Are You Better Shot Than A Cop? Question of the Day

Police Shooting Haverhill New Hampshire

“New York’s Finest may account for nine casualties in the shootout between Jeffrey Johnson and the police on a busy Manhattan street,” I reported back in 2012, righty predicting that the NYPD cops who missed their target — repeatedly — would not be dismissed from the force. Flash forward six years . . .

And the antis have seized on police incompetence with firearms — at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and in two recent SRO ND’s — to argue that teachers shouldn’t be armed. Not to mention anyone else. I mean, everyone else.

TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia includes more than a few police officers. They know the score. Agencies don’t subsidize regular practice.Most mandate firearms re-qualification only once or twice a year. And those quals aren’t exactly Miculekian.

So, setting aside the NYPD’s “New York GLOCK trigger” issue, do you reckon you’re a better shot than your average cop?

While we’re at it, who’d you rather have by your side during a gunfight: your ballistic bestie or a cop? Just in terms of getting it done, not legally speaking.

comments

  1. avatar TrueBornSonofLiberty says:

    Every cop? No. Most cops? Without a doubt. Better than every cop I’ve ever met, after 25 years of regular shooting at dozens of ranges? No. There have been a small handful that were better under dynamic stress. But less than 10 compared to the 100’s I’ve been around.

  2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    I’m guessing I’d score in the top 20%.

    As far as ‘getting it done’, I’d probably want Larry the Cable Guy to be my wing-man in a gunfight.

  3. avatar Reggie Browning says:

    For the longest time I haven’t had the money to practice shooting, now I have the money but not the time yet. Hopefully soon. So right now I don’t think I’m a better shot than anyone. Every time I try to aim with both eyes open I get such horrible double vision that I see two guns and two targets at the same time.

  4. avatar anarchyst says:

    Police officers are notoriously poor shots, exercise poor impulse control, and can get away with murder due to statutory “protections” that (only) they possess. You see, police officers operate under NO “rules of engagement”, unlike the military and ordinary citizens. A shooting that would get a military person or ordinary citizen charged, tried, found guilty, and incarcerated quite often is treated as “operator error” or use of the famous “I feared for my life” excuse, when committed by a police officer.
    After a questionable police officer shoot, the individual officers are not handcuffed and arrested and are given 72 hours in which to “get their story straight”, unlike the treatment that an ordinary citizen receives for an identical shoot.
    Police-friendly prosecutors and “rubber-stamp” grand juries routinely “gloss over” and excuse behavior by police officers, that would land an ordinary citizen in serious trouble.
    This “double standard” needs to be scrapped. “Equal justice under law” is supposed to apply to everyone–even police officers.

  5. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

    I sure hope not, but I do spend scores of hours a year practicing. Hundreds if you count laser dry firing.

  6. avatar anarchyst says:

