The author taking aim. The lesson: Lots of shots that don’t hit are as good as worthless. Take the time to make the shot count. Photos courtesy Jeff Felts
The challenge is to move fast—but not too fast. You must be able to breathe slowly to perform with your long gun. Photos courtesy Jeff Felts
Competition is a great way to make you perform. It will push you, spike your adrenaline and remind you of where it is you need to improve.Photos courtesy Jeff Felts
The author receiving the first-place prize in the 2010 NPRC from its founder, Jeff Felts. Lessons learned in this competition have direct relevance to what we do on the street.Photos courtesy Jeff Felts
FEATURED IN TACTICS AND WEAPONS
The National Patrol Rifle Conference & Competition (NPRC) founded by Sgt. Jeff Felts (Ret.) of Center Mass, a full-service training company and firearms dealer, started as a local competition near Detroit, Mich., in June of 2000. Over the past 10 years, the NPRC has become a nationally recognized shooting and training event attended by law enforcement officers from around the nation.
During my first NPRC in 2006, I brought along my duty Rock River AR-15-type carbine and a non-magnified Eotech holographic optic. The courses of fire were demanding in terms of accuracy, judgment and movement. We had to run hard, breath slow, control our triggers and make the time requirements. Although I finished in good standing, I recognized there was much more to study: fitness, tactics and gear—in other words, the foundational issues of patrol use on the street.
During the next five years the NPRC’s staff and advisory board developed courses of fire even more duty-related. In 2009, it was decided to make a classification distinction between iron sights, red-dot, non-magnified optics and magnified optics. This decision wasn’t about gamesmanship but an attempt to determine what works best under stress and difficult conditions that patrol officers face every day. The division of scores would be studied to see what, if any, type of sight system was superior among a large number of officers. Bottom line: If you want to win at the NPRC—and on the street—you have to regularly train hard. Competition has great benefit if for no other reason than that it forces you to prepare. Having the NPRC as a goal in June, it’s far easier for me to focus my training efforts during the winter months. This past year, I teamed up with Deputies Art Huffstuttler and Kimberly Heath of the Will County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Office. Both are accomplished shooters and instructors. Having them as training partners made a big difference to me in keeping on track.
We spent many weekends working on close-range, rapid-target acquisition because it’s something we might face when making a vehicle stop on patrol. We moved further back to 50 yards, then to 100 yards and beyond. Each distance represented some aspect of our working environment (e.g., the distance of a hallway at the high school, a perimeter cover point on a bank where a gunman has barricaded, the length of a parking lot facing an active shooter incident). We tested ourselves using our daily carry gear: The NPRC isn’t about gaming for a score. It’s about what you’d use on patrol.
One key issue I learned over the years: Should deadly force be required, any threat I can see faster and more clearly, I can engage more effectively. Bottom line: Magnified optics allow me to meet the test most effectively. There are a number of scopes that work well and combinations of red dot types that make use of a separate magnifier. My partners and I have used Eotech and Aim Point red dot scopes with movable magnifiers mounted on LaRue swivel bases. Last year I used a $200 Millet DMS -1 variable-power scope to prove that optics don’t have to be expensive to be effective. This year I changed to a more expensive Elcan Specter, 1–4x scope. It’s truly a personal choice, but one to take very seriously.
Each scope was carried on patrol daily in a squad car roof rack or trunk for nearly a year. These weren’t scopes added to the patrol rifle a week before the NPRC to gain some competitive advantage. It either has to work for duty use or it’s not considered. The maximum optical magnification allowed at the NPRC is five-power, which is consistent with patrol rifle use.
The courses of fire were varied, and I’m going to share the specifics as well as the lessons learned in each one.
#1 Static “Pool Gun” Marksmanship
The distance course was either fired at 50 or 100 yards, competitor’s choice, using shared or “pool” rifles. Ten-iron sight, AR-15-type, 16" barrel carbines of various manufacturers were sighted in by local Marines and SWAT officers. By luck of the draw, each competitor used one of these patrol rifles for this stage. My partners and I shot on the 100-yard target, as these gave the shooter more points than the 50-yard targets.
Our scores were good, with Kim Heath’s being the best. For her last two shots, she moved off the chest and targeted the head, making two center hits. Bottom line: Pool guns can work for multiple officers if that’s all you have. Learn to first use iron sights. That’s a basic skill. You may have to pick up a rifle in a fight that isn’t yours. Make good use of it.
#2 Interactive Alley
In a low-light, enclosed tent, the officer faced the CAPS shooting simulator at 15 yards. The officer dealt with three scenarios with limited time to identify threats and engage and defeat a deadly force aggressor. The test was to deliver fast and accurate fire against a moving offender who was armed and either shooting at you or others. I used my optic along with a LaserMax UNI green laser that I’ve carried for two years. The optic allowed me clear sight on the threat at one power and the green laser verified point of aim under stress. The combination was very effective and allowed me to make all head shots.
#3 Around the World