Tactical Firearms Training – The Basics

If you plan on working internationally in the close protection or security industry you will be expected to some degree to know how to handle firearms.

Now, to get things straight to start with, what most people, especially Americans, don’t realize is that most non-government close protection jobs are unarmed due to the legal restrictions on firearms in most countries. Part of your threat assessment for any assignment needs to include the laws on the use of force and what if any weapons are legal in the locations you are going to be working in. Being caught with an illegal weapon, especially a firearm will get you thrown in jail very quickly, no matter how important you think you are!

So, what do you need to know about firearms if you are looking to work internationally in the close protection and security industry, well the first and most important thing is knowing how to use firearms safely. To become proficient with firearms, like everything else takes practice and time, you’re not going to become and expert after a few hours’ tuition.

Many firearms related accidents happen because those handing the firearms are not complying with the basic firearms safety rules of keep the firearms pointed in a safe direction and keeping their fingers off the guns trigger. If you ensure you always follow these two safety rules, you will be acting more responsibly than many others who are working with and carrying firearms. Remember, if you’re the one holding and in control of a firearm that accidentally discharges and injures or kills someone you will be held responsible.

A thorough understanding of firearms and range safety is essential before you even start any shooting with live ammunition. Here is a more complete list of firearms safety rules and considerations.


  • Safety considerations for firearms must always be followed

  • Always keep firearms pointed in a safe direction, especially when loading and unloading.

  • Keep your finger off the trigger until the weapon is pointed at your target.

  • If the action or slide on the weapon is closed, always treat the gun as if loaded and carry out the

  • unload drills.

  • Always show that a firearm is unloaded to a person before you hand it to them.

  • When someone hands you a firearm, always check the chamber and make sure it is unloaded.

  • Never take a person’s word for whether a firearm is loaded or unloaded, always check!

  • Never point a firearm at anyone just for fun or play games with firearms.

  • Always know what is behind your target and have a good backstop.

  • Only fire-controlled shots. You can rapid fire but make sure you are hitting your target.

  • Always practice tactical drills with unloaded firearms until you’re confident and competent enough

  • to use live ammunition.

  • Always unload firearms before dry-fire tactical training.

  • Only use dummy ammunition or blank-firing firearms for demonstrations or dry-fire drills.

  • Never mix blank, dummy, and live rounds.

  • Always check that the gun is unloaded before cleaning.

  • Never tamper with ammunition, and only use reloads from reliable sources.

  • Never use damaged rounds, and always dispose of them safely.

  • Keep guns and ammunition in secure storage when not in use.

  • If you do not know how to operate or are having problems operating a firearm, get professional help.

  • Never used drugs or alcohol when using firearms.

  • Always check and comply with local firearms law

Types of FirearmsYou should try to train with and get to know as many different types of firearms as possible as you never know what you will come across. You might be working unarmed on an assignment in a hostile environment but you need to know how to use the firearms you might encounter in that environment incase things go bad, say your hotel is attacked, and you might have to use the firearms of the local security, police, military and bad guys or make them safe after an incident.

  • Pistols: The two main classification for pistols are semi-automatic and revolver. Sadly, most people these days tend to only train with semi-auto safe action guns such as Glock and S&W M&P’s etc. You need to know how to safely use revolvers, single and double action semi-autos, single action semi-autos and at least be familiar with derringers and sub-compact pocket pistols.

  • Shotguns: I have heard quite a few supposed close protection experts, usually from police backgrounds dismiss the requirements for shotgun training. The reason for this I believe, is in their limited experience within a government agency they have never had the opportunity to use shotguns or travel to locations where they are used. I have personally working in Europe, South & West Africa, Middle East, US, Caribbean, Latin America and have come across shotguns being used in for security details in all of those locations. I would say shotguns are the most widely used firearm used for legal security purposes globally. Shotguns come in various configurations and you should at least understand break action, pump, semi-auto shotguns and the various types of ammunition and chocks.

