Al Victor Espino had been to firing ranges since he was a teen.
“It’s an HK hold,” he says when a shooter grips the forward side of the magwell, below the action.
While his tone is even, he becomes animated when talking about practical shooting, for him a hobby and a passion.
The HK hold, he says, makes you face your enemy squarely only if you have body armor protection, he says as he raises both arms and plants his feet in a semi-squat position, like in an Israeli shooting stance, to demonstrate it.
Al Victor is now a councilor on a fresh three-year term. He had already finished three full terms of three years each but lost in the 2016 polls.
He says he prefers the C clamp, a rifle hold popularized by US Coast Guard operative and now celebrity firearms instructor Chris Costa.
It allows you to present your firearm with a slimmer profile. In short, in a gunbattle, it is hard to shoot at someone who you see less of.
Nowadays, however, Al Victor seems to need the HK hold more as he has to square off with an issue levelled against him by an event organizer from Manila.
The issue: he did not pay the organizer for a charity basketball game that was supposed to help the police.
And what should be blamed? The firing range.
As a habitue of the firing range, Al Victor has seen the best and worst skills of policemen in firearms handling and marksmanship.
“I kid you not,” he says after recounting a story of one policemen whose gun had an unexpected resident in its barrel: a house spider.
There, too, was the cop whose gun flew off his hands. Flew off, Al says.
These and other “horror stories” on the range will mostly remain untold, the councilor says “out of respect for men in uniform who risk their lives every day for us.”
But gun safety, he notes, is a pressing concern. After seeing many policemen with nary a care in handling their guns, Al Victor decided to share “what little I know as a practical shooter to our law enforcers so they can better handle their firearms.”
And he understood, too, what they lack.
Bullets, range time.
And a range, most of all, to hone their skills.
That chance presented itself when deputy city director Levy Pangue told him last September that there was an opportunity for the city police to have its own range. Right here. For them.
“He had me at that,” Al says recounting the conversation he had with Levy who is deputy for administration and was designated by the city police chief to coordinate the event, organized by Rory Lumba/Maria Aurora Aquino, now known as the “Ang Probinsyano versus Artistahing Bacolodnon.”
And help Al did, he says, by agreeing to become a sponsor as he shows copies of receipts and bank deposit slips, all of which were made out to Maria Aurora L. Aquino.
The issue continues to broil and he is in the middle of it all, a fact he admits.
“As a public official, criticism is part of the risks, it comes with the territory, “he says.
This does not mean, however, he adds that what Norma and all the others say are completely true.
“There are finer points to the discussion but no one seems to want to listen,” as social media has made it “uncontrollable,” the city dad adds, shaking his head slightly.
And the questions? Why is his unsigned cheque with Rory? Why did he not file a blotter if it was, indeed stolen?
The answers are forthcoming, he says.
As they should.
But before the right venue, he adds. Not Facebook, not some other venue.
The court? Al Victor says it is a right place.
Until then, Al Victor Espino, councilor, practical shooter is squat, square facing the issue.
In dreaming, he says, of having a firing range for policemen, Al Victor has become a target, like a popper or a target paper, downrange.
But he is not complaining, he says.
It is, after all, part of the territory.