SWAT Teams Tested On Ability

The competition of 30 'SWAT' (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams from Texas, Louisiana and Florida  is underway in Nacogdoches. It doesn't take long watching these competitors that it takes a certain kind of guy or gal to be a SWAT member. They can't mind sweat, dirt and strenuous activity. Grunts and groans of exertion can be heard on each obstacle course.

Competitor Brian Goen described, "It's very physically challenging out here. Some of things we do aren't stuff we do on a normal business day when we're at work." But when duty calls, these officers will be ready.

The Texas Tactical Police Officers Association wants it that way. Judges watch for good physical and mental skills.   President Shannon Couch explained, "(Judges look for) their ability to make good decisions, their ability to discern on rather to use force or not to use force, their ability to communicate with each other to rely on each other's team members to do the different sort of tasks."

The tasks often require lots of upper body strength and stamina. Technique varies. Each member on one team had their own way on the ropes course.   Operations director Terry Nichols said, "It's obstacles that build confidence. You can do it. That's what we're trying to do to get these guys to show that they can do this. It's part of the skill and what an officer need to do."

Nacogdoches Police Department and Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Department hosted the competition. For months they've been helping Paul Howe, the owner of the competition site perfect the obstacles. Howe is owner of Combat Shooting and Tactics, and Triple Canopy, a security solutions company, headquartered in Herndon, Virginia.   The course is Howe's Nacogdoches County workplace. He specializes in teaching combat tactical training.

Throughout his property gunfire is heard. Posters along the roadway warn visitors of 'live ammunition fire'. Couch said, "Marksmanship is very key. If we are going to shoot our weapon we want to make sure we're hitting what we're shooting at." Among the simulations is a sniper fire course.

Competitors in 90 degree weather carry heavy tires to simulate bodies. They then must hit a small target set a lengthy distance. The competition is grueling, but according to Goen, "It's a lot of fun. Tells us how we stand, what we need to improve on, what we're good at. That's why were out here."