CTS Less Lethal Course

By  | April 20, 2017 | Filed under: News

Bobby Inman

In the last week, there has been two Police Stand-offs with a subject in the Colbert-Lauderale County area.  Luckily in both cases, Police were able to arrest the person without injuries.  One of the ways that this was accomplished was through the use of Chemical Munitions.  I have been a Chemical Sprays Instructor as well as a Hand Thrown Chemical Munitions Instructor since around 1995.  I really believe in the application of these Less Lethal items.


I attended a Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) Less Lethal Instructor Course some time ago.  I wrote an article about the course which was published in Law & Order Magazine.  SO with the formalities I give the Quad Cities Daily permission to reprint this article.



Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) Less Lethal Instructor Course

By:  Sgt Bobby V. Inman


The North Alabama Law Enforcement Training Center, in conjunction with Combined Tactical Systems (CTS, recently hosted a CTS Less Lethal Instructor Course on the beautiful University of North Alabama Campus.  Ten officers from UNA PD, Helena PD, Tallassee PD, Huntsville PD, Albany, GA Drug Task Force and Albertville PD, attended the course.  The course lasted for four (4) days.




The first portion that Instructor talked about was safety issues.  Dealing with chemical sprays, fired munitions and flash bangs can be dangerous if handled improperly.  We were given the ground rules on what was expected of each participant in regards to safety issues.  That way all the participants were on the same page.


The course was divided to sections.  After the end of each section, each student had to take a written test and pass the practical exam.  What? Did you think that you could just attend the course and become an instructor?  Nope, not happening.  When we originally booked this course, I spoke with Don Pearce, who is the Law Enforcement Director for CTS, about the course.  Don told me right off the bat; this is a hands-on course.


As stated above, the course was divided into section.  The sections were:

CTS Munitions utilized during the course.

Chemical Munitions (Hand-held and Fired)

Distraction Devices (Flash Bangs)

Fired Munitions (Bean Bags, Wood Batons, Rubber Batons, Sting Calls)

At the end of the course, each student receives an Instructor Certification.  We were told on the first day of the course, that the course covered a huge amount of material, and that it was fast pace.  They were not kidding.  The classroom portion of the course usually lasted until lunch.  After lunch, we went to the range and the practical exercises. The weather cooperated with us during the practical exercises, which we were thankful for.  Nothing like having the wind change direction when Chemical or Smoke Munitions have been deployed.


Chemical Munitions


Okay, now to the classroom work.  We started out with Chemical Munitions.  The history of chemical weapons was discussed.  I have attended two other O.C. Instructor Courses, but this is the first one that went into a history lesson.  The Chinese were the first to use a form of chemical restraint. They would use dried pepper in rice paper and then set it on fire.  They would also put ground pepper in a hollow tube and either throw or blow it into an opponent’s face.


We talked about the current chemical sprays on the market today.  We talked about the various CN, CS, O.C. and Blended sprays.  One thing I did not realize was how volatile that CN is.  The Instructor stated that if a Department had any old CN chemicals, that it is best to get rid of it.  The CN eats the seals of the container.  Learn something every day.

Lauderdale Co Sheriff’s Dept Deputy James Distefano Fires 37mm Launcher


After finishing with the Chemical sprays, we moved into the fired and thrown chemical munitions.  We discussed the effects of the hand thrown CN, CS, O.C. and blended grenades.  It was stressed the need in getting the chemicals in the eyes, nose and mouth area, to get the desired effect of the chemicals.  Then it was on to the 37mm and 40mm chemical munitions.  CTS had provided one each of the CTS 40mm Revolving Pump Launcher and the single shot 37mm Launcher.

As stated before, this is a hands-on class.  You have to take an exposure to the chemicals and pass a written test.  After this, you will throw several of the inert gas grenades.  The inert gas grenades contain smoke so you can see how a real unit will disperse its product.  We also fired several of the inert 37mm and 40mm munitions.  We used the CTS single shot 40mm Launcher and the CTS Pump revolving 37mm Launcher.  I am here to tell you that before long, we had the area completely smoked up.

This was my first encounter with the fired munitions.  Everyone seemed to like the 37mm Revolving Launcher.  I personally liked the 40mm Single Shot Launcher the best.  I feel that it would work better for patrol and especially for tactical teams deploying chemical agents.  The 37mm would work great for riot situations.

Lauderdale Co. Sherriff’s Dept. Deputy Quentin Woods fires 37mm Launcher with Author in background

At the range, we deployed the smoke filled munitions.  The hand-thrown units were first.  Most of the units were cylinder shaped or grenade shaped canisters.  Each unit had an arming spoon and pull ring.  All were deployed the same way   First you grasp the unit in your hand, with the arming spoon against the palm of your hand.  You turn the pull pin ¼ turn clockwise to disarm the safety and then you pull it straight out.  Be sure to check the area you are going to throw the unit in before you deploy it.  After doing this, it is best to deploy by using an underhand toss.  1.5 seconds later, you have the desired effect.

To deploy the unit with your support hand, the unit is held upside down with the arming spoon

Hand Thrown Chemical Munitions utilized during practical exercises.

still in the palm of your hand.  You then deploy the same way.


