“On Tuesday evening, the Salinas City Council voted to give the police department the go ahead to buy 70 new shotguns for $47,905, specifically Remington 870s with a price tag of approximately $627 each,” thecalifornian.com reports. As for the cost of training . . .

A cadet goes through an average of 300 rounds during the academy . . . The Salinas Police Department currently has 141 officers and eight officers in the academy who are set to graduate in August.

So that’s 149 officers firing 300 rounds — 44,700 rounds — during their initial shotgun training. At 26.8¢ per round (Lucky Gunner) that’s $11,622. Not a lot, right? Especially for a police force with a current annual budget of $11,882,687.

You’d kinda hope that some of that budget would go towards ongoing training for shotgun-equipped Salinas cops. Dream on. While I can’t find a breakdown of their budget, I’d bet dollars to donuts the Salina PD has allocated zero dollars for ongoing shotgun training.

The cold hard truth: police departments devote precious little time or money (same thing) to firearms training. In fact, many don’t offer any ongoing training, restricting expenditures to the cost of yearly or bi-yearly firearms qualifications.

Let’s do the math. First from ammoland.com:

A typical police qualification course might be about 100 rounds, and a cop might shoot that once or twice a year. I know of one state where officers are required to shoot a 30-round qualification twice a year…60 rounds total per year.

Salinas is a small force. Again, we’re talking 149 officers. Figure 100 rounds times two times a year times 149 officers for a total of nearasdammit 30,000 rounds per year. At $250 to $300 per 1000 rounds that’s $7,500 to $9,000 for annual qualification ammo.

That’s before the costs of storing the ammo, maintaining the range, staffing the quals and paying for the time officers aren’t on the job. So double the total spend to about $20,000. Double it again if you want to give Salinas cops some regular training, rather than just the bi-yearly quals.

I reckon it would cost Salinas a minimum of $80,000 to $100,000 to ensure their cops have reasonable shooting skills (the quality of their training is another issue entirely). To kick that up a notch, to give 149 officers range time on a regular basis, double it again. That would be at least $160,000 to $200,000 per year.

So why don’t they spend it? We’ll get to that. Another example . . .

The LAPD employs approximately 9,000 sworn officers. Now we’re looking at 1.8 million rounds for semi-annual 100-round quals, racking-up $450,000 to $540,000 in range ammo. (Hollow-point carry ammunition is significantly more expensive.) Using my back-of-the-envelope math, I make that a minimum of $2.16 million to train LA cops up to some kind of acceptable firearms standard.

Even if you double that again (the cost of government bureaucracy plus hollow points plus some trigger time on rifles and shotguns) that would suck a relatively paltry $4,320,000 out of the LAPD’s total annual police budget of $1,486,168,297/

Bottom line: it would cost Salinas and LA less than five percent of their total police budget to create and run a basic firearms training program, to make sure their cops can hit what they’re aiming at and, perhaps, maintain some gunfighting skills.

Unfortunately, police firearms training doesn’t have the political support enjoyed by everything else included in law enforcement budgets. Spending taxpayer money on body cams and community outreach? Sure! Spend money to train police how to shoot people? That’s crazy talk!

I’m speaking literally. This year, the LAPD is asking taxpayers for $6.5 million to buy 7,000 body cameras for police officers. “Cultural affairs” is set to drain $12,387,660 from the LAPD’s annual spend. That’s about four times what LA could — I believe should spend on basic police firearms training.

Bottom line: cops are lousy in gunfights because they don’t receive adequate training, because towns and cities don’t value that training, because politicians believe voters don’t care or actively oppose spending money on firearms training.

I wonder how much cities and towns shell out for settlements after “bad shoots.” And how much cops spend out of their own pockets to make sure they’re ready to defend themselves and other innocent life by force of arms.

91 Responses to Why Most Cops Are Lousy Shots

    • I don’t know that they’re getting so many ex-military guys now- maybe guys who just act like they’re ex-military, and dress the part, with high-and-tights, sleeve tats, and 5.11 pants, but they still can’t shoot for sh!t.

    • If you qualify twice per year, you are looking at approximately 36 rounds to zero (unless you super suck, it only takes me 3-6 with an ACOG) and 80 rounds to qualify. Not what I would call lots of training.

