Nomination For a Hero Badge

I spent the early afternoon stalking and slaying the wily TQ-10. It was requalification time for broke down retired cops. Just two of us showed up. The waiting around took longer than the course of fire. I shot my usual 98%. I’m not saying that I’m that good. Being old farts, we don’t do the run fast jump high shit. At the same time, since there was only two of us, both accomplished shooters, the stress level was fairly low. Most stressful thing I did was bend over to pick up dropped magazines.

Even the rangemaster was pretty mellow. Those are two terms that were never found in the same sentence back in the day. Forty years ago, rangemaster and asshole were synonymous terms. I occupied both positions. Shooting is fun! Yeah, right, grab a bunch of police cadets who have never handled a pistol and head out to the range. Tell me about the fun.

It didn’t get much better running a qualification course. Then the rangemaster was confronted with three groups, know-it-alls who were pissed because they couldn’t carry 44 magnums, the sleep deprived because they worked all night, and the Barney Fifes. Ever seen a .38 caliber round corroded into the cylinder? It sometimes happens when the only time the gun leaves the holster is during the once-a-year qualification.

Transitioning to automatics brought a whole new set of problems for the rangemaster to solve. How does one get a tit caught in the slide of a S&W Sigma? How does a rangemaster remove said tit without triggering an EEOC complaint?

Police departments try to kill two birds with one stone. A qualification course is supposed to measure the ability of the shooter to meet a set standard. They introduce “stress” into the course by requiring that the shooter demonstrate multiple skills under time constraints. Typically, a course of fire requires draw and fire at various distances. NYPD proved forty years ago that a majority of their “bad” shootings occurred when the officer had to draw and fire his weapon, all in one action. Officers starting in the ready position were less likely to make a bad shooting decision. Officers are generally required to shoot, reload and then continue shooting. FBI statistics show that average number of rounds fired by individual police officers, during a confrontation is around 3. That was pre semi auto days, it could be higher now. Officers are required to shoot a number of rounds with their off hand. An NYPD study covering ten years of shootings couldn’t find a single instance where an officer fired with his off hand. The again, maybe they were measuring hits. There are usually timed stages where the shooter is required to shoot a specified number of rounds in a limited time. Sometimes the shooters are required to shoot, reload and then shoot to finish the string. I think such a course might have been challenging at one time, but I can’t remember when.

If it has dawned on the reader that there are a lot of moving parts, you would be right. Couple that with the fact that a mistake on the firing line could be fatal. Now you know why rangemasters don’t have a sense of humor or tolerance when it comes to the inept.

Did I mention earmuffs? Gone are the days of sticking shell casings in one’s ears. All the shooters get earmuffs. Not bitching. But I would pose the question if the shooters were wearing sound dampening earmuffs and the rangemaster wants to give instructions or commands how does he do it? I know, I know! He shouts and he shouts the same thing over and over until he is satisfied that those on the firing line understand what it is they are supposed to do.

This is a long way around to the point I wanted to make. Our rangemaster related that the latest departmental qualification one police officer was reduced to tears. According to the officer, the rangemaster was being mean to him by shouting at him. The rangemaster failed to take into his consideration the shooter’s feelings.

Call me crass. Had I been the rangemaster, I would have kicked him off the range after I took his weapon and recommended a psych evaluation.