View Full Version : Street Cop (and SD) survival, my thoughts.

April 4, 2012, 12:22 PM
I spent 20 years as a cop, most of which was as a firearms instructor and FTO (Field Training Officer). Besides that, most of my adult life I’ve been involved in firearm instruction, military and civilian, I’ve taught SWAT, Military & LE Snipers (and still do) but these are my thoughts based on my experience.

Required Reading: I had my rookies read “No Second Place Winner” buy Bill Jordon, stressing the Mr. Jordon’s ideals of practice, draw and fire one shot, and his suggested method of carry.

The second book was the “Onion Field” by Joseph Wambaugh, stressing, never give up your gun and if someone has the drop on you, you are not necessarily at a disadvantage.

Finely, “Officer Down, Code 3” by Pierce R. Brooks, a series analyst of officers being shot.

One thing I always stress, on the FL and elsewhere is the need to practice and shoot one handed, both hands.

Think about it, you seldom have both hands free. You always have something in the other hand, flashlight, doorknob, car door, bandit, pushing way a loved one. Think about your daily activity. How often do you really have both hands free?

Another example, shooting behind barricades, or other cover. If you are using two hands, there is more of your body exposed then one hand. Simple test. Stand in front of your partner who is behind a barricade. Have him point his index finger at your using one and then both hands. Watch to see which exposes more of his body.

Learn to shoot with your left (or weak hand). If shooting from the left side of the barricade, use your left hand, if shooting from the right side of the barricade use your right hand.

Carry a small mechanic’s mirror (or wife’s compact) when searching rooms or buildings. Use the mirror to peek around corners.

If you use a laser sight on your pistol/revolver practice shooting using the mirror. You can poke your mirror and gun around the barricade and see the red dot on the target via the mirror. Try it, worse thing that can happen is you get some fun practice, but I think you’ll find with a bit of practice you can get pretty good.

Now we all know you can’t pull your gun every time you see something suspicious or you’re in a bad area. No problem, learn to draw, if you are within three yards and it takes you more than 1 sec to get a shot into the A/B scoring area, you need practice, or need to modify your method of carry.

I’m old and slow so I need an advantage. I normally walk around with my hands in my pocket anyway so I pocket carry a 642. Using a shot timer I can normally get the shot of in .5 seconds. Many doubt that, so be it, but remember, I start with my hand on the gun. If I see something suspicious then I finger my revolver up a bit, where I can get a grip, yet keep it concealed. Again, its method of carry, method of carry and PRACTICE.
I have a little J frame “blue gun”. I spend quite a bit of time with that rubber gun in my pocket practicing drawing and pointing.

Go to the range with your shooting partner. Both of you face the target. Have your partner point his gun at the target and tell him to fire as soon as you see you start to draw. You’ll find you can get your shot off first so don’t believe is someone has the drop on you they have an advantage. Action is faster than reaction.

It helps if you can get your partner (or bandit in real life) talking. You can not talk and shoot. Try it. You’ll find out you have to stop talking to pull the trigger. Just like breathing. You don’t shoot while breathing, you can’t do it. You stop the instant you pull the trigger. Remember the movie “TAKEN”, the last shooting scene. Bandit has good guys daughter at knife point. Soon as the Bandit starts to say “Let Negotiate” good guy pops him. (Somebody did a bit of thinking when writing that scene).

As to Bad Breath Distance. Bandit has the drop on you, one hand goes to the face/eyes, the other goes for your revolver. Ever see anything come to your eyes that didn’t cause you to flinch?

If approaching a car window with a ticket book, the driver has a gun, the ticket book, flashlight or whatever to the eyes caused one to flinch. Learn automatic reflexes and use them to your advantage.

Face to face, one hand goes to the eyes the other draws, you can practice that getting arms length to your target, palm to face as you draw and shoot.

Now I always preach One handed shooting, there are exceptions and maybe a bit of two handed practice wouldn’t hurt. Get a hostage target and practice shooting it with your revolver. Use the attached target, print it out, dry fire at it and practice shooting. To add stress superimpose a picture of your daughter on the good guy portion of the target. Believe me, that will add stress.

