EDMOND — About 150 SWAT team members from across the state converged on the Edmond Police Depart-ment firing range Wednesday to engage in a little friendly competition.
“It’s a bunch of grown men carrying guns and having fun,” said EPD spokesperson Randy Payne.
But the purpose of the competition was very serious, with teams and individuals participating in events to prepare for real emergency situations.
Members of EPD’s Emergency Response Team hosted the event, the first-ever at the local range. ERT members also designed the courses and scenarios.
The team competition incorporated snipers and entry teams, using the new “shoot house” facility completed in 2005 for tactical training.
Using simulated ammunition, entry teams converged on the house to stage a hostage rescue scene, rapidly moving
through unmapped rooms and identifying “shoot” or “don’t shoot” targets.
Individual events included a two-gun drill and an obstacle course.
During the drill, officers used a long rifle and a pistol during different stages on a course that included climbing, taking cover and shooting paper and metal targets.
The obstacle course required participants to shoot with pistols after climbing walls, crawling through windows and scaling a fence.
Scoring was based on both timing and accuracy.
Prizes were provided by gun manufacturers, Oakley sunglasses and other vendors.
Capt. Tim Dorsey, uniform division supervisor and ERT commander, said the local department was happy to host the event.
“It’s a neat opportunity for us. It provides realistic training and an opportunity for different agencies to exchange ideas and talk about training and equipment. And of course competition is always good.”
Edmond Fire Department personnel were also on hand, providing equipment and support for participants who opted to practice rappelling skills. EFD medics took care of first-aid needs.
Norman Police Depart-ment brought 18 men to compete, said Lt. Mike Praizner, team commander.
“We’re happy with our performance,” he said. “This is a great opportunity. The courses are excellent, and it’s a good test of basic skills.”
Norman PD previously had trained at the local range a few times, but enjoyed the competitive atmosphere.
“Edmond has done a fantastic job of putting this together. We really appreciate them doing this.”
Darren Moore, instructor pilot for Customs and Border Protection, flew to the range in an AS-350B2 helicopter, featuring a FLIR (forward-looking infrared) system. The camera system is used in surveillance, particularly in the metropolitan areas, Moore said.
The on-board system transmits to a ground computer held by a commander to help locate suspects for tactical teams, Moore said.
The helicopter is used by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and federal agencies, but is also available to law enforcement agencies across the state.
Second Lt. Steve Lehr, commander of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Tactical Team, said it was OHP’s first time to attend this type of multi-team competition. Twenty-one OHP team members took part.
“It’s good to meet other teams and be able to network,” Lehr said. “These are people we might have to work with in a real situation one day. It’s a good thing for us, especially since OHP has no (firing) range of their own.”
The 20-acre firing range has been in its present location since 1982 and is located just east of the intersection of Danforth Road and Midwest Boulevard.
It is regularly used by numerous local, state and federal agencies for firearms training.