A big part of tactical equipment, ballistic shields serve as an effective layer of protection. They’ve been around for more than four millennia, shielding the wearers from physical attacks.
Today, they’re considered vital body armor add-ons, whether we’re talking about armed forces, paramilitaries, or law enforcement personnel.
Aside from providing cover, ballistic shields help protect the wearer from harmful projectiles while also being able to stop bullets.
Whether you’re in the market for one or are simply interested in them, here’s the beginner’s guide to ballistic shields, their types, design, level of protection, and the training necessary for handling them effectively.
Types of shields according to the level of protection
Often referred to as blankets or bunker shields, ballistic shields come in a wide range of options. Typically, they’re divided into categories depending on the level of protection they provide.
As such, a shield you get will only provide a guaranteed level of protection from threats within its particular range. This is why it’s important that you consider your needs first before purchasing this tactical equipment. The four levels of protection are as follows:
· Level II – typically made from soft armor, level II types of shields offer protection against handgun rounds.
· Level IIIA – aside from shielding against handgun rounds, these shields can also withstand submachine guns as well as shotgun slugs. They’re usually made from hard armor, but can also be made from soft armor.
· Level III – made specifically from hard armor, this level of protection is reserved for protection against rifles.
· Level IV – this one provides the highest protection level, and will guard you effectively against rifle threats and armor-piercing ammunition.
Ballistic shield training
Critical incidents require a quick response, and just like identifying the level of protection you need, it’s also vital that you are well versed when it comes to actually using ballistic shields.
After all, the way it is used is essential for providing proper protection, and will ultimately determine its effectiveness. The best way to ensure you’re applying one correctly is to learn about it first.
By completing a tactical ballistic shield training course, you can obtain the knowledge needed for its proper handling. With the right program in place, you will cover everything from basic movement techniques to cover positions and shield mounting.
Lasting between 8 and 40 hours, these courses will go a long way in preparing you for situations that require effective employment of ballistic shields.
Factors to consider when selecting ballistic shields
Just like there are different levels of protection offered by ballistic shields, there’s also a variety of options to choose from when looking for one that addresses a specific threat.
This will, again, depend on a department’s specific needs, and each option has its advantages and drawbacks. Some factors to keep in mind when selecting ballistic shields include:
· shield size (full body, or torso, face, and neck, overhead protection, etc.)
· shield mobility (some can be carried, some are mobile)
· shield shape (rectangular, V-shape, curved, flat, and dynamic)
· shield design (soft armor, hard armor, and rolling shields, also known as wheeled trolley shields)
· shield weight
· shield material (carbon fiber, ceramic, polymer non-fibrous laminates, composites, hybrid composites, UHMWPE, Kevlar)
· shield color and finish (black, tan, transparent, Kevlar-looking finish, etc.)
· shield handle (horizontal, tri grip, assault, adjustable)
· shield viewport (added visibility)
· shield lighting (integrated, mountable)
· shield price ($500-$5000)
· shield warranty (from 5 to 25 years)
· shield’s overall maneuverability
Ballistic shield uses and application
When it comes to the application of ballistic shields, their use will depend on the situation in question. Generally speaking, they can be used for both defensive and offensive situations. They are also worn by cops for patrol activities.
There are a number of different methods, tactics, and manipulation techniques that can be used. Some of the most common circumstances where ballistic shields are applied include:
· Dynamic entry – involves breaking into the object and using the shields to prevent the suspects from escaping, with the accent being on speed
· Deliberate entry – focuses on both speed and protection to help clear the rooms, while the shields are used to hold the area
· Surround and call out – shields provide cover to the officers, protecting the from gunshots as well as projectiles while the subject surrenders and hostages are saved
· Assault – used for protection of several officers at once from blind shots
· Takedown operations – used to catch the subject while away from home and off guard
There’s no doubt that ballistic shields come in handy in situations where there’s a high risk of armed resistance. In such instances, an additional layer of protection is vital, and using protective shields provides the right amount of cover.
With these tips in mind, you’ll manage to select the one that fits your department’s needs best, ensuring proper protection for each of the unique threats you might face.
In situations where there’s a high risk of armed resistance, proper protective equipment is a must, and that’s when ballistic shields come in handy.