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Firearms Training

Since hiring with the UHP, Sam Hatch was discouraged because of the lack of firearms training within the department. During the 1950s, Lieutenant Hatch persuaded Superintendent Marion Snow to purchase an ammunition reloader and bullet sizer for the UHP. Sam also worked with Commissioner Jay Newman, and former Agent in Charge of the FBI, at Salt Lake City. The FBI gave the patrol their empty .38 special shell casings. Sam recalls that some years he was able to locate 50 to 75 thousand empty casings.

Firearms TrainingSam solved the next problem, where to get lead. The telephone companies used lead pipe for burying telephone lines underground. The lead gathered moisture which condensed on the inside causing the wires to rot and short out. Later, as the lead pipes were being replaced, Sam contacted the telephone managers in Vernal and Roosevelt. Sam now had tons of lead – free. Sam also located used tire weights which were made out of antimony. Sam learned to use 2 pounds of antimony to 10 pounds of lead. This formula made the lead hard enough to keep the barrel of a weapon from leading. Sam stated, “It worked real well.”

Sam then made a deal with the Uintah County Sheriff. Two prisoners were summoned to cast the lead and antimony into bullets. They also sized and lubed these wadcutters. Dispatchers on night shift would load primers, powder, and wadcutters into the empty casings. Through this process, approximately 100,000 bullets per year were loaded out of the Vernal UHP office.

Sam then set up a statewide training schedule and traveled throughout the state conducting firearms training. Training was provided for all UHP officers as well as city, county and fish and game personnel.

The Utah Highway Patrol Pistol Team, at this time, became known as Hatch’s Raiders. Competition during this period was mostly slowfire. Ten shots were fired off-hand in ten minutes at a distance of 50 feet. The targets at the time had a 10 ring which was about the size of a silver dollar. Many officers became so proficient with their weapon that scores of 100 were recorded. In the mid-1950’s, the slowfire target was changed to a ten ring the size of a nickel. Scores dropped following this change; however, scores in the mid-90s were obtainable. About this same time, PPC competition began to grow.

The Practice Police Course was created by the FBI in an attempt to modernize police firearms training. This course became a standard for pistol competition and is still used today. Pistol teams during this period consisted of 2-man and 5-man teams. It was not until the 1980s that the 5-man teams would be dropped to 4-man. Due largely to the firearms program which was created by Lieutenant Hatch, the Utah Highway Patrol dominated pistol competition for several years. When Sam’s Raiders went to the firing line, everyone knew they were there to win. Also during the 1950’s, pistol competition was undertaken by many wives. Often the women’s competition was just as fierce as the men’s. Husband and wife competition was also introduced. The Utah Peace Officers Association summer convention became the main focal point for this competition.