Under the Radar

Trying to Get it Right: Bullet Exchange


Under the Radar: Bullet Exchange Consulting

Under the Radar: Bullet Exchange Consulting

People are critical of poor weapon handling and tactical skills as portrayed in movies. The number of people that are tactically proficient and militarily savvy is probably the highest its ever been, if you consider not just the veterans but the police (an average patrol officer nowadays is far more 'tactical' than his predecessors of even a decade ago, largely due to the changing threats they face and improved training capabilities and opportunities). There are also some very serious MilSim players who shoot real steel, shooting enthusiasts. To be honest, I've heard kids call out a mistake on the tv screen based upon their intimate familiarity with Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3!

I can't vouch for the accuracy of the skills that Bullet Exchange conveys with its BEAT program (Bullet Exchange Actor Training) but the video below certainly makes a compelling case for it.

The problem, of course, is that while there are some very squared away technical advisers out there, directors nearly always want to go for sexy rather than realistic. Rick Lopez is a friend of mine. I know what he taught the guys from Street Kings and what he's teaching Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena for End of Watch, but I'll bet it's not all reflected in the final product. I'm not sure why that is (though some is undoubtedly plot driven). I like realistic. I don't need the noise of a shotgun slide being racked when someone lifts up an M4 to get into the spirit of things, I've never understood why trained soldiers and cops on the big screen don't get to carry their weapons hot and I really don't get why it's so hard to keep your finger out of the trigger. The hairiest-backed knuckle dragging grunt picks up on that in short order, surely actors can. It just makes more sense to chamber a round after you drag iron, I guess, or it must the to the directors. Most of us on the watching end, of course, go DUMBASS! and often much worse. It would really be funny when "special operators" teacup their pistols or do a neck index with their flashlight on a building search, if it wasn't so stoooopid. Same as when a trained operative doesn't know the difference between a .223 Mini-14 and a 7.62 M14 (shame on you, George).

Then there are seemingly good movies that you really want to like, then you realize the hero is running around with the optic mounted backwards on his rifle, and that his finger is properly indexed along his rifle on the DVD cover but there's a muzzle flash on the end of it. *sigh*

What's wrong with this picture, if anything?

Now, before you accuse me of being hypercritical or self-righteous, let me qualify my complaints as follows: I don't mind inaccuracy in something that doesn't take itself seriously, and things like the MW3 trailers don't bother me a bit. That shootout in the bar at the beginning of Desperado is great, and the gunfights in any SyFy movie are awesome. Maybe it's just a suspension of disbelief thing, I don't know. There are some films that are very well done. HEAT had some good weapon handling, as did Collateral (remember the fight in the alley) and The Way of the Gun.

Anyway, let me get to the video before my ADD kicks in any more.


Maybe the people behind NCIS will hire these guys so they will stop throwing their guns in their desks when they come in the office and semi-autos will stop going to slide lock after just 3 to 5 rounds...or perhaps that red-headed idiot on CSI: Miami will quit chicken-winging it when he's searching a house.  Gosh, what if we never saw anyone stack up by a door with their pistols stuck straight up in the air ever again?

That would be awesome. Until then, I'll occasionally cheer myself up by tuning into Flashpoint and calling them names with my friends, secretly wondering how anyone could possibly deserve a paycheck for such rampant ridiculosity. I'd thrash any of my nieces and nephews for weapons handling and officer safety like that, especially the ones old enough to drive.

I've sent a message to Bullet Exchange asking to talk to them. Will advise if I hear anything back.

In closing, let me also say I have no problem with cowboys shooting each other with single action revolvers from the top of a running horse. Apparently my hypocrisy has no boundaries.

About the author: David Reeder is a 20 year law enforcement veteran and AF SNCO who worked assignments in Training, S4, Mobility and Operations. He is a former Evaluator/Controller for the National Homeland Security Training Center, was an EST member, TL and commander, and for the last several years has worked as a joint service Combat Tracking instructor. During his LE career he’s worked patrol, training, drug task force, SWAT and PIO. He currently writes for Kit Up!, Under the Radar, Defense Tech and is a contributing editor to the BOLO Report.


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