For 3 days in late August (28-30) 7 law enforcement officers from Tennessee and Kentucky gathered in Nashville Tn. to attend Out Post Training Group’s Law Enforcement Vehicle Tactics Class. The class was hosted by the Nashville International Airport Police Dept. and conducted at their range.
The Range: The PD range is situated on the back side of the airport, off the beaten path making it private and secluded. It is also considered a secure area so access can be made only by approved airport personnel. As a result once we were on the range we were there for the day. Everyone brought their own lunch which made for a comfortable atmosphere and as usual much good information was exchanged. The only downside to the range was the fact it was covered with gravel. Not pea gravel, or creek rock, but gravel road gravel. My aversion to knee pads cost me dearly. In all fairness Bill did warn us in his pre-class email that knee pads were recommended.
Students: All 7 students were full time sworn Law Enforcement. Sheriff’s Deputies, Municipal Police and Airport Officers were all represented. Experience covered the gauntlet from regular patrol, criminal interdiction, SWAT, and K9 giving the class a wealth of experience that we could use to relate what was taught in the class to the street. LF’s very own Wild Bill had the honor being the senior officer in the class with literally more time policing (43yrs) than most students had living. Or maybe its 34yrs. Fellow Lightfighter, Don’tTreadOnMe, was also in attendance. This was my second class I have attended with DTOM and although I hadn’t seen him in several years, in true LF’er fashion we picked up right where we left off.
Instructors: LF’er Puma4, aka: Bill Toy, was the lead instructor and is Director Of Training for OTG. Bill has a unique background of military, contracting (machine guns not nail guns contracting) and full time law enforcement experience. Troy Hooker was Bills assistant and proved to be a capable instructor in his own right. With 22yrs of Law Enforcement experience he has spent the last 3 as the full time range master/firearms instructor for the several hundred deputies at his department.
Gear: I utilized my personal patrol rifle, a 16in BCM middy with BCM rail, Smith Vortex hider, Aimpoint H1 in a Larue mount and a Sheriff Of Baghdad “B” Sling. I use a cobbled G2 with a Malkoff LED and VTac mount for illumination. I used a mix of Lancers, GI and PMAGs all without issue. For a side piece I brought my trusty Gen 3 Glock 17 W/ a DG switch equipped 300UB, and Dawson F/O sights (that DTOM claimed he could track from the staging area several yards to my rear). I’ve put approx. 28,000 rounds through this gun and had my first issue, a FTF, in this class. Ammo was Freedom Munitions reloads from the great ammo crisis of early ‘16. I used my standard duty gear throughout the class and did have a slight issue with a very small rock jamming the ALS system in my holster.
DAY 1: We began day one with a meet up at the airport PD office. Introductions were made by students and instructors. Bill talked a little about his learning objectives for the class…
"Use accurate fire to put hits on target and neutralize the attacker, while using available cover efficiently and effectively". (Paraphrased)
From there we convoyed out to the range. OTG operates its mobile training from a large enclosed trailer that contains everything you need for a class. Steel, stands, backers, barricades and targets were all neatly organized for efficient set up.
We began with the medical/safety brief, outlining primary and secondary personnel, as well as the evac plan and route.
After the medical brief we got down to business. We began by going over positional shooting utilizing the VTac style 9 hole barricades first with pistols then with rifles. Each positon was demonstrated with an explanation of how it could be applied to a vehicle. After several dry runs we went live putting rounds on target. Both Bill and Troy held us accountable for each round we fired.
After a short break the barricades came down. Bill & Troy then utilized two barrels and some target posts to form the rough shape of a vehicle. Several other barrels and wall barricades turned sideways were also set up to use as cover. Once a student started their run they would move from station to station, choosing what shooting position to use to best maximize the available cover while doing so. Each run was observed by Bill or Troy and each student was given a one on one critique afterward.
After a quick “working” lunch, the 3 vehicles we would be working around were moved onto the range. We then applied what we had went over that morning to shooting around actual vehicles. Bill and Troy repeatedly stressed not to crowd cover, which was good because many of us repeatedly did initially and throughout the day. After working several scenarios we moved to a short block on team movement. This was basic communications between team mates, nothing complicated or elaborate.
