Training in Lava-Lavas

We recently came across some old LAPD SWAT training photos circa 1984. Now these photos do not demonstrate the equipment utilized to effectuate actual SWAT call-ups or hostage rescue etc. We were simply having a blast in attempting to run live fire drills and scenarios (shoot house included) with nominal equipment with not the faintest intention of ever having to do so in the real world. No body armor, no shirts no spare magazines… nothing, save basic weapons and that was it. Make each shot count ‘cause there’s no more when you run out. Someone sitting around during breaks would proffer, “hey I wonder if we could…” and that really was all it would take. Very macho indeed.

I ran some drills through the shoot house – live fire with Ernie Haleck (a very Samoan gentleman, friend and fantastic operator) in just a Lava-Lava and flip-flop sandals. No underwear, no shirt, no armor! A 1911 was tucked into the knotted Lava-Lava and an H&K MP5 9mm submachine gun was the primary and we were off to the races! (I don’t know where those photos are unfortunately or fortunately for the viewer depending on your perspective.) Lots of fun I can tell you. An important note was to always ensure that the Lava-Lava knot was very secure!

We had conducted so much training that at downtimes we’d run different scenarios in a different manner with no intention of ever employing them. (Can you imagine?) We just wanted to see if we could. This is what happens when you take a group of Alpha males and run them hard and then leave them to their own devices for a short period of time. Oh well. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye, right?

Those were great times and many of the doctrines, philosophies and techniques employed today sprang from such days in the way, way back of time.

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