    On to the 37/ 40mm launchers.  The 40mm Launcher utilized was a single shot model.  You breach it open like a shotgun, place the munition inside and then close.  The Launcher had front and rear sights to help with aiming.   First, take the Safety off, aim with the sights, and slowly press the

Officer Craig King (Helena, AL Police) with 40mm Launcher

trigger.  Recoil is non-existent with the munition rounds.   37mm rounds can also be fired in this 40mm Launcher.


The 37mm Launcher was a revolving pump action deployment system.  Break open the Launcher, insert 6 rounds of munitions and then close.  You aim via the mentioned sighting system.  You fire a munition round and then pump the action, which brings the next round in line for firing.  The 37mm Launcher utilizes a Double Action Trigger System.

Chemical Munitions deployed during practical exercises


Day 2


We started day two with a review of the first day.  Everyone was pleased with the hands-on practical exercises.  The Instructor started the lecture with the various Impact Munitions.  I did not realize that there were so many different impact munitions out there.  For the most case, if there is a hand thrown model, there is a 37/40mm munition.


We talked about the area of the body that impact munitions should be deployed.   The legs and buttock area are the best aiming point for Bean Bags.  We watched several videos showing the delivery of the impact munitions.  The munitions are broken down into two categories:





The Flexible rounds are the 12 Gauge Bean Bags and the 37mm Bean Bags.  Bean Bags pack “a heck of a wallop.”  CTS have designed a new Bean Bag with the latest in Bean Bag technology.  The bags are made of a tubular material doubled over and tied into a sock 2” in length, ½” in diameter with a cloth tail.


Pump shotguns are the best suited for use with Bean Bags.  Bean Bag rounds will not cycle the action in a semi-automatic shotgun. So they have to be hand racked.   CTS strongly suggest that a “clearly marked” shotgun be designated as a Less Lethal Bean Bag Launcher.  Basically you want a shotgun that is clearly recognized and its sole duty, as a Bean Bag Launcher.

Craig King (Helena, AL Police Dept) fires Bean Bag Rounds through clearly marked Launcher.


   Non-Flexible rounds were next on the agenda.  Most commonly seen are Rubber Baton, Sting Ball and Wood Baton.  These munitions can be hand-thrown or launched out of the 37/40mm Launchers.  The launched non-flexible rounds are usually fired into the ground and bounced onto the subject.  Sure glad, we did not have to take a hit from one of these for our certification.

A good rule of thumb on an aiming point is

37mm Chemical Munitions are deployed

to fire the round approximately half way from you to the target.  However, you have to be mindful of the contact surface.  Are you shooting into concrete, dirt or grass?  You may not get the desired bounce that you need from grass that you would get from concrete.  If this is the case, you may have to take aim at the target itself, usually at the buttocks or legs.


Next, we discussed Flash Bangs.  The Instructor

37mm Munition deployed during practical exercises.

explained the nomenclature of the Flash Bangs.  For those who are not familiar with Flash Bangs, it is a grenade shaped Distraction Device that produces a bright light and sound that disorients a subject.  Most times, a Flash Bang is thrown into a dwelling to disorient those inside, where a tactical team can make entry.  CTS Flash Bangs produces 6-8 million candelas and 175 db. This usually takes someone around 20-30 seconds to recover from exposure.

Huntsville, AL Police Officers Deploy Flash Bangs during practical exercises

For those that are not familiar with how a Flash Bang is deployed, let me give you a run-down on it.  As stated, a Flash Band is a grenade shaped canister with a pull ring and arming spoon.  You hold the Flash Bang in your hand, with the arming spoon against the palm of your hand.  You turn the pull pin ¼ turn clockwise to disarm the safety and then you pull it straight out.  Be sure to check the area you are going to throw the Flash Bang in before you deploy it.  After doing this, it is best to deploy by using an underhand toss.  1.5 seconds later, you have the desired “flash and bang.”

  The final test was given and everyone passed.  We headed to the range for our practical

Officer Jason Keeton (Albertville Police) deploys a Flash Bang.

exercises.  At the range, the University of North Alabama Police Department Officers in attendance staged an entry into the shoot house utilizing Flash Bangs.  After the demonstration, each participant deployed Flash Bangs in each hand to complete the training.

For the rest of the afternoon, students threw and fired the various CTS products.  The Times Daily Newspaper, Channel 31 and 48 News were in attendance to do a news program on the class.  The Instructor allowed the reporters to join in on the deployment of the munitions.

Then UNA Police Officers: Bobby Inman, James Distefano and Quentin Woods prepare for Shoot House entry.

At the end of the day, certificates were awarded to ten new Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) Less Lethal Instructors.  The class was an eye opening experience.  Much information was learned by all that attended.  New friends and law enforcement contacts were made.  If you ever get a chance to attend a CTS course, I strongly suggest attending.


    Bobby Inman is retired from Law Enforcement after 21 years of Service.  He owns Hammer Down Gun & Pawn located in Sheffield, Alabama.  He has articles published in Law & Order Magazine, Police Marksman Magazine, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement Magazine as well as several published ebooks on Amazon as well as Nook (Barnes & Noble).  He is owner of Poopiedog, an Animal Rescue Dachshund, who is his constant companion.   He is a Correspondent for the Quad Cities Daily.


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