    • Are you talking about before they become cops, or after? If you’re relying on cops being former combat arms grunts so that they know which end of their gun the bullet comes out of, you’re going to be disappointed. Many were never in the military, many military specialties don’t get much shooting time, and military combat training is a lot different from what LEOs do. Agencies that don’t train their officers are irresponsible.

  1. Sometimes it’s also seems like departments discourage the range time. The Fed. Bureau of Prisons I retired from was that way. The guys that did well were allon SORT/SWAT and some designated Armed Escort but most shot their annual qualification and that was it. AFAIK there were less than five truly competitive shooters across the country for the FBOP out of around 30,000 employees. Wardens were uncomfortable with the firearms aspects until it was time to strut your stuff at Regional training. We only showcased the best there so the average snuffie was never seen. Side bets were placed and I won lots of barbecue for the Boss..LOL

    I wish we could change the anti-training expenditure mentality but it is a long road yet.

    Greg

    • Wardens, like Police Chiefs, don’t like the thought of their positions being on the edge due to a shooting good or bad. They also have to be concerned with budgets, which kinda puts the kibosh on supplying unlimited ammo.

      In my career, I have worked with a great many cops who are not competitive, but do go to the range on a regular basis, and pay for the ammo they expend. Believe it or not, it is a great stress reliever.

      Los Angeles, back in the 1970s, had an automated ammo production system which produced thousands of rounds of ammo in an assortment of authorized calibers. I imagine they still do. The cops were able to get boxes for range use… as long as they exchanged a box of brass. Not every department can afford it.

      In the USAF, we shot every 6 months with each firearm used. Also, we had both day and night fire sessions for each weapon. That’s 6 sessions every 6 months. On top of that, we were permitted to check out our weapons (military cops don’t take their issue weapons home) and go to the range whenever we wanted. We had to supply the ammo and we had to have another cop with us in case of an accident. Half my shift did this regularly and the rest participated when they could afford ammo. Quite often we took a day off and took our families with us, and made a competition out of the event… along with a picnic.

      • The concept of the Security Police in the USAF being the only AFSC that is mainly armed is archaic and ridiculous. It needs to change and is has needed to change for about the past 40+ years. SP(s) may have this as a requirement for their duties but the practice of keeping everyone else (often the augments too) unarmed is proof positive that whoever came up with that concept suffered from chronic inbreeding in the family bloodline. Bottom line is, if you’re in uniform you should have some basic small arms skills and carry qualification. It only makes good military sense. There isn’t an airbase in the world I cannot get on, one way or the other. The usual amount of SP(s) on any given airbase is insufficient to keep the whole base secured during a significant assault. Anyone that says they can most likely was never tired hard enough.

  2. When I was in the Air Force, I qualed once a year. I also went to the range and blasted about 500 rounds per month. Who paid for that? Me. Why aren’t cops doing that?

    • Yep, if I were a cop, I think I would be training on my own dime to make up for any deficiencies in my ‘official’ training. I mean, it’s not like your life could depend on being able to hit what you’re shoot at or anything.

      I really don’t think a lot of police departments/city politicians really care about the safety of their police officers or their citizens.

      • You were lucky. When I was in the USAF I went through the entire 4 year enlistment with my weapons card stamped “Orientation Only – Individual Not Qualified to Bear Arms” and no angle ever tried would get me authorized to at least go qualify. When my 4 years was up and they asked me to reenlist I told them they were out of their minds and when they asked why I told them to go take a look at my weapons card. I also added that there was NOBODY in the entire Dept. of Defense that was actually qualified to determine who and when I was armed nor what with. I was glad to leave and I’ve never looked back on that lame nonsense.

        • When I was in the USAF, I got to fire 60 rounds during BMT—and to qualify as Expert only had to HIT THE TARGET with an ancient M16 40 times out of those 60 at 25 yards.

          Spent the rest of my enlistment never touching a rifle again,with the exception of using MILES gear once a year to play SP during our unit’s “Red Flag”. Such were the joys of being assigned to a hospital squadron.

          Weapons training in the late 80s/early 90s in the USAF was piss-poor.

