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May 13, 2014 > A hail of virtual bullets

A hail of virtual bullets

By Joe Gold

Hundreds of shots were fired on Tuesday, April 29 in downtown Hayward while local police looked on calmly. It was the police themselves who arranged for 40 citizens to spend an evening shooting gas-cartridge pistols at virtual bad guys.

The evening was a peek inside police work, especially those split-second decisions on whether and when to shoot, served with a generous portion of firearms safety. It was the finale of the nine-week Hayward Police Department Community Academy, an outreach program run by Gale Bleth to help residents and workers in Hayward understand policing in their community.

Featured was the Firearms Training Simulator developed by Larry W. Hambly, a licensed firearms instructor and owner of Security Six, a company that trains security guards, especially in the use of firearms. Hambly ought to know; he is ÒLightning LarryÓ who appeared on the TV show ÒMythbustersÓ as a quickdraw artist who holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark at .172 seconds. Adding accuracy to speed, Hambly also shot a hole through a coin tossed in the airÑon television.

HamblyÕs simulator places a row of armed trainees in front of a screen facing a variety of situations, whether traffic stop, illegal dumping, or domestic violence. The on-screen bad guys respond to shouted prompts from the participants and may or may not draw a gun on the would-be officer. The bad guys will go down if accurately shot in the scenario.

Safety rules for handling and using a gun are emphasized, starting with, ÒTreat every gun as though it is loaded at all times. Never take anyoneÕs word that a gun is unloaded and safe. You can never check too many times.Ó

As a security guard, Hambly said, ÒYou are there to protect property. The gun is there to protect you.Ó But he reminds trainees, ÒBad guys want a victim, not a confrontation.Ó When discussing gun safety, Òwe donÕt use the ÒKÓ word. You shoot to stop or incapacitate an attacker at the targetÕs center of mass.Ó

Hambly underscored ÒcommandmentsÓ of firearm safety:

* Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
* Never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot
* Be sure of your target and whatÕs behind it.
* Leave guns unloaded and open when not in use.
* Keep both guns and ammunition separate and under lock and key.
* As dangerous as alcohol or drugs are to driving, consider them ten times more dangerous when handling a weapon.

ÒOne moment of carelessness can lead to death or serious injury, Hambly warned.

To learn more about the Hayward Police Department Community Academy, visit or contact Crime Prevention Specialist Gale Bleth at (510) 293-7151.

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