I’m glad you could join me for this class of the SCA as we do a little shooting.
Our class this evening was at MSSU (Missouri Southern State University) and was supposed to be in room 125. However, when we arrived, classroom 125 was already in use and an officer said we were to head down to the shooting range. The shooting range at MSSU is in the basement. Since Dad and I were among the first to arrive, we sat around and talked, or listened. Others began arriving shortly afterwards and soon nearly everyone was there.
Sheriff Kaiser joined us in this class and after a very quick overview of the 10 rules of safe gun handling, we split into two groups.
Just so you too can know how to safely handle guns, here are the 10 rules.
Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction with your finger off the trigger!
2. Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use.
3. Don’t rely on your gun’s “safety.”
4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
5. Use correct ammunition.
6. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care!
7. Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting. (I don’t think this applies to on the job shooting.)
8. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
9. Don’t alter or modify your gun and have guns serviced regularly.
10. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using.
Dad and I were in the group that split off and went with Chief Deputy Wilson to the FATS simulator. (In case you are wondering what on earth FATS is, it stands for “Fire Arms Training Scenarios.”) There were seven of us in our group and when we arrived at the room, there were a group of about 10 or so MSSU students gathered about. Chief Deputy Wilson told us that these were some of his students who would be observing.
Having done the FATS simulator before, when Dad and I participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy a number of years ago, I knew what to expect (except for the exact scenarios). There is a large screen at the far end of the room, and the guns we use have been modified so they cannot shoot live ammo. Instead, these shoot laser beams. After a quick run through of instructions on how to properly hold and load the guns, Chief Dep. Wilson asked who was going to go first.
No one volunteered. He said he’d go first. In the scenarios you have to first load your gun and then the screen shows things as though you were seeing them happen, and you have to give the commands and take action if necessary. It is all set up so the officer running the scenario can change things depending on what is said.
Officer shows up at a house where one guy is beating another guy on the head with a shovel in the garage. Officer orders man to stop, he hesitates, tells him it’s none of his business and raises the shovel again. Officer shoots and the guy is killed. (No, it doesn’t show anything.)
There was a question asked after that. “Do you ever shoot just to wound?”
Dep. Wilson shook his head. “No, and there are two reasons for that. One is that usually if a person won’t listen to you when you have a drawn gun in your hand, he won’t pay attention even if you wound him. And also, down the road, he’s probably going to sue for his injuries. Two is, your reason for using deadly force in the first place is to protect others and/or yourself from injury. If the person is going to continue to do whatever he was doing unless he can’t do it, well— It’s also harder to sue if you’re dead.”
Dad volunteered to do the next scene.
Same as the first only this time the person tells Dad to get out of there since it was none of his business. Dad tells him to put the shovel down. There’s some debate and eventually the guy does listen, drops the shovel and puts his hands up.
“That was great!” Dep. Wilson said. “You want to do another one?”
Dad shrugged. “Sure.”
Dep. Wilson is having fun. “You get to be an officer on a patrol stop.”
Approaching the car, the man has both hands on the steering wheel. (That’s what you should always do if you ever get pulled over. It shows the officer you aren’t a threat right then.) Dad, uh, I mean the officer, asks the man for his driver’s license and insurance card. The man tells Dad he hopes this isn’t going to take long because he is in a hurry and late for work. Then he reaches down between the seats. Dad tells him to put his hands back where he can see them. Man doesn’t listen and instead pulls up a gun, cocks it and tries to fire. Dad is too fast and that’s the end of that guy.
We had some discussion then about traffic stops. When the sheriff’s department pulls someone over, they will always put their hand on the back of the car they pulled over. One reason is that there will be DNA on the car should something happen to the officer, and two, they want to make sure the trunk is shut all the way and no one is going to get out of it after they pass. Often an officer in a traffic stop will sound stern and even harsh. Just remember that though you may know that you aren’t going to hurt the officer, he doesn’t know that. Every traffic stop is a risk to their life because they don’t know who may be in that car. So, the next time you are tempted to complain or you hear someone complaining, about how an officer talked when he pulled you over, remember that he may have been more nervous than you were!
