“Gun!” police Lt. Dan Makruski yelled, the signal to fire.
And squeeze the trigger I did, sending lead-laden death toward a paper target some 30 yards away.
A .45-caliber Glock isn’t heavy but his .223-caliber law enforcement carbine rifle has heft. The 5.56 mm weapon Makruski slung over my shoulder Wednesday evening is the one he uses in Lorain County SWAT responses and felt like it could hit a bottle cap two football fields away.
I arrived at twilight as Amherst police officers started night training drills at their Cooper Foster Park Road firing range.
Makruski and Det. Zachary Horning, along with Sgt. Mike Rosebeck, put some of the department’s younger officers through exercises designed to test their stamina, accuracy, communication, and coordination skills.
Patrolmen Sanders Sanchez, Brian Griffin, and Brian Bowers were tasked with running laps, then using cover and hitting called targets at close range with their sidearms. The goal was to have speed and accuracy without sacrificing control.
“You have your heart rate up and that’s kind of the point of this,” Horning told the officers.
The last time an Amherst police officer fired a service weapon while on duty was 2008.
The last time I had fired a weapon was sometime earlier — maybe 2004 or 2005, it’s hard to remember — and also at the range with Amherst police officers. That time, it was under the guidance of Lt. Dan Jasinski.
I’d like to think my reflexes were still fairly keen. My grandfather taught me to shoot at a young age (a .22-caliber rifle, nothing fancy). Maybe Pappy Williams would be proud: My target was full of bullet holes after emptying a large clip.
I’ll continue to decline to own my own firearm, though. Let the police be the gun experts; I’ll stick to keyboard and camera.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk and Zachary Horning | Amherst News-Times Editor Jason Hawk takes aim with a SWAT-issue rifle, which made hitting a target at long distance ridiculously easy.