“We’re going hot.”
The shooter gives the verbal heads-up that bullets are about to fly.
Getting in some afternoon practice inside a converted, soundproof semi-trailer in a private parking lot alongside a freeway in Garden Grove, the shooter takes aim at a target seven yards away.
Blam blam blam.
Thirty rounds later, GGPD Det. Mike Reynolds, one of the agency’s range masters, examines where the bullets hit the paper target.
“You have great trigger control,” Reynolds tells the shooter. “You shot very well.
“In fact,” he adds, “you shoot better than a lot of cops I know.”
Bespectacled, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, Susan Huang looks pleased as she puts her 9mm Glock 17 back inside its case.
Then she heads back to her desk job at the Garden Grove PD.
Huang, a diminutive (5 feet 2 inches) married mother of three boys who, by appearance and demeanor, is the last person you would expect to be packing heat, is just that: a competitive shooter.
Although she’s a reserve deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept., Huang holds the civilian position of records clerk at the Garden Grove PD.
The fortysomething Huang got into law enforcement relatively late after stints as a medical biller and office manager for an environmental engineering firm.
She was encouraged to do so by her engineer husband, a former Marine and Air Force reservist, and inspired by a fascination with cops that dates back to childhood and T.V. shows such as “Charlie’s Angels.”
Huang laughs at the suggestion she’s some dead-eyed gunslinger — although she jokes that when her 18-year-old has friends over who know about her skills with firearms, she tells them to stay out of trouble.
“Yes, ma’am,” they respond.
After her family emigrated from Taipei, Taiwan when she was a girl, Huang lived in Los Angeles for three years before relocating to Irvine, where she attended University High School.
“My claim to fame is I graduated the same year (1986) Will Ferrell did,” the soft-spoken Huang says.
Huang was a decent hoops player in high school — you guessed it, point guard — and was interested in a career as a psychologist.
But life and family happened, so Huang focused on raising her three sons (they now are 20, 18 and 14) before deciding, four years ago, to become a reserve deputy with the OCSD.
She graduated from the academy in May 2012 and now puts in about 20 hours a month as a reserve deputy, working such details as transporting arrestees, DUI checkpoints, jail searches and foot patrol.
Huang started shooting competitively, in part, because she’s a lifelong learner who loves trying new things.
About a year ago, Huang joined a shooting team formed by a female deputy, called Trigger Team 18 — the first Orange County Sheriff’s Department all-women’s shooting Team.
At first the team operated casually, but now it officially is sponsored by the OCSD and includes about 10 core members and three alternates.
Huang, who joined the Garden Grove PD as a records specialist in March 2014, has competed in a handful of shooting contests, which vary but typically measure accuracy and speed, with competitors shooting with two hands, one hand and support hand.
At her most recent competition, in October, the LEAAP (Law Enforcement Association of Asian Pacifics) annual shooting contest in Corona, Huang and her teammates finished first out of five teams in their division.
Huang also was named “High Woman” at the recent Santa Margarita Gun Club’s 2015 Camp Pendleton Open — “high” as in highest-scoring female.
“I enjoy the challenge,” Huang says of competitive shooting.
“Every time you compete you want to improve, and it’s fun when you do. It’s both physical and mental, and there are lots of rules to remember, such as shooting only X number of rounds at a target before going to the next target, doing a magazine change while moving from target A to target B, and not using up all your ammo before hitting all your targets.”
Huang, who is an NRA-certified pistol instructor, says she one day would love to train female shooters, both law enforcement and civilian, to become better and more confident shooters. She believes a woman will be a less-intimidating instructor than a male.
Huang has gotten a sister into shooting and believes all people — men and women — stand to benefit from knowing how to use a firearm.
“Knowledge is power,” Huang says, “and I think people who are afraid of shooting should at least try it once with a knowledgeable and experienced instructor.”