Sarges Roll Call

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

From the Associated Press...

Troops training for and fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing more than 1 billion bullets a year, contributing to ammunition shortages hitting police departments nationwide and preventing some officers from training with the weapons they carry on patrol.

An Associated Press review of dozens of police and sheriff's departments found that many are struggling with delays of as long as a year for both handgun and rifle ammunition. And the shortages are resulting in prices as much as double what departments were paying just a year ago.

"There were warehouses full of it. Now, that isn't the case," said Al Aden, police chief in Pierre, S.D. Departments in all parts of the country reported delays or reductions in training and, in at least one case, a proposal to use paint-ball guns in firing drills as a way to conserve real ammo.

Most of you already know I am an old police firearms instructor.

This pissing and moaning don't impress me. First, we all make sacrifices during wartime. How about ammo for the kids that are fighting the terrorats over there, instead of us fighting them here? Wanna short their ammo? I think we officers had better just suck it up and buy our own, before we let that happen.

Second- when did the war effort start causing shortages of commercial 9mm, .38 Special, .40 S&W, .357 Sig etc? I can still buy all of any of those that I want, and have money for. .223? Maybe, I don't know. In any case I hear grumbling about price increases- not shortages.

Third- Now here's a novel idea... tell the officers that they need to take their duty guns to a safe shooting area, hang a few bullseyes or B21s, and improve their skills ON THEIR OWN. Own time, own money. Encourage them to reload. I've been doing those things for 30 years, and they are still the single reason I smoke about 98% of the competiton at qualification events. there's another novel idea. Let's start awarding marksmanship pins again, to be worn on the uniform. It just might encourage a few cops to want to be better shots, which is what it's all about anyhow. If you want to learn the piano, you'll take the lessons and put the time in to attain the skills. If you don't want to learn it, you can beat the keys until your eyeballs fall out, and no good will come of it. Skill is inspired by inner drive, and competition is an excellent way to bring that to the surface.

Finally- let's take a hard look at our training, and maximize the training time & ammo we have. We need to return to real marksmanship training. The 'up close & personal' training is indeed necessary- but darn few cops are actually required to shoot for score at 25 yards anymore. Most of them act like 50 yards is over in the next zip code. If you can hit at 50 yards, you can hit at 50 inches. The reverse is not the case.The fact is that we were actually turning out better shots back when we were shooting at distance and scoring each shot-google 'PPC Course'-instead of throwing case after case of ammo in the general vicinty of a target 15 yards away, and writing a 'pass card' as long as there are some holes in it.

Yes, you have to spend time on the fast/close stuff. I run a 48-round course and 24 of those rounds are between slapping distance and 7 yards. The rest are at 15-25, and that's half your score. You have to make those long shots, or you ain't gonna pass. You have got to be able to do both.

Several folks I trained over the last fifteen years have had occasion to use both skillsets in the field. Thank God they are all still with us- so I have a pretty good idea that it's working.