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Why Tactics Matter

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

In 2021, six of the forty-nine officers who were killed by suspect gunfire died in what you could call an exchange of gunfire. This information was gathered from news articles, press briefings and other media sources. This means that you could argue poor marksmanship contributed to their deaths 12% of the time. What this also means is that as an officer, if you even fired your weapon at all in a hostile encounter (where rounds were fired) you had an 88% chance of survival.

I hate that statistic, but the facts are the facts and that simple statistic is what makes this post so relevant. We all agree that police marksmanship in real life is well below average. So we can't then agree that great marksmanship is the reason for their survival. You can do the research yourself, or you can look pull up the last five officer involved shootings. On average, if the officer is shooting, he/she is not dying.


Most people don't, thats why we are here. There are many questions that need to be answered here. If officers are not great marksman (i.e. more than half the time completely missing & hits on bad guys around 33%), why will you more than likely live if you are pulling the trigger. What's contributing to shooting too much and missing too often? I have a reasonable explanation thats not built on what "I think" or "I know," but instead based on research that has already been done an my own on going research.

It should be noted that "Hits" refers to impacts...with no consideration on whether or not they would be acceptable hits in the desired target area. In police shootings we count the arm, shoulder and pinky toe as hits.


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Out of forty-nine law enforcement deaths from gunfire forty-three of those officers were either killed or mortally wounded with their gun in their holster or before they could fire a round. This means that 87.7 % of officers were unable to apply the fundamentals of marksmanship. This is not counting what I would consider "true ambushes" (15.7%). In those situations the only thing that could have saved them was luck, the inability for the suspect to set an affective ambush, or the suspects lack of dedication.

If 87.7% were placing themselves in positions they could potentially win but didn't, what could we logically conclude? If you give yourself a chance to engage the bad guy you have an extremely high likelihood of survival (hitting or not).

The facts are the facts. COME FOR ME.


Again, a million posts go into answering that one question. For sanities sake, let's throw a blanket on the brush fire. STOP DOING STUPID SH**. What is stupid? That's where tactical training comes in. If you are not training tactics you may not be able to identify stupid. Tactical training is where you learn what's good and what's bad. You learn what good tactical decisions look like and you learn when to make them. As much as you try to convince yourself what you do on the range is good enough, it's not even close.

The range is where you demonstrate competency with a firearm in a controlled environment...that's it. If you don't know when and how to put yourself in position to use the tool in real life...your range time is simply a theatrical display at a broadway theater filled at half capacity at best. I do not care what metric you use to establish "competency." You should constantly be pushing to increase speed on the range without sacrificing accuracy.


How do I say this like a sixth grader who's kind of a D Bag without over complicating it? Tactics get you to the point where marksmanship matters. If you can't get there you are Fu***d. Eighty-seven percent of officers in 2021 never got there. I understand that policing is inherently dangerous and we assume a great amount of risk during our duties. But there is a difference between assuming risk and taking unnecessary risk.

Tactical training helps you identify whether or not you are assuming or taking unnecessary risk. Only then you can decide which tactic, technique or procedure is correct for the moment to minimize risk. "Tactics are different from procedures..." A felony stop is a tactic, within that tactic there are general guidelines. A pit maneuver is a tactic, within that tactic there are general guidelines. These general guidelines are likely part of a curriculum somewhere and those are the "procedures." But don't get it are literally executing a tactic the entire time, what you decide to call it makes no difference to me.

Without getting into particular tactics and the importance of them here is a metric to asses yourself by. Under a number of different scenario based situations (real or not), what is the quickest way to get me to the point where marksmanship matters. Where does marksmanship matter? When you are in a literal position to put accurate rounds on the bad guy with a high level of accountability.


Now, under all these different scenarios you either put yourself in or can imagine yourself in, ask yourself "how can I get to a position where marksmanship matters." The "how" is the tactical training you should be doing. Shooting is shooting, but shooting isn't shooting if you have placed yourself so far behind the curve that you are now in a panicked state. Which usually leads to point shooting an absurd number of rounds with zero accountability.


In our High Risk Vehicle Encounters course we teach officers to engage a lethal threat from their vehicle without shooting through their windshield. If we gave officers scenarios around that training (that have not taken the course) they would fail. They would either shoot sims into their windshield, which is actually more ridiculous than shooting live rounds (no affects on target to determine accuracy), or they would be in such a panicked state as they experience the physiological responses to stress, which would lead to a ton of unnecessary things happening...i.e. an absurd number of rounds being fired with zero accountability.

In either of those situations there is no guarantee you are getting hits. Even if these untrained officers did get hits it would likely take at least 4-5 seconds for that to happen when their vehicle comes to a stop. The trained officers have the information, they have the tactical training, and therefore they would engage with a high level of accountability and do so as close to immediately once their car stops.

Under no circumstances will there be a better way to execute any tactic that doesn't prioritize addressing the lethal threat.

Now that you understand the "why" go find your "how."

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