By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Shots rang out and cut through the silence of the morning air on Friday as law enforcement from agencies across the region gathered for the Dale DeBerry Police Pistol Competition in Norman.
The competition was hosted at the Norman Police Department’s firearms range where 20 spots lined the range waiting for shooters to begin the first match, for the targets to turn and for the shooting to begin.
Norman Police Sgt. Shon Elroy said the competition is an opportunity to expose officers to a stressful shooting situation and mimic the stress that could be experienced during a real shooting situation while on duty. The competition also helps firearms instructors, he said.
“Many officers also teach firearms, so it’s one of the best ways to prepare firearms instructors,” Elroy said.
Sgt. William Crews, who won the shotgun competition Thursday, said a large portion of the Norman police team are firearms instructors, so it helps them train their officers through the lessons and techniques learned while competing.
“In the very unfortunate case that they may need their gun on the street, they’ll be able to do it effectively, not put anybody else at risk, defend themselves and go home at the end of the day,” Crews said.
He also said since the competition brings in shooters from several states, they are able to compare techniques and talk about things that worked or didn’t work. It also gives them a sense of camaraderie at something that’s worthwhile and fun, he said.
“My favorite part is to do well on the line,” Crews said. “It is a lot of hard work, it is a lot of practice time and you spend hours of a day in preparation, but when you get on the line and do well, it makes you feel exhilarated that your skills are where they need to be to win.”
Forty-nine competitors participated in the event this year, which Norman has been hosting for about 10 years, Elroy said.
As the first 19 competitors took their position at the line, with the first rounds shot from seven yards away, you could see each and every officer standing ready to shoot, some with their hands near their holsters anticipating the turn of the target.
The 1,500 point match, which is the main match, included five stages of shooting — the first being seven yards away from the target and moving back to 15, 25 and 50 yard lines, shooting 150 rounds.
Each line required different shooting positions. For example, from 50 yards away, one match included shooting from a sitting position, lying down and shooting from behind a wooden post on each side.
Those partnering with the Norman Police Department for the competition kicked off the event shooting the first six rounds. Partners included Republic Bank and Trust, David Stanley Chevrolet and American Armory and Tactical. University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops also joined in for the first six rounds and spoke to the competing law enforcement agencies.
“I’m honored to have a chance to be here just to show my appreciation and respect for the great job you guys all do,” Stoops said. “Thank you for the Norman people here for what you do in our community, and thank you for the rest of you for what you do for all of your communities.”
He told the officers he really admired them for what they go up against every day. Also knowing there were some Texas law enforcement there competing, Stoops joked about the states’ rivalry.
“I hate to say it, all those guys from Texas, I hope it ends up like it did last year,” he said as laughter spread through the crowd. “Just had to throw that in for a little bit of laugh, but anyway, thanks again for being here. Have fun and good luck with everybody in the competition.”
State Rep. Scott Martin also thanked the officers. Martin was there as a partner representing Republic Bank and Trust, as well as a representative of Norman.
“I just want to thank you for the work that you do day in and day out to keep our community safe. We are honored and privileged to have folks like you that are willing to make the sacrifice every day not only personally, but also with your families,” Martin said.