So I was up most of the night again! Even though I was super tired, I was also equally excited, today was the day I get to compete against members from police agencies across the world in the Police Action Pistol (PAP) event! I showered, and dressed in record time, and began the walk to the convention center to catch the shuttle bus to the NYPD Range at Rodmans Neck.
I bought a chicken falafel along the way and although it was spicy, it was just the right fuel to start the day! =D I met Raz and Pete, we got on the bus and left at about 06:30am. The 20 mile ride to the range was actually pretty quick considering it was rush hour. I think that was due to how the traffic lights were synchronized, and as well as our driver who was highly skilled in traversing roads in the NYC area! Raz, Pete and I were a little concerned as JP (a fellow CPS member) was taking the Subway to the range, which we knew did not travel all the way to the range, so JP would have to take a connecting bus or a cab from the subway to the range.
Once we arrived (through very tight security) we lined up to register, and we were about mid pack in a line up of 240+ athletes for the PAP event. It took about an hour to register, pick up guns, and ammunition, and then we all attended the compulsory range briefing. Things were looking good, and although we had lost a whole day due to Hurricane Irene, (the event shortened as a result) we thought things looked organized.
We excitedly went to the first range where we met with around 30 other shooters in our squad, and got our first look at stage #1 of the event. It was a long one with multiple targets at multiple shooting areas! We learned from organizers that turned out that they intended to run 6 of the 7 stages that they had planned, and this one looked very exciting.
We loaded our magazines and recieved out stage briefing, then watched the first shooter go through the stage…about 40 minutes after we had arrived! The shooting looked challenging and fun, then the scoring took place, very very slowly. JP and I recognized right away that there was no possible way to get 240 shooters through this stage alone. It was painfully slow, and by the time our team got to shoot it was almost noon (only 12 shooters had been through that stage at that point), very hot out, and we had only done 1 stage out of the 6! This was due to the sheer number of targets to be scored, the inexperience of the range officers in this type of PAP event, and the lack of staff to patch targets…all of this combined slowed the stage to a snails pace.
The result of our shooting, JP was amazing, Raz, Pete and I did OK, about average from what I was seeing from the other shooters. Not a bad start…
We went to the 2nd stage, which was empty, and asked if we could begin shooting, the ranger officer said that we could not and that he needed to authorization from the Range Master to put us through. This took about 40 minutes, and during this time not a single round was fired down the Stage #2 range by anyone. Once permission was received it was too late, the delay had caused a very large crowd of shooters to bunch up at this stage…way to many to manage. This lack of organization would lead to a very unhappy ending for all of the shooters at this event. =(
We noted that despite the delays some of the stages were very exciting, challenging and fun to shoot. While waiting to shoot we met Don, a police officer from Washington State (I left the agency out) who was on our squad and was fun to hang around and chat with. He was also a very good shooter, and it was fun to watch him compete in each stage with his GoPro camera attached to his head, and his special toed shoes. I am looking forward to see the video of him shooting the events, it would be a very cool perspective!
We also had the Hong Kong Police Shooting Team on our squad, and although we could not understand what they talked about, they appeared very professional, and were very good shooters, competitive even though they were using revolvers!
One of the longer stages had a bank of targets where you had to literally hang around the post to see the targets, it was so much fun! Lots of different approaches, much like dancing, lots of legs swinging and wobbling about! With all the standing water behind the targets we were also entertained with huge splashes as the bullets entered the water! =D
JP had brought his lovely wife Pat, and it was fun to talk with them (and everyone else) about police work, shooting, travelling and such…I forgot how much fun it is to be in a team environment, I truly miss that! Despite the challenges of the day, we all soldiered on and it was JP who stepped up to the plate to challenge the organizers, who were letting some teams shoot and forcing others to wait hours. We all watched him work his magic with range staff, and Pat mentioned to me as we watched him that he was like “a dog with a bone” when there is something not being done right! I for one appreciated him looking out for our team, it helped bring us together for sure.
One of the stages was 4 banks of targets, each bank had a magazine change in between and lots of movement. We all did really well on this event, but JP set the outright fastest time of the day over any other shooters…by over 3 seconds! That is like a Porsche vs. a VW in terms of performance, and put him at the top of the class, despite him losing a little skin sliding into the last shooting box! The frustration of the day, and high heat melted away, as our team left that stage pumped, it was awesome to see everyone do well on that stage, and to have JP “OWN” it was priceless!
We had completed 5 of the 6 stages when the event was stopped, it was already dark and about 8:30 pm. We then learned that most of the teams had only finished 4 events, and that the organizers were going to figure out how to score everything. JP talked to the Range Master and event organizer Brian Jackson, and he said that there were only 2 stages that everyone had completed which would be used to assign a score based on percentage data. We also found out that they could have had a second day for the PAP event as the range was only being used for a practice session on Wednesday…our event PAP had no practice, and was not completed. An inappropriate decision putting practice over an event…salt in the wound for PAP shooters!
The ride back to the convention center was quiet, everyone tired from a long day at the range. We did our best, had fun on some of the stages, laughed lots, and got to hang around with police officers from around the world, a pretty good day. I cannot tell you about the day without explaining why the event was not completed, and despite Hurricane Irene showing up, the elements which ruined the event were completely controllable. There were some fundamental issues with how the range, and stages were organized which ultimately lead to the non event, and I will not get into those details, it would sour what was a positive experience. There is always good in everything.
Once we got back to Manhattan we decided to have a quick bite to eat at a sushi bar…we laughed, chatted about the day and perhaps entering in the WPFG in Belfast, Ireland in 2013! I gave everyone a big hug, and said goodbye…it was a long sad walk back to the hotel, I miss them all already. The one thing about retirement that they cannot prepare you for is the loss you feel at not being a part of a team. Pete, Raz and JP (you too Pat) were so much fun to hang around, chat with, and I enjoyed every moment! Thanks so much guys…stay safe!!!
***Note – I will update if the organizers post up any stats from the PAP event, and obviously I am on my way home and will not be participating in the PPC event.