For the second consecutive year, the Marine Corps Police Department’s shooting team from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow took first place in the 5th Annual Law Enforcement Shooting Competition hosted by Barstow Police Department at its shooting range in Barstow, Calif., April 21.
The competition included two ranges, Range 1 and Range 3, set with barricades and several types of targets at varying distances. In addition, on Range 2 there was a new element called the Dueling Tree. Competitors, and alternate shooters, paired up against one another to shoot at swinging targets with the goal to be the first to swing all six targets to the competitor’s side.
Teams from eight agencies shot each of the two courses and were then ranked according to time. Penalties were allotted for missed shots and shots in the red zones which were off limits. MCLB Barstow’s shooters grabbed first place for a combined team average of 3 minutes and 49 seconds. Second place went to Barstow PD with a time of 4 minutes and 46 seconds.
Once the scores are tallied, the top shooters from each of the eight teams then take another run at Range 3 to compete for the honor of being Top Gun overall. For MCPD, the top shooter was Cpl. Mario Reyes. During his Top Gun run, he earned a time of 2 minutes and 21 seconds. Top Gun went to Det. Tom Lewis with Barstow PD who came in at 2 minutes and 14 seconds.
“(You must) train like you fight and fight like you train,” said Reyes. “In law enforcement, there is no room for second place (in the real world) when fractions of seconds could mean life or death. I thank and give credit to MCPD services officer and OIF/OEF veteran Marine Gunnery Sgt. Charles MacNeil II for his no ‘BS’ training and scenarios which helped hone our skills to the best of our ability.”
With Lewis taking Top Gun, Reyes came in second, and Probation Officer Corrina Medina took third place. Medina, the only woman in the competition, was one of the best shooters that Duran said he has seen since the inception of the event and she made Lewis and Reyes work for their rankings.
“As for me getting 2nd place out of 32 shooters,” Reyes said about his run for Top Gun, “I don’t feel so bad losing to a Barstow SRT professional like Tom Lewis who has held on to his legacy of overall champion for the past three years.”
That was the resounding sentiment amongst all of the competitors.
“No doubt, Tom Lewis from Barstow PD, is a really, really good shooter,” said Capt. Charles MacNeil, MCPD services officer and the shooting team captain. “That’s one of my favorite things about this competition. Years ago, everyone stayed to themselves. This year, the teams were all cheering each other on and recognizing each other from prior competitions. It’s really building that camaraderie that we didn’t have before.”
The sense of camaraderie was evident throughout the competition with team members supporting each other, as well as the shooters from other departments. Still, the highly competitive natures also had team members really working together to prove that their team was the best.
“As a team member of the first place team, my main priority was to do my best and not let my team down,” Reyes said. “For me, it’s about the team members I work with, and the purposed filled mission we’ve been tasked with here. I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the best LE officers and combat veterans America has to offer. They are a team of professionals with a passion to protect life and liberty. I’m honored to be on their team.”
The dueling tree competition, was a fast shoot-out with Cpl. Michael Routson MCLB Barstow’s MCPD coming out on top and winning a gift certificate.
“Props to Cpl. Routson, former Marine and MCPD SRT member, for taking first place in that part of the competition,” said Reyes.
The competition was the brain-child of Dep. Randy Duran with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
“I worked for Barstow PD for about 11 years prior to taking a lateral transfer to the Sheriff’s Office,” Duran said. “During that time, I spent a few years on the Barstow PD’s version of a SWAT team, called SRT (Special Response Team), and at the end of all of our regular training sessions, we would have our own in-house shooting competition for bragging rights. It was a way to challenge each other to do better and was a good morale booster. I always appreciated how that brought our team together.”
He decided he would be a great idea to get more law enforcement departments together in an effort to encourage camaraderie amongst the different departments.
“I approached Capt. Andrew Espinoza Jr from the PD and asked what he thought about getting departments together and having a formal competition and that’s how the event was born,” he said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t make a difference which department you work for, the color of your uniform or the shape of your badge, we are all here to support each other as one law enforcement family and we thought this was the best way to foster those relationships.”
The event committee includes Lt. Justin Witcher, with MCPD on MCLB Barstow, Officer Adam Carmichael with the California Highway Patrol, Sgt. Adam Cortinas with Barstow PD, Officer Steve Mantei with CHP and Deputy Duran with SBCSD with special administrative support from Sabrina Ellis from Barstow PD’s Crime Scene Investigations unit.
“The competition would not be possible without her support,” said Witcher. “Her efforts are greatly appreciated by the committee (and competitors).”
Throughout the year, the committee meets to organize the event, to include designing the next year’s ranges. Duran explained that they all come up with ideas on how to design the ranges in order to challenge the officers in new and unique ways each year.
“The committee members worked extremely hard this year on providing what we felt was a tough and enjoyable course of fire on both ranges,” Witcher said.
Each year more departments get involved and the ranges change to challenge shooters in different ways.
“Every year the courses get bigger, more demanding and put a lot more stress on the shooters,” MacNeil said. “We are looking forward to seeing what they throw at us next year.”
Shooters are already looking forward to training and seeing what the committee has to offer in the 6th annual shooting competition.
“Next year is a new opportunity for fun, training and competition,” Reyes said. “Who knows, maybe we’ll take first in every event next year! Only time and training will tell!”
Story by Laurie Pearson