    Most CPL (Concealed Pistol License) holders are MORE proficient in the use of firearms than so-called “law enforcement” personnel. The successful “hit ratios” for CPL holders is also much higher. It is fact that CPL holders shoot more accurately, have much more control, and are, in general much better “shots” than just about any “law enforcement” personnel.
    You see, “law enforcement” personnel have “qualified immunity” which shields them from prosecution for their “mistakes”–something that the civilian CPL community does not have. They can shoot with utter abandon as they have their “immunity” to shield them from prosecution. In addition, law enforcement-friendly prosecutors and “rubber stamp” grand juries have no interest in prosecuting “bad” cops. All one has to do is look at the number of (unjustified) shootings by “law enforcement” that get conveniently “swept under the rug” by the “system” ( prosecutors, judges, grand juries, and internal affairs).
    If I had my way, ALL public officials, (not just “law enforcement”) would have NO official immunity, would be subject to all laws, just like the rest of us, and would be required to purchase an insurance “bond” as a condition of employment. Police “carve outs” would also be prohibited. Any law that citizens are subject to would also be applicable to “law enforcement”–no exceptions.
    Cops have the right to “spray and pray”–a tactic that WILL get a non-LEO locked up for murder or at least manslaughter. LEOs have “immunity” and friendly internal affairs and prosecutors–not like civilians.Most LEOs do not train with “dynamic targets” either.
    CPL holders HAVE TO BE MORE CAREFUL because of liability.
    Human nature dictates that the person with all of the bragging about what they would do in a school shooting (this (especially) includes “law enforcement”) actually would cower in fear, while the 90 lb. armed teacher would reluctantly, but successfully “take out” the shooter. Being “forced” into a situation also forces one to act. There are many examples of persons, who one would normally think, would not be capable of acting in an extremely high-stress situation, but DO come out on top–stopping the threat, and saving lives.
    All one has to do is look at the Medal of Honor recipients, who are almost always mild-mannered, initially reluctant to act, but DO act, and perform feats who most would think are normally beyond their capacity and capabilities–TRUE bravery in the heat of battle. The same applies to those civilians who act during school shootings.
    Human nature has a habit of propelling (actually forcing) the normal, average person into a true “hero” and life saver, while showing the true nature of those we assign to protect us. A good example of our “protectors” cowering in fear is the deputies who FAILED TO ACT despite having all of the equipment necessary and the preferential laws on their side (that protect them from lawsuits and liability).
    TRUE heroes ACT, while our “protectors” (failed to) REACT.

  7. avatar Flinch says:

    Even if I can’t outshoot every cop I can easily out run them. Perhaps even out walk them

    I miss the good old days when cops were in shape. At least Barney Fife watched his weight.

  8. avatar Marty says:

    Being a retired police detective and police firearms instructor, I can only comment on the LEO’s since I obviously have little experience with how most CCW folks shoot. I was with a fairly large department which on the record allowed officers a whopping 50 rounds a month for practice. In reality, I would issue officers 50 rounds every time the came in even if it was every day. Some take their shooting very seriously, while others couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Some were competitive shooters and members of the police department’s shooting team. Qualifications were quarterly but I seldom saw an officer taken out of the field for failing a qualification. My guess is it’s the same with private citizens, some take their shooting seriously, some don’t.

  9. avatar tdiinva says:

    I don’t know if I am but I know that after not getting to the range for a month due to the weather my trip this past Wednesday was substandard. It took about 30 rounds before I started clustering on the center box on the Q-Bottle target. If you are going to the range twice a year you are going to suck.

  10. avatar rocketscientist says:

    the uncomfortable truth (for the left) is that cops are for the most part just like everyone else. Some are “gun guys” and some could care less and do the bare minimum. btw my cousin’s husband, who is a cop in MA, couldnt tell me if his sidearm was chambered in 9mm or .40 and keeps it at the station. Also, cops have to be proficient in alot of things not just their sidearm. CCW holders that regularly practice I would argue on average are more proficient. someone who does something because they want to is always going to be better than someone who does something because they have to. why democrats choose to believe that a badge magically confers superior firearm proficiency is beyond me. I just wish 60minutes or someone would grab a 100 guys from the average gun club and test them against a random 100 cops selected at random at shooting various skills. the results would enlighten/scare the herd big time is my guess.

  11. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I am pretty confident that I would out shoot most police officers in an actual combat situation. I set up my own dynamic course with human analog targets consisting of one or two attackers and between two and three “friendlies”. They were typically fairly close together (spaced a couple feet apart) and I engaged them from something like 30 feet after slowly spinning around a couple times with my eyes closed to disorient my perception of exactly where everything was. Mind you that I was shooting while moving and had to choose “shooting lanes” that allowed me to hit the attackers without hitting the “friendlies”.

    My hit rate was 85% or better. I shot about 100 rounds through four or five scenarios and only hit bystanders twice — and both shots on bystanders were non-lethal to the edge of their torso.

    If an attack happens, I will be happy to have any armed good-guy at my side (police or otherwise).

