The 55th NRA National Police Shooting Championships (NPSC) were held in Albuquerque, NM, this past September. At the match, over 140,000 rounds were fired at approximately 15,000 targets for 18 individual and eight team championship matches. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the country and the world gathered in Albuquerque, NM, to take part in this premier law enforcement competitive shooting event.
U.S. Senior Border Patrol Agent Robert Vadasz once again took the top honors at the championship. For his ammo, Vadasz was shooting Atlanta Arms Elite 9 mm 115-grain for semi-automatic, and for revolver he used the company’s .38 148-grain wadcutter round.
Vadasz’s nine total NPSC wins are certainly impressive, but he has extraordinary company at the top and has his work cut out for him to achieve the most wins in history. Step by step, he’s been working for years to surpass the 10-win NPSC record held by legendary pistol shooter and mentor Philip Hemphill. The finish line is now within sight.
“This victory was the latest step in my ultimate goal of having the most NPSC wins in history. This was the ninth step for me, I have at least two more to go to achieve my goal” said Vadasz. He added, “Philip Hemphill has the record with 10, which is a huge feat. He’s a big mentor of mine—somebody that I really look up to.”
About the Championship
NPSC shooters can participate in four separate categories: Open Class Revolver, Open Class Semi-Automatic Pistol, Individual Service Pistol, and Law Enforcement Shotgun.
A few years back there was a change in the format of NPSC to only one gun. The law enforcement competitors were vocal with their dissatisfaction, and the NRA gave them what they were asking for, returning to the more popular two-gun format in 2016. It is a difficult act to balance: the history of over 50 previous NRA Police Shooting Championships with the need to move the sport into the future.
Vadasz elaborated: “This is a tough sport to run with all the moving parts. The NRA listened to competitors and made the change back to two guns last year. They have been respectful of the history of the sport, while at the same time working on new innovations to move Police Pistol Combat competition forward. They are doing a good job of giving the competitors what they want and bringing new things when possible.”
In the spirit of innovation, the Distinguished Production Championship Match was introduced this year at NPSC. Fired using the NRA National Police Course with an approved production semi-automatic pistol, competitors can earn Distinguished points and after earning 30, they will receive the brand new Distinguished Production Medal.
The keynote speaker this year was Ronald Vitiello, the acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (this agency oversees the Border Patrol). In his speech, Vitiello highlighted the close association between the Border Patrol Pistol Team, NPSC and competitive shooting in general. In fact, the history of the Border Patrol and competition goes far back, beginning when the Pistol Team was founded to compete in bullseye back in the 1930s. This experience is evident in this year’s leaderboard, with a staggering 15 individual NPSC matches won by U.S. Border Patrol Pistol Team shooters.
The NRA Law Enforcement Expo was essentially a vendor show—open daily with booths from some of the companies that make NPSC possible—including GLOCK, Smith & Wesson, Remington Law Enforcement, Ruger and Springfield Armory. Additionally, there were free armorer schools sponsored by GLOCK, Smith & Wesson, Double Star and SIG Sauer.
The City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department were hosts for this year’s NPSC, as they have been for many years. The quality of today’s NPSC would not be possible without their dedicated support. The match itself is conducted at Shooting Range Park operated by the City of Albuquerque. NPSC utilizes a dedicated 100-plus point firing line that was specifically designed for use during NPSC. The City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department also hosted the 2017 PPC Regional Tournament, a popular warm-up match for competitors held just before NPSC begins.
NPSC is the highest level of Police Pistol Combat (PPC) competition. Law enforcement activities such as NPSC encourage officers to practice and enhance their firearm skills through the thrill of competition. The participants use their duty revolvers, semi-automatic pistols and shotguns. Law enforcement officers can assess their skill levels and evaluate the effectiveness of their training programs in competition.
One of the goals of PPC competition is to assist officers at becoming more mentally confident at their jobs. Vadasz was recently named to both the NRA Law Enforcement and Pistol committees, and he hopes to utilize this new role as a platform to continue spreading the word about how PPC (and competition in general) can aid law enforcement.
“I want to impart to my fellow law enforcement officers just how big of a benefit PPC competition can be to them. It’s extremely difficult to be precise when shooting a pistol offhand at 50 yards. When we operate at this level of accuracy, it makes us so much better at what we do. There’s no better way to become more mentally confident and calm. If you know you are confident with your firearm, then you have one less thing to worry about.”
Next year’s NPSC begins with Practice Day on Sunday, September 23, 2018. The Opening Ceremonies will be Monday, September 24, and the championship will conclude on Wednesday, September 26. Learn more about NRA PPC competition and NPSC at lecompetitions.nra.org.
All photos by Peter Fountain