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Bad Guys dOn’t COme With sCOrinG rinGs TargeTs Online Dave Staskiewicz ver my last 20 years in law enforcement, I’ve seen a wide variety of training philosophies and targets come and go. Some techniques look really cool on a sterile gun range; yet have no application under the real-world stress on the street. Most of what my agency uses are plain paper targets hanging on a backer. To make things more interesting we’ll put a picture on the target, but ultimately it’s still just a piece of paper. Budgets and training time have steadily been shrinking making it harder for instructors to bring quality on-going training to the table. As training decreases it leads us to wonder during planning sessions, “what can they handle?” While training out of state, a range master from a pretty large agency told me he didn’t think his patrol officers could handle certain types of training. I wondered if I thought similarly regarding my own agency. Isn’t it my responsibility to get officers better training, and not just in order for them to pass qualifications? Absolutely, unequivocally, yes! For years we’ve taught “center mass” shooting, but I think we’re doing a disservice to our officers. You don’t need to be a doctor to understand where the vital organs are in the human body — the upper chest (upper thoracic cavity aka UTC). So, why do we continue to teach to shoot center mass? Some will say, because it’s easy and what we’ve always done. However, the national average hit ratio for law 32 O This is what got things rolling — coated card stock with realistic pictures. And the hit zone moved to the appropriate location at the upper thoracic cavity. enforcement officers is around 20 percent. Given this appalling statistic, why not educate officers to shoot at the UTC? One round there has a much better chance of shutting someone down compared to one round in center mass (abdomen). This is a mindset trainers must accept. Change Your Targets Get away from paper, simulated-torso targets with scoring rings, which amount to no more than bull’s-eye — and gut — shooting. To achieve this for my own agency, I reached out to Targets Online. Specifically, I tasked them with creating a higher-quality, more realistic target to concentrate on the UTC, and for a price less than we were already paying for the paper torso, bull’s-eye targets. Turns out, Targets Online is a division of Standard Paper, who’ve been making paper products since the 1920s, so they’re actually manufacturing the raw goods. First, we modified a basic paper target, using a heavier, coated card stock and moved the hit zone to the chest area. We also used photographs containing an array of people as the image the shooter looks at, not just emotionless drawings of a pretend person. These simple changes are providing our officers a solid foundation for the right mindset. The heavier card stock is a huge improvement due to its ability to withstand the elements for much longer periods of time; the targets don’t turn to mush in the rain WWW.AMERICANCOPMAGAZINE.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011

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