Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Practical Rifle: Segway

The Tri-County Gun Club (TCGC) at Sherwood,Oregon, has a very active Practical Rifle program.

They've been shooting this sport (earlier known as 'Tactical Rifle' until USPSA finally got on the ball with their own Multi-gun and 3-gun organized competition) forever. Okay, maybe it was only the last 15 years, but the dedication of the local adherents of this sport is impressive.

They shoot in the mud, usually. They make competitors crawl through the mud, roll in the mud and sometimes swim in the mud to get from one position to the next.

Did I say "Roll in the mud?" Sometimes they roll through the mud.

Last weekend (Saturday .. and repeated Sunday, March 8 & 9, 2008) the match included a stage where you were required to 'roll through the mud', shooting at targets as you go -- while mounted on a Segway.

The driving force of the program now is Randy S., a local LEO, who sometimes shoots USPSA Pistol. (I remember Randy winning some stages and his division at the 1994 USPSA Oregon Open, a state match before there was more than one Section in Oregon.) It's not that Randy can't shoot USPSA Pistol, it's just that he finds the Rifle competition so much more interesting, challenging, and fun.

Randy often has to design the courses of fire for each match himself, and stage designers are always on the lookout for a gimmick or an element of difficulty that is at least new, preferably unique.

I think he has probably outdone himself in the 'unique' department with the introduction of a Segway as a mobile shooting platform.

You remember the Segway? They were introduced in 2001 after a long period of pre-production marketing; we heard a lot about the word "Segway", but nobody knew what it was. It could have been a financial planning software package, a mobile-telephone plan, a personal airplane or a new brand of bubble-gum. All we knew was that it was going to revolutionize us in our personal life. Turns out that it was a "personal transporter", which was "more than a scooter".

(Note: when browsing the Segway website, note that some of the links will crash your browser. At least, that's what happened to me ... several times ... when using Firefox as my browser. You might have better luck using Internet Explorer to browse the Segway website.)

One of the proposed uses was as a mobility aid for LEO on patrol, suitable for street/sidewalk, beach, parking lot and mall. As such, they were sold to several police agencies that had a patrol responsibility. (They were also marketed for inner-city courier services to replace the bicycle, commuters and shoppers, but that's another story.)

Apparently, an Oregon Police Agency (we're not all deep-woods rain forests here, we actually have cities in Oregon) bought one and it has probably been languishing in a store room for the past several years.

I'm guessing here that 'someone' finally decided that as long as they already owned the Segway, they should explore its utility vis a vis actual high-profile police situations. Specifically: what should be included in the training manual for officers on a Segway who find themselves in a Lethal Threat situation?

Since Randy is a Training Officer in a police department, it seems reasonable that he would be charged with experimenting with the Segway in a contact situation. And what better way than to employ the Segway in a Practical Rifle situation where Time and Accuracy are an intrinsic part of evaluating performance ... and the only 'new' element is the introduction of the Segway as a firing platform?

As I say, I am guessing here. And I don't know if other competitors used the Segway to navigate this Course of Fire. (Randy is the shooter in the following video.)

All I'm saying for certain is: this is what it looks like.

(Everybody is having fun here: even the cameraman is laughing. Note that the Segway 'drifts' while the shooter is engaging targets ... that information would be 'good to know' when training patrolmen to shoot from a Segway.)
UPDATE: 07-JUL-2008

Sorry, the video has been removed from the user. I'll see if I can get a copy of it and post it directly here.

Thanks to Nick for reporting the 'broken link'.

No comments: