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National Tactical Officers Association

Improving public safety and domestic security through training, education and tactical excellence.

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Physical Fitness Qualification (PFQ)

Objective

The objective of the NTOA SWAT Physical Fitness Qualification (PFQ) Test is to create a recommended fitness standard with universal applications for all SWAT operators. This standard would implement functional movement, regulation and recovery, and capacity of training and performance using skills that are constantly varied and of high intensity. The goal of this standard is to holistically improve the longevity, safety and effectiveness of SWAT operators, therefore influencing use of force, lessening injury, and increasing operational readiness for mission accomplishment. To solidify this standard, trial runs of this proposed test using multiple SWAT teams from across the United States is required for necessary feedback.

Why Support This Mission?

This is a proposed training test in its first phase. Running your team through this test at least once (3 times or more is preferred) and reporting the results will allow our organization to enhance the details of this standard, ultimately improving performance of SWAT teams nationwide.

Your involvement with this test will determine:

  • Achievability
  • Risk
  • Areas of improvement
  • Areas of success
  • Job specific application
  • Successful implementation
  • Scalability, improvement, and growth

Jump to the tests

History of the Test

The NTOA SWAT PFQ Test was significantly influenced by the proven SWAT assessment and selection test of the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Santa Monica Police Department. The SME team utilized the structure of the original test with unique modifications to the allotted amount of time each operator would have to achieve maximum repetitions. This type of evolution is referred to as an AMRAP (As Many Repetitions As Possible) and encourages maximum effort and a clear system of scoring. Additionally, the test was designed to meet the needs of a variety of SWAT teams from across the nation.

Our hope is that SWAT teams would find greater cohesion and unity through the collective national standard on operational levels of physical fitness. We hope that all sworn members of the respective department would be inspired to increase their physical fitness abilities and expectations, thus effectively creating an atmosphere of fitness excellence and greater community relations. This test is intentionally very challenging and may require a gradual (six months to a year) of on-ramping, evolution-specific training and preparation in order for operators to be successful.

Background

The NTOA is dedicated to the safety, effectiveness, and well-being of all operators around the United States. Fitness is a key component to this overall mission. Personal physical fitness (regardless of age, gender, or rank) can ensure that all operators maintain their best self which lessens their chances of injury or sickness, and helps to control both agency-funded health care costs and Worker’s Compensation expense claims. All of these benefits, plus increased operator safety, are reasons for creating a fitness standard. The NTOA SWAT PFQ Test is intended to be that standard.

A standard provides operators a threshold to measure capability and capacity. Operators work in an environment that can be unknown and unknowable. Fitness, which includes endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy, increases capability and capacity. Capability and capacity foster adaptability. With input taken from subject matter experts within various law enforcement agencies around the nation, the following Evolutions (which require nothing more than traditional SWAT gear and very limited equipment) have been developed to measure an operator’s fitness. These specific Evolutions, done in order of large to small muscle groups, and combined with the related scoring system, were designed to gauge both capacity and capability. Whether a team has 26+ members (Tier 1), 19 members (Tier 2), or even just one member, the test is applicable, measurable and standardized.

Ground Rules


Perform five (5) tests in total

  • 50 points maximum passing score (pending any extra credit)
  • 30 points minimum passing score (pending any failed tests)

Zero points in any test equals disqualification

Three (3) minutes of recovery is required between tests

  • Suggested recovery methods are included (see below)
  • Option to add a skill challenge during recovery (see below)

One (1) judge per operator for tracking and scoring

Tests

Click on tests 1-5 below.

Purpose: Running strengthens the heart, lungs and skeletal muscles. Running is also a common task for operators. This distance measures both the operator’s speed and endurance. The 800-meter run is strategically designed to challenge/measure the operator’s highest output, while maintaining aerobic activity.

Instructions: Performed slick (training uniform and boots).

Test: Run 800 meters – Slick (no gear)

Recover: 3 minutes

Scoring:

  • 3:14 or less = 10 points
  • 3:15 – 3:29 = 8
  • 3:30 – 3:44 = 6
  • 3:45 – 3:59 = 4
  • 4:00 – 4:29 = 2
  • 4:30 or greater = 0
  •  

Extra credit – One point for every 15 seconds above MAX Score.

Purpose: Running strengthens the heart, lungs and skeletal muscles. This distance, combined with a weighted load, measures a very common task operators must do which is carrying various objects or equipment, quickly, over a short distance.

Instructions: Performed with a 25 lb. object in each hand; 20 lb. vest / kit / gas mask (no filter).