  12. avatar Gman says:

    I was on the range a few weeks ago teaching a fellow coworker how to shoot. A friend of hers bought her a Ruger LCP380 because she was moving into a new house all alone. While we were there a 50’s or so gent took the lane next to us. As I always do I make sure anyone on the range around me is being safe and he was. But the teacup grip had me cringing. His full sized 9mm pistol was bobbing up and down like a jackhammer and he was punching a 12″ grouping at about 20′. But not my place to interfere. About 15 minutes into his range time he noticed that my coworkers groupings went from all over the place to about 3 inches at 15′. He asked me if I was a retired cop, he forwarded that he just retired from the local PD. I didn’t say yes, but said I was retired. He asked if I could help him. With 5 minutes of help with his grip he reduced his grouping by over 50%. If that is the average retired cop, yes. My typical combat grouping at 20′ is less than 3 inches. My EDC is a Canik TP9SFL.

  13. avatar former water walker says:

    After shooting a bit as a kid I didn’t pick up a gun again until some 7 years ago. I’m OK but I don’t get qualified immunity or a corrupt po-leece group to protect me. When I see the trigger-happy cops locally(NE Illinois)I wonder if they have ANY training..

  14. avatar Wade says:

    I`ve shot with a few officers over the years. The worst, could barely get it on paper. The best…quick..hide that target. Sooo…no question that I`ll out shoot a cop.

  15. avatar Tile floor says:

    The problem is that police run the gamut of skill. I am a firearms instructor for PD and I’ve recommended people for termination of employment based on shooting skills before. A lot do suck and don’t practice on their own.

    On the other end of the spectrum The officers that are “gun guys” in their free time are great shots. I myself am good. I can go from the holster and put six rounds in a cluster the size of my fist at 5 yards in under 1.5 seconds total time with a stock Glock 22. I’m not an extraordinary shooter by any means, and there are plenty of people on this site that shoot competition that can outshoot me I’m sure, but when I go to the range I typically don’t see anyone outshoot me.

    In general I will say the average police and average non police shooters are about the same. And I am a firm believer that carrying a firearm yourself and not relying on police is crucial.

  16. avatar Harold says:

    Better than 9/10 of them. Probably better than about 49/50 NYPD

  17. avatar TexasLaw says:

    Better then most, Yes. Better then all, No. However I am a cop.

  18. avatar billy-bob says:

    Better than many, have yet to kill an innocent bystander.

  19. avatar Defens says:

    I’ve taken numerous pistol and carbine courses from your very own Jeff Gonzales. Several of those courses were relatively advanced, and most of those contained a mix of LEO (SWAT, in some cases) and Microsoft shooting enthusiasts.

    In almost all cases, the Microsofties (me included) shot faster and more accurately than the cops. These training sessions included moving and shooting, etc. – very little traditional square range stuff. And these were cops that were actually motivated to do more training than their peers.

    I have shot with cops that were far above the norm. Marty Hayes, a nationally known trainer, is/was also a police officer. One of the dominating shooters in our IPSC region several years ago was a Grand Master, in IPSC, as well as a member of the local drug interdiction task force. But these guys are far in the minority skill-wise.

  20. avatar Accur81 says:

    I’m in charge of firearms training at our office. Our staff is more than 120 on the uniformed side. We require 12 pistol, 8 rifle, and 8 shotgun shoots a year. That includes 1 pistol qual, 1 secondary pistol qual, 2 rifle, and 2 shotgun qualifications annually. Our department is at the top end for marksmanship training, and the Secret Service also does a pretty good job. NYPD, with their ridiculous triggers, is at the bottom.

    Despite providing ammo and paying people to go the range, about 30% of our personnel still don’t want to go. I don’t tolerate that. It keeps me up at night that one of them screws up a shooting. The 50% in the middle are marginally proficient. The top 5-10% are competition shooters. One of our guys had a 100% hit ration in two separate combat shootings. I saw one on video and was also involved in his second shooting. He’s a badass.

