Albuquerque, New Mexico - Upon arrival at the Shooting Range Park for NRA's National Police Shooting Championships, one of the first things I did was check out the shirts. Competitors and supporters sporting the colors and logos of their shooting team. A shirt that stood out said Queensland. Queensland? Where the heck is that?
"Australia," answered Sgt. Robert Pierce of the Queensland Police Service. "Came over just for your Championships mate."
Located in the southeast corner of the continent, Queensland is best compared to California when considering climate. Home to cities such as Rockhampton (where Pierce and his team mate Paul Trinder are based), Brisbane (the capital) and Townsville, the state is probably best known for what one just outside of Cairns ... the Great Barrier Reef.
"I've been with the Queensland Police Service for twenty years," said Trinder. "The last ten as Training Coordinator for Firearms and Officer Safety Training Program."
Changing from blue to white to tri-colored jerseys, the two-man Australian team came to Albuquerque for more than just the Championships. This was also an opportunity to see how the tournaments are run here in the states.
"The major competition for us is the Australian Police Service Match," explained Pierce. "It's similar the PPC (Police Pistol Combat Competitions) but it’s a 90 round match scored out of 900 instead of a 150 round matches you have here."
"Our State Police Pistol Club, out of the 46 years the Serve Match has been held, has won it 42 times, so we’re pretty strong there," Trinder added.
But Trinder can't seem to shake his natural Training Coordinator instincts. Not only is he teaching the ins and outs of competitive shooting to his 14 year old son, but he also finds the time to coach the local youth Auskick team (go Magpies!)
Unfortunately, the cost of coming here to the States for the Championships is high. That means it will probably be a few years before we see these blokes again. That means their goal of shooting additional American matches will have to wait.
"Looking at maybe Bianchi Cup, Action Shooting style of the game," said Trinder. But there's a fair bit to do if you want to get into the sport in Australia. There’s a number of wheel gun competitions to name one."
But that doesn't mean they're going to forget their time there Albuquerque. Repeatedly they commented on the high quality facilities at the Shooting Park Range and the high quality of people they met along the way. "There's a global fraternity of law enforcement," stated Pierce.
"Everyone here made us feel right at home, especially those blokes from San Antonio," said Trinder. "Extremely hospitable. Really welcoming. I can't thank them enough for that."