Pressure testing. That is the term currently in vogue in martial arts circles today. Quite simply, it means that training conducted in the dojo or training hall is only one part of the self-defense equation. The other part is putting your practice and preparation to the test. In martial arts, that may mean stepping inside a ring or entering a tournament that creates some fight-or-flight stress and forces you to respond to another person.
In the martial art of the gun, that means entering a competition that places you and those static drills and skills you’ve practiced on the square range and makes you think, react, respond and perform against others. So was developed the National Patrol Rifle Conference and Competition.
This event is the brainchild of Center Mass Inc.
and is hosted by the Oakland County, MI Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan Tactical Officers Association. The 2008 competition was held at the spacious and fine facilities of the Multi-Lakes Conservation Association in Commerce, MI.
Having attended other firearms competitions in my career, I can say that this event was the best run competition I’ve ever seen. From parking to the actual events, the staff from Center Mass as well as the personnel from the host agencies and the conservation association were intent on making the competition run safely and smoothly.
The competition was divided into five different events, which tested the shooters in areas from distance shooting out to 150 yards to room entries and decision making. Each competitor arrived on scene, checked in and was given a competition number. After a general safety and event briefing by Center Mass head honcho Jeff Felts, the competitors moved to a weapons-inspection station where range staff inspected each carbine for trigger weight and safe operation. A chamber block was inserted into each rifle and remained in place per instructions until ordered to load or directed when to load. The competitors were broken up into groups and directed to different events to start. Static Marksmanship
Per the course book, this event was “to test the shooters raw marksmanship and ability to reacquire the target from a prone position at extended range while under no physical stress other than that provided by time and competition itself.” Put simply, the shooter had to fire 30 rounds at the head or body of a target from prone position at 100 or 150 yards.
Although you could shoot body shots at a target at 100 yards if you chose to do so (5 points), extra points were given for head shots (10 points) or you could go for even more points on targets at 150 yards (15 points for body shots, 20 points for the head). There were no penalty points for misses at 100 yards, but if you tried for the harder distance shot and missed, a 10-point penalty would be assessed for each missed shot. Thirty rounds were fired in this event with a two-minute time limit. A total of 600 points were possible in the event. Bank of America
In this event, shooters completed a short run back and forth across the range while their empty rifles were positioned on the deck behind low cover, simulating a patrol vehicle. Shooters used an urban prone position shooting with the carbine canted to clear the underside of low cover. Utilizing two 10-round magazines, competitors had to shoot five rounds on each leg of the target at 15 yards, reload, then shoot either body or head shots at an armed suspect target at 35 yards.
The skill tested required the shooters to remember mechanical off-set with a canted carbine, which requires a three-o’clock hold on the target for right-handed shooters. A total of 250 points were possible; leg shots were worth 10 points, body shots scored at five points and head shots were good for 15 points. Know Your Limitations
Shot on the excellent live-fire CAPS simulator (two simulators were set up, allowing two competitors at a time), this event was shot at 35 yards using a patrol car as cover on a video simulator screen located under an awning. Three scenarios were run for 20 seconds each: a warrant service, a robbery call and an active shooter scenario. One shot fired in each scenario for a total possible point value of 300. Cranial vault shots were valued at 100 points each. Non-cranial hits were good for 50 points. Shots on the hostage were penalized at 50 points, and a miss meant a 25-point penalty. Gig Pit Hostage Rescue
The most physical of this year’s events—the gig pit—required that competitors pull a 160-pound railroad tie 25 yards, run through an 8-foot, water-filled ditch, low crawl 30 feet through sand under 20-inch-high simulated wire, climb over a 4-foot wall, then proceed to the firing line. Once on line, the shooter would clear his chamber safe, load a 30-round magazine and proceed to fire on a 50-yard target. Ten rounds were fired from standing, kneeling and prone.
With a maximum time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds, competitors were forced to hustle to make time as one point would be subtracted per second over the time limit. With 450 points possible, body shots were good for 10 points, and 15 points were awarded for head shots. Misses were counted as minus five points, and a shot hostage equaled a 20-point penalty. CQB Active Shooter
A challenging course including room entry, decision making and accurate fire from both rifle and handgun, this event had competitors start outside the shoot house. A folder opened to reveal a target face that would be their target to find and shoot. With two carbine magazines loaded with eight rounds and a pistol mag loaded with two rounds, the shooter entered a darkened shoot house.
With instructions to double tap any armed threat target inside, shooters first had to clear the main room before they encountered a large target board filled with small human faces. Their designated face target would appear three times on the paper (requiring shooters to remember mechanical off-set). Once these targets were dealt with, the shooter exited the house and dealt with any armed targets outside, eventually transitioning to the handgun to finish the course.
A total of 270 points were possible for the CQB Active Shooter event. Contestants got 15 points per hit with a 60-second time limit. Hits on non-shoots were valued at 10 points. To score this event, one point per second for the run was subtracted from the point score. For instance, if you ran the event in 20 seconds, 20 points were subtracted from your raw score for your total. The Guns
Two divisions were run this year, one for iron sights and one for optical sights. The optical sight division included non-magnified red-dot sights, as well as telescopic sights. Carbines present ran the gamut from 12-inch barreled full dressers with all the accoutrements to stock iron-sighted M16s and AR15s. Although M4s from various manufacturers were the most prevalent carbine, there was a few HK 5.56 carbines, and I even saw a Springfield M1A.
The collimator and holographic sights were from all major manufacturers, but EOTech seemed to be the most popular. All the optics presented an advantage in speed of fire on target to the competitors in these events as they do on the street. There were a handful of competitors who used variable optics that offered magnification up to 4X but could be dialed down for CQB events. This competition is not about custom carbine race guns but about rifles suitable for street and tactical police work.The Conference
Subsequent to the competition, the conference ran for two days at the nearby Sheraton Hotel in Novi, MI. Although there was no hands-on or live-fire shooting during these presentations, with instructors such as Colonel Dave Grossman, Henk Iverson, Chief Jeff Chudwin, Bob Parker from the National Tactical Officers Association and others, the presentations were timely. The topics included fighting with the rifle and response to active shooters.
Along with the conference, a guns and gear show provided attendees the latest and greatest patrol rifle-related firearms and equipment. The conference and expo was as well run as the competition with meals provided and equipment giveaways aplenty. Overall Winner
Sergeant Mark Stout from the West Bloomfield Township, MI Police Department won the overall competition with a score of 1,l44.
There were many happy rifle-toting law enforcement officers competing in this year’s event. Whether a neophyte shooter new to the patrol rifle or a veteran shooter and competitor, all seemed to enjoy the opportunity to pressure test themselves and their gear. The high shooters will go back home and practice as hard or harder to improve their placement. The lower scoring shooters are now motivated to practice more to increase their scores next year.
All are winners for having trained and prepared for the ultimate test on the streets. They are better prepared to win that day, and that is a victory for everyone.
The 2009 National Patrol Rifle Conference and Competition will be held from May 31 to June 2. It is once again at the Multi-Lakes Conservation Association facilities with the conference at the Troy Marriott Hotel in Troy, MI. For more information, check out the Center Mass Inc. Web site or call (800) 794-1216. Kevin R. Davis is a full-time officer with 25 years of experience. Assigned to the Training Bureau, he is a former team leader and lead instructor for his agency’s SWAT team. Visit his Web site at www.advancedtacticalconcepts.com. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.