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Firearms requalification different this year for Richmond County officers

Friday, July 18, 2014 9:56 PM
Last updated Saturday, July 19, 2014 1:01 AM
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Capt. Gerald Metzler has been taking firearms requalification tests for 32 years, but Wednesday he learned something he didn’t know.

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Augusta-Richmond County sheriff's office personnel practice with their weapons during training.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Augusta-Richmond County sheriff's office personnel practice with their weapons during training.

He was not gripping the pistol correctly.

Metzler discovered this after a restructuring of the annual shooting skills test for officers.

“This year was a little different,” Metzler said. “We went back to the basics so I picked up on some things I had been doing wrong that I didn’t even realize.”

Lt. Bill Probus, who led the testing, said the sheriff’s office has opted to change the format to something more fun, a little less stressful and a little more effective than classes in the past. One of the differences is a more intense focus on remedial skills.

Classroom and hands-on training focusing on the proper use of a gun’s front sights helped Metzler more accurately hit his target.

He finished with the highest score among his class of nine in the four-hour session, 476 out of 500.

Every gun-toting sheriff’s office employee is required by law to requalify, or retest with their weapon, each year.

Probus and three assistant instructors spent one-on-one time with each student to ensure hand techniques, grip and eye level from standing, kneeling and behind barriers were perfect. Probus said he hopes the new format will be more realistic; studies show that most shootings occur within 10 yards, the distance most of the training took place.

“If you study and look at real-life shootings, you know there are some commonalities,” he said.

Instructors put more focus on those commonalities.

Students spent an hour in a classroom reviewing use of force options and techniques and discussed real-life officer-involved shootings before training continued on the shooting range.

During the test, students shoot two human paper targets with 50 bullets from 3 to 25 yards as instructors call out actions.

A score of 400, or 80 percent, is required to pass.

At the end of testing Wednesday, Probus said there had only been five people who did not pass with 80 percent. Tests continued Thursday and Friday but results were not available.

If an officer does not pass, instructors take his or her weapon and remove them from duty. They are instructed to return to the training range for a three-day remedial course. The officer can’t return to duty until the test is passed.

“Almost everything we can remediate,” Probus said. “Usually you have to break a bad habit and substitute a good habit for it.”

Sgt. Glen Rahn, who also tested Wednesday, said he found this year’s course more realistic to what he would see on the streets.

“It’s definitely an improvement,” Rahn said. “The personnel they have out there is excellent.”

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nocnoc 07/19/14 - 05:48 am
I have to ask

Was MCG / GRC Officer Martin one of the 5 that did not pass ☺?

just an opinion
just an opinion 07/19/14 - 09:36 am
He was late...

He stopped a driver on Deans Bridge Rd on his way to the range and tased them for an expired tag decal. Of course he said they had tried to run him over.

Sweet son
Sweet son 07/19/14 - 02:58 pm
The story is a good story about the Sheriff's Deputies!

But we all need to continue to jam 'taser/shoot 'em' Martin every chance we get. There are at least two others that also need to be mentioned every chance we get. Those two are 'Chief' Bill McBride and Ricky Azziz. Martin still being around is just wrong!

hoptoad 07/20/14 - 08:28 am
Nocnoc and Just an opinion, I

Nocnoc and Just an opinion, I got a chuckle out of your comments. How true.

All gun owners who have not served in the military, in law enforcement or other occupation that required being armed, should take a qualification course. (It might help victims ensure their attackers won't have the chance to do anything criminal again.)

jimmymac 07/20/14 - 01:46 pm

SC requires an 8 hr. training session with time spent on the range. You must hit at least 70% in the target to qualify from three different distances up to about 10-15 yards. It was fairly easy to pass but one lady using a 357 didn't pass because it was too much gun for her. By the way I scored 100% as did several other shooters. I took a similar class in Ohio and I can tell you SC has much better shooters than Ohio but concealed carry hasn't been allowed in Ohio for as long. One guy could have been a trick shooter he was so good.

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