Amateur Hour

A week ago, I watched a timed shooting event at the club that tolerates my presence. It involved five-man teams who were required to run down a 50-yard hill, then up another 50-yard hill, grab five rounds of ammunition, run back to the firing line and shoot, offhand, at a 1/3-size target of a bighorn sheep. I watched with delight as a couple of them frantically hauled on the triggers after shooting the first time, not realizing that they had failed to work their actions to get a second shot into the chambers.

Stress is the great finisher of the unpracticed shooter. After the battle of Gettysburg, 27, 574 muskets were collected from the field. Of these, 24,000 were loaded; 12,000 were at least double-loaded, and of these, 6,000 had anywhere between 3 to 10 charges down the barrel. The soldiers who had left them behind were so terrified that they loaded without realizing they were not firing.

Last week, a New York City judge returned a not guilty verdict in the trial of three detectives who had fired 50 rounds at a car with three unarmed men inside it. One of the three detectives fired a total of 30 rounds--a whole magazine, reload, then another one--with no return fire coming at him. I'm not entitled to pass judgment on people who wear badges, but this does not sound like New York City has a training program that amounts to anything. Overall, in actual combat, the NYPD has a hit ratio of 20 percent--two hits for every ten shots they fire.

If you knew that the surgeon who was about to operate on you got 20 percent of all his test questions right in medical school, how happy would you be about it? I think Mayor Bloomberg, who is concerned about the misuse of handguns, should chip in a few billion and buy his police force enough practice ammo for them to become competent.