I’m pretty good at spotting cops. I see enough law enforcement types down at the range to ID the serve-and-protect-types in a New York minute, regardless of dress. These guys were different. They were young and rake-thin. They wore jeans that actually looked like jeans (as opposed to pressed khakis). The smaller, more wiry of the pair open carried; he strode past the rental counter with some sort of SIG strapped to his hip. The guys clued me in: State Troopers. Neither man had the swagger or stature of the State po-po that I’d known and not necessarily loved. What I saw out at the range was even more surprising. Or not . . .
I didn’t really pay much attention to their shooting at first. I was deep into one of those me-focused shooting excursions, starring our testing and evaluation Ruger SP101 .22LR. But the noise coming from the adjacent lanes was terrific. Despite double ear protection, the reports were physically painful. I could feel the shock waves passing through the bullet resistant divider in my eyeballs.
I looked at the ammo on the shelf behind them for confirmation. Yup, .357 SIG, going nowhere in particular, fast. The cops aimed their P226 handguns at bowling pin-shaped targets some twenty yards out. Their bullets perforated the paper. But a championship marksman couldn’t have created such an even dispersement of holes.
There were no groups. None. Nor were the guys shooting to any particular purpose—other than firing bullets downrange. No drills. No stance or pace variations. No challenges of any sort. Load, shoot, wash, rinse, repeat. Dozens of deafening rounds downrange without rhyme or reason.
These are the cops you read about in our crime report posts. The ones who fire a lots of rounds at bad guys to little effect to no effect. Which made me curious. Why? Why were they so bad at shooting?
I resisted blaming the SIG for the cops’ accuracy (or lack thereof). The P226 has that funky double-action to single-action trigger pull favored by law enforcement agencies that don’t trust their officers to keep their finger off the trigger until it’s time to shoot. That’s a ten-pound initial trigger pull followed by a four-pound pull. It’s also a looooong motion with a looooong trigger reset.
To my mind, the P226 shoots like a revolver. Well two different revolvers. BUT— U.S. Navy SEALs use the P226. Jake Zweig aside, those boys don’t mess around. And just about any gun can deliver minute-of-bad-guy accuracy with sufficient training.
I loaded-up my Glock 20 with 10 rounds and invited one of the cops to shoot at a target ten yards away. After a couple of “flyers,” he settled down into an eight inch group. I reloaded and told him to let fly. Fast as you can. Go! Go! Go! Twelve inches.
So the cops could shoot. But they weren’t shooting. Judging from their targets, they simply didn’t care about accuracy. Or anything remotely combat-oriented. They just wanted to make sure they had enough skill to re-qualify. To keep their job.
That had me puzzled.
I’m an OFWG who studiously avoids stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places. My chances of actually needing my concealed carry weapon are pretty close to zero. And yet I train regularly, taking instruction from the best people I can find. And I take it seriously.
In contrast, it’s only a matter of time before the Troopers face a life-or-death armed confrontation. Why the hell wouldn’t they want to be ready to use their gun quickly, efficiently and accurately? If it was me, I’d be, well, doing what I’m doing. And then some.
The easy thing to do here: blame the cops’ training. The boys and girls in blue don’t get enough of the right kind of training from the right kind of people on a sufficiently frequent basis (if at all). And I’m sure that’s right. But that failure masks a much bigger problem. Institutional corruption.
It’s not exactly a secret that a large number of police officers get into the police academy because of who they know, rather than who they are. Or sometimes who they are (gay, minority, women) rather than what they can do. Not to mention the central role played by envelopes stuffed with cash. I kid you not.
[For the record, I wish to state that the Troopers that I watched shooting went though a rigorous selection process based entirely on merit. The same applies to any police officer reading this post, obviously.]
In fact, the selection process for most of America’s urban police forces is so political (i.e., profoundly corrupt) that the academies are populated with a significant percentage of cops who shouldn’t be cops. Men and women who lack a general aptitude for exercising authority with an instinctive understanding of the demands of deadly force.
Training? I don’t need no stinkin’ training. I’m bad ass, me. I made the cut. Done.
So much for nature (i.e. creating a genuinely talented talent pool). Thanks to the unions, the nurture situation is even worse. The unions’ main job: “protecting” officers from management. In other words, accountability. So not only are politically correct officers (I include political connections in that description) more likely to make mistakes than someone more suited to the task, mistakes are divorced from consequences.
That’s what I was watching at the range: cops who made little to no real world connection between what they were doing on the line and what they’d have to do if their lives—or ours—were on the line.
After the cop shot his group with my Glock, he went right back to banging away with his SIG. He didn’t stick around to see my skills, or watch my drills, or learn anything. But I learned something. I learned the trick to training a dog: buy the right dog. And only reward him when he does something good.
Meanwhile, I’m under no illusions. I am my own first responder. Thank God for the Second Amendment.