Police must prove shooting accuracy

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Nine Richmond County deputies step to the 25-yard line and aim their shotguns at a blue-and-white target downrange.

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Lt. Jimmy Wylds of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office waits for instruction during shooting qualifications at the training range. Each officer had to react Thursday when a target in the shape of a human silhouette would whirl and face the officer.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Lt. Jimmy Wylds of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office waits for instruction during shooting qualifications at the training range. Each officer had to react Thursday when a target in the shape of a human silhouette would whirl and face the officer.

From her vantage point above them in the control room, Kathy Daniel issues orders from a loudspeaker, instructing them to fire when the target -- with its white, almost ghostly silhouette of a man -- spins to face them.

In seconds, the targets whirl and the sporadic sounds of gunfire echo across the range's high dirt walls as hundreds of tiny pellets rip through the targets.

Smoke still hangs in the air as an instructor walks down the line, examining each target to see whether the appropriate number of pellets found their mark.

Thursday marked the final day of the sheriff's department's firearm qualifications. About 500 deputies were tested on their ability to judge when to shoot and to hit their targets during the four-day test at the department's training center off Deans Bridge Road. All members of the department who carry a firearm are measured for their ability to shoot accurately in a test that usually lasts about four hours.

With shotguns, for example, each deputy must fire at a target from 25, 15 and 10 yards. A total of five rounds are fired and 36 pellets must hit the silhouette out of a possible 45.

After one group shot, Daniel received word via a walkie-talkie from an instructor on the range that several failed.

Those who miss the mark have two more chances to complete their qualification. If they still fail, they will have to come back and take a remedial firearms course, then qualify again.

"They kind of go back to the basics and get four hours of training on it," Daniel said.

Several deputies hung around a sitting area, waiting for their chance to shoot. Their mood was light, but each quickly turned serious when it was time to shoot.

Investigator Mark Dobbins said being a good shot appears to come naturally to some people. He compared it to high school, where some subjects are easy for some people, while others have to study and practice. Dobbins said he falls into the second group. "You can train all you want but then you got your individuals that it just comes natural to," he said.

This week's qualification is the second for the year. A nighttime qualification is typically held in the winter.

Top shots meet

The two deputies with the highest scores will compete in a shoot-off next week to determine the department's best shooter.

Investigator Alton Creech will look to retain his title for the third consecutive year, a feat that has never been done in the almost two decades of the contest.

Creech will compete against Deputy Anthony Gregory.

Comments (18) Add comment
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CATFISHSTEW
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CATFISHSTEW 09/30/10 - 11:03 pm
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They need to send them to a

They need to send them to a dove shoot...then eat what they kill. then take them back to the range...bet everyone will pass then. If you can hit a flying dove @ 40 yeads you surely can hit a target the size of a person @ 25 yards.

RAWR
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RAWR 10/01/10 - 01:02 am
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I wish they would let

I wish they would let civilians participate. To see who the better shot really is.

justus4
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justus4 10/01/10 - 04:12 am
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How much of my tax dollars
Unpublished

How much of my tax dollars are being spent on those who "bolo" which cost extra ammo, extra time, and extra money? What is the annual cost of this shooting range? Oh, and those "silhouettes" or pop up targets should've been shown because the public should know what they are shooting at.

fatboyhog
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fatboyhog 10/01/10 - 05:40 am
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justus, are the silhouettes

justus, are the silhouettes black? is that what you are getting at?

fish2
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fish2 10/01/10 - 06:27 am
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With all the killing going on

With all the killing going on with punk thugs in Augusta a good shot would save tax payers a lot of money.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/01/10 - 06:41 am
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Learn to shoot

Learn to shoot guys....bullets cost money yaknow.

Nativeson1
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Nativeson1 10/01/10 - 07:15 am
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It amazes me how some people

It amazes me how some people just have to complain about every situation...Firearms qualification is a required training course used by every law enforcement agency in the country, so why this is news in the AC is my first question. Secondly, sure bullets cost money, but so does wrongful death lawsuits and funerals...Gees, people please stop finding something to complain about in every situtation...Everybody wants to complain about their tax dollars but nobody wants to pay taxes, yet everybody wants quality service by government entities (local, state, and federal)...Well guess what? You get what you pay for, and since half of you either don't pay taxes or cheat on them you really need to reconsider complaining...btw, ammunition does expire and thus it must be used, and most departments use re-brassed ammo for qualifications...

urright
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urright 10/01/10 - 07:53 am
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Justus--you can see the

Justus--you can see the targets in the background of the picture and the article said they were "white, almost ghostly." Yes--they practice shooting at white targets. Although, if you want it to be realistic...

urright
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urright 10/01/10 - 07:54 am
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They should look like

They should look like zombies!

corgimom
38808
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corgimom 10/01/10 - 08:00 am
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"How much of my tax dollars

"How much of my tax dollars are being spent on those who "bolo" which cost extra ammo, extra time, and extra money? "

Justus, DOGGONE those pesky laws that say they must qualify every year! How dare a police force require that an armed officer must be qualified to fire a weapon?

