BY EILEEN PERSIKE
A friendly skills competition between members of the Rhinelander Police Department and Oneida County Sheriff’s Office has been revived. The first city vs. county firearms shoots took place in 1967 and 1969, with each department winning one. On Oct. 15, 48 years later, the third contest took place, and the city won bragging rights.
More than the competition, the history and significance of the trophies piqued the interest of Rhinelander police chief Lloyd Gauthier, after eyeing them in the police department trophy case when working as a dispatcher in 1990.
“They’ve been in the trophy case for many years,” Gauthier said. “After I went to the state patrol and returned in ’93 they were still here, and when I came back here the end of May they were still here, and I said, we’re going to do something with this, we’re going to bring this back to life.”
The city police won the competition in 1967 and retired police captain Doug Joslin was the top shooter, scoring 269 out of a possible 300 points, using a revolver.
“At the police department, we had to shoot every week and had to qualify once a month,” Joslin said. “There were three targets we had to shoot and needed an aggregate score of 70 or above.”
“In those days we had no automatics,” retired Oneida County corrections officer Jim Counter explained. “They were taboo. We carried .38s”
The winners’ trophy was hand-crafted for the 1967 shoot by Counter at the shop in the old vocational school, which was located on the same site as the current police department. By 1969, Gauthier said, it’s believed that trophy was nowhere to be found, so police chief Tony Paris provided a new one, which was won by the county.
“We’re going to make this one the James R. Counter Traveling Trophy, and the other will be for an internal competition,” Gauthier said. “We’ll start next year so the top shooter in the department can have some bragging rights.”
Last month’s competitive course was set up by the United States Practical Shooting Association, and required the officer to move from station to station shooting at a variety of stationary and moving targets. For Gauthier, the revived competition offers his officers the opportunity to build skills while having some fun.
“Although it’s competitive, these are skills we very much need to work on,” he added. “It serves a dual function.”
Doug Joslin worked for the RPD from 1957-93; Jim Counter was at the RPD from 1961-63 and then spent a number of years with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office.