Mike Asbahr, owner of Benchmark Fab and Finish in Corvallis, spent some of his free time this month swinging a battering ram at chunks of trees cut into rounds.
It wasn't a new fitness regimen. Instead, it was part of his effort to win a “Forged in Fire” style competition hosted by the Albany Police Department on Friday.
And the work paid off. Asbahr won the competition, which was set up to increase the department’s stock of the battering rams, which are used to knock down doors when officers need to gain access to a residence. Police officers call the devices "universal keys."
In the same vein as The History Channel show that has contestants create bladed weapons and test them to determine a winner, the Albany Police Department battle tested all 24 of Friday’s entries.
Lt. Travis Giboney came up with the idea and said he was delighted by the response.
“I wanted to involve the public and the support has been absolutely overwhelming,” he told the crowd gathered under tents at the police station to watch the competition.
The department used a borrowed breaching simulator from the Albany Fire Department to test the battering rams. All of the entries had to measure less than 26 inches long and weigh less than 35 pounds. Each battering ram had to have two handles and a strike face plate measuring a minimum of 5 inches by 5 inches.
Three judges — all from law enforcement — tested each submission by stepping up to the breeching simulator (the simulator essentially stood in for a door) giving the battering rams their best swing.
Tyler Hovelsrud didn’t win but had the distinction of being the only contestant whose battering ram broke the door open on the first swing by all three judges. He was also disqualified.
A conversation with a friend from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office convinced Hovelsrud to put an additional layer on the face plate with an Albany Police Department design and while it drew compliments on its form and accolades for its function, the additional layer made the battering ram just slightly too long.
“I don’t care,” Hovelsrud said. “If they can throw it in a car and it helps them out then I’m good with it.”
Giboney said all of the submissions, minus the two that fell apart during the test, will be used by the department, adding to the five it already has.
“Other agencies have asked if we have extra to send them over,” he said.
Entries were judged on functionality, durability and practicality and could score a possible 99 points. Asbahr racked up a perfect score.
“We played around with it for part of a day and then went out again to play around with it,” he said of the battering ram, which he made with a 2.5-inch square tube with a polished stainless steel face plate and rubber grips to decrease shock. Asbahr also loaded the battering ram with steel shot to provide an extra bit of force on impact.
Third-place winner Chris Meyer came up short for the win but drew the most looks with his bright pink battering ram.
“It’s lipstick on the pig,” he said, showing off the face plate, painted to look like the farm yard animal in red lipstick.
Josh Stevenson won second place with his battering ram full of 10 pounds of BB pellets.
According to Giboney, the prize for the winner wasn’t quite the $10,000 winners on “Forged in Fire” receive, but instead was a trophy created for the event. He said wasn't quite ready; the etching on it hadn’t been finished prior to Friday’s contest, but that Asbahr would be receiving it shortly.