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The Benefits of “Functional” SWAT Training

Posted by Pistol Accents on 11/20/2014 to Tactical Firearms Training

Recently, the way the tactical community approaches its fitness training has been somewhat of a paradigm shift towards physical preparation.  This “functional” swat training is part and parcel of a general emphasis on “functional fitness” as evidenced in civilian gyms with many operators coming from various branches of the military as well as law enforcement.  This move was based on the wear and tear of “hard” SWAT training and the accumulation of injuries being the result.  SWAT fitness experts are discovering that “smart” training may help avoid unnecessary physical impairments associated with “hard” training.  While old-school traditional SWAT devotees may perceive the change as too toned for the real thing, others are advocating that such training is real-world oriented and quite job applicable.

Whether the SWAT operator uses handguns, rifles, shotguns or other tactical defense and offense weapons, the general rule of functional SWAT training is to yield job-specific and generalized physical fitness.  With a balance of strength and endurance training, a “functional” approach also combines simulated scenario-movement patterns necessary for SWAT situations. There are two major advantages of functional SWAT training over traditional types of preparation:

Overall physical performance and job-specific physical preparedness improvements

Potential operational longevity of the SWAT operator due to reduced injury rates

Functional SWAT training provides the preparation of the operator to work as a tactical officer.  Focusing on improved strength-to-body-weight ratios, the abilities to carrying unbalanced loads in tactical situations and performance of a variety of simulated tasks are the keys to the training regimen.  Such tasks and scenarios will include carrying weighted duffel bags, climbing over walls, resistance training with use of ropes, pushing objects out of the way which could occur in real-life scenarios.  In a sense, functional training is a type of cross training fitness regime which includes basic tactical movements and stances.

Functional SWAT training is training that prepares the operator to work as a tactical officer. It emphasizes an improved strength-to-body-weight ratio, carrying unbalanced loads, and performing a variety of tasks against the resistance an operator faces on duty such as carrying a wounded comrade who is wearing full tac gear, climbing over walls, or pushing stalled vehicles out of the way and then returning effective fire on target. It's one thing to be a crack shot on the range under no stress and another to shoot accurately under combat stress. When you have to push a car that won't start out of the line of fire or drag a wounded comrade or civilian out of the kill zone and then return effective fire on target, the musculature responsible for providing a steady shooting platform is much less stable due to the adrenaline dump that you are experiencing.

As a general rule, a correctly designed training program for tactical officers yields improved job-specific general physical preparedness. Specifically, such a program includes a balance of strength and endurance training and simulated job-specific movement patterns. Functional SWAT fitness programs are designed to achieve results without producing injuries or weakening the officers through overtraining.

There are two major benefits of functional SWAT training over traditional SWAT training:

An improvement in job-specific general physical preparedness and overall physical performance.

Reduced injury rates, which can lead to an increased operational longevity of the SWAT operator