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Cold-Weather Training Issues

NCJ Number
THE POLICE CHIEF Volume: 74 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2007 Pages: 108-111
Brian R. Johnson; Greg L. Warchol
Date Published
December 2007
4 pages
This article explains how cold-weather firearms training, which is essential to the realistic training required by the courts, can be conducted in a safe and productive manner, providing police officers with information and skills needed for cold-weather shooting.
The key to cold-weather firearms training is to ensure range safety and participants' heat balance. Training should be scheduled later in the cold-weather season, because officers may be adjusted to and more tolerant of time spent in the cold. Training should be in shorter time blocks than are used in warm-weather training; for example, training staff should consider having two blocks of 2 hours each, scheduled on different days. In order to prevent falls, the surface of the range should be kept as dry as possible. Cold-weather training also requires additional equipment and supplies. In addition to plans for snow removal by public works and/or the use of shovels and de-icers, the training staff should provide some type of shelter and a heat source. Staff should monitor the weather forecast and be given the authority to cancel the training session if it should become too cold. Training staff should provide high-carbohydrate snacks to build energy, since more energy is burned to keep warm in cold weather; and beverages should be available to prevent dehydration. It is critical for officer safety that training staff watch trainees for signs of hypothermia. This occurs when the body's core temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Early warning signs are numbness in the hands, involuntary shivering, loss of fine motor skills, slurred speech, and irrational behaviors. Suggestions for preventing hypothermia include the providing of adequate shelter, using a training agenda that includes physical activity, and increasing the number of breaks/rotations. The article also discusses the features of protective gear and clothing, as well as the creation of a tactical threat environment critical to success in cold-weather environments. Many of these deal with the loss of motor skills due to the cold and the wearing of protective clothing. 7 notes