Gathered in the Defense Tactics Room of the Scottsdale Gun Club are eight top firearms trainers and SWAT operators. These elite marksmen train federal, state and local law enforcement on various levels of weapons and tactics. Together, they have more than 120 years of experience in law enforcement. On this particular day, when they have gathered at the range for the first 5.11 Training Alliance in 2006, these subject matter experts have no idea the challenges and learning that lie ahead of them.
The 5.11 Training Alliance is the brainchild of Dan Costa, CEO of 5.11 Tactical, a manufacturer of tactical gear for law enforcement. The Training Alliance is a partnership between 5.11 Tactical, law enforcement retailers around the nation and two of the top law enforcement training organizations in the United States—Trident Concepts and Operational Skills Group.
As part of the Training Alliance, the training organizations donate their time and expertise; 5.11 Tactical donates product for the participants and marketing of the seminars; and the retailers donate the space and lunch for the participants.
The goal of the 5.11 Training Alliance is to bring the latest concepts and battle-proven tactics to law enforcement departments throughout the United States at no cost to the participants and their agencies. This allows the partners to give back to the law enforcement community and personnel by training them in skills that will help them do their job more effectively and keep them alive when times get tough.
The Scottsdale Gun Club opened in 2004 and is a state-of-the-art, all-in-one shooting range. It lays claim to the newest, largest and most technologically advanced training center of its kind. Guaranteed to offer the complete shooting experience, the member-based Scottsdale Gun Club boasts 32 shooting lanes with a 25-yard backstop, and it can handle weapons from pistols to light machine guns.
As a trainer for the 5.11 Training Alliance and director of training of Trident Concepts, I have high expectations and goals for this one-day training seminar. It is an abbreviated version of our five-day instructor course we offer to various law enforcement organizations. The training uses proven methods we have taught to countless federal, state and local law enforcement officers over the past several years. It gives them modern and effective techniques along with refined skills to take back and integrate into their training programs.
The Training Alliance is an incredible perk for the law enforcement members across the country serving our communities. The goal of the training seminar was to provide a crash course into the development of a solid foundation and good mechanics. It is important that participants understand the “why” in certain tactics, so they can properly instruct their officers when they return to their departments. This helps create the long-lasting foundation we are looking to achieve.
According to a participant from the Pima County Sheriff’s department SWAT team, “The tactics and training drills made the training practical and tough. The day was challenging, and I learned my weaknesses. I have some great drills to take home to my team.” Once they understand the “why” they need to be able to perform the technique as close to zero defects as possible, and they need to do it right regardless of the stress placed upon them.
“The 5.11 Training Alliance gets all the right people together. It exposes law enforcement professionals not only to the gear and training, but also the people they need to know to get their jobs done and to stay one step ahead of the bad guys,” said Ryan Hillaker, director of law enforcement and military for Scottsdale Gun Club.
“The 5.11 Training Alliance is truly a dream team. It builds on the training organizations battle-proven reputations and concepts, the retailers connection to local law enforcement trainers, and a company that produces the most functional and innovative products for the law enforcement sector,” he said.
This particular 5.11 Training Alliance seminar focused on the carbine. In this 10-hour format, we wanted to start with a review of basic equipment and talk about what survives rough wear and tear that the weapon system will see on the streets. We moved to properly zeroing their carbines for an urban environment while reviewing the pros/cons of other popular types of zeros.
The participants then had to take a standards performance test to gauge their individual ability and to set a frame of reference for what they accomplished by taking a similar test at the end of the day. They were introduced to various ready positions and our Combat Shooting System©, then given several opportunities to develop their skills with challenging drills.
We gradually introduced various weapons-handling skills such as immediate action and remedial action drills along with weapons transitions and backup sights. We ratcheted up the training by forcing them to perform under pressure, emphasizing accuracy and speed. Lastly we introduced several contingencies such as multiple threats, shooting on the move, weak-side shooting techniques, and elimination drills—all the while demanding maximum accuracy performance.
At Trident Concepts, our methodology is straightforward. Introduce a concept, develop the skill, refine the learning, sustain the high level of performance and evolve with new information. It explains the rationale and offers the training drills as ideas and tools, not as the only answer to the problems posed by criminal behavior.
The daylong training seminar gives participants the setting to test what they know, find their failure point and build key learning around that knowledge. The seminar is a very intense day of training for the best of shooters. It works these guys outside their comfort zone in a high-intensity environment so they know their weapons and gear limitations and then work on it extending them.
They need to be able to maintain an intense focus for extended periods under pressure; this is where their stamina comes into play. We want to prepare them for the worst-case scenarios. We can’t match the actions of the bad guys, but we can sharply hone their skills in preparation.
The concept may seem simple. But after a day of firing more than 800 rounds, the group was in agreement that it was challenging, informative and exhausting. “I thought I knew my equipment, and this really worked me,” said a sharp-shooting detective in the Special Assignments Unit, Scottsdale PD. “Jeff is after actions that are repeatable and sustainable; it’s tough. I can go to the range and be on, but it’s important that we test ourselves in less-than-ideal situations and that our trainers get the chance to experience unplanned actions while keeping safety at the forefront.”
The following day, the firearms trainers and SWAT operators ended the Training Alliance with a debriefing session in the defense tactics room. The round-table discussion offered the participants a chance to share and discuss their lessons learned with other members of law enforcement who weren’t involved in the session. The peer-to-peer interaction and reflection aided in the feedback and learning process for all.
All the participants echoed similar themes. Trainers used the day to check that their current training methods were on course and in line with the latest training techniques or learn ways to modernize and better their programs. Stamina and intensity were key factors in the training—high repetitions and a high round count were stressed to create a strong foundation to achieve sustainable and predictable results under pressure, while keeping safety in mind.
These selected law enforcement leaders who completed the 5.11 Training Alliance at the Scottsdale Gun Club by Trident Concepts LLC are energized and ready to spread the word. Many of the departments have opted to pursue the stand-alone programs offered from Trident Concepts as a result of the feedback from their officers taking their training programs to the next level. The intense training seminar and the tasks that challenged their abilities yesterday have made them stronger and ready to raise the standards for today and tomorrow.
Jeff Gonzales serves as director of training for Trident Concepts LLC. He was a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL, serving as an operator and trainer who participated in numerous combat operations throughout the world. TRICON has been recognized as an industry leader by various federal, state and local units. Gonzales can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.