You see a memo sitting in roll call, the Chief of Police put out an opening in the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team or Special Response Team (SRT).
You contemplate should you put your name in the hat?
Are you ready for it?
I have been on both SWAT and currently on SRT. Both are pretty much the same, except for the name. We work on our tactics and shooting as. We get tasked with missions all the time. Anything from a search warrant, arrest warrant to protective details and other specialty details that require our expertise.
To become a SWAT “Operator” you need to be in not only top shape but also one of the best shots in the department and have a certain mindset. SWAT Operators set themselves apart from the rest of the police department.
They are both tactically and technically proficient.
All these thoughts run through your mind and you end up putting your name in the hat. A few days/weeks go by and you get the call and get a date and time for the tryout.
For me, I am a fitness junkie, hence Gym Junkie, I work out all the time. If you already weren’t in shape and want to try out for SWAT/SRT then don’t even put your name in. I would suggest you get working out for about 6 months to a year before you put your name in. Please refer to my previous article on Gym Junkies to start your police training workout.
The same goes for shooting. If you are not an expert and shoot a perfect score every time you get assessed then work on it also.
What I am going to discuss is a bit more on the advanced side, for officers who want to become SWAT and are already in shape. I will guide you for the best way to get ready for the tryouts. If you can squat 400lbs but can’t keep up in a short run with your gear, then that would pose a problem. On the flip side, if you are a runner but lack in the strength arena, that will also be a problem.
Functional Training VS Traditional Training
What do I mean by Functional Training VS Traditional Training?
Traditional Training, to me, goes more along the lines of the Monday-Friday workout schedule, where you would train your chest and back one day and the next day you do arms and shoulders etc. You get the idea.
In order to be successful during your try-outs, you will have to broaden your horizons in terms of your workouts.
SWAT Operators use Functional Training as a way to stay in shape because that type of training covers a multitude of scenarios. An example of this would be 40 yards sprints with a 35 lbs ram, combined with doing cardio in a gas mask. As a candidate for SWAT, you are going to be looked at for overall fitness, not just strength and not just speed. I am going to provide you a couple examples of what a PT test looks like to get on a team.
Not all PT tests are like this but it will give you an idea of what to expect.
PT Test 1
50 Jumping Jacks in your gas mask
Immediately after that, with your gas mask, carry a 35 lbs ram up and down a flight of stairs.
A tunnel crawl in your gas mask when you are done with the ram carry, then you will take your mask off and attempt to hop over a wall.
Put on a 40lbs vest, helmet and carry a rifle then do a 40-yard sprint. You have to beat a certain time. Immediately after the sprint, you have to do 2 pull-ups with your vest and helmet on.
After the above events have been completed and you have not been disqualified yet. You have to do a timed 800-meter run. Part of this run at some point you have to carry a dummy or one of your classmates, do a bunch of burpees etc.
After all that then there will be a series of exercises you will have to do and the aim of it is to test your mindset.
PT Test 2
PT test is in full kit, which means wearing your 30 to 50 lbs vest, without your magazines and bullets for safety, and helmet and does the following exercises with a short break in-between.
1/4 mile run in under 2:10
60 yd sprint in under 15 seconds
60 yd high crawl in under 50 seconds
Officer down drag with a 350 lb sled for 20 yds in under 25 seconds
Climb 2 floors of stairs in under 18 seconds
For the sprint and the stair climb, the officer also carries the ram, but the whole thing is done in the kit.
Mindset When You Are A SWAT Operator
Most SWAT operators are prior military and they have a certain mindset. They know that they can push their bodies beyond all limits. I have learned, from my military experience, that it is all mind over matter.
What the SWAT cadre looks for when scoring the PT tests is who has the most heart.
Who can push themselves?
It isn’t about who is the fastest, it’s about finishing all the events and not giving up.
You received a glimpse of what to expect for SWAT tryouts in terms of PT tests. One thing to keep in mind, each SWAT team has there own standards and what I shared are only a couple of PT tests that I know of.
There are plenty more out there.
As I stated before, generally those who try out for SWAT are already in some sort of shape, whether it is being a good runner or a strength athlete. As a SWAT operator, you need to be a better-rounded athlete.
How to prepare for the PT test?
Once you put your name in for SWAT, you need to train for the PT test. If you know what the PT test will consist of then you should do the PT test at least once a week and score yourself each time.
As for the rest of the week, how should you train?
I would do the above PT tests as part of your workout regimen.
Not only do you need to be physically strong but also need to be able to shoot well. SWAT teams, for the most part, require all operators to score 100% when qualifying with their weapons. Below I am going to provide a work out I do out at the range.
ONLY DO THESE AT YOUR POLICE RANGE AND WITH APPROVAL OF YOUR COMMAND. AS ALWAYS KEEP SAFETY IN MIND!
From the 50 yard line…in full gear (Pistol) Leave a sandbag (50-125lbs) at the 10-yard line
Run to the 25 yard, and fire 5 rounds standing and 5 round kneeling at the target.
Do 25 Jumping Jacks the fire from the prone position 5 rounds at the target.
Run to the 15-yard line and do 10 burpees and then fire 10 rounds at the target.
Pick up sandbar at the 10-yard line and place it on your shoulder then while moving to the 5-yard line, fire one strong hand only 2 rounds at the target.
Holster your weapon, and with the sandbag still held complete 10 presses with the sandbag
Place sandbag on your other shoulder and while moving fire 2 rounds support side
If you know the standards of the SWAT team range qualifications then practice that once a week.
As you prepare for the PT test, you need to fuel your body correctly. You need to make sure you remain well-balanced meals. In my previous article, I discussed what foods you should have with you in your cruiser.
Below is a list of foods you should have with you as snacks…
Apples w/ Almond Butter
Lots of Water!
What should you eat the day of the PT test?
Eat to fuel your body, for example, have some banana and peanut butter and plenty of water. One thing to avoid is pre-workout. Pre-workout will actually hurt you more than help you. It’s because your heart rate is already elevated because of the mere fact it’s a test. You don’t need a stimulant to make it worse.
I would have some black coffee to give you a little caffeine.
Remember, the minute you put your name in for SWAT you need to prepare. If you haven’t been keeping up with your PT then skip this tryout round and get ready for the next one. Always push yourself in your workouts, work hard at the range. Train like you fight!
Special thanks to Gym Junkies for having me contribute today. I have a learned a lot from them and will share more content…