Guns and football _ two Texas traditions meet

Updated: July 12, 2005, 7:09 PM ET
Associated Press

CONROE, Texas -- If the Houston Texans can't win on the field, maybe they can challenge their opponents to a shootout.

The FBI trained seven members of the NFL team Tuesday in weapons safety, SWAT assault, sniper shooting, handguns and automatic weapons in a public-relations move to help the bureau recruit new members.

"It's a great way to get the public aware of the FBI," said Raymond Oglesby, a 14-year FBI veteran in charge of recruiting for the Houston office. "It also lets the players know about the FBI as a career option after the NFL."

The players listened but also squirmed like small children while agents reviewed gun safety and played a short video about the SWAT team before giving the players a chance to shoot.

Their patience was rewarded when they all got to shoot at targets from 15 yards away with a pistol and two different automatic weapons at the FBI firearms training center.

"It's every boy's dream to come out here and shoot with the FBI," said punter Chad Stanley, an avid hunter who wore a Ted Nugent T-shirt.

He stuffed his camouflage-patterned baseball cap in his back pocket and donned a blue FBI cap. "It's especially fun for me because I've been hunting since I was a little boy."

All the players said they had shot a gun before, but most hadn't ever handled an automatic weapon.

"It's a weapon you'll never forget," Todd Washington, who plays center, said standing amid scores of spent shell casings after shooting a fully automatic MP5 submachine gun. "It's a powerful weapon. I'm 300 pounds and it jarred me."

Accustomed to coaches' shouting, they were unfazed while about a dozen FBI agents barked: "Put it right between the eyes!" and, "Let's rock 'n' roll a little."

The competition was fierce, with a couple of the players joking about betting their sizable paychecks on the results.

"I've got three kids to support, it's not worth the risk," Washington said with a laugh.

Everyone expected Stanley to dominate the contest. He did win, but not before a good fight from fullback Jarrod Baxter.

Baxter, who studied criminology in college and has been shooting since high school, was giddy after tying with Stanley in the pistol-shooting contest.

Stanley won the shootout by hitting the "head area" of the target four times in five shots, leaving Baxter to pout and then draw a frowning face on his target.

Stanley and Steve McKinney were the only Texas natives in the bunch but they all seemed comfortable with the gun-crazy atmosphere of the Lone Star state, smiling broadly while posing with automatic weapons.

Bryan Pittman, Fred Weary and Seth Wand also attended the training.

Washington said getting a glimpse at the intense nature of the FBI training put his mind at ease.

"It's amazing at how specialized their training is," he said. "I'll definitely sleep easier tonight." ^----------

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Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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