You know, all of these posts hit very close to home--unfortunately.
To all non-LEO reading this, you would probably be VERY surprised to know that the folks who do the hiring for police--the screeners, psychologists, and others--will in some places actually DISQUALIFY your application, if you show too much interest in firearms!!
And, it doesn't end there. When I started shooting with my Department, on the third qualification I ran into something disconcerting.
First, a little background...
I've been attracted to, and interested in, firearms since I was 8. I got into the Army, and volunteered for range details so that I could burn up some ammunition. Along the way, I met some folks who knew how to shoot well, and they passed on their knowledge to me.
Somewhere in the mid-80's I started reloading and casting my own bullets. I managed to make it to the range at least 3-4 times a month. A close friend got me interested in IPSC, and I started shooting that on a casual basis. Never formally qualified.
In 1997, I got into Law Enforcement. The requirements for qualification at that time (to me) were ridiculously easy.
Fast forward to 1999, when I got into NRA Conventional Pistol, also known as Bullseye shooting.
Now (to the point I'm mentioning in this post), my attitude was this at qualifications: "Let's think about this...they give me a target with an X ring that looks like a dinner plate, at 3 to 25 yards, and the let me shoot it with BOTH hands. Ooo-kay.....is this supposed to be hard?"
So, during this qualification, I had just finished doing my second double hammer on the B27. Our first stage consists of two rounds COM, followed by two rounds to the head, from a fully secured holster within 4 seconds. For me, that was the draw, roll the trigger twice centered, let the recoil of the second shot carry the pistol up to the head, roll twice more.
I was feeling good until I heard another officer behind me, say--with considerable VENOM in his voice, "That's all he (bleeping) does is shoot!"
Suddenly, I didn't feel so good about cleaning the target.
I later found out that the Chief of Police had been told by some of the officers that I was a PSYCHO, and that I was obsessed with guns!!! I decided to meet the problem head on, and asked for a meeting with the Chief.
After going into his office, I asked him if he had some misgivings about me, with firearms as a main concern. He was up front with me, and relayed the things he had been told about me.
I was quiet for a second, and then I asked, "Chief, you follow pro sports, right?" He said that he did. I asked, "So, if you wanted, you could probably quote the stats on your favorite teams and players, and you probably know the games cold--right?"
He said that this was the case.
I said, "Chief, I am the same way--but my focal point is what I term the science of firearms and ballistics. I have been an active student of this since I was a child. I can discuss internal, external and terminal ballistics; ballistic coefficients and sectional densities, the effect of pitch, yaw and roll on a projectile at high speeds. I can discuss with you the steel used in the manufacture of firearms, its fabrication and the heat treatment to turn the steel into metal suitable for containing the pressures and stresses generated upon firing. We can also talk about plastic and permanent deformations, and Young's Modulus.
"I am an active competitor and sport shooter; I relax by taking a precision rifle to the range, and trying to shoot a tiny group as far away as I can.
"To prepare for patrol, I have taken my duty gun and practiced my draw stroke over 3000 times, over the course of two weeks. This is to keep me safe and my fellow officers can count on me, if they need to.
"I am also a nationally ranked competitor--at least in my class--and in 2002, I won my class in the Washington State Pistol Championships.
"Chief, I hope and pray that the only thing I ever shoot is paper--and maybe a tin can here and there. But if I have to draw my service weapon and deploy it, you can bet that I will be ready, dependable--and damned accurate."
(Not long after that, I was offered the spot for precision rifleman.
I've spent considerable cost over the years honing my skills--and I am nowhere NEAR as good as I think I should be! I'll consider myself competent when I can shoot as accurately as a Rob Leatham or Todd Jarrett, and as fast as Jerry Miculek (with a Colt semi-auto, that is!)