All week, Philip Hemphill's message and shooting were consistent. The 2007 NRA National Police Shooting Championships (NPSC) would be Hemphill's last attempt at a national police shooting championship, "and I wanted to go out on top."
Hemphill, a captain from the Mississippi Highway Patrol, came through on his promise. He shot a 2974-210X to amass his ninth national police shooting open class championship and his fourth-straight title. Hemphill claimed the three-point win over Kevin Worrell of the U.S. Border Patrol. Worrell shot a 2971-205X to finish in second place.
"Not only is Philip Hemphill a great friend, but he's also one of the finest shooters to ever compete in the National Police Shooting Championships," said NRA President and retired Police Captain John Sigler. "His accomplishments as a competitor epitomize what this championship is all about: training the men and women of law enforcement to perform at their very best on the job."
That sentiment was echoed by all of the competitors at NPSC.
"Philip is a good friend, good shooter, and just an overall good person," Worrell said. "The National Police Shooting Championships will not be the same without him. He will be missed by everyone here."
Approximately 325 competitors from the ranks of federal, state, municipal, and private security agencies, as well as four foreign countries, took part in the matches. The championship is widely considered the world's most prestigious law enforcement shooting competition.
Hemphill won the Revolver 1500 Championship on Monday after firing a score of 1489-113X out of a possible 1500-150X. The Revolver 1500 Championship and the Semi-Auto 1500 Championship make up the Open Class Individual National Championship. A perfect score in the Semi-Auto Championship is 1500-150X.
"I actually felt a little more pressure out there today than I did in previous years," Hemphill said after posting a 1485-97X to finish third in the Semi-Auto Championship. "Maybe it was because I was trying to win it for the last time, like one final shot. I tried to keep it all together and do the best I could."
Even though both Hemphill and Worrell shot well enough to leave NPSC as winners, they knew that their performance was off. "It wasn't a pretty score, but it was good enough to win," Hemphill said.
"I know that I didn't shoot up to my potential and wish I could have done better, but this gives me motivation to improve for next year," said Worrell.
Overall, scores were down compared to last year when Shooting Range Park in Albuquerque, N.M., hosted NPSC for the first time. Bright sunshine, high glare, wind, and significant high-desert dust rattled the most tranquil of NPSC shooters. Though, to champions like Hemphill, it's part of the competition.
"It's all about getting into the proper mindset," Hemphill said. "Clay Tippit said it best when he won his first national championship. He said that people cannot get too excited out there. They need to pretend that they're at their home range shooting. I don't like to say this, but it's true; you need to find a happy place when on the line."
Now with the retirement of Hemphill from NPSC, the likes of Tippit, who finished third with 2971-192X; Worrell; and Semi-Automatic Pistol Champion Robert Vadasz of the U.S. Border Patrol have a chance of becoming the next Hemphill.
"There's a collection of fine shooters out here that could take the place of Hemphill next year," Vadasz said. "But remember, there's only one Hemphill, and you're a fool not to recognize him as one of the best pistol shooters in the world."
In her first ever appearance at NPSC, Dep. Anna L. Bailey of the Richland County Sheriff's Department in Lexington, S.C., won the Woman's Championship. Bailey shot a 2957-186X. Bailey also won High County Honors and High South Carolina New Shooter in the awards category.
Clay Tippit won the NRA Special Aggregate Championship, representing the aggregate of all individual matches fired at NPSC.
In team competition, the U.S. Border Patrol teams won four out of the eight total categories, winning the World Four-Officer, Semi-Auto Four-Officer, Revolver Four-Officer, and Stock Semi-Auto Four-Officer. The team from Long Beach, Calif., won the Revolver Two-Officer and World Semi-Auto Two-Officer. Chicago Police 1 won the Stock Semi-Auto Two-Officer and the Mississippi Highway Patrol won the Semi-Auto Two-Officer.
NPSC enjoys tremendous sponsor support, allowing NRA to offer match and category winners one of the finest prize tables in all of law enforcement competitive shooting. Major NPSC sponsors include: Brownells, Davidson's, FNH USA, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Glock, Heckler & Koch, Remington, Ruger, Sigarms, Springfield Armory, and the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.
Held since 1962, NPSC is just one of many programs directed by NRA's Law Enforcement Activities Division. These programs are supported by the Davidson's Law Enforcement Endowment and the Law Enforcement Training Endowment of The NRA Foundation, which includes a generous $251,000 donation from Brownells, Inc., as well as more than 100 other firearm and equipment manufacturers and businesses.
For more information about NPSC go to www.nrahq.org/law/competitions/npsc/npsc.asp.