their performance. Just so we’re clear: Reading a book or watching a video will never replace hands-on gun training. Every time I discuss this topic, I get some Internet ninja who sends a message to the editor saying, “Videos will never be a replacement for hands-on training. I can’t believe you’re discussing them!” Well, believe it. As long as quality products are introduced that’ll help the training mission, I’ll continue to make readers aware of them. Now, let’s move on.
Reviewing training videos can improve performance by enhancing, supplementing and reiterating tactical shooting techniques. The problem is some videos are good, but many aren’t. Trying to find out which are noteworthy before you pay with your hard-earned money is difficult. That’s where I come in.
Sifting Through the Deluge
Years ago, I wrote a video review column for a different police trade journal and was quickly overwhelmed by videos of products that companies wanted me to review. There was no way I could watch all of the videos and still be a husband, father, cop, coach and all of the other roles that make life worth living—so I shut down the project.
These days, I buy videos that I think may be worth viewing without contacting the company. Costly, I know, but at this stage of my life, I have the money to do it. And I also remember what it’s like to be a young cop trying to make ends meet, while desperately wanting the information that might make a difference in how I performed on the street. This is my way of doing what I can for the cause.
What follows are short reviews of five videos in no specific order that I believe have merit in either the information the videos provide, or the method in which they relate their content. I’ve tried hard to be objective while also avoiding trendy videos by popular instructors. The harsh reality: Popular instructors aren’t always the most knowledgeable or effective. Sometimes they have popular personalities because of the Internet, like reality tv stars.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are only so many ways to shoot a gun—and they’ve all been discovered. Nothing new is presented in any of the following videos (at least to someone who’s been training and teaching for 35 years). But newness is a matter of experience. Many younger officers may not have experienced some of the content contained herein, which brings me to my first review.
Video #1: The Complete Training Package
Paladin Press’ video “Defensive Shooting” is by no means a new product. First released in 1995, it’s in my opinion the best firearms training video ever produced. Even though the production quality is certainly not up to the standards of the YouTube generation, the content is first-rate.
Kelly McCann (then using the pen name Jim Grover, because he was still active military) uses 230 minutes to offer one of the first complete training packages in video format. McCann covers everything from physical fitness, to mindset, to fundamentals, to advanced skills and tactics. Other videos show only a few techniques as a way to draw prospective students in to a shooting school. Note: The tactics and techniques reviewed in the video are still current because they’re proven to work on the street. Old is not always bad—often, old means proven.
Video #2: Simple & Effective Handgun Training
For those wanting something newer, Phil Motzer (who works for McCann at his Crucible training facility as chief firearms instructor) offers an updated version of similar material: “Combat Handgun.” Using 250 minutes, Motzer offers his take on how to use the combat handgun primarily from the viewpoint of an operator in a denied or hostile environment.
If you notice that the methodology taught isn’t much different from traditional pistol craft, you’d be correct. Motzer’s message is simplicity in form, function and action. He encourages students to use techniques that are proven to work. A fight isn’t the time to experiment with “tacti-cool” looking weapons. There’s nothing sexy, flashy or new age here, just solid tactics and techniques that are time-proven and work in the most extreme circumstances. You might not agree with everything Motzer says, but you’ll know where he’s coming from. www.paladin-press.com
Video #3: Dynamic Handgun Training
If you’re looking for training that’s a bit more eye-catching, “The Art of the Dynamic Handgun” is for you. This addition to the Magpul Dynamics’ video collection features instructors Chris Costa and Travis Haley using the full-throttle style that they’ve become famous for. I’m sure that neither of these guys has trouble sleeping at the end of the day, because their training is intense.
Although their method of running a handgun doesn’t differ greatly from other instructors, Costa and Haley’s reasoning behind what they teach is of great interest, and the mission-specific test that each student completes is worth watching. Along the way, they also offer their views on mindset, equipment and weaponry, such as their take on the combative pistol and how it should be used. You’ll be able to see them work with a wide variety of students and skill levels, and watch as they correct any problems encountered. It’s easy to see why Magpul Dynamics’ courses are one of the most sought after training experiences currently available. www.magpul.com
Video #4: Pistol Training for Beginners
The modern technique of the pistol, as pioneered by Jeff Cooper, still has a large number of adherents for good reason: It’s proven to work. With this said, few teach this technique as well as Scott Reitz, a 30-year veteran of the LAPD and lead instructor for International Tactical Training Seminars. Reitz has been involved in five officer-involved shootings that were ruled justifiable with not a single resultant lawsuit. He’s a member of the elite Metropolitan Division, which includes ‘D’ platoon (SWAT), where he remained for 10 years, until he was made the primary firearms and tactics instructor for Metro, and for all of the LAPD advanced in-service firearms and tactics training. He was also an adjunct instructor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s SRT III and has trained U.S. Marine Corps SOTG, U.S. Army Delta, Naval Special Warfare’s (SEAL) Team 6, F.B.I., U.S. Secret Service and B.A.T.F., as well as many private citizens.
Naturally, Reitz’s extensive background gives him great insight into how to teach the combative pistol. In his video, “The Art of the Gun,” Reitz is shown working with a group of beginner shooters on the fundamentals of handgun use, and why it’s important. Reitz is well-spoken and makes his thoughts clear and concise. His extensive knowledge of gunfighting is readily apparent in his instruction. Although this video would be perfect for basic CCW classes and police academies, it should be remembered that advanced skills are the basics mastered, and few do fundamentals as well as Scott Reitz. www.internationaltactical.com
Video #5: Simple Shotgun Techniques
Last, but certainly not least, is “Security Shotgun” the latest edition to the Crucible High Risk Environment Training series from Paladin Press. Although the carbine is the weapon of choice for many street cops currently, the shotgun can’t be ignored. The harsh reality is that within its operational parameters, the 12-gauge shotgun is far more powerful than any 5.56 carbine. Launching a load of either a .33-caliber buckshot or a .70-plus caliber hunk of lead, the police shotgun is the single-most devastating close-quarters weapon in the law enforcement arsenal. The downside: The shotgun can be tough to shoot accurately with fast follow-up shots, unless a solid training program precedes its use.
Taught by former marine and Crucible instructor John Buchanan, this tape offers solid fundamental skills on how to use both the pump and semi-automatic shotguns in conflict. Buchanan is well-spoken and he discusses weapons, accessories, shooting platforms and techniques and tactics to effectively use the scattergun quickly and accurately. There are no shortcuts here: “Security Shotgun” makes it clear that the shotgun is simple and easy to use, but the shooter must put some time into mastering the weapon. This video would be an excellent addition to either a basic police academy curriculum, or an in-service training program. www.paladin-press.com
Let me reiterate: Books or videos are not a replacement for hands-on training with a qualified instructor, but are for the student who has a solid set of fundamental skills. Training videos can enhance, supplement or introduce new or different concepts on the use and application of weapon systems. My suggested batch of videos, at least as firearms are concerned, is a great place to start. They’re certainly worth your hard-earned bucks. So sit back and enjoy!