Chuck volunteered to take the next scene.
Coming up the stairs of some building, the sounds of something crashing can be heard, and upon reaching the upper hall, a man is standing looking into a room. He is holding a hand gun in his right hand. Chuck asks him what he’s doing and the man turns. “Don’t shoot me,” he says, waving a badge of some sort that is hanging from his neck. “I’m police.” Then he raises his gun and fires. Chuck fires as well and the man, unhurt, dashes for cover behind a wall. When he comes out there is an exchange of gunfire and the man falls down dead. (Hmm, somehow I don’t think he was with the police.)
Scene Five: (Chuck agrees to do another round.)
It is the kitchen of Chuck’s house. Suddenly he hears someone inside. Turning he goes to the hall in time to see someone quickly slip into the living room. Chuck follows and a man is standing across the room from him. Chuck demands to know what he is doing in his house and tells him to raise his hands. The man says something and pulls out a knife. He begins to wave it and Chuck shoots.
“So,” Dep. Wilson asks, “why’d you shoot him?”
“He was in my house waving a knife!”
Everyone laughs because it was pretty obvious. Even if a person is 20 feet away and has a knife, he is still a threat because it only takes a second or two to cross that space. And wounds from a straight edge can be just as dangerous as a gun shot wound.
We still had a little time left so Amber volunteered. She had never shot a gun before, so Chief Deputy Wilson showed her how to load the gun and the proper way to hold it.
Responding to a call in an office building, the officer gets off the elevator and walks towards an office. Only one person is there standing behind a half wall. He looks up and says, “It’s about time you showed up! What took so long? Look what they did to my desk. You know who I am, I’m Joe Brown.” He puts a hand down. Officer Amber tells him to keep his hands up where she can see them. He brings his hand up but has a gun, both Mr. Brown and Officer Amber fire. Neither hits are effective and the man moves across the room, trying to fire again. Officer Amber pulls the trigger. It’s a direct hit to the head. That’s the end of Mr. Brown.
Dep. Wilson was really impressed with that head shot and had to go back and watch it. It was quite impressive for a first time shooter! He tells her to do one more since she was so good.
Same as the previous scene only when the elevator door opens, there is Mr. Brown with his gun. It takes a few shots before he is again brought down by the fire of Officer Amber.
Our time was up so the Chief Deputy took us back to the shooting range where we switched places with the other half of the class. There we were instructed by Sgt. Karraker and Corporal Roy Masters in the proper way to hold and handle hand guns and how to stand properly. Then we each took a turn checking a hand gun to make sure it wasn’t loaded, and activating it as though it was loaded. The sheriff was also there looking on. Next we were each given ten rounds and shown how to load the cartridge. Two of the ladies were given a .22 instead of the .40 that the rest of us had because Amber hadn’t shot before and the other lady was having trouble with the larger gun. The guns we were using were semi-automatic Glocks.
Then came the most fun of the evening. The shooting. We all had ear protection and were in our own “shooting gallery.” Sgt. Karraker gave us our instructions about when to load, when to take our stance and how many rounds we were to fire. Then, when all was ready he gave the order. “Fire.”
My first shot was a little low and Sgt. Karraker told me that I was probably holding the gun a little too tightly. It really was a lot of fun even if I wasn’t that great of a shot. I never hit the center and seemed to keep hitting the left more than I wanted, but none of my shots were wild. Sheriff Kaiser asked if Jimmy had taught me to shoot. He was impressed when I told him no, and that the only other time I’d ever shot a gun was when I did the Citizen’s Police Academy several years ago. So, I guess I wasn’t too bad. One lady was really good. She may have had trouble loading the .40 but, boy, could she shoot. Nearly every shot was in the middle!
We each got to shoot 15 rounds before the evening was over. Everyone took their target home.
And that brings our seventh SCA class to an end. Thank you for joining me and I hope you’ll come back next week as we head to the Carthage range to learn about SWAT and even shoot some of their big guns! Until then, this is Rebekah, your own reporter from the scene of action.