Take Training into Your Own Hands

Training is one of the most valuable duties any law enforcement officers can perform. Whether it is legal updates or self-defense the information you learn not only makes you a better officer but can one day save your life. Unfortunately, too many officers wish to be spoon fed when it comes to training. But, that is not the reality and if you want to make the most of your career you need to take matters into your own hands.

I recently had the opportunity to assist instruct new officers in defensive tactics, something every officer know can sometimes be the difference between life and death – but also take repeated practice to approach something that even resembles mastering a manoeuvre. We made it almost to the end before facing that question every instructor dreads “When are we going to get to train in this?”

Our Chief was on hand (he is a lead instructor and avid martial art practitioner) and his answer was what you would expect – “You are going to need to do some of the work yourself”. He did explain he wished he could provide the training needed to make each of them proficient in the techniques taught but that was not possible.

Of course time, money and instructor availability were all factors but what it really comes down to is it is impossible to provide the training needed to do so. Defensive tactics, like many of the skills law enforcement officers, depend on, require thousands of repetitions before being part of the subconscious. That amount of training simply cannot be provided, it can only be achieved through personal involvement.
Yes, there are times when you will need to develop your own training regiment, on your own time without instruction or compensation. No gym? No equipment? No time?
No problem.

Such training can be done in the comfort of your own living room, man cave or backyard with little equipment and no real loss of your valuable free time.
Let me give you an example.

During a recent firearms armorer training course I happened to observe the instructor while the students were conducting a skills drill. As this is going on the instructor has little to do except wait for a question. So, while he was waiting I watched him reviewing paperwork AND working on draw, reload and holster drills.

No, he did not have a firearm or even a duty belt. He was simply standing at the podium reading and silently going through the motions of drawing a firearm, firing, reloading, firing and holstering.
During the rest of the day I watched him repeat this process whenever he had some down time or was doing something else that left his hands free. Over the course of a couple hours, he must have achieved almost a thousand repetitions all without ever setting foot on a range or holding a firearm.

This same theory can be applied to self-defense, handcuffing, ASP baton or a host of other disciplines. Of course, the key is to remember to conduct each repetition correctly so the muscle memory achieved is also correct. Then when you go to the range, gym or training room what you do will be confirmation rather than training.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

1 thought on “Take Training into Your Own Hands

  1. Hello Tom,

    I enjoyed this article and agree with you. I have retired from both the US Army and public safety. It has been an honor and a real privilege to serve.

    I started my careers in1979 and stayed hungry for training. Throughout my time, I have encountered an all too common theme that goes something like this, “if the agency isn’t paying for it I ain’t going”. Fortunately, most personnel get away with this approach. Unfortunately, many feel vindicated because they got by.

    I have been providing free training to police, fire, EMS and military for over a decade now. Even so, unless I offer to provide chow, ammunition and a schedule to their liking, relatively few take advantage of the opportunity. It is rather funny that I could fill classes consistently when I charged for the courses.

    Keep up with what you are doing. The information and views you share do not fall on deaf ears.

    God bless you,


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