SIGHTING IN ON: The North Suburban Police Pistol League

1_sighting_in_on_nsppl400x300

SIGHTING IN ON: The North Suburban Police Pistol League

By Steve Tracy

Keep your skills up by competing outside your own department

The North Suburban Police Pistol League (NSPPL) was formed decades ago by police officers who shot bullseye competition. This one-handed target shooting at round bullseyes 25 yards away was the standard back in the day. Cocking the hammer of double-action Colt and Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolvers for each single-action shot was all about accuracy. Squeezing the lighter single-action pull to place a bullet in the x-ring each time was the goal of the bullseye style.

The times changed and the NSPPL expanded to include combat-style shooting using a two-hand hold and firing from standing, kneeling and barricaded positions. More recently, off-duty competition using shorter barrel handguns (4 1/4-inch or less) drawn from concealment has become quite popular.

Named because it was based in the suburbs north of Chicago, the NSPPL functions today as a non-profit organization with a President, Vice-President, and Secretary/Treasurer. By-laws regulate the league and regulate the manner in which each function is handled.

Police pistol leagues (or any kind of police firearms league) are an excellent way for officers to practice and improve their shooting skills beyond their own department’s abilities. Many departments do not offer the kind or amount of shooting the police firearms enthusiast desires. A local league can supplement good training and practice and it can also expand greatly on poor training and practice. The camaraderie among fellow officers is a bonus benefit, along with the exchange of different ideas.

 

Membership

The NSPPL allows civilians to shoot in the league, but these associate members must be sponsored by a sworn officer and attend a mandatory safety class. They also have a probationary period to make sure their shooting is safe.

Depending on the number of members, several ranges may be needed to accommodate the number of shooters and spread out dates for any given match. The NSPPL utilizes three police-department firing ranges and range officers from each of these departments to operate and run the ranges.

Set up, scoring, and clean up are handled by volunteer workers who are members of the league. Score sheets for each match are delivered to the Secretary/Treasurer along with the paid match fees. E-mail makes it easy to notify all members of their scores after they have been recorded. A spreadsheet of everyone’s scores keeps members abreast of how they’re doing, as well as letting them know if their competition is tight.

If a police department has at least three members shooting in the league, then they are considered their own team. Team awards are earned along with individual trophies and all are presented at the end of the season.

 

Raffle Prizes

Every shooter needs to post 10 matches in the category in which they are competing (Bullseye, Combat, or Off-Duty) during the season (which runs from September to April). A total of 15 matches can be fired, with the five worst scores being dropped. If a shooter fires 12 matches, then the worst two would be dropped to tabulate the average score.

Shooters are issued a raffle ticket for each venue they fire at least 10 matches in. A second raffle ticket is issued if the maximum of 15 matches are fired during the season. If a member competes in at least two different venues, then a bonus ticket is also issued. As an example, if a competitor fires 15 Combat and 15 Off-Duty matches, then two tickets per venue, along with a bonus ticket, will be issued, totaling five tickets. Seven tickets is the maximum for shooters competing in all three venues with the maximum 15 matches per venue.

Annual membership dues are $20 and each match fee is $7. Most shooters will fire three matches when they come to compete and some may stay and “get back in line” and shoot an additional three as long as there is time.

All dues and fees collected are used to cover expenses (insurance, targets, score sheets, etc.) and awards. The remaining amount is used to purchase firearms for the raffle at the end-of-season banquet. This is where the shooters’ raffle tickets earned during the season come in. The more an officer shoots, the more of a chance there is to win a gun in the raffle. The incentive is to shoot as much as possible so as to have a better chance of winning the raffle. During a recent year when there was an upswing in competitors, the raffle tables had over 50 firearms displayed with their vouchers.

When a winning name is drawn from hat of tickets, that lucky winner gets to walk up and choose the voucher for the firearm he/she wants. Everyone has time before dinner to look over the choices. There are often vocal cheers and jeers when a winner picks a certain prize. The voucher is redeemed at a later time at a gun store to complete all legal paperwork.

In addition to the competitor’s raffle, there is also a worker’s raffle. Per the by-laws, a portion of the raffle prizes are separated and only those who worked during the course of the year can win them. These workers ran the range line, scored targets, set up or cleaned up, or performed other necessary league functions as volunteers. Again, an incentive for volunteering is provided by this special raffle. The more one volunteers, the more chances there are to win a gun. Other prizes such as shooting accessories and gift certificates are often included on the raffle tables as well.

Award trophies are also announced at the banquet for numerous categories in each style of shooting competition. There are even combined score awards for those who shoot in several disciplines.

The awards banquet is a highlight of the year. Raffles for non-shooting spouses makes the event a dinner that everyone can attend, and there are sometimes playing card and 50/50 raffles as well.

 

Snub Nose, Long Range, and 3-Gun Matches

The NSPPL will sometimes hold special competitions if range time allows and there is enough interest. A snub-nose match is popular for officers to have a chance at competing with their five-shot revolvers or short-barrel backup semi-automatic pistols.

