Defense Alliance, Ohio Police Training Facility – Allies in Arms Chris Hernandez July 14, 2016 Join the Conversation Alliance PD's Range Allows Citizens to Train Like the Men in Blue Photos by Taylor Elizabeth Photography One wouldn't expect to find one of America's best police training facilities in a tiny town of 22,000, serving a police department of 40 officers. One also might be surprised to learn this training facility consists of not just a pistol range, but also a 330-yard rifle range, a huge live-fire shoot house, demolitions range, facilities for quick-mounting real doors onto dedicated frames for breaching, a to-spec simulated airliner fuselage, and even space for a helicopter LZ. One might not know that some of the world's best tactical trainers make frequent use of this amazing facility in this otherwise-unknown town. And one might be shocked — as we were — to discover this police training facility is also open to private civilians. Welcome to the Alliance, Ohio, police training facility. It stands out among other police ranges for many reasons, all of them good. We recently spent a week there attending Alliance Police Department's Explosive Breaching Class, and found ourselves impressed with everything about the place. And it's not just a police range — industry heavy hitters EAG, Sentinel Concepts, and LMS Defense all teach classes in Alliance. Cars can be shot on Alliance's range, so Will Petty teaches occasional vehicle CQB classes there. John “Sheriff of Baghdad” McPhee will soon start teaching classes there. Basically, Alliance Police Department operates a tactical training dream come true. [Editor's Note: EAG Tactical suffered the loss of Pat Rogers, its founder, this past May. Rogers stood as a legend in the firearms training industry. He taught shooters under the banner of his own company for 27 years, drawing on his experience in law enforcement and the Marine Corps. We've heard the instructor cadre will carry the EAG Tactical name forward, continuing the mission to train gunfighters and honoring Rogers' legacy.] From a cop's perspective, the most surprising thing about the facility, which is worth an estimated $1.7 million, is that it was built with, and operates on, zero tax dollars. The facility was originally funded by private donations, and is kept afloat by student tuition and commercial sponsors. We'd never been to a police range with advertising banners hanging off the shoot house, but they're part of the landscape in Alliance. We're not aware of any other police range in the country that costs nothing to local taxpayers. Some of the world's best tactical trainers make frequent use of this amazing facility in this otherwise-unknown town. And it's worth noting that Alliance's range actually does the opposite of pulling money from citizens' pockets. Every year, hundreds of students come to Alliance from all over the country and the world. Those students eat at local restaurants, shop at local stores, and rent local hotel rooms. One hotel has rented over 600 rooms to students this year alone, contributing $7,800 in hotel taxes back to the city of Alliance. As Officer Joe Weyer, head of training for Alliance PD, puts it, “Alliance is cheap to stay in, cheap to eat in, cheap to fly to, and cheap to train in.” That low cost is a huge draw to those looking for good training, and a big boost to the local economy. And while taxpayers don't have to fund the facility, they're welcome to train there. Alliance PD teaches six courses, four of which (combative carbine, combative shotgun, defensive pistol, and low-light pistol) are open to private citizens with concealed carry permits from any state. EAG Tactical, Sentinel Concepts, and LMS Defense all teach classes at Alliance's range, and almost all their classes are open enrollment. Every class taught by EAG is offered in Alliance, as is every Sentinel Concepts class. We're not aware of any other police range in the country that costs nothing to local taxpayers. Alliance PD is a good counter to the “police are at war against the citizens” argument. Weyer told us hundreds of non-military, non-law-enforcement students have come through courses at Alliance, and he's had hundreds more in his private concealed carry permit classes. As you'd probably expect, the civilian students who come to Alliance tend to be training junkies with money, gear, and time to train. The guy who open carries a Hi-Point in a non-retention crossdraw holster probably doesn't have much interest in what Alliance offers. But if he ever develops interest, Alliance PD will welcome him to a class with open arms. Military units, on the other hand, are very interested. Several have trained in Alliance, and one Air Force unit uses the facility for a full week every year. The facility is attractive to the military because it has a Class 5 weapons vault with alarm, no noise or laser restrictions, and a range big enough to land a helicopter. The shoot house is pretty enticing as well; it's 8,100 square feet, divided into multiple rooms and hallways, rated for calibers up to 7.62×51, has BTI breaching doors, and contains frames for quick-mount drywall so teams can practice explosively porting walls to quickly get muzzles into rooms. It also boasts a catwalk, 16 surveillance cameras with live feeds, and FLIR for recording nighttime training. LMS offers a low-light course, part of which is live fire with night vision in the shoot house. Remote-control robots with target stands allow students to engage moving targets inside (or outside on the pistol and rifle ranges). Alliance PD is a good counter to the “police are at war against the citizens” argument. For those not looking for live fire training, or working their way up to it, Alliance keeps a UTM force-on-force package on hand. The package consists of 26 rifle bolts, six Glock slides, six M&P slides, 10,000 UTM rounds, and all required personal protective equipment. UTM rounds for classes can be purchased from Alliance PD on site, at dealer cost. Students also have access to a limited number of loaner helmets, plate carriers, and plates if they don't have their own. Other benefits for students include 20-percent discounts on Team Wendy helmets, 40-percent discounts on Vertx gear, and on-request support from CamelBak. But what's even cooler than discount gear is Alliance PD's network of partnerships. In town, Weyer has city-repossessed abandoned houses where students can perform real breaches on real doors with real shotguns, or conduct nighttime entries with NODs and UTM guns