Mr. Big Shot

After nearly four decades of shooting bullets at targets, Alan Hornburg finally got his big prize — three gold medals in the 25th annual Canadian-American Police and Fire Games.

Hornburg competed in the large and small bore competition in the event, held July 15 in Spokane.

The large bore competitions involve hunting-caliber rifles. Small bore competitions are done with pistols.

The goal of the competition is to exhaust all your ammo while hitting the target as many times as you can. The closer your shots land to the center of the bull’s-eye the more points you get.

The only problem — the targets are sometimes 400 yards away — the length of four football fields.

Hornburg said the wins are big for him. He won the individual large bore, the two man large bore (where he and a partner’s scores were totaled and compared to other competitors) and the four man large bore. Hornburg said he was randomly partnered in the team competitions with other police officers from across Washington.

“I was really happy. It’s something to show for all the hard work I’ve been doing,” he said of his victories.

Hornburg has been competing in regional and local competitions, practicing once a month at the shooting range and fashioning all his postures for competition.

“I just love to shoot,” he said. “Being able to get out there and have a good time. I like to smell the gunsmoke in the morning.”

One of the keys to making shots that count is breath control, said Hornburg.

“You breathe in, hold it, and squeeze the trigger,” he said. The goal is to stay as still as possible, and holding in your breath will supply that. If you have an unwavering platform to shoot from, your shots will peg the mark.

Hornburg should know.

He started shooting when he was eight years old, tagging along with his dad when he went out to practice. His first shot hit the paper of the target, but it took him a while to crack the center.

For the weekend competition at the Police and Fire games, Hornburg said he hit the bull’s-eye about 10 times to win the gold.

Hornburg appreciates the competition because the shooting practice also helps his work at the Bremerton Police Department.

In his 23 years on the force, he has worked in the divisions of patrol, traffic, accidents, SWAT and crime scene work.

“It’s helped me in tactical aspects,” he said.

Sharpshooting has improved his reaction time, honed his senses and helped him identify targets in ambush situations, he said.

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