The San Antonio Marksmanship Unit (SAMU) made their first trip to the National Police Shooting Championships three years ago. At that point, they were a scrappy pack of Texan rookie and veteran competitors who, through the help of their Chief (William P. McManus) and sponsors (like Ingram Park Auto Center), had just formed their team. My how they’ve grown.

“We’ve been receiving a lot more since our first trip to NPSC,” said Patrolman Monico Meneses. “More people on the team, more help from our sponsors and more recognition for our performance.”

More people this year came by way of Lt. Chad Bendele.

“He’s a buddy of mine from the Texas National Guard,” explained team captain Daniel Ernest. “Give him a torch and some steel, and the man can fix or build just about anything. Just wait and see the fire pit he’s building for next year.”

More sponsorship arrived, in one case overnight, from Norden Performance CRS, Fiocchi Ammunition and others. In the overnight case, it was POF-USA that sent SAMU a rifle for the tactical competition in Albuquerque … an important part of the reason why the Unit placed two in the top ten at the match.

San Antonio Marksmanship Unit during the Tactical phase of the National Police Shooting ChampionshipsMaking partnerships with such companies like Fiocchi and POF-USA can be the difference between finishing in the top ten and finishing in the top fifty. It’s because of the supplies. Extra rounds, firearms and time on the range can be expensive. And given the current economic circumstances, most police departments allocate their funds for actual operational equipment instead of shooting teams.

“Being able to actually practice before a competition makes a difference in my performance,” said Meneses. “I think that’s the case for anyone out here. That’s why I love our sponsors.”

Sometimes it makes a difference and sometimes it doesn’t. Equipment malfunctions, targets are overlooked and exhaustion from the road can be havoc with anyone’s performance. That’s just part of the game. One week you’re up and the next you’re out. What you have to look at is the long game. If, overall, your performance continues to improve.

Come Saturday we’ll see just how much the SAMU’s performance has improved as they host the final NRA Tactical Police Competition of the year. Chris Herra will be there with something truly Texas firing on the grill, Melisse will be wrangling her kids while Walter sits back with hopes of adding to his ever growing trophy collection. Once the day begins, however, they put it all aside and hit the course running.

Only question is who will finish first.

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