The annual SWAT Round-Up has always been a police-based, special operations competition, but it is increasingly distinguishing itself as an international competition. This year the round-up drew an impressive number of foreign teams in addition to those from all over the United States.
Sixty-nine law enforcement and military teams registered to compete in 2006, including the foreign teams from Dubai, South Korea, Spain, Canada, Kuwait, Bosnia, Hungary, Sweden and Germany. For some teams, this was their first time at the round-up. These include those of the Korean National Police, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, and little Waynesville, NC Police Department.
The benefits of attending the 2006 event were many. From an educational standpoint, expert instructors conducted morning training classes and presented lessons learned from actual case studies and prior incidents. Preparation for the events provided the motivation for teams to increase physical conditioning.
As weapons and tactical skills are in constant evolution, participation in the five team events validated training, techniques and equipment as well as gave teams insights into what other teams were doing. And finally, there was the camaraderie and sharing among the teams that are not usually possible in day-to-day operations.
Event 1: Hostage Rescue
Except for the sniper’s rifle shots in this event, hand gunners on each team used frangible ammunition. Frangible ammunition rules also applied to other handgun events as well as to those requiring subgun usage. All events at the round-up were five-member team challenges.
During the team leader meeting the night before the event, all team leaders were provided with a briefing package. This package contained the two faces of identified hostile targets that would be located in the four rooms that the teams were required to search during the event. In the past, this event had more rooms to search.
Each Hostage Rescue team consisted of one sniper and four entry team members. Entry team members wore unaltered gas masks and were armed with handguns and four rounds of ammunition. As with all the other events except the obstacle course, eye and ear protection and body armor were mandatory. Ballistic helmets were not required for any round-up event.
The sniper, in addition to his unloaded, optically sighted precision rifle, carried an unloaded, holstered handgun. He was permitted to carry two rounds of rifle ammunition to engage visible targets inside two windows about 80 yards downrange. In each window was a hostage and a hostage-taker; hits to a hostage resulted in a penalty. This was down from three rounds and three targets last year and different from moving targets at other times in the past.
At the start/finish line and on the command of “Go,” the sniper proceeded to the sniper’s platform, faced his downrange target in his final firing position (FFP) (prone, sitting or low kneeling), and loaded his weapon. Once ammunition was loaded, the sniper could not to change his FFP. He was permitted to use a sling; fire unsupported, or use the firing port and deck for rifle stabilization. The sniper then engaged his two targets. Once cleared, the sniper returned to the finish line.
While the sniper moved to his firing position, the four-member entry team ran to its position just outside the shoot house entry door. Upon the sniper’s first shot, the grenadier threw a flashbang device through a doorway, and the members entered after the device exploded.
Only when each entry team member entered his own room could weapons be drawn; all rooms were required to be searched and cleared in any manner that the team members wished. Team members engaged eight hostile targets located in separate rooms—two rounds per target. Handguns had to be holstered before leaving the shoot rooms. Again, hitting hostage targets counted as a penalty.
After clearing the rooms, entry team members rescued two “hostages” located in two predetermined rooms and carried them back to the start/finish line. Hostages were two 150-pound dummies, each complete with head, arms and legs. The last team member to cross the finish line stopped the clock. Points were totaled, with penalties for violations. Inappropriate weapon handling was a major safety violation and could bump the team to last place plus 30 seconds for this or any event.
The top team in this event was the Delray Beach, FL Police Department.
Event 2: Pritcher Scramble
Basic event requirements were for the team to work together in traversing obstacles and for each team member to engage a moving target. There was no sniper.
At the on-deck area, gas masks were checked and secured in carriers. Two team members were armed with subguns with four rounds secured in a magazine; the subguns were not actually loaded until the team member arrived at the firing box. Two additional team members were the grenadiers, armed with a 37mm or 40mm gas launcher and one practice round, and the less-lethal team member carried a less-lethal launcher and one less-lethal round. This round could be any industry recognized less-lethal round, beanbag, rubber ball, etc.
Both were also armed with a handgun with one magazine loaded with four rounds. The fifth team member was armed with a shotgun with four rounds of 00 Buck, but it was pre-positioned at the shooting lane and not carried through the event. The team’s acting door breaker person was equipped with a battering ram. SWAT Round-Up International provided the ram.