Next began the “ballistic lab” portion of the class. We fired numerous and varied rounds including multiple duty rounds into different sections of the vehicle. This was not the first ballistic lab I had participated in and it served well to reinforce what I had seen in the other. That is, for the most part a bullet does what a bullet wants to do when it enters a car, with many variables. We also covered how different vehicle brands are more resistant to bullets than others. Additionally it’s always a little discerning to see repeatedly that usually the cheapest ammo you buy, FMJ, offers some of the best penetration through vehicles. This translates to the ammo being carried in most bad guy’s guns. Bill and Troy also covered ways that we can ensure better hits when firing into vehicles.
The day ended with a 9-hole barricade shoot off and a quick AAR over what we had covered.
Day 2: We started bright and early with our daily medical/safety brief. We then moved straight to the line and shot the 300 point version of “The Humbler” cold. It was, well, a humbler.
Bill went back into the ballistics of shooting vehicles. The A, B, C, and D pillars and their ability, or lack thereof, to absorb rounds were covered in depth. It was also pointed out that although the A pillar is capable of absorbing rounds it is obviously not very big.
We then moved into exiting vehicles under fire. The fact that you may have to fight someone off of you in order or gain the opportunity to actually egress the vehicle was driven home. Controlling the seatbelt was stressed as well as ensuring your footing. Rounds were fired through the windshield by each student for the experience. Bill also took a moment to discuss how this and similar training gives us a foundation to testify on if we are ever involved in a vehicle shooting and forced to fire a large number of rounds into a vehicle to stop the threat.
After a slightly longer than quick lunch, as a respite from the heat, we went into traffic stops. Bill demonstrated his belief on proper positioning and we discussed driver vs passenger side approaches. He also discussed in detail the importance of having your hips set for rapid movement while conducting your stop. Additionally, he showed us to use the “touch the trunk lid” moment as a reminder to set your hips in the correct position. Targets were then placed into the seats and we conducted mock stops. Bill or Troy would then call out a threat and its location (driver/passenger) and we would react accordingly.
It’s was during this period we slowed down slightly to discuss a trend that was being observed. The almost ingrained habit for officers to want to stand and fight from the pillars during training. Bill and Troy then demonstrated how the proper use of angles during movement to cover could enhance our chances of survival.
We ended by shooting the 300 Point Aggregate a second time with DTOM soundly trouncing the competition. Before leaving Bill gave a quick safety brief for the next day as there would be no live ammo on the range due to the force on force exercises. Bill also explained that he would be providing all the rifles for the force on force evaluations and most of the handguns. After a quick AAR of the day’s topics we were done.
Day 3 started with rain looming in the forecast that thankfully brought cooler temps than the prior day. After a very detailed safety brief we conducted 3 searches (self, buddy, instructor) of our pockets and gear for live ammo. The entrance road semi-circles the range and the day prior we had been instructed to park on the far side for this day and that no live ammo would be brought to the range area. The road would serve as a buffer zone and anyone crossing the road would have to be searched upon coming back. I felt this was a well thought out plan, much better than I had previously seen when conducting LE simms training. OTG uses UTM marking rounds and the associated weapons conversions. Rifles are or course ARs and Glock 17s are utilized as the handguns. We then fitted out helmets and gear.
We were also introduced to our opposition for the day. Uniquely OTG brought in non- LE role players. This was different from all other force on force that I had done and proved to be a great learning experience. This removed the competitive/dick measuring nature of most police FOF training. All 3 however were experienced shooters and it showed.
Vehicles were moved out of view from the staging area and preset for the evals. Once we began each student ran 3 separate scenarios under Bill or Troys watchful eye. After each scenario we conducted a quick AAR with the instructors and the role players. I can’t begin to explain how much more smoothly things seemed to run with non-LE role players. Obviously this ate up the day with a lot of down time. As has often been discussed this did little to slow the learning. Conversations in the staging area were lively and educational. We ended with a more detailed AAR of the class. Bill asked each of us to list a couple of things we had taken from the class and how we thought he could make the class better.
One of the things that sticks with me most from the class was a comment Bill made during one of the evals and again I’m paraphrasing to a small degree, “Remember the legacy you leave your family. Even if you can’t win the confrontation strive to perform to a level your family and friends will be proud of.”
This was not a “burn it down’ super shoot’em up class. I estimate my round count was less than 400 rounds each for rifle and pistol. It was however one of the most educational and well taught classes I have attended and by far the best law enforcement training I have received. The class flowed smoothly and logically which is a testament to OTG staff as this was the first Vehicle Tactics class they have scheduled.
Don’t hesitate to train with Bill and his staff, you won’t regret the experience.