against role players. Weyer also has an abandoned factory, the “life after humans” building, which is a nightmare for students to clear. Close to town, Weyer has access to 800- and 1,000-yard ranges, and at another nearby site he even detonated a car bomb with 100 pounds of explosives during a post-blast class for foreign students. Foreign students also make extensive use of the simulated airliner fuselage. It's laid out with the exact dimensions of a particular model of a real airliner, with seats at the correct intervals, overhead storage bins, and real interior aircraft skin. It's even — wait for it — built for live-fire training. Our federal air marshals have their own training program and facilities, but several other nations need facilities to develop and sustain their air marshal skills. Alliance provides one of the only places in America for them to do it. The shoot house is pretty enticing as well; it's 8,100 square feet, divided into multiple rooms and hallways, rated for calibers up to 7.62×51, has BTI breaching doors, and contains frames for quick-mount drywall so teams can practice explosively porting walls to quickly get muzzles into rooms. For Alliance PD officers, Joe Weyer does what any host would do: in exchange for access to his facility, he extorts trainers for free class slots. Alliance PD probably has some of the best-trained SWAT and patrol officers in the country. When this author was a small-town cop, his training budget and facilities only gave him two options: bad training, or worse training. But Alliance has officers with only a few years on who've attended more advanced courses than we have in over 20 years. One affliction crippling many police departments is the honest yet self-defeating belief that all training can be taught by the departments' own instructors. “Trainers,” who may have been off the street for literally decades, think they know it all and see no reason to spend money on tuition, travel, and lodging when they can teach their officers all about modern police tactics (like how to speedload your trusty six-shooter with ball ammo because “hardball drops them all”). Alliance PD doesn't have that problem. Joe Weyer's friendly “extortion scam” has gotten APD's officers over $80,000 in training, from the best instructors in the country, at no cost to the city's residents. For Alliance PD officers, Joe Weyer does what any good trainer would do: in exchange for access to his facility, he extorts trainers for free class slots. All in all, Alliance PD's facility offers police, military, and armed citizens tons of training advantages and only one disadvantage (it's in Ohio, which we suppose isn't a disadvantage for people who live in Ohio). Without question, the chance to train in Alliance was worth the trip. Anyone serious about developing real firearms skills should plan at least one course in Alliance, but be warned: that one course will likely convince you to go to many, many others. The Alliance Boss Joe Weyer, head of training in Alliance, served as a Ranger in the 75th Ranger Regiment before entering law enforcement in 1996. After becoming a cop, he realized that police training nationwide was often stagnant and obsolete, especially in small agencies with limited training budgets. “Tactics passed down from one decade to the next within one small organization can't keep up with the rest of the tactical community,” he said. “We started hosting training so we could bring in outside experience, ideas, and gear. We wanted to avoid the ‘that's how we've always done it' mentality.” Joe discovered he had tapped into a training gold mine for his officers. “Hosting classes gives our officers training we could never afford otherwise. And we're not just sending an officer to one class every once in a while. Going to a class one time doesn't make you a subject matter expert. Each time we host a class, even if it's the same class we've taken before, we gain valuable new information and training. If someone says, ‘I already took that class,' I ask, ‘Are you prepared to teach it with confidence?' If not, there's more to learn.” About the Authors Taylor Elizabeth Lange is a Houston-based photographer and a shooter who trains constantly. She regularly attends classes instructed by such noted instructors as Mike Pannone, Jeff Gonzales, and Pat Rogers. Most of her camera shooting can be found at www.taylorelizabethphoto.com, but RECOIL readers might want to check out her “Seeing Red” collection at taylorelizabethphoto.smugmug.com/GALLERIES/TRAINING-CLASSES. Follow her on Instagram @taylizphoto and keep an eye out for hashtag #valordog too. Chris Hernandez is a former Marine turned Army tanker. He is a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, was a member of the UN police mission in Kosovo and an embedded adviser with the Afghan army. He's been with a large south Texas police department for over two decades and has written several novels. Find him online at chrishernandezauthor.com. Breaching We took an Explosive Breaching course at Alliance PD, taught by retired Special Forces NCO John Mayer. Mayer, a self-described “breaching nerd,” put us through a math-heavy classroom portion before taking us outside to shoot through simulated locks with shotguns, knock through doors with battering rams, cut through barriers with torches and saws, and detonate carefully crafted breaching charges. Because Alliance PD has access to numerous condemned houses in town, we also had the opportunity to shotgun breach real doors. Contrary to movie depictions and popular belief, explosives aren't meant to destroy a door with a nuclear blast; their real aim is to open doors with as little force as possible. Some breaching charges literally push a door open with less force and damage than you'd have from a strong kick. Alliance is hosting another Explosive Breaching course this fall, and we'll post a full course review on RECOILweb.com soon. Alliance Police Training can be found on the web at www.alliancepolicetraining.com. Follow them on Instagram, @alliancepolicetraining, and watch their Facebook page for training announcements, www.facebook.com/alliancepolicetraining. Alliance Police Training 12251 Rockhill Ave NE Alliance, OH 44601 www.alliancepolicetraining.com Explore RECOILweb:Outta The Closet: Magpul MOE AK StockGalaxy GetawaysVertx and Armalite to Give Away One-of-a-kind RifleGoodbye NRA? New York and D.C. Team Up to Dissolve the Giant NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). 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