Tactical World - - Contents - Text by Shoji Hat­tori | Photo by Photo gu­rux00x via Getty Im­ages

There is a dan­ger­ous mis­con­cep­tion out there. It af­fects law en­force­ment, and it very likely af­fects oth­ers, too. It is the mis­aligned per­cep­tion of one’s own abil­i­ties.

Test Time

I re­cently met a young of­fi­cer, “Tony,” from a small agency in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. He had come through my train­ing school I run on the week­ends. His fu­ture fa­ther-in-law, who is a civil­ian and an avid shooter, brought him by be­cause he wanted to see and eval­u­ate how his fu­ture son-in-law shoots.

I found Tony to be a very con­fi­dent young man, and he car­ried him­self well. He seemed re­laxed and got along with other stu­dents well, too. In fact, he ap­peared as if he was ready to smoke ev­ery­one there.

Some­one told me later that Tony be­lieved that he was one of the bet­ter shoot­ers there—if not the best. Oth­er­wise, why would he be there in the first place with bunch of civil­ian shoot­ers? Why would he want to em­bar­rass him­self in front of ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing his fu­ture fa­ther-in-law, as the only LEO in the class? The next six hours were truly an ex­cru­ci­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Tony.


Of course, all eyes were on Tony, early on, to see what he could do as an of­fi­cer. Tony shot his is­sued SIG P220 in .45. Sadly, Tony got smoked by ev­ery­one in the class and came in dead last out of 15-or-so stu­dents. Tony shot poorly, with rounds go­ing all over the place, with ab­so­lutely no group­ing. Many of the stu­dents were reg­u­lar shoot­ers and train reg­u­larly with me. Many shoot com­pe­ti­tions. Un­be­knownst to Tony, we even had a USPSA GM shoot­ing among them.

Dur­ing the class, I had set up the range to sim­u­late a re­cent sce­nario in which an in­no­cent fe­male was taken hostage by a knife-wield­ing sus­pect. Sev­eral of­fi­cers shot mul­ti­ple rounds from many an­gles, de­spite the dif­fi­culty as­so­ci­ated with such a hostage sit­u­a­tion, killing the hostage and the hostage-taker. The video caused an up­roar among both the pub­lic and the law en­force­ment com­mu­nity.

Dur­ing the ex­er­cise, Tony failed to neu­tral­ize the threat, and he was the only one in the class who shot the hostage from mere 5 to 6 yards away.

Tony’s per­for­mance was so bad that many of the stu­dents came up to me in pri­vate and asked if Tony saw his own de­fi­cien­cies. I replied, “He is bleed­ing in­side. Trust me.”

7 Days Later

About a week af­ter the class, I was told that Tony was in deep, deep de­pres­sion af­ter the class and even con­tem­plated quit­ting the po­lice force. Tony could not be­lieve how in­suf­fi­cient he was as a shooter and was truly em­bar­rassed that the civil­ians out shot him by a great mar­gin.

To me, the great­est folly was the fact that he be­lieved he was good enough just go­ing to the po­lice academy for a few months and shoot qual­i­fi­ca­tion three times a year. I asked Tony dur­ing the class how of­ten he shot. He said aside from depart­ment qual­i­fi­ca­tions, he felt no need to shoot oth­er­wise.

Good & Bad

All too of­ten peo­ple treat their carry firearm, or in the case of an of­fi­cer, their badge and their pis­tol, as if they are mag­i­cal tal­is­mans that will ward off evil. You may have heard the say­ing, “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is a mis­con­cep­tion.

It is more cor­rect to say that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a well-trained good guy with a gun.

In a gun­fight, train­ing, or soft­ware, will al­ways trump hard­ware. TW

Many have a mis­aligned per­cep­tion of their abil­i­ties, says the au­thor ( not shown). Thus, get out and train.

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