Growing up in Indiana, LaShira Norwood believed she wanted to pursue a career in the health field. Having participated in various sports before completing her master’s degree in public health, she was convinced that she was made for the public health field until a friend suggested that she should join law enforcement.
After about five years of making that switch, she has not regretted it. Today, Norwood is not only a SWAT team operator for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, but also the department’s first female sniper who was often seen during weekends at a Fulton County gun range hitting targets, sniping, and sharpening her sniper skills.
Before becoming a female sniper in 2018, Norwood spent a year as Fulton County Deputy and later aimed higher to become a member of the SWAT team, becoming the department’s second woman to join. But she wanted more, and so approached her SWAT team commander that she wanted to train to become a sniper.
Her commander agreed to help train her on Saturdays. Norwood then began a “vigorous exercise and fitness program”; she would proceed to the gym after working the overnight shift and then head to the shooting range. Her diet also changed — healthy vegetables and more chicken.
“It takes a lot of practice,” she was quoted by AJC in 2018. “It takes a lot of dedication just to make sure you’re consistent.”
Used to handguns, it took a year for 31-year-old Norwood to get used to the Remington sniper rifle. But she put in a lot of work, and amid male classmates who were skeptical of her skill, she graduated at the top of her class as the only female.
“I feel like there’s no gender in that field nobody sees you, nobody knows so it’s all about how much work you put in. How much you perfect your craft,” she said.
Now, as a sniper and SWAT team member, Norwood knows her role is not only to protect innocent lives but also to watch over her colleagues at any given time she is called upon to do so.
“You’ve just got to stay focused, remember the task at hand, remember what you’re being called out there for and continue to stay focused on that and that’s al you can do. You try not to get distracted and make sure your commander is giving you the right intel and you go from there,” she said.
In 2018 when news broke of Norwood being the only female sniper in her department, she received a ton of praise flowing in from friends and even strangers. “This is bigger than me. This is bigger than the agency,” Norwood said at the time. “This is something that young girls have to look up to.
“I can show them that… as long as you stay focused and work hard, you can still reach the same accomplishments as everyone else.”
To make it clear that she is a woman making waves in law enforcement, Norwood was usually seen on the range by her pink headphones. The SWAT team operator explained to FOX5 how she hits her mark:
“You have to relax and slow down your heart rate. So when you are lying down, you don’t have that heartbeat shaking you. That’s where the deep breaths come in. Exhale everything out of your lungs and in that half second – that’s when you take that shot.”