  • Assault Rifles: Even though most of the tacticool firearms training videos on the internet put an emphasis of training with AR-15’s and AK-47’s in reality there are not many places you can legally use them for security purposes unless you are in the military, on a government related assignment or working illegally. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the laws were put in place for security guards to carry assault rifles, but in most places if you are lucky enough to legally have firearms there is a greater change of it being a shotgun or a pistol rather than an AK etc.

  • Sporting Rifles: In a lot of countries semi-auto firearms are banned or very restricted and the only legal firearms available will be sporting shotguns and leaver or bolt-action rifles. The only time most tacticool operators will consider learning how to use a bolt-action rifle would be if it was a tricked-out sniper rifle… Well, I am sorry if I offend any tacticool operators reading this but all hunting rifles, even with wood stocks, can be used as sniper rifles and for tactical applications. If someone is trained how to shoot properly, understands individual tactics and is armed with a decent leaver or bolt action .22 rifle, I would class them as far more value than the tacticool shemagh wearing operator who uses optics on their tricked-out AR-15 to hit paper targets at 15 meters…

  • Other Firearms: Depending on where you are planning to work depends on the types of firearms you could encounter; in hostile environments you may need to have the rudimentary knowledge of how to operate belt-fed machine guns. Or, if you’re in an area where hunting is popular it might make sense to learn a little bit about black powder rifles and pistols, which in some places have a lot less restrictions on them than cartridge firing firearms.

Tactical Firearms TrainingI have my own views of firearms training and the state of the firearms training industry but will try to keep them to myself as much as I can for the sake of this article. My basic advice to anyone looking at attending any firearms training courses would be is the course relevant and is the instructor experienced enough to teach it.

The best place to get a good grounding in firearms training is in the military as you should be given thorough training, the bullets will be free, and you will also be getting paid for your time. There is no way you can replicate a few years military firearms training experience by taking a two-week tactical firearms course. One issues with those who have only had regular military training is that they are only used to dealing with a limited range of firearms. Personally, I only really started to learn and use handguns other than a Browning Hi-Power after I left the British Army and worked in South Africa, Eastern Europe and then joined a gun club in UK before handguns were banned.

You must ensure the training you will be getting is relevant for what your going to be doing and is of a good standard. In the U.S. the general standard for training is what’s put out by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Most people don’t realize when taking a training course from an NRA instructor that it only takes one-day to become and NRA instructor or Range Safety officer.

In the United States, it’s easy for a novice shooter to become an NRA firearms instructor, as I said it’s a one-day course, SERIOUSLY! With another one-day course they can become a Range Safety Officer, and after that with another one-day course a Chief Range Safety Officer able to certify Range Safety Officers… All without any experience of ever running a firearms course or any experience of actually working on a shooting range… I have come across NRA instructors who could not field strip their own firearms, Chief Range Safety Officers who had never used revolvers or shotguns. From their certifications you would expect them to be experienced professionals! Well, think again…

You cannot gain the experience required to be a decent RSO or instructor by just attending a few theory classes, watch tacticool YouTube videos and belonging to Gung-ho online chat forums. The schools issuing these NRA certifications are making money, it’s business, but how many of their students then go on to market themselves as “firearms experts” after just a few one-day classes? I think this can be classed as fraudulent in anyone’s books. It’s just like taking a first-time driver, giving them a two- or three-day theory on how to drive, showing them a car, starting the engine and then certifying them to set up a driving school… Scary, right? Always verify the real-world experience of the instructors who you’re intending to pay good money for quality training.

Firearms training can be very expensive so ensure you’re not wasting your money and understand that after just a few days training you’re not going to be at a professional level, whatever your certificates say! Ongoing dry and live firearms training and weapons familiarization is essential if your serious about working in hostile environments but learn to differentiate the difference between tacticool holidays and experiences and relevant training!

Tactical Firearms Training – The Basics

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