    So there are at least two people in our office who are 100% hit ratios in real combat shootings. My best friends are a dentist and former Marine, and a current LEO on SWAT. We compete against each other all the time. I’d take them or our top office shooters against an armed assailant any time. The average cop? Not so much.

  21. avatar Ralph says:

    “do you reckon you’re a better shot than your average cop?”

    That’s a loaded question and besides, I have no idea what an “average cop” might be.

    I have shot side by side — actually, lane by lane — with local cops and Secret Service.

    The locals were at best mediocre shooters and their quals were totally lame. Yeah, I could outshoot them all day any day. So could anyone who practices and has had a bit of good instruction.

    OTOH, the Secret Service guys could really shoot and their quals were much tougher than the local yokels.

    In a gunfight, the guy I’d want next to me is the guy who wouldn’t freeze up and stand there like a dummy when the SHTF. If he’s a great shot but chokes in the clutch, he’s of no use to me. If he’s an average shooter who goes all medieval in a crisis, he’s my man.

  22. avatar little horn says:

    really? blanket statement questions? you are literally inviting conjecture against police. not cool.

  23. avatar EU says:

    Would you be willing/allowed to do a write-up on training stories/scenarios? It sounds like you could spin a tale that would mesmerize many of us at our slow-paced desk jobs over our *cough* lunch breaks.

  24. avatar brent says:

    There is a sub reddit dedicated to police negligence because these stories always get swept under the rug to protect our mobsters in blue. https://www.reddit.com/r/Bad_Cop_No_Donut/

  25. avatar Michael Sayles says:

    I’d say I’m better than 95% of all police officers including SWAT. However the 5% that is good is very good. In the small Georgia county I live in a member of the very small sheriff’s department is an instructor at Bill Rogers shooting school. If you really know shooting you know how high speed, low drag that school is, it’s usually booked by Special Operators from here and abroad.

  26. avatar Oh noes says:

    No, I’m as good as most cops i rarely practice because im an ammo tightwad, I want Hickok45 by my side in a shoot out.

  27. avatar Mad Max says:

    Versus the average cop, I’m a much better shot. A cop that actually cares enough to practice, train, and also maintains his firearm, I would have to say a very competitive maybe.

  28. avatar DaveDetroit says:

    In the movies, being a cop means constant gunfights. The reality is far different. And you can’t compare CCW accuracy with Police accuracy in real life scenarios because they are rarely similar occurrences. Being a good cop has very little to do with being a good shot because at the micro level, its very unusual for a cop to even have to draw their firearm.

    CCW holders are first and foremost, people of the gun. Most enjoy shooting as a sport, and devote considerable time to it. You are looking at two very different populations.

    My best friend in a gunfight? Hmm Rambo or John Wayne? Tough choice. Maybe Mel Gibson’s character from the Lethal Weapon series, Dirty Harry?

  29. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    Ralph. Exactly. Accurate shooting is only a small part of the equation. Who do I want beside me in a shtf scenario? The accountant that brags about outshooting the local cops or the cop that has worked the streets of a big city for 15 years?

    Course, I’d rather have a rank noob than anybody from Broward County Sheriffs Dept.

  30. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

    When I was 18 (yes – not 21) I shot at the FOP range in Ft Walton Bch Fl. It was the only pistol range in town.
    I out shot all the cops then I am pretty sure I could do it again 39 years later.

  31. avatar neiowa says:

    Much better than the average. Any pretty good at donuts as will

    BUT when there is a shootin goin on they ALL show up, like coyotes at a weinie roast. And ALL do a mag dump.

    http://www.fox5ny.com/news/video-released-10-sfpd-officers-fire-99-rounds-kill-armed-robbery-suspect-hiding-in-trunk

  32. avatar KTR says:

    I have thought about inviting my former brother-in-law (current LEO) out to shoot at my outdoor shooting club.