    • They do use the range at their own expense.

      The politicians in my state (CA), at least the ones in control, would like the police to be invisible. They are trying to become the first state to ban all firearms from the hands of the lawful, and therefore there would be no need for cops… except their personal security details.

      • Kind of like Great Britain where the people don’t have guns and most cops don’t have guns because they don’t need guns…………..oh, wait.

    • Some are. One of the older guys who is much faster than me at IDPA is a cop shooting a .357 revolver.

      The part that pisses me off is that he reloads faster than I do.

      I used to know a NYPD officer who didn’t give a crap about guns, but he did some weekend sports car racing and took a lot of self-paid training in the high speed operation of the cop’s OTHER dangerous weapon.

      A cop can be as useless with a gun as Barney Fife and it matters not a bit if he goes through his entire career without needing to unholster his sidearm. But if he’s unsafe in a motor vehicle, he’s a menace every day he works.

      • Cop budgets are for salary, benefits and pensions. Why the fuck would they waste it on training?? That’s what state and federal grants are for.

        • Focusing on the money is going in the right direction but training budgets are the wrong dollars to look at. LIABILITY is where the dollars go and the hard fact is that a city doesnt lose money from officer involved shootings. Money is disproportionatly shoveled out for frivolous law suit settlements, “cops saying stupid stuff” law suits, not providing aid for victims law suits, seizing someone’s property without due process law suits, etc….. officer involved shootings are way down the list and body worn cameras have mitigated law suits, hence saved cities money. Thats why BWC’s and EEO training is more important to cities than fireamrs training.

  3. I really like how the father and son use a ROAD for their backstop in the top video. And we wonder why we have problems with our police?

  4. Some do. I know of one department where at least half of them are gun guys, as well as stand up sorts who care about people. They spend a great deal of time at the range and it shows.

    Still, it’s worth noting that only 1-2 percent of police interactions involve a use of force, at least according to the studies I’ve seen. It’s worth asking how much of your budget you should reasonably spend on something that is less than a percent of your business (note that 1-2 per cent is *all* uses of force, not just firearms). When you take away from the budget mandatory licensing costs, vehicle maintenance, wages, supplies, how much is left over? I don’t really know, I’m sure it depends. The point is that while I would personally be inclined towards there being no such thing as too much training, there are limits. However the whole – can’t hit the broadside of a barn thing is ridiculous. I’ve always found it interesting that so many people just automatically assume that police or military are just fantastically highly trained on firearms. Not every officer or soldier is a gun guy, so unless they are, or their trainers/ commanders are, they’ll be marginally better than the guy who buys a pistol “just in case” and leaves it in his closet for ten years. Case & point – the only times my coworkers do range training is the bi-yearly qual; unless I get them to come with me. I go about twice a month generally. Still not enough, but I’m not rich.

    • Why worry about the 1-2% of interactions that involve force? Because it involves force…… by definition someone is getting hurt and that is the most critical aspect of their job. Anything else they fuck up can (theoretically anyway) be fixed in a courtroom after the fact.

    • 0351,

      Those 1-2% of interactions have extremely grave consequences, therefore police departments should devote more resources for those events. This is classic risk management. The lower the probability of an event, the less resources you devote for that event. The higher the negative impact of an event, the more resources you devote for that event.

      When you have a low probability event with huge negative consequences, then some sort of balance is required of course. As an example, few homes or businesses ever catch on fire. And yet the consequences of a building fire are huge so we invest a LOT of resources on managing building fires. Similarly, police departments must invest a lot of resources on managing the risk of “use of force” events.

      • When you put it in the context of risk management and fires that 1-2% figure is frightening. If that percentage of buildings were catching fire each day no one would feel safe anywhere.

  5. In my trade i have to buy my tools and pay for certifications. And we lose 30 to 40 guys a year to on the job deaths…

    Sorry no sympathy here.

  6. That’s why I went to so much training and competition on my own time and dime.
    Heck, I used vacation time to go to out of state to compete.
    The one thing my department did allow me to do was piggyback my ammo orders with theirs so I could save some money.
    My agency qualifies 4 times per year. One night shoot, one rifle shoot, one state pistol standard and one threat/no threat shoot. Sometimes we’d get a force on force shoot thrown in.

    (Robert, one thing you left out was overtime. Quals are usually during the day and a set time. Folks working swing and grave gotta qualify too. As do those who are on their weekend. Those are big expenses. )

  7. Seems like a lot of money for each shotgun… I hope they are not wasting money by paying full MSRP.
    I find new 870 Police Tactical shotguns with extended mag tubes and the door buster extended tube with ghost ring sights and a rail on top NIB for $465 or so all the time if I buy two or more.

    • Government contract guns generally include more than just the gun. Typically spare magazines (not applicable for shotguns), various other accessories (sling, red dot ect.), a pile of spare parts and/or superior warranty service.

      • We generally don’t put slings on polIce or Trooper shotguns.. they snag on stuff in the cab, No red dots either on such a close quarters weapon, never had anything except extractors break on an 870 and Remington provides excellent customer service to everyone. Most police and Trooper departments I deal with have their own factory trained armorers. I still think too expensive. Like the hundred dollar NASA hammers and $500 toilet seats…! Lol…

    • This was my first thought. 870’s are the most expensive things on earth. For that kind of money, that could easily pull off the shelf 590A1’s. Much better gun in my opinion, but I’m a bit biased due to the poor products I’ve purchased from Remington in the last decade, and the opposite for the Mossbergs.

  8. “Why Most Cops Are Lousy Shots…”

    Citation needed. Oh, that cop you know from the range isn’t a good shot? Guess that’s all the evidence we need.

    But yes, most departments don’t spend enough money on gunfight training (just ‘shooting’ is relatively easy). Thing is, most cops will NEVER be in an actual gunfight. Given that equation, spending money on other things tends to make sense. If I were in charge of a police budget, would I find something to cut out to make way for more tactical firearms training? Yeah. Maybe melt down some of the brass on collars. But, especially at the academy, I’d worry more about teaching writing and law. I can’t believe how poorly some younger cops articulate in reports.

    • …. despite the fact that there are more college graduates coming in to police work than ever before…. ya, their reports suck. And most of them have never been socked in the face before.

      • You may have identified one of the more prickly problems in the business Richard. Patrol work require a certain toughness, mostly mental, and the ability to soak up a certain amount of damage without flipping out. To some degree you can get the measure of a man by punching him and seeing how he reacts to it. Fear is a big problem for some of these officers. Fear of injury and fear of screwing up. You can inoculate people against fear, but you have to actually do it, and some people need significantly more of it.
        Too much fear is a problem generally, but in patrol work it gets people hurt and killed.
        In this way, I somewhat prefer construction roughnecks to college grads for cops: the roughnecks have been hit in the face. They aren’t as scared, and thus can think when they need to. College teaches you all about how special and valuable you are, construction reaches you that the job is important, you, not so much.
        I find that those who think too highly of themselves lack the unquantifiable ability to turn aggression off and on in the face of danger, and can become irrationally angry after being threatened.
        Maybe if we admit what patrol work in some places is, we will better see how to staff it.

  9. The Salinas PD site says that officers typically make between $80 – $107k per annum. Multiplying $80k by 149 gives a total of $11,920,000 which is $37,000 and change MORE than their budget as quoted in the article…no wonder they do not have any funding for continued training…just like the State of California they are operating at a yuuuge deficit (they will probably ask for a U.S. taxpayer bail-out any time now…too big to fail??)

    • Like it or don’t. If the state of CA collapses so does the economy nationwide. Your paycheck. Your property values. Down the toilet.

      And yet we see folks here routinely praying for the failure of CA.

      That fluffy retard in North Korea is less of a threat to the American way of life than those dems in Sacramento.

      • Not praying for the downfall of California…that said, they are the epitome of the Liberal mantra of “tax and spend”. California has an unfunded liability of almost $900 billion. Yet, they continue to spend like a drunk sailor on 24hr shore leave. You are correct in that I do NOT believe that the rest of the Nation is liable for their poor budgeting decisions.

        The largest expense for any organization is their payroll. Most agencies run around 90% of their operation budget for Wages and Salaries. Training, either initial or continued, is expensive in money, time and the scheduling of resources…realistically, most agencies tend to limit training in favor of equipment replacement schedules and copy paper…the last thing that is ever considered is a moratorium on pay raises or reduction in pay….and the vicious cycle continues.

  10. Not to go off topic, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Salinas can field just under 150 officers for just under $12M. When you consider salaries (and the cost of living in CA), health insurance, pensions, facilities, equipment, fuel, maintenance, liability insurance, legal costs… that’s something of a bargain.

  11. So much for “professionals”.

    BTW, I can shoot better from the hip than that Stormtrooper… from thirty yards… with my Remington .22 bunny gun.

  12. The average police officer will have to actually use and fire his duty weapon somewhere between zero and one time in his entire career.

    The number one cause of death for cops is traffic. In all honesty, the money would be better spent on driving lessons.

  13. Might be going out on a limb here, but I’d bet the average officer would rather the money be invested in their pension fund. And frankly I couldn’t blame them.

    • I thought it was a bit sketchy, too. Also, do I remember correctly that he mentioned something about using non-jacketed bullets in reference to the ‘misfire’? Isn’t that a no-no with Glock barrels?

  14. Part of the problem is that the mainstream media and politicians portray police as highly trained shooters. There are some cops who shoot very well, but they’re the ones who go out and get additional training. I’d say that’s on their own time and dime, but I’ve got thousands of additional training authorized through my department including advanced officer safety, active shooter training, and precision marksmanship classes.

    • Nothing like bragging about being a parasite sucking the taxpayer dry.

      Of course, I’m a small business owner. Every fucking nickel counts. Big difference.

      • So if police don’t get enough training they get the wrath of ttag for being crappy shooters, but if they get more training they are parasites? Can’t have it both ways dude

        • Using the old “all or nothing” tactic that cops so love to use.

          I.e. – “Why do you hate cops?” every time you don’t get your way.

        • I fail to see how him questioning your contempt for him getting additional training “all or nothing…”

          Counter point, nothing they do will ever be satisfactory for you

  15. A department I work with is filled with wannabe gun guys that think they are operators. They don’t “waste” time on the range, as a member of the command staff told me. But they all want the tacticool stuff. A couple years ago the department had to ban tac light switches on the magwell due to a rash of negligent discharges and unintentional shootings.

  16. Cops do not depend on departments to make them shower. Being in shape and shooting are basic things expected of cops; a professional who takes pride in his job should go to the gym and the range on his own.

    • Good luck with that. Why do you hate cops??

      Just kidding. I’m just using their tactics. Fucking parasites.

      ??

      • I have friends who are cops. Some complain that many cops don’t keep in shape and treat their job like punching a clock for pay.
        In the military, service people get kicked out if they get fat or cannot rifle qualify. Why can’t we set a reasonable standard and kick out the cops that don’t maintain that standard?

        • On the farm, some animals are more equal than others. Sometimes a pig is more equal than a working sheep dog.

  17. Or, an alternate takeaway is that guns just aren’t that hard to use, and a little bit of training is good enough for your average cop, just like it is for any other average citizen.

  18. Two questions:
    The cost for the extra training to know what they are doing with their firearms, how do we know that increased range time is going to greatly increase their performance in actual gunfights? How much is the current level of suckage really lessened in gunfights by say doubling the paltry range training currently given? Could other forms of training other than standard range make better outcomes?

    Additionally, others have pointed out the infrequent use of firearms in the duties of a police officer. Emergency Vehicle Operations would probably save more police lives. Defensive tactics (unarmed combat) training is far more frequent than shootings and confidence in that area might actually reduce the frequency of shootings. So would you get more bang for the buck in another part of the training arena?

    • Most pistol shots need more practice in presenting and trigger manipulation to develop subconscious muscle memory that does not go away under stress. These are developed using dryfire and ISMT simulators. 100 reps to understand, 1000 to be proficient, 10000 to be a master. No extra ammo needs to be spent

  19. Police are not intended to be gunfighters first. The job is more armed social worker. Answering calls about society’s isuues with drugs, relationships, to those who hate rules. What is the reward for being top shot? A investigation, protest s, lawsuits, even a criminal charge. In other words, we give them guns but raise hell when they use them. So does it matter how many shots fall in the X ring?

