By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
A Stillwater police officer and SWAT team member can now say he is one of the best pistol shots in the state.
Officer Kurt Merrill took first place for pistol shooting at the ninth-annual Oklahoma SWAT Competition at the Oklahoma City Gun Club this month. The competition pitted approximately 80 officers from across the state against one another in a series of individual and team events.
Merrill had to hit head shots, body shots, obstructed targets and moving targets as fast as possible. At the end of the day his time was unbeaten and he went home with a custom, laser engraved Glock 19 handgun, a trophy, a shirt and ammunition coupons.
“I’ve shot since I was a kid,” Merrill said.
His father first taught him to shoot revolvers, working him up to rifles and shotguns. Recently, he has been practicing his gun skills more than usual as he is training to become a certified law enforcement shooting instructor.
Merrill said he wasn’t planning on competing in the individual pistol competition but did so at the urging of other officers. He was surprised at the results.
While others have told Merrill his custom Glock 19 would look great in a trophy cabinet or on a shelf, he has other plans.
“It’s a gun, I’m gonna shoot it,” he said.
The competition was designed to improve teamwork, mental and physical conditioning, and camaraderie between teams from different jurisdictions. It also served as an opportunity to bring teams together and discuss tactics and training techniques.
The SOT from Stillwater consists of officers from the Stillwater Police Department, Oklahoma State University Police Department, Payne County Sheriff’s Department and the Stillwater Fire Department. In addition, the team physician is a volunteer from the Stillwater Medical Center. The Stillwater team finished in a tie for third place out of 10 teams from various state, local and tribal agencies. The Tulsa Police Department took first place followed by the team from the Norman Police Department.