Test: Run 400 meters

Recover: 3 minutes

Scoring:

  • 2:44 or less = 10 points
  • 2:45 – 2:59 = 8
  • 3:00 – 3:14 = 6
  • 3:15 – 3:29 = 4
  • 3:30 – 3:44 = 2
  • 3:45 or greater = 0

Extra credit – One point for every 15 seconds above MAX Score.

Purpose: The burpee is a full body movement that involves the use of multiple muscle groups. It measures the operator’s ability to get down and/or back up in an efficient manner. Strength, stamina and agility all increase with this movement.

Instructions: Operator begins from the starting/standing position, operator must lower chest and hips to the ground. Complete with vertical jump and full hip and knee extension along with arms extended overhead.

Performed slick (training uniform and boots).

Test: 3:00 minutes – As many burpees as possible.

Recover: 3 minutes

Scoring:

  • 50+ = 10 points
  • 46-49 = 8
  • 43-45 = 6
  • 40-42 = 4
  • 38-39 = 2
  • 37 or below = 0

Extra credit – One point for each rep above MAX score

Purpose: Squats, in the bottom position, are nature’s intended sitting position. It is a natural progression to stand from this position, which an operator may do several times in a given scenario. Increased power, stamina and balance come from this movement and also increases the operator’s biomechanical flexibility for standing and/or getting low and taking a variety of firing positions.

Instructions: Operator begins from the starting/standing position, hip must descend lower than the knees at the bottom (“below parallel”). Complete at the top with full hip and knee extension.

Performed with in 20 lb. vest  / kit / gas mask (no filter).

Test: 2:00 minutes – As many squats as possible

Recover: 3 minutes

Scoring:

  • 75+ = 10 points
  • 73-74 = 8
  • 70-72 = 6
  • 67-69 = 4
  • 64-66 = 2
  • 63 or below = 0

Extra Credit – One point for each rep above MAX score.

Purpose: The pull-up is a practical strength and stamina movement, combined with accuracy, which demonstrate an operator’s capability and capacity to adapt to various tasks such as climbing a ladder, scaling a fence, or entering an attic.

Instructions: Forward or reverse grip is acceptable. For the strict pull-up portion, the operator must begin with arms fully extended at the bottom hang. Complete when chin is above the bar. Must maintain grip on the bar for all strict pull-ups (“unbroken”). Once strict pull-up requirement is met, the operator may come off the bar as often as needed. Strict, kipping, jumping or butterfly pull-ups are acceptable as long as the operator’s chin comes above the bar.

Performed slick (training uniform and boots).

Test: 1:00 minute – As many pull-ups as possible

  • First 5 pull-ups must be “strict” and “consecutive”
  • Pull-ups following the required strict repetitions are “anything goes” (e.g., kipping, etc.)

Scoring:

  • 20+ = 10 points
  • 18-19 = 8
  • 16-17 = 6
  • 14-15 = 4
  • 12-13 = 2
  • 11 or below = 0

Extra credit – One point for each rep above MAX score.

TEST COMPLETE

Recovery Techniques

These techniques may be added to recovery periods for enhanced regulation of the mind and body.

  • Recovery Breath
    • Stand with feet wider than hip-width distance
    • Inhale with a “Sh” sound for a slow count of 5
    • Repeat for 1-3 minutes
  • Half Sun Salutation
    • Use breath technique above
    • Inhale lifting arms up overhead
    • Exhale forward fold in a diving motion
    • Bend knees to release low back and head/neck
    • Repeat breath technique 1-3 times while in a forward fold position
    • Inhale slowly reversing a dive motion until you are standing with arms overhead
    • Repeat for 1-3 minutes

Recovery Drills

The following techniques may be added to recovery times to test job-specific skills under stress.

Team commanders may assign “extra credit” or otherwise recognize operators for expertise in these skills, which may include but are not limited to:

  • Reload a magazine
  • Tie knots
  • Match a lock and key
  • Weapon system accuracy
  • Radio traffic
  • Memory cards
  • Assemble / disassemble weapon systems
  • Apply defensive tactics techniques

List of Contributors

NTOA Representative

Greg Amundson, Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol (NTOA Section Chair on Physical Fitness)

Subject Matter Expert (SME) Team on Fitness for Law Enforcement

Juan Cephas, San Diego Police Department

Jake Griest, National Park Service Grand Teton National Park

Brian Hester, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office

Patrick Lynch, Oregon City Police Department

Sean T. Lynch, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office

Scott McGee, Santa Monica Police Department

Olivia Mead, Yoga For First Responders

Ronald Perez, New York Police Department

Scott L. Puckett, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department

Jacob Cutting, El Cajon Police Department