    • Better good under no stress than mediocre. Under stress fine motor skills degrade and getting in a shoot scene scenario would usually be considered stress. Degrade good and you get mediocre. Degrade mediocre and you get abysmal.

      I trained basic shooters and long range M/O’s for the FBOP. I wanted my shooters to perform even when it appeared the world was coming to an end. Stress training is important. I focused quite a bit on the psychological aspects of training and how to prepare for the potential problems.

      I had skills that were hard won through days of shooting thanks to my reloading of thousands if rounds and shooting some kind of match literally almost every weekend for twenty years locally and nationally. Six national championships later I got to pass it on to my coworker students.

      Lousy shots? Not on my watch.

  20. $627 for an 870 which, given what has been coming from Remington these days, will be janky as hell?

    Genius.

  21. The insurance company will pay the victims of poor police shooting skills. Cops misses bad guy and hits housewife. Pay the poor woman or her heirs and children a million or two.
    They even pay the bad guy if the cop has to shoot too much and fires a full magazine at the bad guy target and doesn’t kill him/her, rather shatters arms, legs and pelvis. The insurance company pays for that too.
    If the cop gets killed the insurance company pays a workman’s compensation benefit, and that’s all.
    Cops get trained to touch type, to dress neatly and always have shinny brass [ so the bad guys have a target? ] and to polish their shoes every day.

    • Mr. Macklin – I think if you do a bit of research you will find that most government entities are self-insured rather than paying insurance companies to indemnify them. Even when commercial insurance companies are involved, any payments they must make are reflected in the next bill for coverage. When governments make payments like the $6.5M paid to the family of Freddie Gray in Baltimore without even a lawsuit being filed, it’s the taxpayers who are the ones who “take it in the shorts”.

  22. You do realize that getting prices on the consumer market is inflating the price estimates that you have. Law enforcement agencies pay substantially less than we pay for ammo… they do not order it from luckygunner.com. I believe that my Leo friend said that they pay $250 delivered for a 1000 round case of federal 556 if that gives you a idea as to what pistol ammo is.

  23. I agree with the lack of training budgeting and support of agencies across the country, their budgets are dismal, to begin with and they struggle just to keep officers on the streets.

    However, marksmanship on the range vs. being surprised by a criminal and shot at, or after being shot seems to rarely enter into the mention of the low shot accuracy of LEOs on the streets.

    Without targets shooting back at you, stabbing you or under the realization that you’re life is on the line, your training will definitely help in a gunfight, but your hit percentage will drastically decline. Add another attacker at the same time and the stress and misses compound.

    Training budgets should be corrected, or developed (as the article mentions) to begin with in order to improve the situation for the officers and civilians. I was floored the first time I found out many agencies never even had regular training throughout the year. The officers who were very good at defensive tactics and/or combat marksmanship were great at it only because they funded it themselves and took their own time to train properly.

  24. I shot USPSA for 20 years and the few LEO’s that shot with us on the same weekend circuit, shot every weekend and were damn good shots. But that’s just it. LEO’s probably made up less than 10% of a match head count. Some that showed up with (some) duty guns found out right quick they weren’t worth a f#ck in competition (Sigs). Beat cops aren’t expected to do the heavy lifting in a tactical situation but they damn sure should be able to get a passing score on the state CCW shooting practical. I would really like to see that. There’s a reason most police ranges are closed to the public…

  25. As more and more laws against owning a firearm take effect, police will not need firearms. At least not in the socialist territories. Common sense will prevail.

  26. It just depends. A young woman I used to work with had both parents who were Federal agents. in much different departments, but both carried daily. Neither was a SWAT-type operator; think more of investigator. They both received from their respective agencies vast amounts of ammunition with which to practice.

    I’m just guessing here, but I would estimate that there would have been enough ammunition to go around, hypothetically, for them to share with, say, their adult daughter and any of her friends who wanted to go play at the range from time to time. I’m just guessing, of course.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I know two chiefs of local university police departments whose officers receive exactly zero ongoing range training from their departments, despite the chiefs begging annually in university budget reviews for training funds.

