SIGHTING IN ON: If You Stay Ready


Stay Ready: 10 minutes of weapon retention training with a partner adds up to keeping yourself safe.
By Brian Willis


As I travel around North America speaking to law enforcement professionals on topics such as the Pursuit of Personal Excellence, Excellence in Training, and Harnessing the Winning Mind and Warrior Spirit, I have noticed a disturbing mindset in relation to training. The mindset is “If training does not take place on department time and the department dime, I am not going.” Many officers refuse to invest their own time and money to attend training. They abdicate the responsibility for training to the agency with statements like, “If the training was that important, then the department should pay for it,” and “They don’t pay me enough anyway, so why should I spend my own money on training?”

When you abdicate the responsibility for training to your agency, then you also abdicate the responsibility for your own safety and well-being, as well as the safety and well-being of your fellow officers and the citizens you are sworn to protect. That is inappropriate and irresponsible.

Understand this reality: There never has been and there never will be a law enforcement agency killed or injured in the line of duty. Why? Because law enforcement agencies do not respond to calls. Law enforcement agencies do not make arrests. Law enforcement agencies do not conduct traffic stops. Law enforcement agencies don’t get punched, kicked, stabbed or shot. Law enforcement agencies don’t drive millions of miles in all types of weather conditions and sometimes at high rates of speed. Law enforcement agencies do not perform any of these duties but law enforcement officers do. Cops perform their duties every single day and as a result, tens of thousands of officers are assaulted, thousands of officers are injured, and hundreds of officers are killed every year in North America.

A couple of years ago, I was watching an interview with a football player on one of the sports channels who was coming out of retirement to play again right before the first regular season game. The reporter asked the athlete how long it would take for him to get into game shape. The player replied, “I believe in what Suga Free has to say that if you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready.” I loved the quote but had never heard of Suga Free. After a little Internet research, I found a Suga Free music video. After watching it for about 30 seconds, I thought, “Enough of this crap” and shut it off. While I may not be a fan of Suga Free’s music, I believed his philosophy on staying ready.

The reality of the law enforcement profession is that, unlike a professional MMA fighter or boxer, you do not have the luxury of watching film and studying your opponent’s offensive and defensive tendencies or looking at their past fights and resume to come up with a fight plan for this specific subject. As a police officer, you do not know where you are going to fight, when you are going to fight, the weather conditions, visibility, number of officers, number of opponents, or the experience, training or tendencies of your opponent.

You do not know if the fight will involve weapons. You do not know if this will be a struggle for control or a fight to the death. When the fight is on, you do not have time to get ready. Professional fighters complain if they have to take a fight on only a week’s notice, and they can still choose whether or not to take the fight. Cops often have no choice and take on fights with only seconds or no notice. No matter if you are using your hands, a baton, an ECD, pepper spray, or a firearm, your life may depend on whether or not you have chosen to stay ready.

Training with your firearms is an investment in your skills and knowledge and therefore an investment in your safety and well-being. You owe it to yourself, to your brother and sister warriors, to the citizens of your community, and to your family to make the investment.

You owe it to all these people to make every day a training day. Training 10 minutes a day, four days a week for 48 weeks equates to 32 hours of training a year. Think about how easily you can put aside 10 minutes a day to invest in your own training. Ten minutes a day practicing drawing your firearm from a variety of positions (moving, sitting in your vehicle, etc.). Ten minutes a day dry firing your firearm. Ten minutes per day practicing weapon retention with your handgun as well as your long guns. Doubling this time results in 20 minutes a day, which equates to 64 hours of training a year.

In addition to training 10 minutes a day, you need to invest in outside training. If you were to set aside $2.50 a day for a training account, you would have over $900 in that account at the end of the year. That money could pay your way to attend some of the great training programs offered around North America in tactical handgun, tactical rifle and close quarters combat. A little research will provide you with a list of the best instructors and what programs best address your needs.

The key is to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. PM


Brian Willis is an internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, trainer and writer, President of the innovative training company Winning Mind Training and Deputy Executive Director for the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA). He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution and commitment to Officer Safety in Canada and was named Law Officer Trainer of the Year for 2011. He can be contacted at or through his website at

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