By Lars Dalseide | March 16 2012 10:24

11 paper and 7 steel targets on NRA Tactical Police course

View from the top of NRA's Louisiana Tactical Police Competition course #4

Anderson, South Carolina - Though the sun rose high last Saturday at the Skip J Range, the shadows loomed even larger during NRA's Louisiana Tactical Police Competition (TPC). Hiding the fears and frustration of competitors as they made their way through the seven courses, our cameras were only able to capture so much. What we captured on Course #4 (pictured above) – titled "Suspect on the Loose" – was almost close enough to taste the gun powder.

It began as shooters stood on the starting line — duty gun holstered and ready to go.

Running down the hallway in NRA's Suspect on the Loose course

With eighteen targets on the loose, competitors ran down a hallway before deciding to dart through openings on the left or the right. Once arriving in the firing area, there were five paper subjects to engage if you went through the right door and six once you went through the left. Then in was off to the final firing area where competitors took on seven steel targets through two separate portals.

But it wasn't as simple as it might sound. TPCs are timed events. That means competitors run full speed through doorways before screeching to a halt to take on the targets. Footprints at the corners soon turned into trenches through the sheer force of every shooter's stop. It was enough to force staff to suspend the match from time to time in order to refill the holes. And there were always other obstacles to overcome.

Hitting protected targets on the right side of Course 4 at NRA's Louisiana Tactical

"It's the muzzle discipline as you're trying to engage the targets as you're following the course," said Trooper David D. Diller of the Illinois State Police. "You have to keep your balance while trying to get that perfect shot. Unlike some courses, there was no support on this run so you had to find your spot, keep your balance and make your shots. It was run to the corner, stop, get your foot placement and then concentrate on hitting the target."

Putting holes in paper at the NRA Tactical at the Skip J Range

After placing that perfect shot, shooters stood aside as Range Safety Officers (RSO) inspected the targets – calling out the scores as they go. "Two-zero" meant a clean target while calls of "one-two one-zero" or "one-two one-four" meant the shot was slightly off center.

Competitors walked the course behind the RSOs and with their friends. Often there were laughs as they lampooned each other's performance. And why not? It was too late for any corrections. The rounds were fired and the score was final. Now was time to learn from their mistakes. Figure out what they did wrong so it wouldn't happen again – either here at the Louisiana TPC or back home on the streets. As for Diller, there's one mistake he's sure never to repeat.

"I need to breath when I run," Diller chuckled. "That's where I had the most trouble."

Sliding to a stop at the final portal of NRA's Tactical Police Competition stage 4

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