One of the first things that caught my attention when I set foot in Master Wilber Lewis' karate school many years ago was a sign that read, "Dojo training is not enough; daily workouts are a must." His students were private individuals interested in personal defense, i.e., they were not tactical officers charged with saving lives. However, while his self-defense classes were held two days per week, he did not think this was sufficient for their simple goal of defending themselves against a would-be attacker.
This begs the question, "How much training time is enough to properly prepare you and your team to protect the lives of the people in your community?" Regardless of what you think the answer should be, if you are not on a full-time team, you are probably practicing only once or twice per month-hopefully more, but most likely not. While this might satisfy the "minimum standards test" and protect the department and officers from liability, when you are in the business of saving lives, it is grossly inadequate.
Regular team training is absolutely necessary to safely and successfully resolve a high-risk operation. If at all possible, tactical teams should train together at least once per week. However, because of budgetary constraints and manpower shortages, departments may not be able to authorize weekly training for the tactical team. If a department only allocates two days of tactical training per month, the team should try to get together two additional days per month.
Now, due to liability concerns, the department may not allow certain types of training (live-fire drills) outside of the structured sessions. If this is the case, team members can still get together and work on "safer" drills, such as team movement, room entry drills, and communication skills, or they can utilize paintball guns to simulate live-fire training. Even if they only get together to "what if" different scenarios, they will be learning to function mentally as a team, and this is also vitally important to their safety and success.
While frequent team training is an absolute necessity, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and each individual team member is responsible for becoming the best tactical officer he / she can become in order to make the team, as a whole, stronger. It might not be practical for members to train together every day (unless they are part of a full-time tactical team), but there is no excuse for a member not working on individual techniques and skills on a daily basis.
Such individual training can include: drawing your weapon(s) from different positions (standing, seated, kneeling), dry-firing all of your firearms a hundred times each, practicing building clearance drills throughout your house, playing KIMS games, practicing ninja walking, etc. If all members conduct this type of individual training on a daily basis, team training will be much more productive because they will not have to waste valuable time improving individual skills.
Before you begin your daily sessions, decide where you need improvement and make a training schedule that includes drills to address your concerns. As an example, you could write, "Monday Focus: Trigger Control: Dry-fire Sniper Rifle 1000x", and so on. After you perform all the scheduled drills, document your training. This should include, at a minimum, the date, hours trained, and a description of the type of training performed.
Whether it is on a computer spreadsheet or in a logbook, the information should be organized, neat and retrievable, because this type of documentation may serve as a lifesaver in court should you find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit. In addition to your private sessions, you should include in your logbook details about team training, tactical school training, and other training sessions, so you have a complete record of your entire training history.
Remember, "Monthly tactical training is not enough; daily workouts are a must."
BJ Bourg is the chief investigator for the Lafourche Parish District Attorney's Office. He has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience and has served in various capacities, including patrol, investigations, training and special operations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.