Kinda long here but I think it's worth reading if you own a gun
I own a S&W 9MM handgun & a Remingtlon 12 guage, pump action shotgun. I learned to fire rifles when I was a kid with a 22 cal rifle, shooting at targets while laying prone on an old, dirty mattress
I had never fired a handgun until I went through the DEA Basic Agent course in the spring of 1974. At that time, the Justice Dept trained agents on & issued 38cal Police Special revolvers. Our firearms instructor was an incredible shot who had been a State Dept. Special Agent whose duty was to protect ambassadors, etc.
We were trained to fire the Combat Course, which consisted of left & right hand barricade firing positions, point-shoulder position & a bunch of other positions, but the main thing they wanted us to learn was to draw our weapons quickly & fire accurately from the waist as FBI statistics proved that most law enforcement involved shootings took place very quickly & at very close range.
While accuracy was obviously very important, judgement (as to when to shoot & when not too) is & is the most important thing for anyone with a firearm to master. To that end, the Justice Dept trains all its agents to keep their finger out of the trigger housing until they have made the decision to use deadly force......Keeping your finger off the trigger gives you that extra split-second to decide if you need to shoot, & prevents accidental discharges.
Part of our training (& I believe Justice still uses it) was in "Hogan's Alley." Hogan's Alley is now a very realistic, "Anytown USA" storefront community at Quantico VA (Now home to FBI & DEA academies) where agent trainees are put through very realistic shoot/Don't shoot scenarios.
When I went through training, we had no such fun sites! Our training was done in an old converted bank building in NW Washington with a gym (for PT) in the basement & firing ranges on the 2nd & 3rd floors. Our "Hogan's Alley" consisted of the following:
On the day we went through Hogan's Alley training, all of us trainees assembled in the basement gym, with unloaded weapons but wearing our blue coveralls that we always wore for firearms training to keep our clothes clean.
The instructors waited upstairs at the 2nd floor range. When they yelled your name (down the stairs) each trainee had to sling two 20lb weight bellts over their shoulders, do 20 quick push-ups & then start to run up the stairs where you had been instructeded to stop at the 2nd floor firing range. As you were bolting up the stairs, the instructors were yelling & throwing ash can covers & things down at you! As you made the 2nd floor landing, (while still being yelled at, etc) most of the instructors were pointing up the stairs & yelling for you to keep going. (we had been instructed to go to the 2nd floor range so I stopped & refused to run up to the 3rd floor...,.Thats was correct in that they just wanted to see if you would get flustered & not follow your instructions to stop at the 2nd floor range. Trust me, we had a number of trainees that did keep runing up to the 3rd floor) As each trainee finished the exercise, he would join the instructors on the stairs in yelling & razzing the next trainee! (what a blast!) I'll never forget one trainee...from Hawaii I think.....who was running up the stairs & had a wild, crazed look in his eyes as he approached the 2nd floor landing. Just to be a wise guy I pointed to an open window & yelled for him to jump!! He scared the hell out of a bunch of us by trying to do just that!! (we had to grab him & steer him away from the window!)
It's hard to put yourself in the mindset of that exercise but it was very stressful! (Your livelyhood depended on your passing the course & we lost almost 1/2 of the trainees that started the course through being washed out)
(side note: DEA had a deliberatly dramatic way of washing a trainee out of the course.....We all had name plates & our books etc on our desks in the classroom. When you all took your lunchbreak & returned to class.....one desk would be vacant...No nameplate, no books...just gone! You couldn't ask any questions & when we got back to our hotel (they had us all stay at the Ramada Inn, NW Washington where we all had a roomate) the trainee's stuff was just gone a(s if he had never existed) & his roomate now had a private room!
Sorry this is dragging but I'm having fun reminiscing.
Anyway, back to Hogan's Alley:
When you entered the 2nd floor firing range, the lead instructor handed you twelve 38cal rounds (six to load in the pistol & six for your pocket) as you were loading your weapon he explained what the "problem" was in the actual firing range (through a door) He said there are 3 hostages being held by an unknow number of bad guys. Your job was to kill he bad guys & free the hostages. When you enterd the actual range, you were in complete darkness. The light had been turned off & you had to feel your way to firing station 1. The lead insrtuctor's voice yelled out: "Are you ready?" When you yelled yes... suddenly the lights were thrown on & all hell broke loose! Instructors were screaming...:"shoot:"....Don't shoot" & swearing & throwing ash can covers at you! You noticed that the gate had been removed on firing point 1 allowing full access (for the first time) to the whole area downrange. There were paper (human shaped & painted) targets scattered about & mmediatley to your left was a bad guy with a shotgun so you spun around & shot him. (later you found out that there was a mother, holding a baby target a few feet behind the bad guy target so that your rounds went through the bad guy but then killed the mother & baby!)
There were a few other bad guys targets closeby that you killed pretty easily & then, after you had fired six rounds (& your revolver was empty) the lights snapped off again. I had seen a bad guy target on the far right, downrange, so I made use of the darkness to scramble to the right while I was reloading in the dark. When the lights snapped back on (probably about 15 seconds) I immediatley snapped off 2 rounds into the bad guy target . Suddenly a target started moving (on rails overhead) & as it got closer I could see it had a gun in its right hand aimed right at me! I snapped of 2 more rounds into him & as the target got closer I could see that in it's left hand (near its waist) it was holding a small but unmistakable DEA badge!! I had just killed a DEA agent!!
Those of us trainees that had killed our fellow "agent" (& that was almost everyone in the class) had to spend the afternoon writing letters to DEA headquarters, explaing the shooting & writing letters to the wife & kids of the "agent" we had killed.The intention of Hogan's Alley was/is not to turn basic agents into a group of proffesional , hostage saving commandos but rather to give you a realistic experience & realization as to what your unproffesional actions could result in. Most of us, in a few short moments, had managed to kill an innocent young mother, her baby & gunned down a fellow DEA agent!
It was a hard lesson but one that I'll never forget!
The moral we all learned that day, & one I think anyone owning a weapon needs to learn is....Keep your finger out of the trigger housing until you are sure & always be aware of your surroundings. (are you reading this Dick Cheney?....sorry, couldn't help myself)
Sorry this took so long.