SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) - A select few Mid-South cops are spending the week honing their skills in sniper school. It's training officers hope they never have to use, but if they are forced to take aim, missing is not an option.
The job of a sniper is 99% observation and 1% shooting.
"We have to train an awful lot for that one percent if it ever occurs," says Southaven Captain Johnny Cox.
Southaven's police department has five snipers, trained to be ready at a moment's notice.
"A sniper's mission is to gather intelligence, even in bad situations," Cox says. "We are the eyes for the police department. We can see from a long ways away and report what we're seeing."
It takes skill. Officers from all over Mississippi and Tennessee are learning that this week.
Snipers are paired with a partner. Cox is teaching them how to make a good shot no matter what situation they face, from lying on the ground to kneeling or running at targets.
"If you don't keep your skill level up, you won't hit what you're shooting at," he says.
They work everything from drug cases to hostage situations.
Snipers need to be able to handle stress, control their breathing, and not miss. If they do have to fire, Cox says the aim is to save lives.
"If we have to pull the trigger it's not to take a life, it's to save a life," he tells abc24.com. "The public should be glad we have them in the event we need a good shot."
Because that good shot can be the difference between life or death.