Officers Test Skills

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SWAT units are getting a workout at the Lauderdale County Training Facility. Officers have come from across the state for an annual competition in physical fitness and target shooting events.

Each team is evaluated on time in the fitness competition and accuracy in the shooting competition.

"We are on the last day of sniper competition," said State Trooper Willard Holifield. "We've been doing some 300 yard shots and right now we're doing an unknown range over there."

The unknown range consists of targets anywhere from one hundred to three hundred yards. Shooters have to run to the site, get in position, while keeping their breathing steady and then making the shots.

Chuck Hinds of the Corinth police Dept. says it really puts the shooters under a lot of stress.

"Short amount of time, and really gets their heart rate up," said Hinds. "They have to run to the location. They have to communicate with other, which targets they are going to shoot, so really putting them under stress."

Hinds says it's all about the breathing technique, and learning to control the body to make those long and difficult shots.

"Each event has different weapons," said Cole Adams of the Mississippi Highway Patrol SWAT. "We all compete against each other but we all try to stay together and just fellowship."

The physical fitness part of the competition was a grueling time for some of the competitors.

"It's good for us to get together like this so that our SWAT operators from all over the state can communicate, can see what other training is going on, what new products are out and it's a good thing all around," said Eric James, training coordinator. "It's a lot of fun."

SWAT units have become an integral part of most police departments in the U.S since the first one was created by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1968.

Federal statistics find that about ninety percent of large cities have them, and about 70 percent of smaller cities do. That makes for about 12 hundred nationwide.