By Lars Dalseide | June 1 2014 11:17

Law Enforcement from the Great Lakes and beyond take on five course for Patrol Rifle title

Prepping to take on course #1 at the National Patrol Rifle Competition

Commerce Township, Michigan - Law Enforcement agents and officers from around the country came together this morning at the Multi-Lakes Conservation Association for the opening of the 2014 National Patrol Rifle Competition. Five courses of fire concentrating on, what else, the patrol rifle.

“We’re expecting somewhere between 100 and 150 competitors to run through the match today,” said competition Chairman Jeff Felts. “It’s going to be a good year.”

Coming from as far as Oklahoma and Kentucky, officers, agents, deputies and the like lined up for numbers and assignments as the day began. A casual stroll through the masses revealed Top Shot alum Chris Cerino. A few hours from home, Cerino is looking forward to finally competiting in the match.

“Between the World Championships, Bianchi Cup, and the other competitions, I never had the opportunity to shoot here,” said Cerino. “Finally had the time this year.”

As the crowd dispersed into the five available ranges, we embedded with a group headed for Course #1 — Combat Roll.

Competitor performs a combat roll at the National Patrol Rifle Competition

A quick walk through the woods revealed the Combat Roll contingent. Kicking up dust and rocks along the way, we made way past the line of enthused competitors ready to take on the challenge.

With targets placed 50 yards down range, competitors placed a rifle on the left of their firing position and a duty pistol on the left. On go, the dropped, aimed the rifle and fired. With a round down range they rolled to the right, picked up the pistol and fired again from the prone position. The exercise is repeated until the two minute clock runs out.

“This course tests the shooters marksmanship skills under the stress of physical exertion, time, and competition,” Felts explained.

Utilizing hostage targets for the rifle and open targets for the pistol, competitors are scored on both accuracy and time.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. A combat roll disorients the shooter for a few seconds. It’s the time it takes to recover your equilibrium, acquire the target, and fire. Two minutes might sound like a lot of time, but all that rolling around can play tricks on you.

“We’ve shot something similar, switching back and forth between right side barricade and left side barricade. Not with a combat roll or leaving a gun on either side of the barricade.” said John from the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office. “

Getting on target at the Combat Roll Stage of the National Patrol Rifle Competition

Here for a fifth try at the title, John and fellow Eaton County competitor Josh watched as the first group shot and rolled, shot and rolled, shot and rolled. The more they moved the more you could feel the tension in the shot. Knowing that the plans of attack would soon be cast aside and muscle memory takes over. “I’d rather roll around without a gun in my hand so I’m happy with it,” said Josh.

Time called, Range Officers headed down for the targets while competitors waited in a holding area for their scores. Some happy, some not.

But stage one is just that. First time on the range. A decent measuring stick for the day to come … but only that. There’s always room to improve. And to disintegrate.

We turned and left before Josh and John had their turn at the roll. Filled with optimism, they were greeted to the staging area with competitors from a previous round. Disgruntled with their performance, they shook their heads and threw out a half-hearted, “Good luck.”

And this is only stage one.

Chris Cerino on the Combat Roll Stage of the National Patrol Rifle Competition

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