Training at distance still matters

Instructors who claim accurate shots at 25 yards or more is too high of a standard for their officers are leaving their students with the curse of low expectations

This article is part of a series for Police1 registered members from Todd Fletcher titled "Police Firearms: Discussion, Drills & Demos." Todd writes about current hot topics related to police firearms training, outlines firearms training drills and demonstrates shooting techniques on video. If you have a topic you would like Todd to cover, or a training problem you need to solve, email  

For decades, police officers regularly trained and qualified with their revolvers out to 50 yards and beyond. In the era of six shots and reloads that took an eternity, being able to make consistent hits on a human-sized silhouette at 25+ yards was considered achievable and necessary. Today, many departments limit their training distance to 15 yards. While they may be in the minority, most departments do very little training at 25 yards and beyond.

Many instructors believe that because the “average” gunfight takes place at close quarters, training programs must focus on officers being fast and close. As an instructor, I admire who once said, “YOUR gunfight won’t feel very ‘average’ to YOU!” Since we don’t know what your gunfight will look like, we need to train at a variety of distances and work on improving a variety of skills. If we knew your gunfight was going to be at 10 yards using your strong hand only, we would focus training on using only the strong hand at 10 yards. But none of us can see into the future with absolute certainty, so we need to train for more than the “average” gunfight.

As for speed, I would agree that getting the handgun out of the holster quickly is a good thing, but I would argue that distance is irrelevant to the speed of the draw. It shouldn’t matter if you’re at bad breath distance or 50 yards. Getting the gun out of the holster fast doesn’t mean you should shoot faster. A fast and efficient draw means you have time to shoot better. Accuracy is the only thing that matters.

The studies most instructors use to support their training programs limiting shooting at distance are flawed or contain incomplete statistics. When citing these studies while advocating for short-distance training programs, instructors take these studies and statistics out of context and apply the information to fit their close-range firearms training programs.

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