I have been very busy lately. Last week I was working about 12 hours a day as the lead instructor for my state's Basic Sniper class. Just like the last few years I have helped teach this class, the first day was filled with wide-eyed cops, eager to show what a great shot they were, so they could hang the "Sniper" certificate on the "I Love Me" wall at home.
As is usually the case, there was an ex-military sniper in the group. I hate having these guys in the class; because whenever I slip up and mis-speak during a class, they are always very quick to correct me and make me look bad. I know, I know- I don't hate them, it is just that our military does a VERY good job of training these guys, and it is hard to get across that I have something new to teach them. One thing, military snipers are taught very long range shooting; in police work, the ranges are relatively short. The Army and Marine Snipers routinely shoot out to 1000 meters, where as police snipers practice at 50-300 yards. It is easy for a very well trained military sniper to come into the training and look upon it with some contempt, because the ranges are so much shorter than they dealt with in the military.
However, the difference is that a military sniper's job is to disrupt the enemy; a miss for them is often the same as not shooting, and if they hit their target, say, in the leg, they have accomplished their mission. In the police realm, a sniper only shoots to save someone's life; if the police sniper misses- a hostage, an innocent bystander or a fellow officer will likely die. There is no room for a miss in police sniping, never. In fact, they may be called on to stop someone holding a gun to a hostage's head; the only way to prevent the suspect's trigger from being pulled is to completely shut down the suspect's central nervous system, i.e. a head shot.
Oh boy... I did it again; I'm soap boxing, aren't I?
None of that was very funny, was it? Sorry.
The funny thing that happened was this- the sniper class takes place on a military training base nearby. Last Thursday afternoon, a van pulled up to the range and some military personnel stepped out. I then noticed that one of them had a news-type camera and was taking video shots of everyone. This would have been ok, except for that it was a break time, and there were about 5 cops urinating in the field. One by one they noticed the camera and displayed a variety of reactions. One guy shut down and zipped so fast, I hoped he had not hurt himself, three turned away shyly, and one just finished his business. I admired the last guy's pluckiness, until he admitted that he just had not seen what was going on.
Both of the military, uniformed people (I could now see the one with the camera was female) approached me and asked if I was the lead instructor. I said I was, and they told me that they were from "The Armed Forces Television Network," and were filming an article about civilian usage of military bases. They wanted a sound byte, so they hooked me up with a mike, pointed the camera at me and said, "Could you take your sunglasses and hat off?" Of course I could, the better to see my face around the world! A star in the making! I quickly complied and did the interview, spouting platitudes about cooperation and thanks to the military, blah blah blah.
After the interview, I went up to another instructor and told them proudly that I was going to be on television world wide. He then laughed and said, "Yah, I'm sure the army is in dire need of a training film of the dangers of hat hair!"
I looked at my hair in a car mirror nearby; I might as well have been a screen test for Bozo the clown. I would have been less embarrassed to have been caught going potty.