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Recruit School #11: Week 20

Nov. 20-23, 2022

Author: CO recruit writer

A group of recruits listen to a instructor talk inside the firearm range

Photo caption: Recruits gather around a firearms instructor to receive shooting tips and instruction. The conservation officers who serve as instructors demonstrate proficient skill sets for instruction and are responsible for facilitating safe and effective training.

Week 20 of the Conservation Officer Recruit School Academy had us back on the firearm range at the Michigan State Police Training Academy in Lansing. This was a nice change of pace, as our entire previous week was classroom-based, performing and learning field sobriety tests. For many of the recruits, including myself, firearms training is a skill we are very passionate about. This skill is very important in our line of work, because if ever the day comes that we must use what we have learned, we want to be as prepared as possible to keep the public, our partners and ourselves safe.

recruits hold gun a flashlight overhead while shooting at a target

Photo caption: Recruits shoot their pistols in low light while holding a flashlight overhead. Firearm instructors closely observe recruits so they can provide specific feedback and tips on what they’re doing well and how they can improve shooting accuracy.

Monday began with our normal physical training, led by Conservation Officer Kyle Bucholtz. We did circuit training for the upper body, lower body and abdominal exercises. We then reported to the indoor firearm range at the academy for firearms training and completed the remainder of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards qualification with our department-issued handguns. The morning session started out with dry fire drills, which is repetitively pulling the trigger of an empty firearm, to help reinforce our muscle memory and the proper fundamentals of marksmanship. Along with the dry fire drills, we finished our low-light and flashlight shooting qualifications.

“There is a lot of knowledge and skills pertaining to the safe, tactical and legal use of firearms a recruit needs to have in order to carry out the job functions,” said Conservation Officer Kyler Bader, firearms instructor. “Those skills go way beyond pulling a trigger and putting holes in a paper target. As firearms instructors, we break those skills down and create drills to focus in on each individual facet of being a tactical officer. During these drills, we constantly tell shooters how to improve and what they are doing well.”

a recruit shoots a firearm at a target

Photo caption: A recruit shoots his firearm in low light while holding a flashlight under the firearm. Recruits must meet the state qualifications for shooting in low-light situations.

During the afternoon, we trained with our revolvers, which were new to us. The revolver is the primary service backup firearm for conservation officers. This was a cool experience because compared to the Glocks that we have been training with, the revolvers operate in a completely different way than the semi-autos – but end in the same result of bullets going down range. We also shot our 500-point marksmanship test in which we earn badges based on how well we shoot. The rankings are scored one to three stars, with three being the best.

Tuesday started off with physical training, but this time it was led by the class commander of the week. Each week, our academy staff assigns a recruit to act as the class commander, who takes on extra responsibility for leading the class. We performed another circuit training session, known as “door to door,” which encompasses an exercise targeting a specific body part, followed by running from the gym door to a door across the academy building, then returning to the gym door. We then returned to the gun range for more firearms training, with transition drills from our primary rifle to our secondary pistols. These drills will help us in the field if ever we get into tight spaces where the rifle becomes too big for the given area or the rifle becomes inoperable due to malfunction. These skills were then put to the test in the afternoon session when we were tested through scenarios where we had to recognize threat versus nonthreat and move from cover to cover dealing with threats as necessary.

Wednesday started off with our 5-mile cadence run, led by our Recruit School Commander Sgt. Jason King. We then finished the day and week with our final firearms classroom session. After lunch and cleaning duties we were released for the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a much needed recovery period after 20 long weeks in the academy.

Read Week 21.