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Federal Way police stay on target with firearms training
Federal Way police took to the firing range Thursday in an effort to stay fresh on their rifle skills.
Annually, officers are required to pass a qualification course in order to carry their firearms. Federal Way police use a short gun (pistols) and a long gun (rifles and shotguns) course to ensure officers are trained and comfortable using their firearms in a range of skill sets required on the job.
Federal Way’s course is compiled by firearms instructors Bill Skinner, Chris Walker and others. It requires officers to complete tests in which they successfully fire a specified number of shots at a target from a specified distance over a given time period. If officers are unable to hit the target, fire the correct number of shots or meet the time limit allowed to do the test, they are disqualified.
Each officer is given two timed tries to complete each task before he or she is banned from using the firearm until the next qualification opportunity. On Thursday, instructors Skinner and Walker held a daylong qualification session at the Renton Fish and Game Gun Range. On the bill: AR-15 semi-automatic rifle qualifications.
“A rifle is a much better weapon to use when lethal force is authorized because it is much more accurate,” Skinner said.
The gun also more fully penetrates the body, he said. The rifles are carried in officers’ vehicles and are sometimes required to be used from a distance, while moving or in combination with another firearm. These are the skill sets the officers test each year.
Tucked into a wooded corner of the range, with boxes of ammunition as well as eye and ear protection, the instructors briefed officers on safety methods before starting the qualifications. Stacy Eckert and Troy Matsuyama were among the officers who demonstrated their ability to use the rifle.
The first test required participants to shoot and hit a target from 50 yards within a 15-second time frame. One at a time, officers dropped to the ground and began firing as the timer began.
The second drill simulated a malfunctioning firearm. Officers were required to strike the target five times from a distance of 35 yards within 30 seconds. The test called for the officers to follow a specified sequence of actions and to change a simulated malfunctioning magazine. After Matsuyama disqualified during his first attempt, Walker reminded him of the steps necessary to pass.
“Lock, rip, rack, rack, rack,” he said, describing the process for locking the gun, removing the magazine and preparing for a new magazine.
The third skill set required the officers to shoot the target three times in two seconds from a distance of 20 feet. The fourth drill included using the rifle in combination with a handgun. This also simulated a malfunctioning firearm.
The final test called for officers to hit the target in the head with one bullet from a 10-foot distance within two seconds.
Eckert passed the qualifications with clean tests and even hit the target square in the head for a final finish. Matsuyama disqualified once each on two tests, but passed with no problems on his second attempts. Both officers who passed were deemed fit to carry their police-issued rifle.
The qualification process is not something required by the state, but instead is a practice many police departments do to ensure safety, Skinner said. It also is a way to let the public know officers are trained and capable of using their firearms, he said.
“We want to see if they have it or don’t have it,” Skinner said.
Contact Jacinda Howard: firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 925-5565.