Hostage target:


I’m a big believer of laser sights, if nothing else, then for dry firing. You get instant feed back. Ball and dummy work to a point. A dime on the barrel helps, but neither can compare to watching the red dot bouncing around on your target as you dry fire.

Another thing, Snakes, I live in rattler country. I’ve killed several in the yard because rattlers and grandkids don’t play well together. Since I always carry my 642 that’s my snake getter of choice. But it takes practice. I have my own range and have several shotgun hulls laying around. I spend a lot of time drawing and shooting the hulls. Helps in dealing with rattlers.

I use my pocket revolver for everything so I carry it all the time. Besides snakes I’ve had to nail coyotes who are trying to steal my chickens, I’ve put down injured horses, and dispatched wounded animals after traffic accidents. No gun is worth a hoot if you don’t have it.

In a home invasion a pistol in the pocket beats a pistol on the night stand.

These are just a few tricks I’ve learned over the years, they work for me, may or may not work for you, many will disagree, so be it, we’re all different and have different ideals based on our personal experiences.

So take it for what it’s worth.

Paul K
April 4, 2012, 02:45 PM
This is some really useful advice. I think most of it I already "knew" but I never really thought about how important it was- i.e. one handed shooting.

I appreciate you listing the books that you did. What do you think of Col. Jeff Cooper?

April 4, 2012, 04:42 PM
I know more than a couple of shooters who are perfectly capable of talking and shooting at the same time.

April 4, 2012, 05:22 PM
Thanks Kraig,

Your advice is good. When I was hired, I rode with another officer for a week or so roughly to learn the streets, and then I was tossed out on my own. Even though I had been through the academy, beyond the book learning, it was learned by doing it myself.

Since you mentioned the "bad breath" distance...What has worked well for me has been to not only stay aware of it, but to keep adjusting my position regularly throughout the contact. Other officers I have known want to keep telling the person they are dealing with to back up, stand still, etc...I have found sometimes it leads to an agitated person more so then moving myself slightly here or there within reason.

When practicing, I have noticed a few things as well. Shoot at a paper target (or similar steel/cardboard), be it the B27, a hostage type target, etc. Plinking at cans doesnt cut it. Also, dont keep trying to be perfect from the start. Work on becoming consistant, and staying that way. Only then you know what is working, and what isnt.

Dont just practice shooting. Practice drawing too, even weak handed. Not many people are comfortable, and some dont have a clue. Also for officers, practice moving as a group, take downs, etc. When doing this be sure to practice your communication. Even more so with the Taser, since it has a pistol-like silhouette, and when discharged it makes a "POP" sound. Ensure your fellow officer knows you are planning on, or going to Taser, instead of shoot, so there is little chance of sympathetic shooting.

I get some jokes about the lasergrips I keep around for my 1911. They are excellent as you mentioned for dry fire practice. They can and do show bad habits we may not see otherwise, or admit to.

Dont be afraid to sometimes make a fool out of yourself. Sometimes we all have a question, or make a mistake, so dont be afraid to "man up" and ask "hey, what about this...." The only real foolish question is the one you didnt ask. The only real foolish mistake, is the one you hide, and dont try to improve in the future so you dont repeat it. We are all human, so live and learn.

Its O.K. to be scared. This is something seldom discussed, but worth noting. There is nothing wrong with being scared as long as you continue to follow through with the job at hand, and do the proper things. Some discuss it as fear, some say its being scared, I dont care what term you use. Just follow through doing the best you can and never give up hope.

April 5, 2012, 11:51 AM
I am no expert however I have learned a few things by mistake that didn't end badly for me but could have. I am going to list a few for the purpous of discussion. Fishing Cabin mentioned manning up so I will man up here and maybe someone else will benefit.

