Writing a monthly column can be daunting, especially when trying to keep the content fresh and interesting while not covering the same territory as previous articles. But when a particular topic hits home with readers, it's wise to take notice and revisit the topic. Such was the case with last year's training DVD review article. The e-mails I received were quite positive; many asked me to keep an eye out for other worthwhile videos. In this economy, many officers can't afford to travel to gun school, and mortgages, car payments and child-raising expenses have become more overwhelming than ever. Thus, video training is a good, economical way to improve your current skill level.
Before I proceed, let me make clear that I'm not interested in writing video reviews on a regular basis. I attempted this for another periodical and was overwhelmed with submissions in short order. Remember: DVDs aren't replacements for hands-on training-they're supplemental. A quality training video should offer additional information, tactics or techniques that a trained
officer can take to the range or gym and practice to incorporate into their skill set. (However, without a solid grounding in the fundamentals, such an addition is impossible.)
That said, I look for videos that viewers can take with them to the range/gym and, with the assistance of a battery-powered DVD player (which costs less than $100), watch, review and practice the skill demonstrated on the DVD.
With the help of a willing partner or a video camera, you can take your DVD training one step further by recording and reviewing your performance. I've tried this myself, and, in some cases, I discovered that what looked like good technique was actually really bad.
What follows are several training videos that I feel meet the above criteria.
The Art of the Tactical Carbine from Magpul Industries is a three-DVD set and one of the best training productions I've seen. The set was brought to my attention by Brownells Public Relations Representative Larry Weeks, who thought it was exceptional, and he was right. It covers everything from fundamental skills to advanced combative use of the gun to the drills needed for proper skill building. Utilizing various camera angles, instructors Chris Costa and Travis Haley (who can both run a carbine!) offer solid tips for fighting with the AR-15-style of rifle. A few AK-47s can also be seen during the course, which proves the techniques demonstrated can be applied across the board.
Costa and Healy express a few views that are a bit different from other instructors, but that's one of the things I like about the program. Many instructors shoot the carbine like a rifle with a full, upright stance, but Costa and Healy crouch down behind the gun and shoot it both fast and accurate, emphasizing movement and close range, which is how a gunfight usually plays out. I especially like to hear why the instructor(s) think as they do, and these guys do a great job of explaining the reasons behind their individual opinions. It takes about three hours to watch the whole series, which is a three-DVD set, but it's time well spent.
The Art of the Tactical Carbine is available from Brownells Inc., located at 200 South Front Street, Montezuma, IA 50171. For more information, call 800/741-0015 or visit www.brownells.com.
A shorter carbine video, but no less informative, is Kelly McCann's Tactical Carbine . McCann originally entered the training arena as "Jim Grover," teaching combative training across the globe. He now works from his Fredericksburg, Va., training facility known as the Crucible Learning Center. Filmed at this facility, Tactical Carbine isn't new, but that doesn't mean it's not timely. McCann has a great deal of real-world experience; he's a former Marine with counterterrorism experience and trained with many of the world's best counterterrorism units. He begins his video with a brief review of which accessories are needed on a fighting carbine and which are not. In a world in which every gizmo imaginable is being sold to the unwary, his simplistic view is refreshing.
McCann then moves to the range, where he discusses simple, straightforward techniques that he admits aren't Ninja secrets. As a matter of fact, he attempts to demystify much of what's currently taught as fundamental, which he does in his other videos also, and states, "You can figure a lot of this stuff out on your own given time," a unique viewpoint in an arena of trainers who'd like you to believe that shooting while moving is an advanced technique reserved for special units and costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to learn properly.
Tactical Carbine is available from Stay Safe Media, located at 2770 Arapahoe Rd., Lafayette, CO 80026. For more information, call 303/913-8061 or visit www.staysafemedia.com.
Even with increased interest in the cruiser carbine, the mainstay firearm for American law enforcement is still the semi-automatic pistol. But as every-one knows, the handgun is the most difficult firearm to master because it has no points of contact with the torso, like the long gun, to help stabilize it. The handgun is suspended from the body by the hands and arms with one-and-a-half points of contact on the weapon. Because of this, the handgun requires the most police firearms training.
While the advanced stuff is always a crowd-pleaser with cops during in-service training, the fundamentals are the core of handgun shooting and should, therefore, be reviewed as often as time allows. Because many people learn by seeing, being able to watch the fundamentals performed correctly is critical. This is where Basic Pistol from Blackwater USA comes in. Filmed at the magnificent Blackwater training facility in North Carolina, the 30-minute Basic Pistol DVD covers those fundamental skills that must be at least understood before the advanced stuff, such as grip, stance, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, holster skills and ready positions, can be attempted. Each block is easy to follow and is broken up nicely in the event an individual officer wants to work along with the video at home in a safe, dry-fire format.
The great thing about fundamentals is that you can practice them without firing a single live round. With an empty gun, carry gear and a safe, quiet place, this video can go a long way toward making you a better pistol shooter.
Basic Pistol is available from Blackwater USA, located at P.O. Box 1029 Moyock, NC 27958. For more information, call 252/435-2488 or visit www.blackwaterusa.com.
I've come to the conclusion that current use-of-force training for police officers is designed to be minimal not reasonable . This is why hand-to-hand combat training has degraded to "defensive tactics" (defense means "losing slowly") or "response to resistance" training. If someone tries to hit you with a 2-x-4, they're not resisting, they're attacking, so we should train officers for physical assault, which will happen to each and every one of you at some point in your career, regardless of the size or demographics of your jurisdiction. I was in far more physical confrontations in my career than armed ones, and I believe the same is true for most police officers. Seldom did I execute complicated moves, such as an arm-bar takedown or finding a pressure point, that worked nearly as well as a simple technique, such as a hammer fist to the bridge of a suspect's nose. But in this day and age, such an act would be deemed cruel, mean and heartless by certain sectors of our society. But I digress ...
The day will come when you won't be able to utilize the many tools on your "Bat Belt" because of time or proximity to the suspect, so you must be equipped with alternatives.
Forever Armed is a new DVD designed to help officers and citizens alike think of just about any available item as a potential weapon. Instructed by former military intelligence officer, martial artist and knife defense authority Mike Janich, Forever Armed shows the viewer how many common items, from an ink pen to a snow scraper or broom, can be used to defend yourself in a fight. Why run the risk of injuring your hand(s) when a rock or brick is close by? What if you're knocked to the ground, semi-dazed, and a suspect is trying to take your gun or Taser? Would the ink pen that we all carry in our breast pocket come in handy?
This video is not about minimal force or looking good while we practice; it's about winning a knock-down, drag-out fight for your life against a suspect who might be bigger and stronger than you. Remember : "Reasonableness" is often judged by how well you articulate your use of force, but that's a conversation for another time. Just keep in mind that articulation isn't important if you don't win the fight.
is available from Stay Safe Media, located at 2770 Arapahoe Rd., Lafayette, CO 80026. For more information, call 303/913-8061 or visit