By Lars Dalseide | June 20 2013 17:02

Opening day gitters come out in NRA's Virginia Tactical Police Competition

Russ Pearce of the Richmond Police Department on the Blind Stage of NRA's Virginia Tactical Police Competition

Fairfax, Virginia - It started early in Fairfax.

Tucked away in the outer regions of the Northern Virginia county, members of NRA's Law Enforcement Division assembled volunteers and Range Safety Officers for a first run at this year's Fairfax Tactical Police Competition (TPC). Right down the road from Headquarters, this event holds special meaning for NRA staff.

"The Fairfax TPC is special," said National Police Pistol Combat Competitions Manager Marc Lipp. "It's close to home and close to where some of us put a lot of years in on the streets."

A retired police officer, Lipp has been overseeing the NRA's Tactical Police Competitions for years now. With courses based on real-life scenarios, the competitions provide more than an afternoon of fun. They provide training.

"These events really happened. We might have added a few more bad guys, added another obstacle or moved things around a little, but basically they are all true to life. Reality is a great training tool."

This year's Fairfax TPC is comprised of six separate stages. Throughout the day, officers will be asked to deploy their rifles, shotguns and sidearms as they run through these stages. But it's a little more complicated than your standard bullseye target setup.

Starting with your toes on the line, competitors are asked to run through doorways, identify hostiles, fire around barriers, avoid no-shoots targets and hit center mass. Miss a target? There's a penalty for that. Shoot outside the firing area? There's a penalty for that too. There are penalties for non-engagement, dropping a loaded mag, missing center mass and running out of time. That's where the money is.

For even if you do everything right, hit every target and stay inside the lines, you still have to do it in a timely manner. Just as sure that it's time that you're penalized, it is time that will determine your standings. So here's what you do.

Identify your target, stay withing the firing area, and hit everything you need to hit as quickly as possible. Do that and you have a chance. Do that well and odds are you'll have an even better Robb Sloan of the Fairfax County Police Department on the Shotgun Stage of NRA's Virginia Tactical Police Competition chance should you find yourself in a similar situation out on the streets. For that's the real reason we hold these events.

Yes it's a competition. Yes it's fun. But trigger time is training time. Training in high pressure situations with real-life scenarios. As close as you're going to get to encountering the bad guys. After all, it's not as if they're encountering bullseye targets when they arrive upon a crime scene.

Day two of the three day competition begins tomorrow.

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