CRESTVIEW — A squad of Crestview police officers and investigators recently took part in a November monthly training exercise for nighttime shooting proficiency.

Their performances on the shooting range led to renewed state law enforcement qualification and certification.

“Bad guys don’t work 9 to 5,” Investigator Shawn Temple, the range safety and training officer during the exercise, said. “We train at night because over half our time is going to be in the evening and at night, and even in daytime, we might be going into dark buildings.”

So, besides the obvious lack of light at night, what’s the difference between night and day shooting?

“Targets look different at night than they do during the day,” Officer Corey Newcomb said.

“We have to be used to the difference in sight perceptions. Targets may look bigger or smaller at night, and distance perception changes at night.”

In succession the officers practiced with handguns, rifles and shotguns at various distances from their targets. After each round at each distance, range training and safety officers, including two investigators and a SWAT team and patrol sergeant, assessed the officers’ accuracy, offering advice and instruction where needed.

Toward the end of the exercise, lights that previously offered a dim glow over the range were completely extinguished and testing resumed in complete darkness, with officers having to provide their own illumination using either flashlights or lights clamped to their weapons.

Patrol and Investigations personnel weren’t the only officers being tested at night. K9 Officer Sonic and his partner, Officer Jay Seals, were tested on another evening.

It is critical that K9s respond to their partners' commands, even with the potential distraction of gunfire.

“When I first got him, he wanted to run in the direction of gunshots,” Seals said. “He was ready to go to work! But being in the thick of it all isn’t always where I need him to be.”

Diligent training paid off. As Investigator Temple ordered, “Fire,” Seals successfully led Sonic through a series of commands behind the line of shooters as the crackle of gunfire sounded nearby. The K9 responded immediately each time, though once or twice he offered an encouraging “woof” just to let his human buddies know he had their backs.

By the end of both evenings, all Crestview officers—two- and four-legged—had qualified for certification.