Ed McGivern: Practical Police Training

The following information on practical police training by Ed McGivern comes from Burning PowderBurning Powder is also available to purchase in print.

Coming now to the shooting by sense of direction (usually called point blank) and shooting by sense of location only, guided by sound, or by dim outline, or shadows in poor light—even up to a condition of entire absence of light—this should take us from the fancy exhibition hip shooting, etc., class, up and into the practical police officer class, and later worked out methods of handling their revolvers.

Be he officer of the law, sheriff, policeman, special deputy, bank messenger, or night watchman, the above conditions are bound to enter into the performance of duty at one time or another. Months of training will pay large and gratifying dividends in just a few seconds when such a highly important situation (to the officer) presents itself, if he is trained and ready.

Bank bandits, crooks in general, and bold, bad burglars, are generally well prepared for such emergencies, and usually, if not always, have just a little the best part of the start of the argument when discovered. Whether they are topnotch marksmen or not, the fact that they were ready—and as usually is the case—were all set to go, gives them quite a little advantage. Also, as is well known, the above-mentioned persons do not make a practice of going around with bull’s-eyes prominently and conveniently displayed on their person; neither do they, as a rule, make a practice of arranging powerful lights, correctly situated, properly placed and focused, to furnish a clear and distinct aiming point for the officer’s revolver sights, to be clearly outlined against, and steadily held on, some particularly vital spot, while the trigger is slowly and steadily squeezed, as outlined in the first part of this writing.

The officer may be able to put 5 shots on a dime, if given time enough, no argument there, but (we’ll just suppose) he won’t be there to shoot those 5 shots, if the bold, bad man can put a bullet through his stomach or his heart or brain in a half second or so, or perhaps only a small fraction of a second, quicker than the officer can get his first shot away.

In preparation for just such emergencies, we will take a full man-target which is all black. We will reduce the lighting in the range until the man-target can be distinguished dimly. We’ll give a signal to get gun out and fire one shot quick at man-target’s solar plexus, depending entirely for a hit on the feel of the gun in your hand—gained from the “shooting with sights” practice outlined in our earlier training.

We will now try getting our gun out and shooting 5 shots quick, same conditions. Here is where the “subconscious training” asserts itself. If properly developed, this subconscious training will assert itself to better advantage at a time of sudden danger than the average person could imagine possible; it can be positively depended on in a crisis.

Now we will go a few steps farther. We will pin a piece of black paper, 11×14 (size of regular letterhead), on chest of Mr. Man-target, and under same conditions try to hit Mr. 11×14 with 5 shots by the double-action method of operating the revolver. Persistent practice will cause the subconscious mind to control those shots so well that the results will be very agreeably surprising.

To make a good job better, we’ll take a Langrish limbless target, all white, with about 8 inch sized black rings on each shoulder, also on each hip, and one about solar plexus (stomach) position, and one that is represented by his head. This Langrish limbless target is one of the finest practical targets for police training ever brought out. I use it and like it. After trying one shot at each outside ring, viz., head, two shoulders, two hips, fired rapidly double-action, taking care to try to hit squarely within the ring, and to make as fast time as possible, to give subconscious mind a good chance to master matters, movements, etc., we will step up one rung of the ladder, and we’ll try 5 shots double-action fast at the solar plexus or center ring. Try to keep all shots within the ring, and try also to make good, fast time for the completed 5-shot string.

Now we ring the call bell, and friend (?) instructor turns out the light, Mr. Sure-shot steps up, ready to try Mr. L.L.T.’s location by a flash of light, on the target, for an instant only. Shots must be fired in the dark, judging the location from what was seen by the flash of light, one shot after each flash. Later, for training and development of subconscious mind, groups of 5 shots can be fired after each flash.

Now we send Mr. Officer into a dark room (same room, same target), we give him a flash of light, he shoots at L.L.T., if he has located him; if not, we give him another flash a few moments later. One shot after each flash at first, later 5-shot strings for development. As more skill is developed, target is moved around to different locations as conditions will permit. Now, sound location trials are due. Take L.L.T. move him around a little different location each time, fit up a (protected from bullets) buzzer signal just over his head. Buzz—locate—shoot—turn on light—look. With practice you’ll learn to hit him. Practice all these stunts at very short range at first, increase the range, add the difficulties later, as it gets “too easy.”

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Ed McGivern: Practical Police Training

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