By ALICIA LEONARD
“If you can see them, they can see you,” explains Sgt. Andy Casavant, of the Walton County Sheriffs Office (WCSO), in the opening minutes of the “concealed live-fire training exercise” last week.
The exercise drew 51 deputies to test their mettle by shooting live ammunition from around and behind objects at targets. Items like mailboxes, fire hydrants and other objects that could be found on the street, provided the deputies with an idea of what one might do to stay alive and take out a target in a crisis situation.
SGT. JOE PORTER oversees a deputy as they learn to switch eyes behind objects in order to shoot from behind cover. (Photo by Alicia Leonard)
State requirements are only 40 hours of training per four years or 10 hours every year. “Safety always comes first and that comes from training. Our force gets two and a half times the training hours mandated by the state,” said Casavant.
“Before we ever get onto the range, like today, we have class time and then we do a dry or inert fire run and then move onto live ammo. It’s very important to the learning process for a deputy to be able to take what they learn from the class room into actual situations and put that knowledge to use,” said Casavant.
Some deputies enjoyed the range activity so much it made them want to become even more proficient with their firearms. “Many of the deputies taking part in the exercise decided they wanted even more practice time on their own and approached Sheriff Johnson about opening the range all the time and he thought it was a great idea, so our exercise helped them not only on the street, but made them want to improve their shooting skills in courses such as this one,” Casavant explained.
The WCSO will also be holding a level-two course on May 10 at the DeFuniak Springs range for private citizens wanting to learn more about home protection and the use of firearms.