Report 17 The Garland Shooting and the Value of Training

On 4 May 2015, two Islamist wannabes decided to avenge all Muslims by shooting up the Mohammed Cartoon event in Garland, Texas. I have written numerous times about the Muslim mindset and the problems I have with it. However, today I want to take a look at the officer who stopped the attack and what made him able to act as he did.

The officer, a 38 year veteran, is a patrol officer for the Garland, Texas police department. By all accounts the officer, who is at this time unnamed, coolly drew his weapon and advanced through the opposing gunfire and killed both assailants.

Did he do this because he had that extra measure of courage, or a death wish, or was it because he had the requisite training to give him the confidence he needed when the time was right? I don’t know this officer but would certainly like to sit down for a chat. My belief is that this hero was able to do what he did because of extensive training and practice.

I discuss with all of my students the value of “muscle memory.” It is sad how many of my students take the Basic Pistol class and never pick up their guns to practice. They think that just because they took the class they are ready for anything. If this Garland police officer had had that attitude 38 years ago, those two cretins would have probably gotten into the Culwell Center and killed a lot of people.

As it is this officer practices enough to be totally confident in his abilities with his sidearm. He saw the threat and advanced toward it to close the distance between him and the bad guys. The average citizen, even those with Concealed Handgun Permits (CHPs) would certainly react differently.

How much is enough training, or even too much training? That is the shooter’s ultimate unanswerable question. I have had some students that take an extraordinary amount of practice just to get them up to an acceptable level of proficiency. Others pick up the techniques readily and are able to do well much sooner. But what about proficiency that comes with executing a shot using muscle memory?

I have heard it said that if you do something 10 times in a row you will start to make connections between your left and right brain. This translates to converting conscious thought into action. If you do that same activity 30 times you start to grow those connections, and if you do it 3000 times (not necessarily in one session) you have what I call developed muscle memory. However, even if you have developed this muscle memory, shooting, like most physical actions, is a perishable skill. The longer you lay off an activity like shooting, the longer it will take for your skill to come back up to where it once was.

Talking with law enforcement officers I have known over the years, the required qualification course is only (for most agencies) administered once a year and very little practice time, ammunition, or coaching is provided. That puts the onus on the officer to maintain proficiency. This is an expense in time and ammunition that has to come out of the officers’ pay. If they need a coach, often the department’s training officer just doesn’t have time to help. As a tax payer I would much prefer that the police officers and sheriff’s deputies have the requisite skill to perform as that officer did in Garland. I’m sure the citizens of Garland have absolutely no problem with the idea that the officer in question has taken the time and effort to maintain his proficiency.

I would like to add a short note about this country’s law enforcement officers. They have an incredibly hard job and many times they are not appreciated for the job they do. I, for one, would like to say “Thank You for being so selfless as to put yourselves on the line for my family and me.”

Now a little touch of shameless advertising. Falcon Personal Security provides free coaching to all former students. If you haven’t achieved the proficiency you desire, sign up for one or more of our classes.