While running FBI Firearms Instructor schools to certify instructors for other agencies, I’d always included several target identification courses. The targets would either consist of typical geometric shapes and colors or would be a series of life-size face photographs of diverse individuals. Each target board would contain six to eight of the different, smaller targets. I would ensure the compilation and placement of the smaller targets on each target board were unique. Targets would be faced away from the shooters. Once in position, I would call out a description of the “shoot” target and face the targets for a few seconds. The Firearms Instructors were to shoot only the called target before it faced away. On command, they would then step to the right to a new target stand, and continue the drill for several rotations. Consistently, in every class, officers would shoot at their target upon hearing others shoot, even when their particular target board did not contain the called target. When asked why they shot at a no-shoot target, the typical response was either, “I don’t know” or “Everyone else was shooting, so I thought I was supposed to be shooting too.” Remember, this is a class of Firearms Instructors in a low-stress atmosphere (other than they wanted to get their certificates) - not a bunch of new recruits. I would also occasionally call out a non-existent target, and again, inevitably some in the class would fire. The number of instructors shooting at “no-shoot” targets was even greater when we did the night-firing exercises and they were required to use flashlights to see the targets. This indicates they trusted their partner’s judgment (or eyesight) better than their own.
Posted by rlssec