Jerry Jackson (right), targets manager at Blackwater USA, explains the infamous Triple Tap target to Law Officer’s Jed Henson (center) and Glock’s Dave Mallery (left). Almost all of the targets used at the 5.11 Challenge are metal knockdown targets provided by Blackwater Target Systems. This type of target gives instant visual and auditory feedback, and it’s a lot more fun to shoot than paper targets. The Triple Tap requires an officer to place two rounds center mass and one to the head. You have to see it to fully understand it, but suffice to say some really skilled shooters do a double take on the Triple Tap. It makes you think.
Dave Mallery (left) shoots inside a specially constructed tunnel under the watchful eye of Glenn Wisser, district manager for Glock and a skilled firearms trainer. The tunnel was built by Bill Berry, 5.11 Challenge director, with input from Wisser, and is designed to provide a low-light shooting environment in the middle of the day. Challenge participants must transition from shooting metal knockdown targets in the daylight to using a backup gun with the aid of a small flashlight. Small targets are situated at the end of the blackened tunnel. The shooter must draw the backup gun from an ankle holster and deal with being suddenly thrust into a low-light environment similar to a darkened warehouse or bar. Departments can easily build this type of tunnel and make it a part of a firearms training regimen.
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During eight weeks in June, July and August, a strange combination of guns, fly-fishing, cops and tactical clothing occurs in Bighorn County, Mont. At a very nice lodge in a little bitty area called St. Xavier (you probably won t find it on most maps), 5.11 Tactical Series holds a competition for law enforcement officers known as the 5.11 Challenge.
Law Officer is a proud sponsor of this event, and last month managing editor Jed Henson and I got a chance to experience the Challenge first-hand during a sponsor weekend. As sponsors, we were treated to a run-through of the entire shooting course, courtesy of Bill Berry, the 5.11 Challenge executive director and a 30-year law enforcement veteran.
Participants in the Challenge are chosen each year using a lottery system. Over the course of several weeks, a total of 32 teams come to the 5.11 lodge for a three-day stay during which they will compete in a shooting course designed to test their skills and thought processes. But they ll also experience something else no other shooting competition has the hospitality of the people from 5.11. The lodge sits right on the Big Horn River, one of the top trout-fishing rivers in the whole country, and when teams are not all wrapped up in the competition, they re floating down that river with a guide trying to outsmart some of the biggest trout around. Or, they re relaxing and swapping ideas with other teams.
The shooting course was designed by Berry, with input from some of the best firearms instructors around. Just as in real life, participants must shoot with handguns, shotguns and assault rifles. This year s competition even requires the use of a backup weapon. Missed rounds and extra time work against your hits, so if you re going to have even a chance of winning, you must find a rhythm that maximizes hits while minimizing time and misses.
Four teams shoot each week. The three top-scoring teams are invited back for a finals competition (on Aug. 25 this year). The first-place team wins $100,000 in gear for their department, while the second- and third-place teams receive $50,000 and $25,000 in equipment, respectively. The Challenge covers expenses for participants.
Check out the latest Challenge results at www.511challenge.com. Also, now s the time to throw your name in the hopper if you want to be considered for next year.