Unlike many of her fellow officers, Medford police Sgt. Kim Budreau did not grow up surrounded by firearms.

Unlike many of her fellow officers, Medford police Sgt. Kim Budreau did not grow up surrounded by firearms.

"The first time I held a gun was with my dad," Budreau said. "We shot cans in the backyard, but that was only once."

However, after first taking a job at a movie theater to pay for college, Budreau joined the Medford Police Department at the age of 21 and quickly honed her shooting eye. Honed it so well, in fact, that she is now one of the department's eight firearms instructors.

"When I first picked up a pistol, it just felt natural to me," she said. "I'm not sure why."

Budreau, 39, is the lone female instructor, something that she takes pride in and considers an integral part of her law enforcement career.

"I enjoy being part of the training process," she said. "When new people are hired, I think it's important to get them confident with firearms so they'll be ready when they are on patrol."

Somehow, shooting just came naturally for Budreau. She took the top-shooter award in her academy class, beating out three recruits with heavy firearms experience.

"Those guys were very serious about winning," Budreau said with a laugh. "They were pretty upset when I won."

Medford police Chief Tim George said gender is not a concern when it comes to training.

"It's not your gender, but your skill level that counts and Kim is a great firearms instructor," George said. "If you're not getting better through training, then you're rolling the dice out there. It really doesn't matter if you're a male or female."

Many new cops come from hunting or military backgrounds, providing a familiarity with guns that gives them an advantage on the firing range. But there also is an increasing number of people seeking law enforcement jobs who come straight out of college or jobs that involved no firearms experience.

Budreau can relate to those rookies.

"Most people who want to be cops are willing to put in the time necessary to improve," Budreau said. "I will always give them as much time as they need at the range."

Budreau also tends to work with newly hired female officers as they learn their way around firearms.

"I think it's important sometimes for them to have a female perspective during the training," Budreau said.

Tuesday, half the department gathered under the oppressive sun at the shooting range on Corey Road northeast of Medford for a day of shooting drills.

Officers are required to train with their service pistols, rifles and shotguns five times a year. They must qualify with the weapons once a year.

While five days are set aside specifically for firearms training, many of the officers spend hours at the range on their own time dialing in their shooting, Budreau said.

The training involves much more than standing in one spot and blasting away at a paper target, Budreau said.

"We want to get your heart rate up and force you to move around," Budreau said. "We want it to be as realistic as possible."

Budreau flew through a drill involving sprinting up to open windows and shooting at steel targets several yards away.

Loud pings echoed across the range as bullets from Budreau's Glock .40-caliber pistol drilled the targets.

Medford Sgt. Derek Parks, a firearms instructor, said the steel targets are useful because they give immediate feedback.

"It' s not like a paper target that you have to look at after you've shot," Parks said. "You hear the sound and you know you hit the target."

Parks noted that firearms training is not as easy as it might sound.

"After you've spent several hours out here, moving around and shooting, you feel it at the end of the day," he said.

Budreau said she has never fired her weapon while on patrol, but it's a scenario that she is determined to be prepared for should it occur.

"You have to make it to where it just comes natural to you," she said. "You might be in a situation when you need to act quickly to stop a threat or save someone's life."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.