On Monday, November 30, 2015 at 9 o’clock in the morning I stood before seven Argentinean police officers that flew all the way up from South American to attend my one-week Weapons Course. In charge of the group was Raul Diefenbach, from Porto Alegre, Brazil, who also served as my Spanish translator. I also had four Reality-Based Personal Protection Brazilian support staff that helped with realistic scenarios when we switched to Airsoft pistols. I go back and forth constantly between Airsoft pistols and live-fire pistols for the most effective way of teaching new techniques and tactics. Having actual human targets from time to time really helps with moving targets and shoot don’t shoot decision making.
The course was divided into three sections. One was pistol training. Two was Knife Survival. Three was rifle training; this included assault rifle and sniper rifle.
While I was teaching my students some anti-terrorism techniques and tactics in a Shoot House (a building designed for shooters to go through and engage live-fire targets) 39 miles (62 kilometers) a radical Islamic terrorist attack by Syed Rizwan Farook and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik took place. These two terrorists, armed with explosives and assault rifles, murdered 14 people, and injured scores more, in a Christmas party. Witnesses stated that they were dressed in tactical gear and using military team tactics to move and shoot. Where we were at in the mountains shooting, the same mountain range that goes through San Bernardino, we had not cellular reception, and so we knew nothing of the morning attack until we drove down the mountain. Of course, relatives sent me voice messages and text messages warning me that some terrorists got away from the police. Later that night I learned that there were only two terrorists that conducted the attack, and the police killed them by putting 300 bullets through their car after the terrorists had shot at police through their back windshield of their SUV.
Of course, the next morning my students had heard all about the attack, and they, of anybody, know about the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. I have been teaching Argentinean police how to fight terrorism before 9/11. Here’s a look at one of my training down in Argentina before terrorism was even on the public’s radar:
Needless to say, America was once again in shock. Only a couple of weeks before that I witnessed the shock of the Europeans when I was there and the terrorist attacks took place in Paris, France. The city was teaching in, Cologne, Germany, had a terrorist arrested there. Again, I was teaching people how to survive criminal and terrorist attacks, which included the German police for one restricted session.
The rest of the week went well, and our group was one of the best I had ever trained. They were all professionals, and they got along like brothers.
On Friday, December 4, 2015, the last day of Weapons Course, we finished with sniper counter-sniper training. The final test was that everyone received only one .308 bullet. It was their final exam. At 100 meters they had to hit a one-gallon milk jug filled with water, which is approximately the same size as a human head. I demonstrated on a Reality-Based Impact Head (firearms version) that has a bag of stage blood in it. I told them, “I will aim under the nose, and just above the lip. This is where you shoot the front of a head to guarantee that you cut the brain stem and he goes placid paralysis.” I took the shot, and the self-sealing rubber indicated that I had placed the bullet right where I said I would, and the red mist behind the moment of impact indicated that from a distance. My Remington 700 police sniper rifle and scope is as accurate as you can get. It is a great weapon.
All of the students were nervous, because I told them they will not get a certificate if they miss (adding a bit of psychological pressure), but everyone succeeded with the “One Shot, One Kill” shot. However, all seven students put their bullet right through the center, and each time the observers saw the plastic jump into the air, and water run down the berm, everyone clapped. When the shooter stood up, always with a big smile, there was hi-fives and handshakes.
Not part of the test, was the off-hand (standing) shot. The first shot they had taken was a prone supported position. This off-hand shot is a difficult shot, because the rifle is so heavy. So I taught them the correct body position, which looks a bit contorted, but it works, and it is how my US Marine instructors taught me at Scout Sniper School at Camp Pendleton in the 1990s. However, nobody could hit the target at 100 meters away.
Well, I had put back in my contact lenses, thinking I was done for the day, and so my close up vision was a bit off with the sniper scope. I had the scope a wee bit too close to my face, and when I pulled the trigger it was like someone had punched me in the face with full force. At that instant I immediately knew what happened, and I waited for it. A moment later I felt a warm stream run down my forehead, down along side my nose, over my two lips, and dripping on my shirt. I had given myself a “scope bite,” the third one in my life. Practically every military and police sniper in the world has a scope bite. It happens if you are in a hurry to do a shot, and sometimes situations force you to take the shot fast.
My students were a bit shocked at first when I faced them, but I assured them that it was very minor. With blood all over my face I continued to teach as nothing happened, but with a little pressure from time to time. One of my students said, in Spanish, “Jim, you need some sugar in that wound.”
I laughed because I had taught them earlier in the week that sugar has been used for millennium to keep wounds from becoming infected, because the sugar kills the bacteria. In the American Civil War sugar was poured into gunshot wounds.
“Good idea!” I replied, but I didn’t need it for such a minor “scratch.” Plus, I had a modern medical IFAK (Improved First Aid Kit) on hand, as did my assistant instructor Ken Bertram.
That night we went to an Argentinean restaurant in the area, and a good time was had by all. The food was tasty, the conversations lively, and live music and dancing was fun, and it was a wonderful time of bonding – once a cop, always a cop.
After everyone was finished eating two of the police instructors presented me with a professional police plate with stand. It was from the Police Firearms Unit in Argentina. It read:
Como muestra de agradecimiento por las permanente colaboración con esta Institución - Subjefatura de Policía
As a sign of gratitude for the ongoing cooperation with this institution - Deputy Chief of Police
Yes, I was touched, and added it to the T-shirts and pins the other officers had given me. Now this plate sits with the many other trophies and plaques that line my office at home.
Raul and I shook hands and promised each other more courses in the future between all three countries. 10 Brazilians and Argentineans went home with a good impression of the United States of America, and relations between the three countries are just a little bit better because of it. “Diplomacy” at the people level is always more genuine than heads of state shaking hands. You have to win the hearts of people, not just make commerce and military agreements.
I pray that every one of those police I taught last week will be safe back in Argentina in the performance of their duties. They are truly the “sheepdogs.”
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.