  27. Even when they get free ammo, they don’t train with it.
    When Wayne County confiscated 30 rounds of HST 9mm at the DTW airport because the Delta anti gun agent disallowed two loaded Glock mags in my checked luggage, the cop said it would be destroyed.

  28. Robert Farago, why are you making an assumption about the shooting skills of all police officers based on 2-3 agencies? Because you want to perpetuate the myth. I’m a retired AZ DPS (state police) detective and I served as a firearms instructor for my agency. At the end of my career I worked in our CCW Permit unit (some of you may know me from there). Here’s my experience with my agency and other AZ agencies. In some cases you are absolutely right – some agencies place little emphasis on shooting skills, others can’t due to lack of funding. These are usually smaller agencies. When I first started with DPS we carried revolvers (we were issued a S&W mod 15 or you could buy your own 38 or 357 with a 4″ bbl – I had a S&W 686 .357). Ammo was always tight due to lack of funding but eventually things got better in the mid 90’s. We were issued Sigs (based on seniority – dumb) in whatever caliber you chose or you could buy your own. Calibers authorized were 9mm, 40 S&W or 45 ACP. I went with 45 ACP (eventually we went to 40 S&W only). Now we had improved weapons so ammo was again an issue. I recall being given practice ammo in a clear plastic bag of 50 rds. It was terrible – lead bullets, filthy reloads. Things again improved after another year or two and we were issued decent brand name ammo for practice. We used Federal Hydra-shock ammo for duty (later Speer Gold Dot). So by 1996, we would shoot 50-100 rounds for practice and 50 rds for qualification (3 yds out to 25 yds). We couldn’t go practice anytime we wanted as it had to be scheduled. Some officers could join a group qualifying if they wanted additional time and if their SGT would let them go. Officers who asked for additional ammo for practice would be given a couple hundred rds. That’s just handguns and backup guns (usually a small 38 or a 380). We also had Rem 870’s and later, AR-15’s – all of which we had to qualify with (shotguns and rifles once a year min).

    We had to qualify twice a year with our primary handguns (shooting) and at least once a year on FATS (firearms training simulator), which was shoot/don’t shoot scenario based simulations. You used a real Sig converted to fire blanks and a laser. The big screen would mark where your shots went. Each officer would go through about 5 scenarios and had to decide if it was a shoot or don’t shoot situation. They had to interact with whatever was going on in front of them. Eventually, Simunitions came out so we also developed Simunitions scenarios where it was cop against a “bad guy” (usually another cop but we always took volunteers – I brought some friends in) where we were shooting each other with simunitions (they could be painful as you could be hit with marker rounds). Eventually we went away from FATS and strictly used sims because it was so realistic and FATS was a special case situation. I have to say, simunitions was GREAT fun. We also had to do annual night qualifications and nighttime scenario based shooting.

    So, are all cops bad shooters? No. We always had some that were problem children and we had folks who shot perfect scores every time with no problem. We practised malfunction drills. We shot from behind barricades, cars, out of cars, support hand only and from the ground (sometimes on our backs). I would say 95% could qualify each time without issue and everyone had to pass the scenario based shooting and the night shoot. So, I can’t speak for every other agency (neither can you) but the picture you’ve painted in this article is inaccurate. I knew what other agencies in AZ were doing as the instructors had to train together once a year. Things were bad in the mid 80’s but they improved in the mid 90’s. Now, it’s even better. So at least in AZ, cops hit what they aim at and they perform good training (mostly). How about stop perpetuating this myth?

    • I agree. The myth of police being non shooters comes with the fact, I believe, that so many today are not firearms enthusiasts. The cops that are hone their skills on a regular basis. The people who are not, do not, as they probably take the job thinking that the firearm is just a detriment to their comfort. Guess what? It is not. A firefight is just that, on a battlefield or a municipal street, training and expertise with a little luck determines the victor. The loser dies and all the political correctness in the world will not prevent this. If the cop cares they will insure that they shoot well no matter who is footing the bill. There should be a means for cops that do shoot well to not work with officers that do not. Training can sort the absolute non-shooters out and there should something to take them out of functional police hazardous duties. Only the conductor is assured a job in most orchestras if they cannot play an instrument, everybody else shows up with the credentials or the prospect of being proficient. Hats off to the salesman that sold them the 870’s for 600 plus a copy. They not only need proficient shooters they need
      some proficiency in procurement. Give all the bad shooters shotguns, what could go wrong?

