REALISTIC TARGETS - by Cope Reynolds

Several years ago there was a lot of hubbub in the training world about using realistic photo targets in law enforcement training. The big concern was that agencies were training and conditioning their officers to shoot innocent children and women, even pregnant women.

Now understand that I am one of the biggest conspiracy theorists out there but this notion was just absurd! I could not believe that there were mature, supposedly educated adults, MEN, worrying about these silly damned targets. Engaging bullseye targets as if they were really a threat kind of loses something in the application.

During WWI, it was determined that many soldiers were missing their targets because men didn't look like bullseyes which is what they had all trained on to start with. After going to a little more realistic humanoid type silhouette, things started to change for the better in the field. The same goes for current times. Things evolve, usually for the better. The more realistically we train, the better we perform on the street.

Photo targets of REAL people have been used in professional civilian and LE defensive firearms training for years. My first experience with them was back around 1998, 22 years ago. Since then, I have shot hundreds of them and have stacks of them in my training supplies. While all this was going on, some said, "Well, I have yet to see "gangbanger" targets, "middle easterner" targets, "black targets" "politician" targets, or "muslim" targets."

I have hundreds and hundreds of the very targets that were described. ALL of them. They are not new either. Back in the day, I had links to each and every one of these targets and which agencies were using them. Dayton, OH PD was one of many agencies that used photo targets of Blacks, Asians and yes, even Caucasians. Why? Because out on the street, You are likely to encounter Blacks, Asians and yes, even Caucasians! Why not prepare your mind for that eventuality?

The two biggest gripes by the bleeding hearts that were complaining at the time was the pregnant woman and an adolescent boy targets. “Why in the world…?”, they asked. Well, I did a very short, 3-minute search online and quickly found 2 instances where a police officer was forced to shoot a pregnant woman who was attacking him. Stuff happens! There are instances where an injured woman attacked the cop who had just shot her husband...WHILE HER HUSBAND WAS BEATING HER! People do very strange things under stress. Drugs, depression, mental illness, desperation causes people to react in unpredictable ways.

The targets in question were, at the time, being used by a LOT of agencies. However, to the best of my knowledge they are no longer being produced and when existing stocks were depleted, they were gone forever unless someone has since wised up and created more. You may be interested to know that these targets were created by a FEMALE police officer. Not DHS nor NMDPS as the conspiracy was relayed and not the target company. They were created by an officer that saw the wisdom in using targets that simulated some of the actual threats that LE occasionally encountered.

I teach 4 different levels of defensive handgun classes plus two rifle and two shotgun classes and we use photographic targets of real people in certain stages almost every class. Every law enforcement agency dictates what targets they will use in their own training programs. WASHINGTON CRIMINAL JUSTICE once used a silly little silhouette with an image of bowling pin in it. How realistic is that? How realistic is ANY solid silhouette?

Most hostage rescue targets currently available have only one hostage taker on one side of the hostage. What happens if your real hostage taker is on the other side after you have consistently practiced engaging the threat on only one side. Most folks will wind up shooting the hostage. I designed a target back in about 2005 or so, that had a hostage taker on both sides to enable the officer or armed citizen to practice realistically. That target is still available here: BT-10H2

Professional, reality-based training is a hell of a lot different than standing on clean, level gravel on a square range with birds singing and the sun shining and taking those perfect shots to create tiny holes in paper targets. If that paper ever moves and starts shooting back, the game changes. Step out of the box. Don't be a statistic!