Department of Natural Resources
On Sunday, 24 recruits reported to Camp Grayling for week nine of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Academy.
Upon arrival the recruits completed the Army Physical Fitness Test, testing their muscular strength, endurance and cardiovascular respiratory fitness. The recruits would need to rely on their upper body strength and coordination this week as they practiced qualifying with three different firearms.
Week 9 photo: Recruits gather at Camp Grayling, where they spent the week training on issued firearms.
Cpl. Brad Dohm focused physical training on upper body strength exercises, leading recruits through a series of push-ups, triceps dips and sprints.
Monday morning, recruits received their Colt LE6920 rifles for the first time. Firearms instructors taught recruits how to set up rifle slings according to their body size and properly placing the rifle in the sling against their body. The sling must be an exact fit, so the operator can effectively manipulate the rifle for engagement from either side of his or her body.
Recruits spent the afternoon at the firing range, beginning with a briefing on safety and ammunition, followed by becoming familiar with their rifles. Firearms instructors introduced recruits to Battlesight Zero (BZO) – the appropriate rifle settings, based on elevation and wind, that allow the operator to aim a single shot or group of shots at a specific target – and various shooting positions.
After dinner, the recruits learned how to disassemble, clean and reassemble their rifles.
Monday photo 1: Instructors discuss safety and ammunition with recruits before they begin using their firearms.
Monday photo 2: Firearms instructors teach recruits how to appropriately set their rifle sights based on elevation and wind for target aim.
On Tuesday the recruits continued to BZO their rifles and practice firing. Recruits eventually will need to qualify with the rifle for a portion of Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) licensing requirements and DNR Law Enforcement Division standards.
“We practice drills in a controlled environment so that officers can fundamentally rely on those skills if and when the time comes,” said Conservation Officer Jason King. “This means that officers can manipulate their firearms and shoot accurately under heavy stress. Conservation officers can revert to their training through muscle memory – the process is automatic and becomes second nature.”
Tuesday photo: Recruits spend time becoming familiar with their firearms and practicing sight alignment.
After back-to-back physical training sessions Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, the recruits returned to the range to qualify for the MCOLES and DNR patrol rifle standards.
“In the rare occasion that a violent situation arises, COs have the proper firearms training and skills that can save an officer’s life or the lives of citizens that need protection,” CO King said.
After qualifying with the patrol rifles, the recruits were introduced to the Remington 870 police shotgun. Repeating the process, the recruits received instruction to familiarize themselves with the shotgun and then practiced firing to prepare themselves for successful qualification.
Wednesday photo 1: Recruits inspect their results on their targets.
Wednesday photo 2: Instructors provide recruits with target feedback.
Firearms instructors continued training Thursday morning, before the recruits successfully qualified with the 870 shotguns. Following qualification, the recruits were taught how to disassemble, clean and reassemble the shotgun – ensuring the firearm is properly operating.
The final firearms training of the week included pistol training – the recruits repeated the process by learning the fundamentals of marksmanship and then practiced firing with their Sig Sauer P229 .40 S&W pistols.
Thursday photo: Recruits learn how to disassemble, clean and reassemble their firearms – ensuring the weapon is properly operating.
The recruits continued learning and gaining confidence shooting with the Sig-Sauer P229. Following practice, the recruits qualified shooting the MCOLES course of fire, followed by the modified MCOLES course of fire. The modified course consists of drawing the pistol from the holster, accurately acquiring the target and effectively firing, using the learned marksmanship and shooting fundamentals to hit the target.