Inside the Academy: Highway Patrol Recruits at Shooting Range
As soon as March or June, a new class of Highway Patrol troopers will graduate and be put to work in North Dakota.
They have to go through extensive training before they get on the Patrol.
We have shown this class of recruits both in and out of the classroom.
But safety and hands-on training is never so important as when handling a firearm.
Take a look at the recruits learning how to use a handgun at the range.
Instructors at the Highway Patrol Academy teach all of their recruits as though they have never fired a gun before.
"We start just with their stance, their grip, proper sight alignment, trigger squeeze, everything." says Sgt. Steven Johnson, Training Coordinator.
For Michelle Quiles, it's easy to start from the beginning.
This is her first time ever firing a handgun.
"It was nerve-wracking, and then once I started doing it, it got more exhilarating..." says Quiles.
"Sometimes it's easier if they've never shot before because they haven't developed those bad habits that we have to counteract." says Sgt. Steven Johnson, Training Coordinator.
Sgt Johnson says the best habit to develop is safety and respect for the firearm.
"Rule number one is treat every firearm as though it's loaded." says Sgt. Johnson.
A loaded weapon that needs to be handled by someone who knows what they're doing in the most dire of circumstances.
"We try and train them real world scenario that when they're out there on their own, they can take care of anything that's thrown at them." says Sgt. Johnson.
During training, Sgt. Johnson stays close, but he aims to get the recruits ready to draw their weapon on their own.
"When their gun goes empty they should reload it, if it malfunctions, they need to know how to clear it, there's nobody else out there." says Sgt. Johnson.
"I would hope that I never have to but you have to prepare for anything." says Michelle Quiles, Recruit.
Instead of standing still and shooting at a stationary target, this movement teaches the recruits decision-making and precision.
"For their safety as well as everyone else around there, that they be able to deliver those rounds as effectively as possible, God forbid, they are faced with making that life or death choice." says Sgt. Johnson.
Instructors want the recruits to fire a thousand times before graduation.
"Well, practice makes perfect and so when it comes to me having to actually use that gun, I'll be more confident, and I'll be able to come home at night." says Michelle Quiles, Recruit.
The recruits also learn the benefits of wearing a bulletproof vest during training.
That is the last target the recruits were aiming at.
The future troopers get to inspect the vest after it was fired at dozens of times and find that it was still intact.
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