Officers compete to determine APD's 'top shot'

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- Ten of the Albany Police Department's most eagle-eyed shooters are facing off in a competition designed to test who among them is the department's best shot.

Using department-issue .40-caliber handguns, the officers will have to use strategy as well as physical skill to win the competition, which will finish up today.

"It's more than just pointing a gun and firing at a target," APD Deputy Chief Mark Scott said. "Each one of the stations simulates a situation (officers) could encounter out on the street with various cover situations and civilian involvement."

The shooting course is a combination of various stations that forces officers to shoot from various positions -- standing, crouching and in the prone position lying on the ground -- and from cover that forces them -- at one station -- to shoot with their opposite hand.

While speed is important, accuracy and adherence to departmental policy regarding gun safety are key, too, Scott said.

Some of the targets are positioned in close proximity to cardboard "civilians," forcing officers to take calculated shots to avoid being penalized.

While the course would be difficult enough with the fake civilian targets, the erratic cover and moving targets, competition organizers also put "dummy" bullets into each officer's magazine to simulate a gun jam or malfunction, which forces officers to clear the weapon on the fly.

"We feel that this competition helps better train our officers so that if they ever find themselves in a shooting scenario, their training will kick in and they will perform the right way," Scott said.