zach fodman

COMPETE — KPD Lt. Zach Rodman takes aim during The Tactical Games.

An officer with the Kokomo Police Department soon will take his skillset to the next level in a national shooting and fitness competition, and he aims to bring what he learned back to the department.

In February, KPD Lt. Zach Rodman, along with Captain Austin McClain, Specialist Charlie Fourkiller, and Specialist Keith Hair, ventured to Meridian, Miss., to compete in The Tactical Games. The games constitute a grueling two-day competition that pits the likes of SWAT officers, members of elite military units such as the Navy SEALs, and an array of other active military members against each other in a mix of rigorous obstacle courses that include activities ranging from rope climbs to various shooting scenarios.

Rodman snagged the right to advance to the national championships after placing second in the Elite Division.

But, Rodman isn’t just seeking accolades through the competition. Rather, he’s taking what he learns through The Tactical Games and from fellow competitors back to the department for implementation in real-world scenarios.

“ ... Everything I’ve done to this point has helped me at the tactical games, and it helps you on the street,” said Rodman. “Because you’ve got to be strong when you’re tired and smart when you’re winded.”

The Tactical Games served as something of a proving grounds for the skillsets SWAT officers and active military members may need to utilize in the field. Competitions consist of six different “battles,” or events. Each event is a mix of tasks, which Rodman said were designed to be physically taxing while still requiring mental acuity. Competitors bring a rifle and a pistol to each competition, and firearms work is intermingled into each “battle.” For example, in a battle competitors could be tasked with running a mile and completing tasks such as dragging a 200-pound mannequin, climbing obstacles, and then needing to shoot a target at 50 yards with a pistol. The tough part, said Rodman, was that competitors don’t know what they’ll be doing until they get to the starting line.

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by making a contribution.

“What they’ll do is get you exhausted, and they’ll give you a combination or target to identify for like 30 seconds before the event starts,” said Rodman. “Then you do this event for 20, 25 minutes sometimes. And then when you’re just about taxed out you have to start using your mind and try to remember the numbers or who you’re looking for and engage the target or open the combination to a box to get another target to go find. Then there’s shoot no-shoot scenarios. That’s replication of high stress that you find on the street or in a military setting that they can develop.”

Rodman isn’t a stranger to physical competition. In the past, he’s competed in everything from powerlifting to Crossfit. He said he garnered a love for physical activity at a young age when he would watch his father lift weights in the driveway after getting home from his work as a steelworker.

Of particular importance, said Rodman, was the fact that The Tactical Games translated directly to work with the department. The physical stress of the games, and the accompanying adrenaline dump, can be likened to a foot chase. He’s brought back ideas for implementation with the KPD SWAT team, and Rodman has picked up a slew of industry contacts as well from the competitions. He’s competed in three such events to this point.

“It’s really been great, because like I tell the guys at work all the time, whenever we go to trainings or these events, that information doesn’t just belong to us,” said Rodman. “It belongs to the department. I have three boys myself, and I’m guessing someday one of them will walk into the department. I want them to walk into the best-trained, best-equipped, and safe work environment that they can walk into. I tell the guys that’s how we should all be thinking.”

Rodman’s second-place finish in Meridian, among a field of 43 competitors, has him slated to compete in the nationals at an event in Florida in November.