Imagine you’re the only good guy with a gun who’s positioned to stop an active shooter at a local school before there are mass casualties.
There’s a hallway full of horrified kids stampeding toward you.
At the other end of the hall is the shooter — approximately 35 yards away.
You can see his weapon, but all that’s exposed is his head which, unlike targets on a flat range, is moving constantly. His center mass is concealed behind running students.
You have to take immediate action.
Can you take the shot with confidence? Can you hit a moving head-sized target at 35 yards, with a handgun, in a confined space that’s chock-full of innocent children?
Not too many people could take the shot confidently. This type of precision shooting takes years — if not decades — to master. It’s hostage-rescue level shooting. This is the realm of the Tier One guys, but it could easily be something an armed teacher may encounter in their school.
Improving the state of firearm training was one of our most important goals when we started this website more than six years ago. It’s something we have personally and professionally harped on over the years — the need for realistic, non-theory based gunfighter training, taught by seasoned instructors who have proven their mettle in actual gunfights.
It was through this prism that we examined Florida’s School Guardian program, which will be used to train teachers and select school district personnel when SB 7030 is signed into law.
The bill, which Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign, requires Sheriffs to establish a training program for arming school staff.
We examined the Guardian curriculum from two Sheriffs’ Offices. The two programs were nearly identical.
In my humble opinion, this curriculum is woefully inadequate. It needs to be upgraded and improved immediately — before it becomes the statewide standard for arming teachers and staff.
The 148-hour course is broken into seven training blocks/lesson plans: Active Shooter, 8 hours; Basic Firearms, 80 hours; Defensive Tactics, 8 hours; Simulator training, 8 hours; Precision Pistol, 16 hours; Legal, 12 hours and Diversity Training, 12 hours.
One immediate concern is that the training blocks, according to the curriculum, appear to be designed for law enforcement and not new shooters such as teachers and other school staff.
To be clear, most of the Guardian Program is just a cut-and-paste from law enforcement training manuals.
Active shooter: This training block begins with a history of active shooters, from Columbine to the bloody siege in Beslan, Russia.
Those are good case studies to examine, as they show two very different threats, but then the class morphs into tactical movement and becomes an abbreviated SWAT 101.
Included under “law enforcement’s response to active shooters” are tactical movement techniques: two-man, three-man and four-man.
Even more worrisome is “Basic Room Entry” including the SWAT classics — button hook and crisscross.
There’s a section on overcoming obstacles — L shaped and T shaped — as well as T, Y and traditional diamond formations.
My biggest problem with this module is the lack of time. It’s an eight-hour course. There’s no way to successfully incorporate the history lesson and a shortened SWAT manual into eight hours. A basic course just on room entry and tactical movement should take weeks — months. It certainly can’t be adequately taught in an afternoon.
Besides, does anyone think a bunch of teachers are going to act as a SWAT element? Spend the precious training hours on shooting.
Basic Firearms: This lesson plan is very aptly named. It is basic — very basic — and very clearly designed for rookie deputies.
Topics include “Be familiar with ammunition identification and maintenance” and “Demonstrate handgun use on the range.”
The course covers basic handgun fundamentals and includes a qualification course.
In my humble opinion, the training is dated. It still teaches the kneeling, standing and prone positions as well as the “tactical ready stance.”
More worrisome is the one-handed “Hip Shooting” instruction, from one to three yards.
Teaching hip shooting — shooting without using sights — is a dangerous practice, regardless of the distance. But teaching it to new shooters is even worse, since they lack the ability to quickly estimate range and, therefore, may shoot from the hip at distances exceeding one to three yards, resulting in a miss and a bullet headed somewhere it shouldn’t be going.
There is no training in this lesson plan on how to draw from concealment — and that’s a pretty serious omission since teachers will be carrying their handguns concealed.
Drawing from concealment takes thousands of repetitions to master and it’s not even mentioned in the curriculum.
Defensive Tactics: Most of this eight-hour module is dedicated to handcuffing: carrying handcuffs, applying handcuffs, applying handcuffs in the standing position and applying handcuffs in the prone position.
I doubt any teacher will ever carry handcuffs.
This class also covers disarming techniques — albeit old-timey techniques — for handgun and long gun disarming.
Lastly, there’s about an hour dedicated to one of the most critical defensive skills — handgun retention. However, like the flat-range handgun training, this too is geared for uniformed officers, as it stresses “Standing holstered handgun retention.” Again, there is no mention of concealed carry.
One of the major criticisms that the move toward arming teachers faces is the idea that students can strip their teachers of their firearms. Therefore, solid retention skills should receive much more attention — perhaps as much time as is allocated to Diversity Training (12 hours).
Precision Pistol: This 16-hour course is a step in the right direction, but it too is clearly lacking. It’s an improvement over the Basic Firearms course, but it too is very, very basic.
Students are taught controlled pairs, magazine changes, two- and three-target failure drills, weak hand shooting and a small amount of movement while shooting.
Still, it too requires students to use exposed holsters. Again, there’s no thought given to concealed carry.
To be clear, I strongly support arming teachers and select school district personnel, especially since a recent study proved that schools that allow teachers to carry guns haven’t suffered a school shooting.
However, the teachers need to be trained — well trained.
The one thing that basic concealed-carry classes have shown us is that most shooters stop training after they get their concealed-carry permit. It’s a poor practice, but it happens. In my humble opinion, training should never stop.
So, we can expect most teachers to stop training once they’ve graduated from the Guardian program. Therefore, the program needs to be refined and updated to something that comes closer to preparing them for the threats they could face. It should not be a SWAT-lite or wannabe-deputy course.
As it stands now, Florida’s Guardian program is a joke — a sick joke — and it needs to be fixed immediately, since the likelihood that the state will allow armed teachers is high.
Our teachers and our children deserve much, much more.