This simple combination of targets can be used to help shooters think more effectively on the range and reinforce the concept of BLT: Breathe, listen and think.
Photo by R.K. Miller
A while back, I was introduced to the BLT concept of range training. Before you envision me cutting loose in a restaurant as I ordered a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, let me explain. BLT stands for “Breathe, Listen, Think.” I learned this from Dan Gray, a fellow NRA instructor. It helps train cops to shoot while processing what’s going on around them during a firefight. The Breathe, Listen, Think mantra is intended to get their minds working during a serious confrontation. But it also has applications beyond firearms training: It’s a good practice for any tense moment in police work requiring critical decisions.
One of the range programs I use to emphasize the BLT concept is a multiple threats drill with three phases.
The first is the range set up, which is a little out of the traditional mode. Each student has their own target, but in addition, there should be one extra target at each end of the firing line. For instance, if you have 10 students, then you’ll need to set up 12 targets.
Each is set up in the following manner: Using cardboard backers, attach standard lethal force targets that are folded in half, alternating between those folded vertically and horizontally. They represent a suspect who’s using cover with only a portion of his body visible. Although you can use a standard silhouette target, I prefer something more realistic. Phil Singleton’s target (www.singletoninternational.org
) or Realistic Target’s (www.realistictargetcompany.com
) versions both work well.
With the large target in place, attach both a “mini-me” target (such as a 12”-x-20" TQ-22) and a face target to separate vacant areas on the cardboard. I have a number of face targets I use. Some are hand drawn and others are photos. Tip: Check your department’s files for old composite sketches, enlarge them and then make copies.
So, with 10 officers, the 12 targets should be spaced across the impact area. Since we have targets depicting suspects using cover with both vertical and horizontal orientations, it works well to alternate them.
As a final step, use spray paint or a large marker to number the three targets on each backer in the following fashion: One target—for example, the head—should be marked “1.” Another target will be marked “2,” while the next becomes—“4.” Mix up the placement of these numbers so that, for example, the head isn’t always labelled No. 1. (For those of you with higher math skills, yes, we’re skipping 3. Read on to find out why.) With that, the range is ready.
Let’s Talk About It
The next step is to discuss the drill with your class. I begin by explaining that the three targets represent a lethal force encounter with different aspects. The large, folded target is a suspect using cover. The “mini me” is that of a criminal who’s some distance away. The face target requires a focus on getting an accurate head shot.
I also usually include a discussion like this: “If you’re confronted by three suspects, one with an AK-47, one with a handgun and the third with a shotgun, who are you going to shoot first?” The students will often try to over-analyze the question.
For me, when faced with multiple lethal threats the way to react is to quickly and accurately deal with the first identified target. Then find another, and so on. Taking too long to assess threats under real circumstances could produce fatal results. In addition, rather than specifying the number of rounds, the students are told to get the hits. When the officers believe they’ve delivered enough accurate hits to stop the threat, they address the next target.
Easy as 1, 2—4?
With the students briefed for the drill, here’s how I suggest you run it. The command to fire will be any combination of the words “one,” “two” and “four.” For example, the instructor shouts, “Two! Four!” Each student should shoot these targets.
But wait, there’s more. After a couple of introductory repetitions, the instructor has the option of prefacing commands to fire with another order of “left,” “right” or “center.” Followed by the desired number or numbers, “center” means that the student takes on the target directly in front. If “left” or “right” is ordered, the student has to shift focus in the appropriate direction. The idea with the additional targets is to get the students identifying and shooting different threats at different angles. Start out at a relatively slow pace. Then, depending upon the officers’ capabilities, increase the tempo. Just avoid going so fast that they walk away from the drill feeling frustrated or that they failed.
You’re probably wondering what happened to No. 3. The mystery is now solved: If the instructor calls this number, whether by itself or in combination with “one,” “two” or “four,” then “three” constitutes a “challenge” command. This replicates the presence of a no-shoot.
Example: The instructor commences shooting with the commands “One, four, three!” With that, the student has to use lethal force against two deadly threats and then give verbal commands. This simulates a confrontation where there are more people than just a suspect in the confrontation and officers have to deal with them.
For the challenge order, I suggest a verbalization such as, “Police, don’t move.” This is effective on two levels. First, it identifies us as law enforcement. Although it may seem to be self-evident at times, it makes good sense in a chaotic situation. Also, “don’t move” is quick and precise. Someone who doesn’t follow this initial order may be subject to force due to their behavior.
Obviously, this should be conducted with officers whose firearms capabilities go beyond just a basic level. In case it isn’t clear, this program should only be conducted by qualified firearms instructors. That being said, I believe it a good way to get our officers thinking BLT when they need it most.
I like this drill because it brings another dimension to a day on the range. It can also be augmented to keep things interesting. For example, it can be run using handguns or long guns. Dummy rounds can be added, simulating a failure to fire and it can be used in combination with other drills such as firing on the move. Students frequently describe it as a challenging and rewarding experience. I hope you find it useful as well.
Train safe. God bless America.