What is WRONG with a police force that would require that, Justus??? Boy, your skilled observation powers are really at their peak today!

John Scott
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John Scott 10/01/10 - 08:19 am
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Has anyone noticed that

Has anyone noticed that Justus hardly ever makes more than one comment? Probably because of the scrutiny his asinine statements come under. Just curious Justus (not that you'll answer this), what do you think the acronym 'bolo' means?

Rainbow Johnson
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Rainbow Johnson 10/01/10 - 12:51 pm
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urright: hahah, you caught

urright: hahah, you caught justus on one. He didn't look at the photo and just automatically Assumed the targets were black silhouettes. Black is the only color he sees in every story he reads, every comment he makes and if the story has no "color" to it, he says nothing. To any casual viewer it's plain to see the targets were "WHITE"

In reality though when he does say something, he really doesn't say anything either. Hmmmmm.....does that make sense..

corgimom
38808
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corgimom 10/01/10 - 10:08 am
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Thank God that he's back

Thank God that he's back posting, it was tough going without his skilled observances. He was deeply missed.

confederatelady319
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confederatelady319 10/01/10 - 10:35 am
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If a deputy bolo's as justus

If a deputy bolo's as justus says,that deputy has to shoot again and again till he don't bolo and he has to pay for the ammo that he uses.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 10/01/10 - 10:42 am
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Good post, Nativeson 1, your

Good post, Nativeson 1, your 8:15a is right on target...so to speak.

ruudvonbaron
0
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ruudvonbaron 10/01/10 - 11:11 am
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Shoot first. Ask questions

Shoot first. Ask questions later.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 10/01/10 - 01:38 pm
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I do believe in Police slang

I do believe in Police slang "bolo means "be on the lookout" normally used to preface a stolen car, person, amber alert or other situations where the police should use extra care in identifying something. When I used to shoot on the police range I hate to say it but all of the targets were in fact black silhouetts. Don't you just hate that for justus. His posting seems to sound like justice but he will never see it through his black colored glasses.

Asitisinaug
4
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Asitisinaug 10/01/10 - 05:35 pm
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Justus is just a sad

Justus is just a sad misguided ill informed individual who's opinions are reflective of many who believe they are owed something for nothing.

As for the targets....look at the second photo in the article. The background of the targets are green or light blue and the target is white. Frankly, anyone of any color, race, or sex pointing a weapon at and officer or deputy will most likely be shot, generally speaking no less than two times. Officers do not train nor should they shoot extremities or other areas of an armed suspect. The easy solution is to obey the laws of the land.

As for training....Deputies and officers train more than required so as to prepare for shooting. Anytime they do so, they do it AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE and OWN THEIR ON TIME. These already underpaid officers spend their on money and time perfecting their skills in order to better serve the public.

As for required training, they are paid regular time - there is no overtime in the RCSO or most departments, even when it is worked. If you are lucky, you will get comp. time but since their are never enough officers to cover shifts, comp. time usually ends up expiring prior to using.

Why anyone would complain about officers and deputies training more is beyond me, especially someone such as Justice. It seems like you would want officers to receive more training, be on the shooting range and qualifying every quarter (4 times a year) and ensure that when they shoot, they hit the intended target vs. something else.

As for the cost of re-brassed ammo that is used for training, it is hardly anything, far less than even one of the coffee makers from Sams purchased by our former theiving county attorney not to mention the 3 officers that could have been paid for a year vs. the severence pay she was given for being a theif.

Most of the country fully supports our military and yet so many still complain about our law enforcement. If it wern't for these fine men and women working dilligently each and every day, this world would live in we be much worse than it is now. Undperpaid, underappreicated, and their life or death split second decisions against criminal activity is continually scrutnized by those from the comfort of their homes who haven't a clue what the real world is all about.

ArmedandLegal
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ArmedandLegal 10/01/10 - 06:31 pm
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Justus out of all the thing

Justus out of all the thing we pay taxes on, can't you find something better to complain about that training with a deadly weapon? Like teachers taking resort trips for tens of thousands of dollars.

Good lord. /facepalm

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