Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Police Academy

I looked good! Camo pants, black tee-shirt, black hat, black boots. Watch out S.W.A.T here I come. It's Tuesday. Firing range day. I've practiced pulling my pistol out of my holster a billion times. I've shot the bad guys with my gun while watching COPS (not loaded of course). I'm ready. 118 lbs of pure adrenaline. Let me at those targets.
We drove to the range. My palms were starting to sweat. Suddenly I couldn't breathe, my vision was getting fuzzy. I ran over a rotten tree stump in the range parking lot and practically fell out of the car. I looked around and saw all of my classmates laughing and joking as if they didn't have a care in the world. I needed to get a grip. I plastered a grin on my pale face and headed for the bleachers.
I was sitting on the bleachers having a serious anxiety attack. The range masters have just shown us the course of fire. The targets move from right to left and left to right. There are barricades set up all over the field where I have to duck and cover and reload my pistol within seconds. Then I have to barely stick out a portion of my body and shoot the things while they are turned facing forward for what seems like one second.
Of course up until this very moment, I have only shot 75 rounds of ammo with my department and that was from 3 yards away. Nothing was moving and I had about 1 minute per round to fire my weapon.
How in the name of all things holy would I be able to shoot off two rounds, hop behind a barricade, reload my pistol and stick a tiny fraction of myself out from behind it and hit another two targets in 12 seconds before they turned?
As I was patting myself down looking for a xanax or some remnant of a klonopin, my name was called. BARNER-LANE, get on lane three! My heart started to pound and I felt like vomiting. Would they call time out if I puked?
The range master told us to get on the right side of our barricade and prepare to cover. I promptly got on the left side. Huge pause....LANE, GET ON THE RIGHT SIDE! I look up and give the thumbs up..I got on the right side.
RANGE MASTER: When I say cover, go to the left side of the barricade and watch for the targets. You will have four seconds to hit the left target first and four seconds to hit the right target, is everyone clear? We all nod yes (there are 9 other cadets on additional lanes).
I run behind the barricade, pull out my pistol and promptly shot a chunk of wood off the corner. I wildly look for the other target. There it is. I am on my tippy toes looking over the barricade. I looked like one of those freaky things you see at tourist attractions where there is a painted body and you stick your head through the hole, so you can look like a hunk or a big breasted fluzzy. Only my head is over the body of wood shaped like a person...
His yelling freaked me out so badly that I shot off another round. There wasn't a peep from anyone anywhere. I looked around and the instructors and range master looked completely dumbfounded.
RANGE MASTER: Everyone will move up to the 15 yard line. You will pick up your barricade. You will fire two shots standing then duck behind cover, reload your weapon and fire 2 shots kneeling. You have 12 seconds. Does everyone understand?
This time I would pull it off. I could still redeem myself.
They both turned, I fired two shots into the same target (crap), hopped (yes I said HOPPED) behind cover, fumbled with my pistol to remove the magazine, attempted to pull the loaded magazine from my gunbelt and threw it up in the air and into the dirt. All I could do was hope nobody saw me. I forgot to mention that the range master sits in a tower so he can see everything that goes on. Hopping like a rabbit on the firing range and throwing your loaded magazine into the air does not bode well with trained weapon experts.
It just continued to go down hill. We had to shoot both of our targets in the head within 2 seconds. I shot my partner's target in the head. I looked worse than Don Knotts in the movie "The Shakiest Gun in the West".
Needless to say, I did not qualify that round. However; I did get better as the day went on. By Wednesday, it appeared that I might just have a shot at qualifying, but it wasn't to be. I got so good in practice rounds without being timed that I was actually told I was "one heck of a good shot" by one of the instructors. But as soon as the timer was set, I forgot which was my left side and which was right. I could hit shots from 25 yards without blowing off parts of the barricade, but I couldn't get it together at the 15 yard line. When we had to shoot 2 targets 2 times within 5 seconds, I lost it. I just started firing aimlessly like a lunatic.
Everyone was rooting for me. By this time even the instructors were rooting for me. I think mostly because they wanted me off the range before I shot myself or someone else. Unfortunately my lack of experience and training did me in. I was disqualified and removed from the academy (not forcefully).
I got in my car and drove back to the police station where I am employed with my tail between my legs. I was prepared to be fired. It's hard to be a cop if you can't shoot. I felt like Barney Fife but at least he was lucky enough to carry a bullet in his pocket.
My Chief gave me a pep talk, took my weapon away, and assigned me to the S.W.A.T team instructor. I practiced shooting constantly and I was accepted back into the police academy for round two.
As I walked onto the firing range and the range masters had time to come out of hiding I knew was ready. Camos, black tee-shirt, black hat, black boots and 118 lbs of pure adrenaline.
See you later Barney Fife!


  1. Following from MBC. you can find me blogging here:

  2. What a great story. I could envision it in my head as I read. You showed them!

  3. Great story! Visiting from MBC and following now

  4. Wow. What a story, you kept me so interested!!
    What a rush, I think i would of freaked out.
    I don't shoot guns.
    Following from the MBC

  5. Wow...what a terrific story!! ...I felt like I was there cheering you on. (...I hope you realize that if you consider changing careers, you're a wonderful writer) :)

    ...stopping by from MBC and now following you,