Odessa Police Academy recruits practice at gun range

Odessa Police Department range master and Sgt. Carlos Chavez has trained every Odessa Police Academy recruit in their use of firearms.

Chavez said his initial assessment of seven recruits for OPA’s 22nd session is “they are green.”

However, Chavez explained the recruits are soaking up information that has translated to safer use of their respective firearms.

“A lot of them haven’t shot a lot, so we have had to do more basic training with them,” said Chavez, who has served as range master since 2003 and has been a firearms instructor since 1994. “I’ve had other academies where there are people that have plenty of experience, but not in this class. We’ve spent more time on fundamental shooting.”

One recruit familiar with firearms is 24-year-old Miguel Guerrero. He said that prior to beginning OPA that he needed firearms training while working for the state prison.

Guerrero said every recruit can benefit from learning from Chavez’s wealth of knowledge.

“It’s awesome to have someone with so much experience teach you,” Guerrero said. “He’s been through a lot and everything that he tells us, he tells us for a reason. He’s been there and done that.”

Odessan Taylor Martin, 21, said he had limited experience with firearms prior to the police academy, but he explained that he has been a sponge throughout the week, soaking up as much information as he can.

Recruits practiced firing at targets while kneeling, laying on their left and right side, seated position, prone, walking to and from the target.

“It’s been a really good experience,” Martin said. “It’s good to learn how to properly handle a firearm safely to not only keep us safe but to keep the public safe as well. We have to make sure that we are doing everything the proper way.”

Guerrero explained that every person needs continuous training and practice with firearms.

“You can never be too comfortable with a gun,” Guerrero said. “It’s always good to be repetitive. It’s not good to be comfortable.”

The seven recruits for the 22nd session of OPA are scheduled to graduate at 3 p.m. July 23.