029 – 5 Lessons Tactical Operators Can Learn From Civilian Shooters

029 – 5 Lessons Tactical Operators Can Learn From Civilian Shooters

While attending a “Military and LE – Only” course I mentioned to some of the students in the class “There are certain things that we can definitely take from civilian shooters”. The thin blue line (and thin green line) immediately started to scream “Witch! Traitor! Heathen!” etc. (Okay, they didn’t scream those things …exactly… but they implied it heavily) Check out the podcast and the rest of the article below 🙂

Where Do I Get One???

Everyone loves wearing cool-guy-gear. Have you been on Instagram lately? One of the coolest things about the internet is that small companies are popping up all over the place and they are sharing their cutting edge (and shitty) products and services with the world. As a military and LE gunfighter you no longer have to wait for the 20 pound printed annual gear distributor phone-book type catalogue to arrive on your doorstep. This is a wonderful time!

I think it’s a little silly for a cop to say “we can’t learn anything from these civilians” and also for him to put his feet up on his loading table at the back of the range and scroll through instagram looking at all the civilian gear companies with civilian shooters showcasing new tactical gear.

Of the following two, whose door would you be knocking on to learn about the latest and greatest gear that you might want to add to your kit?

Resume’ says: “Current LE Sergeant in charge of a high speed low drag unit. Fully Qualified on all weapons platforms. Familiar with patrol rifle operations and tactical drop leg holsters.”


Resume says: “I’ve never been a cop or been in the military. But I spend some time on the range.”

(*Incase you can’t pick up the heavy sarcasm I choose dude number 2. It’s actually Truexodus from Instagram who I definitely will be keeping an eye on to attend some of his training if he’s ever in my area)


Dayummmmm that’s fast!

At least in the competitive civilian shooting world the whole name of the game is speed and efficiency. Meanwhile … I have spend quite a bit of time on government ranges where the procedure is “Shoot – take a pause – slowly and safely reload – ok… ready?”. I really do think that if you’ve never beed to an USPSA or IDPA match, if you are a government gunfighter or a civilian, you should go at least once, even if it’s just to watch.

Comfortable with Cover

I have only shot a handful of civilian competitive shooter matches at this point, but man, let me tell you – some of those never-been-a-cop shooters are REALLY adept at shooting through and around many different obstacles and different types of cover. And a lot of them have really good efficient body mechanics going from all sorts of modified prones and kneeling positions and leaning positions and switching hands and crouching etc. It’s like a bad ass highly armed ballet watching them move around obstacles and use smart footwork and bend and twist and raise and lower their bodies.

My old man, a 30 year police officer, always always always told me there are two things that you should always try to avoid during a shootout:

“You should always try to either be moving or shooting from behind cover. Never stand there in the open”.

Because you wear a badge does NOT mean that you have been imbibed with special magical knowledge. I know cops and military members that could NOT fucking hit a barn door from within arms length of it. Myself, and several people I have worked with as “operators” have turned to expensive civilian training to sharpen our skills in areas that the government was unable to facilitate.

Often civilian shooting courses will provide extensive obstacle usage and awareness. Some civilian shooters – especially competitive shooters – really take using cover to a science and are quite comfortable working around barriers.

On the flip side, the following is a true story:

Government Qualification Course: “Ok shooters. Well…. we’re supposed to shoot around a barricade for your qualification but we don’t have any barricades. So… just lean to the left a little when you shoot, and then lean to the right a little. That’s good enough.”

It doesn’t matter how much value you get through your time on the government qualification range, it matters that you check off boxes. On a civilian range it almost NEVER matters what box you check but that you earned some value out of your range time.




Government shooting, at least qualification courses, almost NEVER require an officer to effectively shoot while on the move (or behind cover – the two most important tactics in a real life shootout imho).

Civilian shooters (again, specifically the competitive ones) LOOOOOVVVEEEEE to show of how fast they can walk and shoot, or run from obstacle to obstacle. Yes, we can definitely learn quite a bit from that.


And to bring it full circle there are a lot of really stupid things that civilians do to try to look tactical on gun ranges. We should very seriously be aware of those things so that we can stay FAR away from those “techniques”. You can learn a lot from other peoples failures, especially the self corrective ones.

And as a bonus hopefully after hearing our podcast or reading this article you may be even MORE aware now that qualifications don’t fucking mean shit. Badges, Uniforms, Certifications are all about as useful as Fuck-All. What matters is you, not your title.



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-Pat & TX Joe


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