Newbold polymer targets are truly versatile and easy to incorporate into any training situation.
You need to train your team with a live-fire contest. You want CQB shooting, carbine and subgun engagements and maybe even a long-range shot or two to prove to the operators they don’t “always” have to wait for the sniper. (No offense to the snipers out there. We’ll get to you next month.) And you have a budget. What do you do? The clock is ticking. What do you do? (Cue theme for Jeopardy.)
I’m going to say: You create a timed scenario your operators have to solve using a sidearm and a long gun.
That’s correct, but you did not phrase your response in the form of a question.
Seriously though, no agency can go through training with only static paper targets and call the officers qualified. But building a scenario-based training environment with reactionary targets can be really costly. Unless, that is, you shun the steel and go for polymer. With just five polymer targets from Newbold, some dimensional lumber and a little imagination you can create a shooting scenario that is realistic, challenging and, if you include a stopwatch, provides the competitive stress to elevate the operator’s heart rate. Here’s the set up.
Establish a starting line and on the command “Gun!”:
Run to cover
Engage popper at 25 yards with the long gun
Engage popper at 50 yards with the long gun
Move to secondary cover
Clear three plates at 7 yards with the sidearm
The timer starts the watch on the command and stops it when the final target disappears. Now, here is where the creativity comes in. Training officers can change the length of the run to cover, change the point of transition from the long gun to the pistol, or change the sequence of engagement. I had a bit of a reality check as I drew up the sequence. I started by planning to engage the closest targets with the handgun before transitioning to the long gun for the distant targets.
In the real world, if you are carrying a long gun on a mission, that gun is your primary weapon and you would not sling a fully functional long gun and reach for your pistol, so I turned things around, forcing the officer to run to cover, engage the closest of the two poppers (on the assumption that the closest threat is the most immediate), before hitting the distant popper. Then, for the sake of training, assume that the long gun has malfunctioned AND a close threat has appeared that requires multiple hits to be dealt with. Draw from the holster and fire the side arm.
That is just one way to do this, not automatically “the” way. But what makes this type of training possible is the use of lightweight, affordable polymer targets like those made by Newbold. For this string of targets, which can be set up in various ways, you’ll spend about $550. Just for an “economy” plate rack of steel targets you’ll spend more than $900, plus the cost of the poppers.
You also have to deal with the bullet fragments and weight of steel targets. Have you ever tried to move a plate rack? Maybe you have a range where you can leave it out all the time, but then it is exposed to the elements. And steel targets wear out. If you use FMJ ammo against the polymer you’ll be shooting each target thousands and thousands of times before you’ll need to replace them. Yes, the wooden 2×4 rack for the polymer targets is not as strong as a steel base, but it is easy to build and rebuild and, if someone hits the rack, simply assess a time penalty as motivation to shoot straight and replace the boards as you need to.
For this story, I opted to shoot the course with .22 caliber versions of popular LE weapons: The GSG-5, a near clone of the MP-5 and my Glock 22 with the Advantage Arms .22 caliber conversion kit. I wanted to see how the targets reacted to .22 caliber hits. In the case of the poppers, they didn’t react to the hits as I would have liked. We had to adjust the bases to make sure the poppers fell with the lightest touch. But that also meant the poppers would fall over with the slightest breeze.
Running through the short scenario was not only good training, but is showed the value of the Newbold targets as versatile training tools. We could move them anywhere we wanted, change shooting angles, distances and target requirements. We could even call out something like, “Red targets are all friendly. Orange are hostile. Engage only the orange.” The training really was limited only by imagination.
Post shooting inspection showed the very typical tiny holes, really nothing more than black specs on the self-healing polymer. These targets will hold up to all sorts of abuse and thousands of rounds. And in all that time, after absorbing all those rounds, you won’t have to deal with a single sharp edge or worry about splashback or bullet fragments. Truly versatile and easy to incorporate into any training situation.
For more information on Newbold targets, check out www.newboldtargets.com.