The start line for this event was inside a SWAT van. Upon “Go,” the team sprinted from the van and traversed over the top of two 4-foot walls and over a 10x12-foot “fence,” which replaced last year’s tube obstacle. The fence was located between the 4-foot walls. Once over the obstacles, team members took cover behind an armored personnel carrier where they put on gas masks.
Once the gas masks were on, the grenadier loaded and fired a practice round through a downrange window and the less-lethal gun operator fired his one shot at a target; any misses counted as penalties. After these shots were fired, the team ran to a closed, freestanding door.
The door breaker breached the door using the ram and then dropped it. All team members ran to their individual firing boxes. Each box was centered on a 24-foot wide firing lane with a painted cover. Each member had to remove this painted cover with his or her shooting hand, draw and load his handgun or subgun, and prepare to engage the moving target—a standard paper silhouette, which moved left to right.
The team’s shotgunner positioned himself in a shotgun shooting position at the far end of the other shooting positions. His targets were four head plate targets 20 yards downrange. Shotguns could be pump or semiautomatic with iron sights and a barrel length not exceeding 20 inches. Once the shotgunner finished engaging his targets, the shotgun was left in place. Penalties counted for any of the four targets not knocked over.
This year, a designated support person from the team went to the range tower and was responsible for signaling when the moving target would be started. When the running man paper silhouette target entered a team member’s lane from left to right at the speed of a jog, each shooter had two seconds to engage it with four rounds. Misses counted as penalties.
After shooting, all weapons were made safe and handguns holstered. Then the course was run in reverse —back through the door while picking up the ram, back around the armored vehicle, over the walls and fence, and to the finish line. Time, target hits, grenadier shot, and penalties were assessed for the final score.
The top team in this event was the Lakeland, FL Police Department, Team Blue.
Event 3: Officer Rescue
Beginning last year, this event was somewhat different from other round-ups. Previously, a waterway had to be traversed by rope, and team members brought back the downed officer on the return traverse. This year, each team negotiated a water canal in an inflatable boat, engaged targets with multiple weapons on land, and rescued a downed officer – all in a simulated chemical environment.
Team members did the course wearing unaltered gas masks. Three members each had a holstered handgun loaded with five rounds of frangible ammunition. The two team snipers each also carried a holstered but unloaded handgun and their precision, optically sighted rifle.
Not gas masked, the first sniper ran to a raised shooting platform, a Zodiac-type inflatable boat rigged within a water tank to simulate shooting from a moving boat. This boat platform had a firing port. The sniper attained his firing position, loaded, engaged an identified target—a 6-inch head plate 75 to 85 yards downrange—gas masked, and then moved to the finish line.
Once the first sniper hit his target, the second sniper and the three-member assault team element ran from the start line to a dock and a waiting inflatable boat. They entered the boat and rowed down the canal to a distant dock. As the assault team and the second sniper negotiated the canal, the first sniper had an elective opportunity to take a bonus sniper shot at a 1-inch head plate located 85 to 90 yards downrange; a hit meant a bonus and a miss was a penalty.
Upon arriving at the second dock and leaving their boat, the second sniper proceeded to an elevated sniper shooting platform, a Mobile Adjustable Ramp System (MARS) located on top of a van. There he selected one of three blocks; the color displayed on the underside of this block was the color of the target he would engage. At the top of the MARS ramp, he attained his FFP, a single firing port.
Firing could be conducted sling supported or not supported, while utilization of the deck or firing port for stabilization was permitted. Fifty yards downrange and within a window van were three targets, each painted a different color. The sniper was required to knock over the colored target matching his selection. Task completed, he gas-masked and moved to the finish line.
After the sniper in the elevated platform completed his shot, the three-member handgun assault element cut its way through a chain-link fence with a cutting device that was provided and addressed the remaining hostile targets in individual shooting areas based upon each member’s arrival. Each shooting lane was behind a barricade, which was not allowed to be utilized as a rest.
Five randomly placed head plates were engaged in any order and had to be knocked over. Other team members could assist any team member having a problem, providing that the shooter left the shooting position and the second shooter was safely in position before any weapon firing took place.
Once the targets were down or the shooter’s ammunition expended, and each shooter had securely holstered his handgun in the specified safe condition, the three assault team members then located the downed officer, a 150-pound training dummy, in the area of the target vehicle. They carried the “downed officer” back to the finish line, stopping the event when the last team member crossed the line.
The top team in this event was again the Lakeland, FL Police Department, Team Blue.
