I love digging into the various police qualification shoots used around the country and trying them out. It’s a fun way to spend some time on the range and see how various state, local, and federal law enforcement officers shoot. What I’ve never tried is a police fitness test. I’ve never sought one out, and it never occurred to me to see what physical fitness standards police forces do or do not have.
I was mindlessly thumbing through social media when I ran across the Orange County sheriff’s Office page. (This is the Florida Orange County, and not the California one that stole the name from us.) The post was a video with a member of the SWAT team breaking down the fitness standards to become a SWAT deputy.
As someone losing the fight with Taco Bell, I try to work out and work out often. After seeing the fitness test, I decided it looked easy enough and would give it a try.
The OCSO SWAT Fitness Test
When I say easy, I don’t necessarily mean easy physically. I mean easy logistically. The equipment required is too tough. You need a pullup bar, a 20-pound bag of sand, and at least four hundred meters to run. Don’t forget some ground for pushups and situps. The sandbag can be improvised and made fairly easily with a little duct tape and the same type of sandbags you use to protect your home from flooding.
I had all that already on hand. Admittedly my sandbag is 25 pounds, but what’s five pounds…right? The test is compromised of four rounds of the following:
400-meter run with 20 lb sandbag
5 Strict Pullups
10 Hand Release Pushups
15 Unassisted Situps
You have to complete those four rounds in 14 minutes and 30 seconds. To make sure we all understand what these terms mean, let’s break it down. The SWAT Fitness test uses specific language for a reason.
Strict Pullups – Come to a dead hang prior to every pullup. No kipping or Crossfit pullups.’ Straight up til your chin is over the bar and straight down.
Hand Release Pushups – Every time you get to the bottom, lift your hands slightly off the floor and drive them down again to lift yourself.
Unassisted Situps – You do not have an anchor to use when sitting up. It’s just you and your abs.
Taking the OCSO SWAT Fitness Test
There is no break between exercises, so I want everything positioned to where I can end the run and begin the exercises. Why waste time when time isn’t on your side? Using yards instead of meters hurt my Freedom-soaked brain. With a little math, I figured out it’s essentially a quarter of a mile. A quarter mile is 402 meters.
I already have a quarter mile mapped out, so no big deal. I grabbed my 25-pound sandbag and hit the pavement. Four rounds went by fairly slowly, and admittedly, I could have prepped myself better. I did this almost spontaneously and should have memorized the exercises. I had to stop twice to double-check the order and amount of reps.
For my overweight, work-in-progress self, I finished my first SWAT Fitness test with an embarrassing amount of time over the allotted time and felt pretty dead. I failed but rested and refit. I memorized the exercises and even printed a card with the exercises and reps listed and left it attached to the pullup bar. I figured that would be faster than opening my phone, putting the pin in, going to screenshots, etc.
I moved my pullup bar to the shade because it was quite toasty on my first go-round. A day later, I ran the test again and shaved off more than a minute, but I still didn’t pass. That’s fine with me because now I have a goal to work towards and keep after.
Short and Sweet
The SWAT fitness test is short and sweet but quite demanding. I appreciate the easy logistics of the operation. It should be noted that it is a test but could be an effective workout when you are tight on time. Get off the range and give it a try.