Forgotten (Thankfully) Training Practices

Steve G sent us this video, a digitized copy of a training film made in 1936 by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. It’s a bit long at 15 minutes (and originally silent, now with a longer piano solo than you really want), but shows some interesting things – not the least of which being the reloading facility located right on the shooting range grounds, which includes equipment to recast reclaimed lead into new bullets. A few other observations that came to mind…

  • You know how we make fun of the Chinese over range safety? Well, how about getting a cigarette shot out of your mouth? (1:20 – and the guy nearly gets an ear piercing at 1:24)
  • Full Sabrina as a competitive ready position (7:22)
  • We may have improved training practices a lot since 1936, but pasting targets hasn’t changed a bit (8:56)
  • IPSC deja vu – some things haven’t changed at all (10:34 – though the hop-skip-and-a-jump isn’t really a good idea)
  • How many ranges would allow massed walking fire today? (15:13)

Of course, while I would like to think we have much better overall practices today, there are still some pretty cringe-worthy trainers out there today (take it away, Rick Taylor!).


  1. While the practice/training is not recommended, they were after all, the Sheriff’s Exhibition Pistol Team. That type of stuff was expected from exhibition shooters back then. Just look at some of the old Annie Oakley film from the early 20th century.

  2. The “Rick Taylor” chronicles are a complete tongue-in-cheek blast! Andrew Tuohy certainly has a great sense of deadpan self-deprecating humor that belies the true depth of his knowledge and competency.

    I think CJ has a relevant point about the exhibition shooters of the time, when standards and expectations were quite different and our culture had yet to become as safety-conscious as it is today.

  3. The on-site reloading and recycling / smelting facility was interesting, as were the efficient ways in which expended bullets were recovered from the shot traps and empty cartridges gathered from the collection trays. The range wardens, who presumably made a full-time or near full-time job out of the whole process, would have been exposed to high concentrations of lead and assorted chemical compounds over the long term, with its attendant health impacts. It appears that little or no PPE ( Personal Protective Equipment ) was worn against exposure to these contaminants. Then again, times and standards were very different.

  4. Evidently none of the commenters spent any time on South Vietnamese Ranger or SF range!! They did this kind of skip, jump, look around, giggle at each other .. while still firing! Watching the “group.45 pistol assault fire” brought many a tear to my eye. LoL And I think I understand why the sword presentation .. They took away his pistol figuring he was more the “sword kinda guy.”

    • When I was in the service, we actually did conduct massed walking fire, albeit with assault rifles on full auto, at the range, as well as a lot of live-fire attacks on assorted fortifications ranging from “enemy”-held hilltop / hillside bunkers to fighting in built-up areas. No “hop, skip and jump” as seen in the video, though. This was replaced by highly-fluid, mobile rapid-reaction snap shooting against random pop-up targets in scenarios similar to the live-fire drills mentioned above.

  5. In the marching fire part at the very end, they were shooting semi-autos and were in different uniforms (sans badges too) than the people were wearing at the start of the film. Wonder if they were military / reserves, etc.

    Disapointed at first, where was the hip shooting? Then sure enough they started hip shooting, no police range prior to the late seventies was complete without it.

    Phillip Sharpe’s book on reloading (the edition I have came out right after WWII) discussed clubs and police depts with reloading facilities, apparently they were not a rarity in those days. Regarding safety around lead, this was back in the days of lead paint, lead in gasolene, coal powered everything, asbestos on anything that might get hot, used oil was sprayed on dirt roads to reduce dust, and no school, hospital, or large office was complete without its own trash incinerator. And most of my relatives that lived through that era made it into their 90’s. At least the sherif’s officers were shooting outside and avoided some lead exposure that way.

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