Posted: Oct 20, 2011 11:49 AM
Updated: Dec 2, 2011 3:12 PM
KINGSVILLE - It's gun training to the extreme. Precision rifle instruction, also known as sniper training, is taught to civilians just outside the Rio Grande Valley.
"We have no foreign students at all, with the exception of allied military units that either come here to use the facility or to get a little bit of training," said Jacob Bynum, director of Rifles Only. Civilians learn to shoot from anywhere: houses, buses, brush.
"Anytime you get behind a trigger, no matter what type of weapon it is, you increase the lethality of you as an individual," said Mark Melbourne, student and soldier. Melbourne took the training on his own. The military did not pay for it. He said it would help him in his service.
"It's new to me. I have never had to do this. For the average person, they'll never do it. It's just a lot of fun and it teaches you a lot of interesting stuff," said Dan Tuller, student.
Tuller works at a John Deere shop in Iowa. He and everyone else in the class were taught how to shoot a moving target hundreds of yards away in any weather condition. The citizens were trained how to aim under extreme pressure.
"Cover provides you limited protection from whatever from projectile, shrapnel or whatever the case may be," said Bynum to the students.
"It's a free country. We can if we want and don't have to if we don't want to," said Jonathan Mizner, student and arms dealer in Florida.
"It's something that's enjoyable. It's something that we have a right to do. It's a skill. It's a hobby and interest, and it's fun," said Mizner.
He has no law enforcement training; no military background. To him, sharp shooting is a sport.
"Why does anyone need to practice a sport? Why be good at football? Why ride a bike or something? It's a matter of simply you have a passion, you enjoy it. Go do and you want to be better at it," said Mizner. The students get better at war games. "The longer you sit there, the more chance you have to get shot," said Bynum to the students.
The instructors, like Bynum, train military around the world and law enforcement agencies across the United States similar tactics.
"If you can make a precision shot at these ranges, the actual ranges we'll have in operation will seem up close and real easy," said Chief Fred Deltorchio, Hercules City Police Department, California. The Hercules, Calif., police officer said they've never had to use their sniper teams to take out a suspect, but it's important to be ready. "Just because you can shoot somebody from this far away doesn't eliminate the need for you to establish the need for deadly force," said Deltorchio.
Bynum said he hasn't seen police from the Rio Grande Valley use the neighboring facility in many years. Most of his Valley clients have no law enforcement affiliation.
"We have quite a few clients from the Valley who come up here for our long-range competition," said Bynum. He said he must make sure clients come here for the right reasons. He doesn't want to train someone to commit crimes.
"The thing about it is, any class you take will have at least one or two law enforcement officers in it. It's been established who the training is for. It's not for elements that we do not want to train," said Bynum.
He's never trained anyone from Mexico. Military outside the United States has special restrictions.
"By the time a foreign unit gets here, they've had to do so much to bring their equipment in, so they've already cleared it with the state department and various other hurdles that they would have to get through," said Bynum.
Bynum doesn't ever expect the Mexican military to use his facility. He says he runs each applicant through a strict self-screening process.