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Covington snipers compete with the best

A 38 two-man team competition of snipers/spotters from around the world traveled to Fort Benning last week to compete in the 14th annual International Sniper Competition. Teams from Germany, the Army, the Department of Justice and Homeland Security were all their to compete and amongst those household names were Matt Cooper and Gene Nuqui of the Covington Police Department.

Cooper and Nuqui had heard about the competition and decided that they wanted to compete. Their main goal was to train hard and learn some tricks of the trade. So they did, but they also managed to place 29th in the competition beating out teams from Germany and South Korea and finishing two spots behind the team from Homeland Security.

“We beat a lot of guys that do it full time,” Nuqui said.

Both Cooper and Niqui served in the military, but only Cooper had been a sniper, so he knew what to expect. However, Cooper served as the spotter for the most part in the competition and Niqui served as the sniper. The event is full of tough physical activities that go beyond spotting and shooting. The competitors had to run while carrying all of their equipment among other things.

“One of the things that did make it challenging was in the evenings there was a lot of physical stuff. We found ourselves sweating a lot, and then we’d be somewhere at a range waiting and all of our clothes would be wet and then it’d drop down to 40 degrees. So we were cold and wet even though the weather was decent,” Nuqui said.

At one point during the competition, the teams spent 48 hours straight doing nothing but events. Nuqui said the event tested he and Cooper’s physical and mental abilities.

“They make everything really difficult. One of the things you learn is the imitations of your equipment. No matter how good your equipment is, there’s going to be some places it doesn’t work,” Nuqui said.

Nuqui said that he and Cooper brought night vision, but weren’t prepared for night vision with fog. Nuqui said one of the things they learned was that you can’t rely too heavily on our equipment. The two faced different conditions for the events. There was day shooting, night shooting, some moving targets and some still targets with distances at least 1,000 meters away.

“A lot of this stuff is stuff we’ll probably never have to do in real life, like shoot someone 900 meters away. That’s one side of Covington to the next,” Nuqui laughed.

Nuqui said he and Cooper appreciated the opportunity to train harder than what a situation might be that they actually face. It keeps them prepared.

“We learned a lot,” Nuqui said, stating that the competition was a valuable experience for them.

“Take the competition out of it. We were told upfront by the chief he was like, ‘I don’t care. I’m not worried about how you guys do. Go there and learn.’

“That (the experience) was more important than competition or the placing itself,” Nuqui said. “When you’re around those guys, you pick up a lot from them just seeing the way they do things.”

Nuqui detailed one event that required him to shoot from cover while there was purple smoe almost directly in front of him, blinding him from the target. Nuqui said that in order to shoot in situations such as those, he had to find holes in the smoke, which requires patience and the ability to read and react quickly.

“It teaches us to be prepared for all this stuff. Because we might have something happen out here (Covington) and you might have to stay on scene for who knows – 48 hours or something. It’s a good lesson. It was a good time, for sure.”