  29. This is a poorly written article by someone who failed to really do any research. I am dismayed at most of the comments – so much hate, not to mention so much ignorance. It really helps when you know what you’re talking about.

  30. Would it sound crazy if the ability to be proficient with a gun be a prerequisite? Sort of like a high school diploma or a driver’s license? It is only to protect themselves and the public preventing loss of life and liability. Too much to ask?
    Police forces are following the hiring mentality of the post office we’ll see how that works out.

  31. Female officers are waste of time at the range, most can’t pull the NY trigger 15 times and most fail and need to be pushed through and bogust passed, its a numbers game nypd needs bodies on patrol weather if can do the job or not. Male officers do fail also but not many

  32. Poorly written article based on anecdotal evidence and information from just a few police agencies. And some of the comments on here are just laughable. ” I knew this cop that shot a my range and he was a bad shot therefore all cops are bad shots”. Give me a break . Are all cops excellent marksmen? Hell no. But there is a major difference in shooting at paper with a normal heart rate versus shooting at a person who is shooting back at you or trying to stab you . It is difficult to train for. A lot of the non-LEO shooting “experts” commenting on here would love to think their tight groups on the range would translate to a dead bad guy in real life but that’s not always the case. As a LEO on a department consisting of around 75 officers, there are usually only a few (2 or 3) that struggle to qualify in any given year. Those officers then receive corrective training and if they cant qualify they will ultimately be terminated. Would I prefer to have more firearms training at my department? Hell yes! But i also realize funding training is not unlimited and often has to be stretched.

  33. LAPD trains much more often than most departments, I don’t know why the author used them as an example. They have a long time culture of firearms training and allow a broad latitude of approved guns, from striker fired up to cocked and locked 1911s.

  34. Salinas is a small city and 149 officers might be large on a per capita basis. But Soledad prison is nearby, and Salinas has a sizeable number of families who are involved in the Sureno and Norteno gangs. Over the years there have been numerous incidents such as Halloween or New Years party blood baths or moms caught in the cross fire in shopping mall parking lot shoot outs.

    It ain’t south side Chicago, but it is worse than most places, though it has gotten better in recent years. I would hope that those officers were better trained than average because they need to be.

  35. When employed in WA. State as a Police Officer,several of us joined forces with other LEO in our area to start up a shooting club. I reloaded 357 ammo for us at cost only,and we had a great time doing combat drills,and our enjoying our commraderie while shooting. We got way more practical shooting practice with our club,than we would thru our agencies only.
    Now that I am retired,I am in a Rifle and Pistol club,and shoot on average of 400 rounds a month,and totally enjoy it,and am Way More proficient than our local officers. I regularly carry concealed every day,and am prepared to help out my brothers and sisters if the need arises!!

    • One would think that PD’s would encourage their officers to practice more by providing range time and ammo but the hard truth of the matter is that most departments large and small don’t have the financial resources to do it in any meaningful and effective way.

      • And you know this based on what? Have you conducted a study of all law enforcement agencies in the US? Again, perpetuating the myth that cops can’t shoot.

        • Sir – I am a retired police supervisor. Perhaps your experience is different from mine. My department NEVER gave us range time or the ammo to practice outside of annual qualification. Despite that, we had some very fine marksmen with their service weapons because they practiced with ammunition paid for out of their own pockets, as it was with range time if they utilized a commercial range. Cop story: One of our officers who was a top-rated competitive combat pistol shooter confronted two thugs who had robbed a fast-food restaurant and one of them tried to draw down on him. Roger emptied his cylinder (and was highly pissed because he only got 5 hits) and the other one threw up his hands as Roger reloaded in a flash with a speed loader. When the detectives asked him why he didn’t draw and shoot while Roger was reloading, he replied, “Man, I ain’t f*****ng with no dude what got a machine-gun!”.

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