Firing range work offers chance for training, fun, camaraderie

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2007

The city of Brookhaven may not often give its police officersreason to fire their guns. That’s a good thing, because these menand women can shoot.

“I’m really impressed with what I see out here,” said PoliceChief Pap Henderson Wednesday at the shooting range. “They canreally hold their own out here.”

Each of the officers had to complete a routine marksman testWednesday.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“This is safe fun for these guys,” said Henderson. “We come outhere and enjoy ourselves, and we do it about every three or fourmonths.”

Range officer Capt. Roger Wilson conducted the competition,which involved firing from several different distances, bothstanding and kneeling.

Each officer is given 50 rounds, and at the end his or hertarget is tallied for a score. According to Wilson, the targetscores determine the rank of sharpshooter (75 percent to 84.5percent), marksman (85 percent to 94.9 percent), expert (95 percentto 100 percent), or distinguished expert (100 percent five times ina row).

Twenty-seven officers went to the course Wednesday forranking.

Currently, Wilson is the lone distinguished expert on the force,shooting 99.6 percent yesterday. Officers Mike Milholen andJonathan Alford both scored within the expert range. Seventeenofficers were within the marksman range, and the rest were safelywithin the qualifying sharpshooter range.

From what Wilson can remember, he said the BPD has never had anofficer that was completely unable to qualify.

“I take them and work with them if they are having trouble, butthat seldom happens,” said Wilson. “We also have a laser systemhere at the station that they can practice with that has anelectronic target. When you shoot, there’s a laser burst and itbeeps.”

Once the officers have shot the course a few times, theyestablish a history, said Henderson, and they tend to stay withinthat range.

“Most of them, every time we shoot they get about the samething,” he said. “I’m proud of them.”

Officer Robbie Fields, who scored in the marksman category, saidgoing to the range as a group is always fun. But sometimes it canbe a little nerve-wracking to shoot when the chief is watching.

“I really enjoy these days,” she said. “But I have to admit Iget extra nervous when that man over there is watching over myshoulder.”

Henderson said he knows how well all of his officers can shoot,so if their score is lower than it should be, he allows them to goback and do it again if need be.

“I know sometimes it does make them nervous when I’m out herewatching them,” he said. “And I know what everyone can shoot. IfI’m not pleased and know they’re better than what they shot, I letthem do it again because I know they’ll pull it up.”

Like Fields, other officers are glad to have a day to just getto be with their fellow officers and compete, practice and jokearound.

Marzell Brooks summed up with great brevity how he felt aboutgoing to the range to shoot his Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum.

“I just love it,” he said.