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Local deputies win first place and other high honors in national shooting competition

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From left to right: Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries, Rocky Mountain Nationals presenter, Sgt. Howard Overton. | Courtesy Len Humphries

ST. ANTHONY– Members of the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office put their shooting skills to the test at the Rocky Mountain Nationals in Raton, New Mexico this summer — and it paid off.

“There’s a considerable amount of preparation time spent ahead of the match. Practice, lots of practice. We’ll meet together at the range and run through matches locally,” Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries says.

The local deputies came out on top – taking first and second-place awards for individual, two-man, and four-man team events. Humphries has been sending his deputies to competitions like this for years because he says it refines their marksmanship.

“I use it as a training exercise. I send the top four or five guys,” Humphries says.

Typically deputies attend the National Police Shooting Championships, hosted by the NRA. Because the competition is being held in Mississippi this year, deputies decided to attend one a little closer.

“The firearm is our tool of last resort and while we seldom, if ever, use it, it’s the tool that has no room for error. They have to be proficient with it,” Humpries says.

This was the first time deputies competed in the Rocky Mountain Nationals. The competition was held from July 10 to 13. Various states and several countries were represented in the competition. There were also officers from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S Border Patrol at the match. Humphries says there were at least 100 competitors in attendance.

“You find out real quick if you’ve got the right equipment, if you’ve got the right holster, if ammunition is good quality or not,” Humphries says. “If you have a misfeed or malfunction where it’s a timed (event), you have to clear that and it’s pretty stressful.”

Humphries says the competition puts officers under immense stress, which they’re not able to simulate during an exercise. Fremont County Patrol Sgt. Howard Overton says that’s a positive thing for competitors.

“The biggest way to put people under stress is to put them shooting with other people and under a timer,” Overton says. “That’s one of the big reasons why the sheriff feels that funding this competition and this type of training is beneficial to the safety of the public and the safety of the officers.”

Humphries is proud of all of his deputies’ performances. He says Overton performed exceptionally well and looks forward to his rank increasing at their next competition. Overton ranks as an expert shooter and will likely be moved to master.

“You’ll start out as an unclassified shooter, and then you can move to classified, and then marksman, sharpshooter, expert, master and high master,” Overton says.

Overton shot a personal best during a revolver competition — 1480 out of 1500 points possible which was 48 rounds fired from a 50-yard line.

“You’re shooting about a softball (sized target) from 50 yards away,” Overton says.

Overton took first in the expert aggregate competition. He and Humphries shot in the state and regional two-man revolver events and took first in both.

Humphries says competitions like this are an opportunity for officers to practice skills that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

“As my skills improve so does my ability to better train other officers,” Overton says.

Find out more about the competition here.

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