Shoot, Punch and Save Lives: Training with The FBI

Reporter Deanna Durante blogs about her experience training with federal agents and shooting a gun for the first time

Lets see, if I asked you to define a Glock 40 caliber, MP5, M4 and a “Tommy,” could you do it?

Before today I’d have said the first is obviously a name for a handgun -- I have, after all, watched my share of “Law and Order” -- but the rest I’d have to say are a mix of digital music devices and a Broadway show.

For those schooled in the gun world (unlike me) – yes, those are all the names of guns too.
I have never held a gun, until today. Shocking for many who know me since I’m the daughter of a cop. I grew up with guns in the house. I don’t remember ever being told to stay away from them, but I made a conscious choice to always avoid them.

My dad chose to take me to the driving range over the firing range as a child -- though after today he may wonder what I’ve learned.
When the FBI invited NBC10 to go along to a tactical training session at Ft. Dix, I jumped at the chance. As a reporter, we often come in after the event -- the car crash the shooting, the tactical deployment -- but today we were there as agents refreshed their skills on how to enter the often dangerous situations they are faced with every single day on the job.
The course: Defensive tactical training.

And before I go any further, I want to share a little tidbit learned today: Most often times law enforcement will have to lay hands on a subject rather than pull a weapon, that’s according to FBI agents.

Confrontations are often physical and agents use a mix of martial arts and defensive training in those battles. We watched as one agent played “the bad guy” and in seconds lunged at his fellow agents, having to be subdued physically.

The courses are laid out much like you’d see on crime dramas in structures built to look like apartments. There was also an old bus in the middle of a field to be used as if it’s the body of an aircraft or a subway car. I wasn't a glamorous layout -- the apartment structure didn't have a roof, but comforts of home weren't key there -- saving lives are. 
Violence is increasing against law enforcement, according to the FBI who says they must adapt as new threats surface against them. Today's event gave us a chance to look through a small window into their dangerous lives. The agents even offered to mace me -- something I thought long and hard about, but eventually declined.
Now, lets get to the guns.

Never before today had I shot a weapon, even though I've been around guns my whole life. The first shot was to come from a GLOCK MODEL 22 .40 CALIBER PISTOL -- the weapon used by one of the agents who was schooling me.

I must admit I likely came off as a bit giddy with the firepower in my hand – delivering a fatal blow to my paper target with my first shot. As easy as these agents make it look (and I do hope you’ll check out the video posted with this blog) it is not.

The kick you receive from the weapon is far greater than I realized. I was very self-conscious of these experts watching on at novice like me. I also was very concerned about hurting someone else.
Next, an MP5 10mm assault rifle -- I’m told it’s like a large handgun.  This weapon I found a strange comfort with, perhaps because I could use my shoulder to stabilize myself. I fired off several shots without missing the target, but no direct kills.
Later an M4 .223 caliber rifle -- the kind of gun you see swat teams using – it's a very intimidating weapon, mostly because it closely resembles an M16.
Finally there was the “Tommy Gun,” a weapon the FBI no longer uses, but brought it out for demo purposes -- think Elliott Ness and the land of gangster movies. This gun I had no trouble using, until multiple shots were fired, then thankfully one of the agents acted as support so the recoil from the weapon didn’t knock me over.

I certainly did learn a lot -- a neat advantage to being a reporter, but not enough to send me out for my own Glock MP5 or Tommy. Its hard to imagine in my 30+ years on this earth this isn’t something I’d learned before -- but then again this is also a big day for me -- it’s my first blog!

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