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Deportation officer wins Florida shooting championship

TAMPA, Fla. — An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officer out-shot his fellow competitors to win a Florida state championship in a high-pressure shooting competition.

Thomas Evans, the firearms, defensive tactics and taser instructor for Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Miami’s Tampa field office, took the top spot in the Pistol Caliber Carbine, C-class during the 2024 U.S. Practical Shooting Association’s Florida State Championships, outshooting 20 other shooters in his class. The U.S. Practical Shooting Association is a branch of the International Practical Shooting Confederation, which hosts matches in over 110 countries, all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

“Shooting sports better prepare people for a high level of proficiency using a firearm in a high stress and dynamic environment,” Evans said. “It is especially good for law enforcement officers who are more likely to be in situations that escalate without warning.”

According to its website, the U.S. Practical Shooting Association is dedicated to promoting safe, fair and fun participation in practical shooting sports. Members engage in dynamic and challenging courses of fire, where speed, accuracy and power are equally tested.

Evans, who has honed his competitive shooting skills since 2010, while attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, entered the Pistol Carbine Class for the first time in his career. His training regimen began three months prior to competition.

“I had never shot the pistol caliber carbine platform before when I decided to try it,” Evans said. “Shooting sports challenge the way the mind works and how it processes the world around you. It is constant multitasking, thinking about the next move, working to shave off unnecessary movements to gain fractions of a second’s advantage. Having never shot this category before, it was a lofty goal to come away with a win.”

The competition comprises shooting stages that require accuracy, speed and problem solving skills in a dynamic and challenging environment of static and moving targets at various distances while physically moving through the course. Scores are dictated by a combination of the shooter’s time and hits on target. The hits on target, or “hit factor,” is a combination of speed, accuracy and firepower. This happens in a three dimensional space that Evans works to incorporate during range days for his classes.

On the range, every movement counts. Every round fired counts.

“It’s both thrilling and devastating to win or lose a match by tenths of seconds and fractions of a point,” Evans said.

The ERO Tampa firearms instructor worked for hours after each range day in the sun and heat, running shooting drills and training with experienced mentors. Leading up to the competition, Evans spent each evening training, working on footwork, body movements, and dry-firing at home to develop muscle memory.

“There is no better way to get off a basic stationary firing line and get into a three dimensional space to hone your skills under stress while running a gun as hard and fast as possible,” Evans said. “This is a crucial skillset that very few officers possess, and this type of shooting gives me the opportunity to give a lot of knowledge back to the law enforcement community I serve.”

Evans said he purposefully incorporates practical and dynamic shooting fundamentals skills he’s learned over the years into every training day with ERO Tampa officers.

“I want all of my students moving, counting, seeing and processing a stage of fire under stress as fast as possible,” he said. “When I began implementing these fundamentals several years back, officers couldn’t do it, but are now able to operate in a much more efficient way in situations they would likely encounter on the job, in an active-shooter situation, or when responding to a situation that escalates and requires the use of force.”

Moving forward, Evans has his sights fixed on establishing a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, ERO and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) shooting team geared toward the practical dynamic shooting sports that rival teams already established by other federal partners in the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.

Originally published at

- Part of VUGA -USA media group