By Scott Reitz, ITTS Lead Instructor
The rational for advanced training is quite logical. Many shootings which we have worked on within the courts as well as others with which we are familiar with are very complex scenarios. Static paper target drills will only advance a shooter’s skill just so far. When students are attending our classes at advanced levels they are being prepared and exposed to what actually transpires in the field as opposed to what mere static paper targets can simulate. Our high speed mover, the knife attack system, hostage rack, shotgun 180 degree system, articulating steel targets, reactive armor systems, lighting systems, ‘Simmunitions’ exercises and much more, are utilized to expose the student to the complexities inherent in real world shootings. After successive drills and varying evolutions on these systems, the student invariably realizes that the basics, although indispensable, can only prepare you so much. The unique target systems we have designed and constructed were derived from the need for such systems to replicate situations which occur in the real world.
When I was designated to be the primary firearms and tactics instructor for LAPD’s Metropolitan Division, I immediately started to construct one of a kind target systems which would be followed years later by even more specialized target systems each of which advanced the officers skills beyond that of a basic level. Real suspects move and run and turn and duck. Real suspects oftentimes afford only partial targets and many times this is the direct result of evading a potential threat to their selves which results in unpredictable and erratic movement on their behalf. Static paper targets and repetitive qualification courses of fire simply did not replicate the realities of field shots afforded to our officers. This is why I broke from tradition and designed equipment to more realistically reflect that which occurs in the field. The results from training on these target systems were immediate and dramatic as officers returning from actual field shootings would relate the training on these target systems to their corresponding success in the field.
Advanced training simply adds skill sets to a shooter’s repertoire. The adage ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ is rather appropriate on this subject. The time to experience and learn the skills necessary to engage high speed moving targets, articulating targets, closure speeds on attacking adversaries, varied lighting conditions, deployment from structures and vehicles, moving hostage targets, pivoting engagements and much more is through training evolutions with ITTS rather than experience them in an actual encounter for the first time. If the later is the case, then the time allowance for getting up to speed is very short and extremely unforgiving. Your learning curve is pretty much non-existent.
You might not need skills beyond those of a basic level. In fact, you might not need basic shooting skills at all if you are never confronted with such a problem. However, what if that is not the case? Unlike a tennis match or sporting event, in gunfighting, the stakes are very real and very final. One single event can and has, had very real implications for many of those we have instructed. Advanced skills allow you to draw from many skill sets to successfully resolve a situation as opposed to limited skill set options. Advanced shooting skills allow one to adapt. Advanced skill sets not only advance knowledge and physical skills, but they also reinforce and cement the basic skill sets as well.
From a personal perspective I can say this; were it not for the advanced skills which I worked very hard to acquire over a protracted period of time, I seriously doubt if the situations I was involved in would have turned out as successfully as they did. The decision to move on to acquiring an advanced skill set is always a personal choice. Advanced skills are always good. It is far better to have them and not need them, than vice-versa.