Class tries out target practice
By Julie Gerke
Editor’s note: Citizen’s Police Academy is a weekly series by Julie Gerke, who is participating in the local 12-week class that educates adult students on the work and procedures of local law enforcement.
United States Air Force veteran Michael Reining spent four years carrying an M16 rifle and a snub-nosed .38 handgun, so a recent outing to a shooting range was a chance to use muscle memory.
Reining was among members of the Jacksonville Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy and Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA) Alumni who were able to shoot handguns and rifles at the Jacksonville Regional Training Center, near Lake Jacksonville, during a recent weekend class.
JPD’s (Jacksonville Police Department) Deputy Chief Chad Moore, Officer Jarrett Davidson and Detective Luke Poore provided safety lessons and demonstrations before guiding each member with proper stance and grip. Class members, each with an officer at their side, shot both weapon types three times; some members took a second turn.
Everyone within close distance was required to wear ear and eye protection. Officers loaded and racked the slide of each weapon, handing them off carefully to the class members, who then were directed to slide a finger along the barrel and gently onto the trigger.
Class members Michele Fernandez and Melanie Smith had never fired a weapon before. Smith said her first experience was “fun,” laughing she’d aimed at the target’s heart. The handgun seemed “a little weighted because I’m not used to it.”
Fernandez, a bit shaky after her first shots, said shooting the handgun was “scary. … I’m doing it [trying shooting] because I’m afraid of guns,” she said. “I wanted to do something I was afraid of.”
She did not like having the rifle next to her face as she held the butt to her shoulder. “But it was important to at least make an effort to try it,” she said.
The range is within a low spot on the facility grounds, with a high dirt berm at the back. For the class, paper targets were arranged on wooden frames and a steel plate for rifle practice was attached to another frame.
Before anyone approached the range, Moore, Davidson and Poore went over safety rules and explained parts of the weapons. They also explained how to “sight” down the barrel and demonstrated proper grip. Additionally, Davidson demonstrated the difference in sound when a suppressor is added to a rifle barrel.
Class member Jan Prewitt, who has used long guns on squirrel-hunting trips with her husband, described the range experience as “not too bad. … It was fun.” She’d never used a handgun before, however, and said that gun had more “kick” when it was fired.
Reining provides security for his church and has a concealed-carry license that requires requalification every four years. His grandson, Zane Reining, is a new patrol officer in Danville “who grew up always wanting to be a policeman.”
Coming up: A two-part class on active shooters, high-risk encounters