COPS 2018 Belgium – an account by IPA UK’s Martin Turner

16 Dec 2018

UK COPS BE 9Earlier in 2018, one of the many friends and colleagues I have made through the IPA mentioned a COPS training week in Belgium. Sven Maertens, who leads the Defensive Tactics Group within the section, is an experienced trainer and has grown up heavily immersed in a variety of martial arts disciplines. COPS was a training week arranged by Sven and other IPA members in Belgium in June and held at the joint fire/medical/police training site near Antwerp, Campus Vesta.

In Antwerp I was met by a couple of officers in a marked police vehicle, and off we went to the training venue. At Campus Vesta I checked into our accommodation – admittedly 8-man tents and portable bathroom facilities weren’t the most welcome in the hot and muggy conditions, but we all managed! We were welcomed that afternoon by the Campus staff and the trainers, handed very well-stocked goodie bags and were fed and watered. The evening was full of catch-ups, Belgian beer and a DJ providing entertainment.UK COPS BE 4

The training over the next 4 days was intensive and thorough. Ranging from simulated vehicle defence, knife defence, unarmed combat, tactical emergency casualty care, point shooting and more. We had input around drone technology, behavioural detection, counter terrorism and ASP products. There was even a mini equipment store with numerous stockists in the compound we stayed in.

I was handed a Glock 17 at the beginning of the shooting, along with two magazines. The response from the Belgian trainer and the American Smith & Wesson manager to my ‘I’ve not really fired a handgun before’ was amusing: ‘You’ll be fine, just go second and watch what they do!’, indicating the other half of my team. To the surprise of the trainers and me, I was pretty good… After firing off close to 200 rounds I was certainly better than when I started anyway!

Our cultural trip was to a nearby brewery where beer and whisky was sampled and traditional food eaten in the co-located restaurant. All too quickly another great week with the IPA ended and it was time to go home. Sven and his colleagues had successfully pulled off a training week for close to 120 participants, including feeding and accommodating them. It was a real shame to be the only UK member present but hopefully as the UK Defensive Tactics Group training weekends gain more momentum, it may encourage other members to head abroad and take advantage of unparalleled training opportunities.

Martin Turner, IPA UK