“Shooter ready!”

“Ready …”

“Stand by …”

On a cold, blustery morning atop Krueger Hill in Brownwood, about six Brown County Sheriff’s gathered around firearms instructor and fellow deputy Joe Thomas.

Jacket collars were turned up against a strong wind and sock caps covered several of the deputies’ heads. Dark clouds hovered overhead, hinting at rain.

When a visitor joked that it was too cold for the deputies to be outside, deputy Shade Tidwell replied that criminals don’t quit for the weather, and lawmen don’t either.

Thomas said it’s a different type of firearms training from what deputies have previously practiced during their annual firearms qualifications and is based on a system used in other parts of the state.

“We’re going to start having some range days where we come out here and just do firearms drills, to try to (improve) the firearms proficiencies of our officers,” Thomas said.

“It’s new and different for us. The purpose of it is to increase everybody’s accuracy and speed with their shooting. There’s an accuracy standard, and there’s a speed standard, and they have to meet both of those.”

Thomas, the firearms instructor for the sheriff’s office, explained how the shooting drill would unfold.

“All of this is going to be from the 7-yard line except for the last shot … the first one, we’re going to be shooting from the ‘high-ready …’”

Thomas said he would give commands to each deputy, one at a time, then  then click a timer on a small blue box-like electronic device. The box would emit a beep, signaling to the deputy to bring his semi-automatic pistol into firing range and shoot one time.

The device would record how quickly each deputy could fire — and, of course, hit the target.

A few minutes later, Thomas stood behind deputy Terry Sliter and called out commands. When Sliter indicated “ready,” Thomas clicked the timer on the electronic device he held near Sliter’s ear.

Sliter heard the device’s beep, brought his semi-automatic pistol from “high-ready” to firing position and squeezed the trigger.

Deputies took tires firing their pistols — sometimes a single shot, sometimes two, sometimes six.

Deputies don’t want to be in a real-life situation in which shots are fired, Thomas said, but “this is what we’re doing to get us ready for that day if it ever does come.”