    (We do get along well and he has responded to some calls I’ve had to make in the past.)

    But I have no idea how much he gets to shoot. We’ve never had that conversation.

    I’m kind of afraid I might out shoot him. LOL

  33. avatar Jon in CO says:

    I would say I fire the same qualification numbers every year, but I probably dry fire more than 90% of the country.

    In regards to a team mate, I’ll take my people all day, without question or hesitation. Granted, they do PSD work in Iraq.

  34. avatar MeRp says:

    I’m pretty sure the majority of cops (though probably not all) are a better shot with a handgun than I am. Shooting handguns is not at all intuitive to me, but I try.

    As for who I’d want in a firefight (ignoring all legal concerns); probably my friends, though they would probably be far better off with someone else than me; I could likely provide some covering fire, but I’m untested in actual fighting, so I’m not sure how I would react. I would try, and, if I had a rifle or shotgun, if I managed to take action, I probably would do pretty ok. But that is entirely “what if.” Meanwhile, several of my friends are ex-military, some even saw action (I’m of an age where there wasn’t that much action to see). Those ones would probably be pretty ok. An average cop? probably would be too trigger happy and, since they don’t know me, would have expectations of me to behave according to police tactics, which I don’t even know.

  35. avatar tjlarson2k says:

    The problem solves itself. When the police are treated the same in the eyes of the law as average citizens, then it is to their benefit to get more training because the stakes are higher.

    But so longer as the legal loopholes and safety net exist for police officer shootings, there is no incentive to be “better trained”.

  36. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    well, i never miss. never have. ever.
    law enforcement, meh. it seems it would behoove them to learn accuracy.
    as a backup i’d like a really big, slow person.

  37. avatar Craig in IA says:

    Shooting paper or reactive targets or in a real, improptu and unexpected gun fight???

    One of my brothers and I put some 2500 pistol rounds (.45 ACP, .40 S&W and 9 MM) though handguns last summer at various targets near and out to 75 yards. We’ve done a fair amount of shooting over the past 40 years or so but decided to hit the range as often as possible. I know the amount of ammo because I loaded it all… I’d say we became pretty proficient with various 1911s, Glock 23s, 19s and 43s. Darn deadly on paper and metallic targets.

    A real fire fight is a different matter entirely. Unlike a lot of the responders around here who are very certain of themselve and have obviously survived as many gunfights as Matt Dillon, I’ve never been in a real one and pray I never have to but I do believe I have taught myself the proper mindset and can clear my little 43 quickly and aquire targets in what I’d call a smooth, trained and efficient manner. Remains to be seen, hope it never happens. In a real fight, I’d welcome about anyone else with a firearm and ammo that was shooting in the same direction I was. I can’t figure how cops got such a bad rap around here, must still be a lot of post-obama hangover or something…

  38. avatar Mark N. says:

    I have never been shot at or shot at someone else. Until that happens, it is all speculation. I hope to never discover the answer.

  39. avatar Roy Johnson says:

    The ones I know…why yes; yes I am….

  40. avatar T bill says:

    Go look at the police trade-in firearms and tell me where all the wear is. That should answer any questions.

  41. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Have not been around cops shooting in years, but they usually used to be terrible. I really thought I would be much more lethal with a Nylon 66 than a cop with a .357 revolver.

  42. avatar Joe R. says:

    Are You Better Shot Than A Cop?

    Who cares, unless they can read minds and teleport.

    If you catch someone giving a flying F about that (and using it to garner or shape your rights) kick them in the junk as hard as you can.

    Twice.

    Logic, people.

    Logic.

  43. avatar dan says:

    i shoot 200 to 300 rounds a week. With no more than 3 shots between sight pictures. I’ve shot with cops before and was not impressed. They need to spend more time on the range.

  44. avatar tdiinva says:

    Most cops have never been in a firefight either and most never will. The only MOE we have is range performance.