Gloves- Where I live it gets cold and there fore most of my survival situations on the street I would be wearing gloves. I had an incident this winter while walking the dog where I felt the need to draw my glock in order to deal with loose dogs that I thought might give mine trouble. I learned in that moment that my Glove and Holster combination resulted in a ridicolously slow draw and a barley there ability to manipulate the firearm. Thankfully I did not have to shoot. I have now swithced to thin work gloves that can be picked up at Home Depot for $20 per pair. They work in all but the coldest of situations and I am able to draw and fire every handgun I own. (I know because I tried and trained when I learned this was a problem)

Outterwear- Along those same lines remember that drawing from under a vest is one thing drawing from under a parka is something else. The outterwear helps with keeping things out of your hands with all the pockets but can restrict the draw. I have also learned not to wear a coat that fits snug to the waist. A parka that is loose fitting at the bottom is more effective.

Self Awarness- It is amazing what the rest of your body does whiile you attempt to move and shoot. I took a squirt pistol to a range (because I dont owne a blue gun) and practiced moving while shooting targets. I cannot tell you how many times I tangled my feet up or bumbled over rocks or roots. Praticing foot movment is something that takes a long time.

Kraig- I find your comment about shooting snakes amusing specifically because the first time I did it I learned how badly I sucked. .38 charter snubbie that I took fishing. I finally got the dam thing on the fifth round and boy did that suck.

Regards, Vermonter

April 5, 2012, 11:59 AM
Outer wear and Gloves.

I seldom used gloves in LE, and I worked in Anchorage. I used "air force gloves".

We did have parka's. They were designed for LE with a zipper side that allows access to the service revolver.

I had a 2 in model 10 in my coat pocket and until I found I could do otherwise, my right hand was in my pocket, on the gun. If push comes to shove I could fire from inside the pocket.

One just needs to try all options and see what works best for them.

April 5, 2012, 12:04 PM
Thanks Kraig. I enjoy your posts and learn from the each time. Keep 'em coning!

KC Rob
April 5, 2012, 06:11 PM
Good stuff Kraig. Thanks for sharing.

April 9, 2012, 11:48 PM
When I get back home I am printing out the OP and taping it up. Thanks Kraigwy.

April 10, 2012, 12:02 AM
kraigwy Is Giving Sage advise indeed. I was a LEO for 32 yrs and agree with him 100%.

Single Six
April 10, 2012, 12:40 PM
Good info as always, Kraig. I'll only add some other great LE classic books for consideration, namely: "Total Survival" by Ed Nowicki, "The Tactical Edge" and also "Street Survival", both by Charles Remsberg. Also, regarding snakes: Until a few years ago, in my LE duties, I would use a machete to dispatch snakes found in homes. This seemed like a good idea, since shooting them was obviously ruled out. The problem with this approach was that, while effective, the machete required me to get way too close to said serpents...and it was also a bloody mess. I found the solution in the sjambok, a type of whip sold by Cold Steel. It is whip-like, yet semi-solid and swung like a rod or stick. As the catalog says, little skill is required to wield it effectively. However, it gives the user plenty of standoff distance, and is available in both 42" and 54" lengths. Quite affordable, too. I was skeptical at first, but I figured I'd give it a try. So far, my sjambok has accounted for 4 snakes; all of whom were very impressed with it.;)

April 10, 2012, 04:55 PM
Whenever an experienced LEO speaks I listen. They know better than I do so thanks for the post. It may save my life. :cool:

April 10, 2012, 06:19 PM
Thanks, Great advice there Kraig! You are spot on pertaining to one handed practice.

April 16, 2012, 01:51 AM
Great read! Really appreciate that a lot. :D

April 16, 2012, 09:31 AM
Thanks for the insight and suggestions, Kraig.

April 28, 2012, 01:14 AM
Street Cop (and SD) survival, my thoughts.

Excellent reading. That's why I come to this site.

April 28, 2012, 04:35 AM
Whenever an experienced LEO speaks I listen. They know better than I do

What a load of garden fertilizer. Experienced does not equal knowledgeable or trained. I know several experienced LEO's none of whom have the knowledge that Kraigwy relates.

I do enjoy his sharing and I have began to incorporated several of his ideals into my shooting practices.