Safety first at college’s firing range

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Chief tactical Instructor M.C. Joseph supervises cadets from this college’s Law Enforcement Training Academy shooting at the First Responder’s Academy in Von Ormy. The 22 cadets shot targets in the shape of human silhouettes from the 15-yard line. They also shot targets at 3 yards, 5 yards, 7 yards and 25 yards.  Photo by Daniel Carde

Chief tactical Instructor M.C. Joseph supervises cadets from this college’s Law Enforcement Training Academy shooting at the First Responder’s Academy in Von Ormy. The 22 cadets shot targets in the shape of human silhouettes from the 15-yard line. They also shot targets at 3 yards, 5 yards, 7 yards and 25 yards. Photo by Daniel Carde

Cadets practice shooting positions and techniques at the First Responder’s Academy.

By Daniel Carde

dcarde@student.alamo.edu 

Twenty-two cadets stand in silence as they toe the red firing line, waiting for an instructor to issue a command.

Over the loudspeaker, an instructor says “fire” and the cadets reach for their holstered sidearms, shouting “Police! Stop!” before firing their weapons at a human-shaped target.

Like exploding firecrackers, the sound of gunshots permeates the chilly morning air at the Alamo Colleges’ firing range.

The range is at the First Responder’s Academy in Von Ormy.

The range is co-owned by this college and the FBI, and was completed in January 2012, said Tim Rockey, dean of continuing education. It is under the direction of this college’s continuing education division.

The cadets from this college’s Law Enforcement Academy train at the range once a week for the 10 weeks of Phase 3 of four training phases, Instructor Ernest Christelles said.

Each cadet will shoot 750-800 rounds over the 10-week period, chief tactical Instructor M.C. Joseph said.

Cadets practice firing a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol from five distances.

“They shoot from different positions here,” Joseph said.

On Feb. 12, the cadets practiced shooting targets from the hip at a 3-yard firing line, he said.

The cadets shot the position point shoulder at the 5-yard line, Christelles said, which allows them to aim and shoot faster than with two hands.

At 7 yards, cadets practiced left-hand, right-hand and two-hand shooting. The cadets shot from the kneeling position at the 15-yard line. Kneeling makes the cadet a smaller target and is a steadier position for aiming, Christelles said.

At the 25-yard line, the cadets shot with the aid of a barricade, Joseph said.

A cadet is usually being shot at if they are taking cover behind a barricade, Christelles said.

Aside from a few pinches and scrapes, there have been no major injuries at the range, Christelles said.

“We are dealing with deadly weapons,” Christelles said. “Safety is No. 1 priority.”

Only two cadets failed the practice qualifier, Joseph said. One for bending over to retrieve a loaded magazine he dropped while reloading — a safety violation, Joseph said. The cadet was sent home.

Christelles said the other cadet failed to follow instructions and shot out of sequence.

If cadets commit a safety violation, they may be sent home and marked as absent from that day’s training, Joseph said.

Depending on the severity of the violation, cadets may be dropped from the course.

If cadets are sent home, they will have to make up the missed training with another class, he said. A second safety violation will result in being dropped from the course, Christelles said.

“A lot of these folks have never fired a weapon before in their life,” Joseph said. “From day one to the end, we see a lot of development in their stance, their trigger control, their sight alignment and just their overall bearing when handling a weapon.”

Cadets learn how to operate under stress, and they will be able to shoot the target they aim at, he said. Joseph said cadets will leave more confident.

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