  45. avatar cmac890 says:

    Both my parents are anti-gun cops, and the first time I came home with a target perforated by a range-rental 1911, their jaws dropped. My dad noted that he knew few men on the force that could shoot the mighty .45 that well. Take that as you will.

  46. avatar Steve says:

    I was a Cop 25 +years and trained other cops to shoot.
    Most cops only shoot 50 shots a year to qualify with a 75% score.

    That means in a shootout they will fail.
    If one shoots only50 rounds a week the scores will go up and then they will be better hits at what they shoot at.

  47. avatar Steve Ramsey says:

    I never count on being a better shot than anybody. If SHTF ever came, you are just as likely to be picked off by some punk with a rusty .22 as anyone.

  48. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Am I a better shot then an officer of the law? I’m not willing to find out. … Long range rifle, yes I’m confident that Im better then most SWAT, CIA, FBI Secret Agent Mans

  49. avatar W says:

    Robert Vogel would like a word with you.

  50. avatar J says:

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    Please help save our 2nd Amendment rights. Please pass the first link to others so we can get this petition sent to the White House.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/oppose-gun-control-and-weapons-ban-legislation

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov

  51. avatar Ed Schrade says:

    When revolvers were the carry arm, I think that marksmanship was more important to law enforcement. now with the semi-autos it’s down to spray and pray. Seems like it would also be a matter of public safety for an officer to be a good shot.

  52. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Vogel and Tarran are damn fast with them pistols, but can they hit that blackbird in that tree on top of the hill with a rifle? I can, I also brag and spueth forth bullshit too….. Speaking of bragging and bullshit, it’s about time to get started fishing.

  53. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

    There was a study done some years ago of New York cops. The study said that New York cops only hit what they’re aiming at (assuming they aim, that is) 25% of the time, I think the figure was.

    The reason there are any New York cops still alive is that, according to the study, criminals only hit what they’re shooting at 11 percent of the time.

    So if under an adrenaline rush and running 100 yards, you can hit what you’re shooting at over 25% of the time, you’re a better shot than most cops and certainly most criminals.

    Note that this doesn’t mean you’re better than the cop or criminal you actually go up against… Statistics are not reality. So I’d advise training for something like 50-80% of the time.

  54. avatar Bob grant says:

    I would want an Air Marshal next to me. They are leaps and bounds better shots than almost all police agencies.

  55. avatar Rick Bunn says:

    I’ve heard that a LEO uses a firearm in the line of duty once in 25 years! Its not central to his or her day to day activities. I’ve know LEOs who were TERRIBLE shots on the range and I hope they NEVER have to use a gun in a gun fight. Some I’ve met are firearms people and do shoot very well. The down side is that some LEO’s who are not very good, are convinced that their are ‘professionals’ with firearms. I was on the local range when 3 ICE agents took up the point on my left. I was practicing with a High Standard M103 with the 8″ space gun barrel. One of the young ICE agents took the time to warn me that they were shooting 9mm and hoped that their noise would not upset me. Very condescending. I thanked him for his concern, I put the M103 away and took out my Dad’s Ruger Redhawk in .44Mag and fired 5 rounds into my target double action as fast as I could. The ICE agents were a bit suprised (“WTF???”). All 5 were in the X/10 ring. Oh, Did I bother you???

  56. avatar mark s. says:

    I hope I never have to find out , but the very idea that regular training facilities are not provided for LEO to use at no charge is ludicrous . I know if I chose to carry a side arm every day and was placed in situations where I would be called upon to use it to defend myself and others , I would train weekly at a minimum . I have carried for many years and been very fortunate to have my own land in the country side where I could practice shooting all my firearms and had I not trained myself with stress training for many years I probably would be reluctant to carry every day so the idea that people do i.e. LEO is baffling at the least .
    Given the information I’ve seen here and read elsewhere and heard first hand from LEO’s , I would have to answer this question …………… regretfully , with a YES .

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