In my opinion, the ballistic shield or tactical shield is still best used in conjunction with a handgun. Original shield designs and training supported this concept, but as the tactical community has become more and more long gun friendly, students are constantly looking for techniques that will allow the use of long guns with their shield. The first thing I must point out is that I truly support the use of long guns in tactical operations, however to get the most protection from a tactical shield the shooter must understand that the shield will only protect what is behind and below it, which is often best accomplished with a handgun. I often see teams get creative with rolling out the second shooter so they can deploy the long gun. However, this may expose team members to incoming rounds. I understand and appreciate that tactics vary and results are what count, however the purpose of using the shield is to get more protection, not less. With the above thoughts in mind I have outlined a short training block that any team can use to keep shield and pistol skills up to speed without using a whole training day.
1. Keep your tactical shield mission-focused and on point:
It should be obvious that excellent strong side pistol skills are a must while using the shield. Remember, pistol shooting with the shield is done one-handed. Focus on strong side shooting, reloading and malfunction clearing. The addition of support hand shooting skills should also be worked into the training.
2. It’s tactical shield training – not PT:
The shield is a heavy piece of equipment and fatigue sets in quickly; shooters will not embrace or get the most from the tactical shield if sessions are too long. Thirty minutes of shooting per student with the shield would go a long way to maintain skills, while not discouraging the use of the shield.
3. Start small and build up:
Keep distances realistic. Three, five, seven and ten yards would be practical. Focus on room size ranges.
4. Refine skills with scenario-based training:
Initial training can be done in an hour or less depending on team size. Put the shields away and move on to something else. Near the end of the training day, run scenario-based drills using the shield and force-on-force training tools to ensure the range points have been incorporated into team tactics.
5. Low light:
Remember to include a good healthy dose of low light shield training. This should be done with live fire and scenario based training.
In conclusion, following this plan would improve and enhance skills when compared to quarterly or less frequent shield training. This will develop confidence in the use of the equipment and improve your team members’ one-handed weapons handling and marksmanship skills. There are also many other rifle accessories to improve your tactical skills. Many companies offer accessories like AR 15 scopes that will improve your accuracy.