By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
The shack grew silent. A few shooters with hangdog expressions shuffled out the door.
(There has never been an accident at the academy, according to Blaschik. But tonight a malfunctioning bullet lodged itself in the barrel of his 9mm Beretta. Had he pulled the trigger a second time, the gun would have exploded in his face. "Only an idiot would have kept shooting at that point," he remarked, tapping away at the stubborn bit of brass as he sat in the bed of his pickup truck.)
Ruiz shifted nervously in his brown leather loafers. "I've never done one-handed before," he said. Then he stepped up to the firing line and placed a loaded magazine into his Glock .34.
17650 SW Eighth St.
West Dade, FL 33194
With the beep of Blaschik's timer, Ruiz ran toward the first shooting station, drawing and aiming his loaded pistol in a fluid motion. He took a firm stance behind a pile of oil drums, popped off two shots clang clang and scurried for the next station a few feet away. Ruiz hit everything he needed to in 50 seconds flat, his left hand tucked neatly behind his back.
Not a bad time, though he opted to penalize himself for missing one of his targets. "That's an extra ten seconds," he sighed. His penalty is rather arbitrary. Nothing is at stake tonight save the prestige associated with being the deadliest shot in the shack.
On the grassy lawn outside, the city's private law enforcement community talked shop. Willy, a brick-jawed ex-cop with spiky black hair and a superhero's build, explained how to narco-train a K-9 unit: "You put the coke/heroin/weed in a PVC pipe and get the dog to play fetch with it. Then he thinks it is his toy."
As darkness crept over the combat course, many of the academy's less dedicated pupils began packing up and heading home. The rest continued to spray bullets down-range, their muzzles flashing and crackling in the gloaming.
"I love it, I do it, I like it, I have fun," said Pedro Reyes, an enthusiastic construction worker wearing a black baseball cap with the word infidel scrawled in Arabic. Reyes, who has left work every Thursday afternoon at two for the past six months, is an excellent shot.
When asked what brings him and his Glock to the Everglades, he begins, "I have fun, and living in this crazy town." Before he can finish his thought, he's called up to the line for his final run.