After a 14-hour car ride, the 10 boys stretched their legs, had dinner and then practiced until an hour past midnight. A mere five hours later, they were preparing for their first competition of the day, one in which Capt. Ian Carl did not do as well as he was hoping.Carl, 19, competed in pistol shooting and he shot well; however, he wasn’t the fastest gun in the West. “I was really disappointed when I left because I didn’t do well as I thought I would,” Carl said. He said a pep talk from Deputy Brett Bindley, one of two advisers to the Carson City Explorers, helped him overcome the disappointment.“Just because you had trouble this one time doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing ... you got psyched out. It’s game time now,” Carl said Bindley told him.Despite the set-back, the Carson City Explorers went on to place in seven of the 10 competitions they entered at the Chandler Tactical Competition, Explorers Sgt. Elan Flores said. The competition took place on Jan. 18 and Jan. 19 in Chandler, Ariz.“It was amazing. We came out on top. We brought down the house,” Flores said.Flores, 20, is a criminal justice major at Western Nevada College, a mere semester away from finishing his associates before he plans to start his way toward a doctorate.Flores, who will age-out of the program soon, joined when he started college. After an encounter with his former classmate and captain of the Explorers, Carl, he came to his first meeting and has been there since.With Flores aging out of the program, and Carl soon facing the same fate, Carson City Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Cullen, too, has the future youth leadership of the program on his mind. Cullen is the boss of the program’s two advisers.“They’re bringing in a group of kids and really letting them know what to expect,” Cullen said. “They’re helping us mold these younger kids. Their responsibility is to mold them and get them ready to take over their (leadership) jobs.”Cullen pointed out to Carl on the trip that soon, he will have to hand the reigns over to the next generation of the Explorers.“It’s creating leaders out of these kids, not managers or employees or workers or laborers. We’re really creating leaders, regardless of what field they go into later on in life. These are the ones who are going to be telling other people what to do,” Cullen said.The Chandler Tactical Competition even allowed Cullen to spot points and ideas his own Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT team can use, especially in negotiations and vehicle assaults.In Jesse Toral, 18, Cullen sees the change, the discipline and the leadership of the explorers.Toral, a senior in high school, is the reason the Explorers placed third in the multi-level assault competition. Where others failed or fell off of the rock wall, Toral sped up like a professional, almost falling near the very top before pulling himself up and claiming one of the quickest times.“Honestly, I think it was easier than everyone made it up to be,” Toral said, ascribing his vertical agility to his lanky form of long arms and long legs. Toral started in the explorers when he was 14, in the summer of 2008. “I didn’t exactly fit in all that well. I was just kind of there,” he said. “I hung near the back, I tried to stay away from the action in a sense. I knew what I was doing but I wasn’t confident in my decisions at the time.“I’ve learned to gain confidence, confidence in my decisions. I’m able to be more of a leader in a sense.”He, unlike Carl or Flores, will not age-out of the group. Rather, he will be doing what he wants to do next. He will be a Marine. He’s already enlisted and, soon, he will see if he has what it takes to be in the intelligence business.“I’m done with school. I want to go out and do something.”He will be active for four years.“Time will tell, if I want to stick it out and make it a career or go to the police academy,” he said. “I’ve always had a strong sense of justice.The Explorers meet once a week, although their meeting time and day is currently up in the air. The group is open to everyone between the ages of 14 and 21. Applications are available at the Sheriff's Office during normal business hours. The explorers have begun to actively recruit new members from both Carson Middle School and Carson High School, Carl said. For more information contact Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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