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Using video analysis to improve shooter performance

Law enforcement firearms instructors are finally starting to embrace the use of video technology on the live-fire range


If you’re ready to go beyond basic video capabilities, Max Michel – the current International Practical Shooting Confederation World Champion – has developed a better way to use video.


Law enforcement officers are surrounded by video cameras. Body-worn cameras, dash cameras and surveillance cameras have changed the way police operate on a daily basis. These cameras provide more evidence for our investigations, document our public interactions and give us an opportunity to debrief our performance from call to call. A quick search of PoliceOne’s own BluTube website provides a nearly limitless selection of videos. Today, law enforcement firearms instructors are finally starting to embrace the use of video technology on the live-fire range.

Video as a training tool

Video as a training tool is not a new idea. Law enforcement trainers have been using video during classes for years to emphasize a point, discuss the finer details of a tactic, or just to entertain students. But video has the ability to do much more. Video analysis of student performance can offer a way to continue learning long after shooters have left the range.

There are many opportunities to learn from video analysis of shooters on the range. Most law enforcement firearms instructors would shudder at the thought of officers bringing their cell phones onto the range. For many instructors, cell phones on the range are just another distraction. However, these instructors are missing out on a great training opportunity. In all of our classes, we encourage shooters and instructors to dig those phones out of their range bags to use them as a training tool.

As an instructor, how often have you found yourself debriefing shooters after a drill? Hopefully, this happens nearly every time. But, how often have you been able to show them exactly how they performed? Video analysis offers instructors the ability to show shooters exactly what they did and how they did it with little room for argument. This creates a uniquely individual debriefing that helps to create a deeper understanding of shooter performance.

The basic video recording function available on nearly all cell phones is one good tool we can use to provide feedback. Recording a shooter’s performance and using it to debrief afterwards is a great way to reinforce good habits and to correct errors. Additionally, most of today’s phones have the ability to record slow motion video, which can help identify specific details of shooter performance. Even without this capability on a phone, the most basic video editing software has this feature.

Videos of drills allow for training off the range

Allowing cell phones on the range gives shooters the ability to take videos and photos of different drills so they can use those drills in their own practice sessions. Good drills in class become great drills when shooters can remember them for their own practice. Everyone has gone to a class and forgotten something important that could have been useful later. Videos can be viewed later giving students an opportunity to refresh their memory extending the value of training.

Some ground rules to follow

There are some caveats to what we allow to be photographed or recorded on the range. If there are students assigned to undercover assignments where public exposure of their identity could jeopardize their safety, then no phones are allowed. Additionally, we caution against posting videos that may embarrass others in the class. All of our classes are briefed on these rules and everyone is expected to behave like adults. If your shooters can accept these two simple rules, everything will be fine. If they can’t follow these rules, leave the video recording of student performance up to the instructors.

Shot Coach app

If you’re ready to go beyond basic video capabilities, Max Michel – the current International Practical Shooting Confederation World Champion – has developed a better way to use video. The Shot Coach app has become one of the best ways to use video to debrief drills or stages of fire. This app allows firearms instructors and shooter to analyze performance using frame by frame video scrubbing allowing users to see exactly what they are doing during every fraction of a second.

The Shot Coach app helps instructors improve their shooter’s accuracy by analyzing movement, positioning, grip and all the other fundamentals of marksmanship. On the range, the app permits instructors to give instant visual feedback to their students. Users can draw on the video, add voice overs, insert time data and take snapshots with overlays that can be sent via Facebook, Twitter, or email. This gives instructors a way to share coaching and teaching moments with their shooters. Students can review their performance later through professionally rendered overlays and titles in the videos.

Video shows all angles

There are other ways to use video to improve the quality of your firearms training programs. Whenever instructors are training or discussing tactics, video can help students understand how movement can help them see what they need to see and help offer a safer operating environment. For example, a camera set up to record the view of certain angles in a live-fire shoothouse can help students understand how certain angles can help them safely clear corners.

Don’t leave the cell phones and video cameras in the range bags. Get them on the range and use them to benefit in your training program. Video analysis can help students see what the instructors are seeing. Once students see what they are doing, they develop a better understanding of how to improve. At that point, students become active participants in their own shooting performance, and instructors begin to build better shooters.

Todd Fletcher is the owner and lead instructor for Combative Firearms Training, LLC providing training for law enforcement firearms instructors from coast to coast. He has over 25 years of training experience as a firearms and defensive tactics instructor. He retired after more than 25 years as a full-time police officer and over 31 years of law enforcement experience.

Todd is a member of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). He is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), and was selected as the 2022 ILEETA Trainer-of-the-Year. He is also a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and won the 2023 IALEFI Top Gun Award. He can be reached at