Event 4: Tower Scramble
Wearing body armor and carrying rappelling ropes, each five-member team consisted of two elements: a two-member sniper element and a three-member handgun assault element. All had to rappel.
Teams had two options for this event. One option was to move together to the tower. In this case, the assault element and one sniper would climb the cargo net and stairs, and the other sniper would take a ground position. The assault element would rappel first and move on to its handgun shooting boxes located in another area, leaving one sniper at the tower’s designated shooting position to engage his two targets and then rappel. The sniper at the ground position would first engage his two targets and then go up the cargo net, enter through a window, climb the tower’s stairs, and then repel down and go to the finish line, as did all members once they repelled.
Or the team could split up, with one sniper moving to the top of the tower and the second sniper to the ground position where they would engage their targets while the assault element made up of the three handgunners went to their handgun shooting boxes, engaged their targets, moved to the tower, climbed the cargo net and stairs to the rappel deck and rappelled. The sniper at the ground position would then also climb the tower and rappel after engaging his targets.
In either option, only the assault element members stopped repelling to enter a bottom window and ring a bell before finishing their descent and moving to the finish line.
The snipers randomly drew to see which would be shooting from the tower and which from the ground position. Each sniper engaged two targets of unknown distances out to 150 yards. The ground sniper’s position was 100 to 150 yards downrange from the tower. He had to fire first, make his weapon safe, and run to a designed safety line near the tower before the tower sniper was allowed to enter the tower and attain his FFP.
Rappelling equipment rules mandated a maximum of two 7/16-inch or ½-inch static kernmantle ropes of sufficient length to allow for a double line, which, with a safe and secure tie-off, touched the ground at the base of the tower and had sufficient free rope to allow for a belay before a load was placed on it. Dynamic ropes were not allowed. Each team member used an approved harness seat, locking/auto-locking carabiner with a minimum breaking strength of 6,000 pounds, figure eight device, and gloves. Rifles were carried slung, muzzles up or down and bolt closed until specified.
The three assault element members—after running to individual shooting boxes—used their handguns to each engage 10 falling plate targets placed downrange at 5 to 10 yards; a total of 30 targets had to be successfully engaged. One handgunner could help another engage any remaining plates provided that this was done from his own shooting box and that any shooter who re-entered his box was completely within it before any weapon handling.
The top team in this event, once again, was the Lakeland, FL Police Department, Team Blue.
Event 5: Obstacle Course
Team members began the course together. They were allowed to help each other in the event, but if someone moved backward to help a teammate, he had to repeat the course from that point on. The event wasn’t over until the entire team crossed the finish line. Some obstacles were new, and others that had been employed in the past had been eliminated.
The team members wove their way through the Jacob’s Ladder, climbed the rope to touch the crossbar, alternated over and under the cross members of the over/under, made the attic entry and exited off any side, did the “dirty name” by mounting one cross member and jumping up to and over the next higher cross member, and assisted one another up and over the 12-foot wall.
They went up one side and down the other of the A-frame, did the hand-over-hand incline, low crawled under the mesh cover of the rock crawl, climb up and over the bar of the incline wall and slid down it, and climbed up one side of the cargo net and down the other. Then they stepped up and over the six X-shaped obstacles of the high stepper and climbed up all platforms and slid down the pole of the Pete’s Dragon (high climb slide); on the south side of this obstacle, two team members were required to climb a 10-foot, slightly inclined vertical wall using hand and foot holds.
Teams crawled through the mud and water of the worm pit, propelled themselves through the pipe slide, pulled themselves along the rope traverse, negotiated the long step, and finally ran it out to the finish line. Usually, if a team had a problem, it was at the beginning with the rope climb or near the end with the rope traverse.
The top team in this event was the Neutron Police, Hungary.
SWAT Round-up 2006 Results
Winning three of the five events outright, the first place overall team was Team Blue from the Lakeland, FL Police Department. Second overall, and the winner of the obstacle course event was the Neutron Police from Hungary. Third overall was the Kissimmee, FL Police Department. Fourth was the Federal Air Marshal Service. Fifth was the Collier County, FL Sheriff’s Office.
In the Super SWAT COP Event, first place went to Kevin McGinley with the Osceola County, FL Sheriff’s Office. Second was In Jung Kwon with the Korean National Police. Third went to Jorg Siegling with the SEK Munich, Germany.
Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, OH Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a Florida-based writer and author. They can be reached at JWEISS2109@aol.com and MDavisFLA@aol.com.