NATICK, Mass. -- One moment, he was writing a ticket. The next, he was drawing his 9-millimeter pistol out of its holster and firing at an assailant using deadly force.

That scenario played out repeatedly Oct. 16 at a shooting range in Medfield, Mass., where U.S. Army Garrison-Natick Police and Security Guards continued their recent "active-shooter" training by live firing their sidearms and 12-gauge shotguns.

"We want to make sure we're teaching them how to properly do these things," said USAG-Natick Police Lt. Dave McCrillis. "And then, if we build it into muscle memory, they'll do it under stress. That's the key for us, and that's what the range is about."

The days when Natick police and guards would stand still and fire at paper targets have given way to real-world training that better prepares them for armed opponents.

"Everything was static before," McCrillis said. "Now we're trying to get people shooting and moving."

Lieutenant Andy Parke said that kind of response had to become second nature for police and guards as they protect life and property.

"You need to be prepared," said Parke over the sound of gunfire in the background. "I may be standing there writing a ticket, and something happens right next to me in a matter of seconds."

Guard Sean Keough found the range session useful.

"They're doing a great job with it," Keough said. "It's more practical. It's what we might actually have to deal with. What they're doing here is more of the close-quarter combat style."

The recent trip to the range combined weapons qualification with preparations for an active-shooter situation on the installation, said Lt. Jim Santoro.

"It's all baby steps," Santoro said. "What we do is, we crawl, walk, run. It's all about training."

According to Santoro, the training began with more than a week of classroom work. At the range, the Natick police and guards practiced shooting on the move, as they would against an actual active shooter.

"It's act versus react," McCrillis said. "This isn't marksmanship training. It's just giving them some tactics to use to quickly go in and neutralize the threat. You have to have the mindset where you're the first-line protector."

Eventually, Natick's protectors will use "simunitions" against mock terrorists in scenarios to come as close to the real thing as possible.

"If we do this training right, we'll get them thinking," McCrillis said. "They've got to process a lot of information quickly under a lot of stress."

Page last updated Tue October 19th, 2010 at 09:08