In Commerce Township, Michigan there is an excellent place called the Multi-Lakes Conservation Association. They have been hosting the competition portion of the National Patrol Rifle Championship, which I have attended the last two years. The competition and conference is put on by Centermass, Inc. and runs like a well-oiled machine.
If you register the night before, you can get the course of fire booklet at that time and see what the next day’s festivities will entail. The course descriptions are detailed enough to give you a general idea of what you’ll be doing, but they don’t tell you everything. There are always a few surprises the next morning at the briefing when you get all of the details and sometimes, all of the dry practice you did the night before in the hotel room with your finger rifle is for naught, but that’s all part of the fun. It’s all about “performance on demand”.
First up was Manipulation Tribulation. The target was a standard hostage and bad guy target, with hits on the bad guy only counting if they were in the face(25 pts) or high chest(15 pts) portion not covered by the hostage. Shots outside the scoring areas were -5 pts, and shots on the hostage were -25 pts. Shooters are 35 yards away in the shooter’s box, with a table and barricade in-line, between the shooter and the target. Shooters have loaded 4 magazines with 5 rounds and dummy round somewhere around round #3 in each magazine, magazines are on the table. All shooters ground their weapons and run 25 yards and back to their shooter’s box, at which time you load your rifle and with your feet still in the shooter’s box, lean out from cover to engage the target until you have a malfunction. Shooters then clear their malfunction from behind cover and reengage the target until they are empty. Shooters then return to cover to reload and engage target from opposite side, remaining in shooter’s box and leaning out around the barricade. Shooters can choose for themselves whether or not to switch shoulders when shooting around support side of the barricade. This continues until all 4 magazines are empty for a total of 20 rounds, or 2 minutes and 30 seconds has elapsed, which ever comes first. It’s possible to gain 500 points on target, however, they deduct 1 point for each second it takes to complete the course of fire, so shooters have to find a good mix of speed and accuracy.
Second was Interactive Alley. This course of fire is a live-fire CAPS shoot and is worth 500 points for 2 rounds. Shooters had to stay in a shooter’s box, which was behind a barricade simulating a wall with a window in it. Shooters watched the screen and engaged the targets through the window, which was about 1 foot square. Once the shooter observed an action in the video that warranted deadly force, they were to fire one round to end the scenario. The video was returned to the point of the shot and shot placement was observed. Cranial vault head shots were worth 250 points, non-cranial vault hits are worth 100 points, misses are -50 points(includes shooting the cover), and hostage hits are -100. Shooters did this twice and the course of fire was over. In these videos, the threat is typically a moving target and the shooter needs to be able to get sights on target now and make a good shot, or else their window of opportunity will have been missed as the bad guy has shot you or made it to cover. This is my favorite course of fire because it is the most realistic. Last year, was like a slap in the face as I realized that I really needed to put more emphasis on getting that first accurate shot off a lot quicker.
Third course of fire was Money Shot and Pick Your Poison. For the Money Shot, shooters were to go prone on their elbows(could not rest magazine on ground) and shoot a small silhouette target at 40 yards, with 1/8” glass in front of it. The head portion of the target was about 3” square and the body was about 6” square. Head shot was 120 points and body shot was 50 points. Shooters then had to move in to a kneeling or sitting position and engage a target that had 4 circles on it, each circle had a black outside circumference and was approximately 7” in diameter. The difference was the size of the white center. One target’s white center was only 3” across, the next was 4”, next 5”, and last 6”. Shooters had to gauge their marksmanship skills and shoot at whichever size target they could effectively hit. If any round was touching the black outer edge of the circle target they shot at, they lost all of their points. Sitting on the floor in the hotel room the night before, I had no trouble holding my “finger rifle” steady, I thought the 3” target would be a piece of cake. Of course, reality took a slightly different turn and I started with the 6” circle. After a couple of rounds, I went to the 5” circle and that was pretty steady, so I sighted on the 4” circle. I think I could have had the rest of my rounds, in the 4” circle, but knowing that all it took was one round to just graze the black and I would lose all of my points, I played it safe and stayed with the 5” circle. Out of 120+ shooters, only 15 did not shoot black and lose their points.
Fourth course of fire was Suicidal Bomber. Each shooter had a target of a man wearing a suicide bomber vest at 50 yds, 100 yds, and 200 yds. Head shots were 20 pts, body shots were 10 pts, and misses were -5 pts. There was a 2 min, 30 sec time limit for 30 rounds. Shooting a magnified optic made the targets head visible at 200 yards, so I took head shots, but didn’t realize how much my 69 grain bullet would drop at 200 yds, so my group was low, yielding body shots instead of head shots.
Fifth course of fire was Box ‘Em Out. This target was a standard armed offender, with a body and head scoring area. Head shots were 25 pts, body shots 10 pts, misses -5 pts. During the course of fire, each shooter had a box outlined for them on the ground, each side being 5 yards long. Each shooter had a safety officer behind them and began with their rifles on the ground in car carry condition. When the exercise began, shooters made their rifles hot and began walking forward. On each sound of the whistle, shooters had 3 seconds to take a shot. The shooters kept walking until they reached the corner of the box, indicated by a small orange cone and stopped. Then shooters had to turn their torsos so they could walk left. This made it almost impossible to shoot from the right shoulder for righties. Some people tried, most transitioned to shooting lefty. The move command was given and shooters walked slowly left, making a shot on each whistle sound. Then shooters moved backwards, then to the right. There was a mandatory reload mixed in there, for a total of 20 rounds, twice around the box. I’ve spent a little time practicing shooting lefty, but I’ve never practiced moving and shooting lefty, so that was interesting.
While all of this is going on, there are vendor booths that are chock full o’guns to try, of both the pistol and rifle variety, along with optics, and ammunition, among others. If you get hungry, they serve lunch around noon. It’s a great way to spend the day and everyone has a good time, regardless of their scores. You hear the comment, ”Wow, I really need to work on that when I get home.”, many times from different people throughout the day, myself included. While it is a competition, it has the same feel as a smaller, laid-back, rural plate shoot, just a lot bigger. It gives you ideas for drills to take home to your department or to practice on your own. A lot of Departments do not have an adequate training budget and if you rely on them to provide it, you will go without. I like to shoot and the NPRC keeps me motivated in that each year, I pick out someone else I know that is going, that is a little bit faster and a little bit more accurate than I am, and my goal is have a consistent performance and beat that person. The general attitude is that it’s about doing better than you did last year, and having fun.
For more information, check out their website, www.centermassinc.com. They have the full courses of fire posted as well as scores. Pictures from this years competition should be online shortly. There are only 349 training days until the 2012 NPRC, don’t let them get away from you.