The 44th NRA National Police Shooting Championships (NPSC) were held at a brand new range and drew many new competitors, but the national champion was an old familiar face. Lt. Philip Hemphill of the Mississippi Highway Patrol shot a score of 2988-197X, out of a possible 3000-300X, to win a record eighth title in this police pistol combat event.
Held for the first time in Albuquerque, N.M., after years in Jackson, Miss., the event drew more than 330 competitors, including officers from Germany, Russia, Canada, Venezuela, and the Czech Re-public. Shooters fired on a new, state-of-the-art facility in Albuquerque’s Shooting Range Park, made possible with $1.4 million in funding and vigorous support from New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Mayor Martin Chavez.
Veteran NPSC shooters found the new venue drier than the matches held in Jackson, but not without challenges: gusty winds, bright sunshine, high glare, and significant high desert dust demanded the best that shooters had to give.
Hemphill trailed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Robert Vadasz by two points after the revolver 1500 competition, but he managed to pull ahead in the semi-auto 1500 match. The National Police Champion is based on an aggregate of the revolver 1500 and semi-auto 1500 championships. Customs and Border Patrol Agent Clay Tippit placed second overall with a score of 2982-206X, while Vadasz placed third with a score of 2979-197X.
With his eighth overall victory in this tournament, Hemphill became only the second competitor to win the police championship three times in a row. “I had a hard time finding the X ring because of the glare, but adjusting my blinders to account for the direction of the sun helped a lot,” says Hemphill. He dedicated his victory to his wife, who was home recovering from recent surgery.
Representing the U.S. Border Patrol, Agent Gina Hernandez became the new Woman Champion with a score of 2950-159X. Hernandez previously won the Women’s Championship title in 2001. This year, she defeated the defending champion Dorcia Meador of the Ft. Worth Police Department by a single point, with Meador scoring 2949-139X. Hernandez, from Roswell, N.M., couldn’t quite claim home field advantage. “I normally practice on a covered range, so the high glare here was a challenge,” she says.
In team competition, the U.S. Border Patrol teams nearly swept all the categories, winning the four-officer competition in both semi-auto pistol and revolver, the two-officer semi-auto pistol category and the four-officer World Championship, ahead of Germany and Canada, respectively. The Mississippi Highway Patrol won the two-officer revolver category and the two-officer World Championship.
The effort that some international teams made to compete at the event was well-characterized by Col. Victor Filippov, captain of the three-man Russian team. Filippov said they flew from Tyumen to Moscow, then another 12 hours to Atlanta. Then they changed planes again and flew into Albuquerque.
“This kind of shooting is just starting to grow in Russia,” Filippov says, “so we lack a national competition like this. It’s the best shooting range I’ve seen in my life,” he adds. “It is very beautiful.”
Complete match results will soon be available at www.nrahq.org/competitions.