With access to a long-distance rifle range, the NSPPL holds a summer F-Class scoped rifle competition. There has also been a 3-Gun competition where officers combine the use of a handgun, rifle and shotgun. Both of these competitions last several weeks and are run in the same manner as the pistol league.

 

A Lot of Work, But It’s Worth It

Establishing a successful police pistol league is lot of work. But, the reward is well worth the effort. Bringing officers together who share an interest in firearms and tactics provides excellent networking. All police officers benefit from more shooting and the stress induced by competition can pay off on the street. A little friendly competition is always fun and the conversations before and after the actual shooting are beneficial as well. PM

 

COURSE 1: The Combat Police Pistol Course of fire will consist of the following:

STAGE A – Twelve (12) rounds in twenty-five (25) seconds, fired at seven (7) yards, two hands, double action and twelve (12) rounds in twenty-five (25) seconds, fired at fifteen (15) yards, two hands, double action.

STAGE B – Eighteen (18) rounds in ninety (90) seconds, fired at twenty-five (25) yards. The first six (6) rounds kneeling, second six (6) rounds standing, weak-hand barricade and the last six (6) rounds standing, strong-hand barricade. Then six (6) rounds in twelve (12) seconds fired at twenty-five (25) yards two hands, double action, no support.

All rounds will be fired on an N.R.A. B-27 type target. A new target will be used for the first twenty-four (24) rounds of Stage A and a fresh target will be used for the second twenty-four (24) rounds of Stage B. Only hits in the seven (7) Ring or higher will

be scored.

At the beginning of each stage, the weapon must be secured in the shooter’s holster and the retaining device fastened. No part of the competitor’s hand may touch the weapon or holster until the target starts to turn. All reloading will be done with ammunition taken from the competitor’s magazine or speedloader pouches. A competitor will need a minimum of three (3) magazines or speedloaders to compete in this match properly. All magazines will only be loaded with six (6) rounds as this course of fire is revolver friendly.

 

COURSE 2: The Off-Duty Match (barrel length of 4 ¾ inches or less) will consist of the following:

STAGE A – Three (3), two-round strings fired ay four (4) yards, with a time limit of four (4) seconds per string, for a total of six (6) rounds. The range officer will call the first two-shot string and the shooter must react to the turning target for the second and third strings. This is followed by two (2) three-round strings fired at seven (7) yards, with a time limit of seven (7) seconds per string for a total of six (6) rounds. Two (2) rounds are fired to the center mass and one (1) round to the head. There is an F.B.I. “Tee” printed on the head of the target. All rounds touching the “Tee” are counted as an X. All other head shots count as a 10. There can only be a maximum of two (2) rounds striking the head area per target. Excessive rounds will be counted as a miss. This is followed by twelve (12) rounds fired at ten (10) yards with a time limit of twenty (20) seconds, for a total of twenty-four (24) rounds per target.

STAGE B – Three (3), two-round strings fired ay seven (7) yards, with a time limit of four (4) seconds per string, for a total of six (6) rounds. The range officer will call the first two-shot string and the shooter must react to the turning target for the second and third strings. This is followed by two (2) three-round strings fired at ten (10) yards, with a time limit of seven (7) seconds per string for a total of six (6) rounds. Two (2) rounds are fired to center mass and one (1) round to the head. There is an F.B.I. “Tee” printed on the head of the target. All rounds touching the “Tee” are counted as an X. All other head shots count as a 10. There can only be a maximum of two (2) rounds striking the head area per target. Excessive rounds will be counted as a miss. This is followed by twelve (12) rounds fired at fifteen (15) yards with a time limit of twenty (20) seconds, for a total of twenty-four (24) rounds per target.

All rounds will be fired on a N.R.A. B-27 type target. A new target will be used for the first twenty-four (24) rounds of Stage A and a fresh target will be used for the second twenty-four (24) rounds of Stage B. Only hits in the seven (7) Ring or higher will be scored.

At the beginning of each stage, the weapon must be secured in the shooter’s holster and the retaining device fastened. No part of the competitor’s hand may touch the weapon or holster until the target starts to turn. All competitors will wear a vest or windbreaker to cover their weapon and loading devices. All reloading will be done with ammunition taken from the competitor’s magazine or speedloader pouches. A competitor will need a minimum of two (2) magazines or speedloaders to compete in this match properly. All magazines will only be loaded with six (6) rounds as this course of fire is revolver friendly.

 

COURSE 3: The Bullseye Camp Perry Course of fire will consist of the following:

STAGE 1 – Ten rounds in five minutes at a distance of 25 yards. (Slow Fire)

STAGE 2 – Two strings of five rounds in twenty (20) seconds per string at 25 yards. (Timed Fire)

STAGE 3 – Two strings of five rounds in ten (10) seconds per string at 25 yards. (Rapid Fire)

All rounds will be fired on a (B8) 25-yard Timed/Rapid fire target. A new target will be used for each stage of fire. Only hits in the five (5) ring or higher will be scored.PM

Steve Tracy is a 26-year police veteran with 24 years of experience as a firearms instructor. He is also an instructor for tactical rifles, use of force, less-than-lethal force and scenario-based training. He can be reached at steventracy@hendonpub.com.

Back to Top