Shooting the FBI Pistol Qualification Course

Shooting the FBI Pistol Qualification Course

I take shooting seriously.  I go to the range for a purpose.  When I shoot a precision rifle it may be to develop a load or prepare for a match; but for pistol, carbine and shotgun, I am trying to develop and maintain a skill set.  I train to a standard, record my results, and focus on deficit areas.

My favorite standards are those developed by Paul Howe at Combat Shooting and Tactics.  In addition to Howe’s standards, I like to shoot qualification courses.  My favorite is the “old” FBI qualification course of fire (COF).  I decided to shoot the “new” one.  Note: if you are interested in finding different qualification courses of fire, you can Google most mil/LE qualification courses.

Adopted in 2013, this new course of fire claims to change its focus from “long range shooting” to “close quarters combat” to reflect scenarios that agents might encounter.

According to USA Today (2013):

“The FBI has quietly broken with its long-standing firearms training regimen, putting a new emphasis on close-quarters combat to reflect the overwhelming number of incidents in which suspects are confronting their targets at point-blank range.

The new training protocols were formally implemented last January after a review of nearly 200 shootings involving FBI agents during a 17-year period. The analysis found that 75% of the incidents involved suspects who were within 3 yards of agents when shots were exchanged.”

This is what it looks like:

FBI Pistol Qualification Course

  • Target used is the QIT-99 or QIT-03
  • Course consists of a total of 60 rounds
  • Each round counts as one point
  • Any hits inside the target area count
  • You must draw from concealment for every string of shots
  • Passing score for Agents is 48 out of 60

Stage 1: 3 yard line

  • 3 rounds in 3 seconds using your strong hand only
  • 3 rounds in 3 seconds using your strong hand only
  • 3 rounds using strong hand only, switch hands, 3 rounds using support hand only in 8 seconds

Total of 12 rounds for Stage 1

After Stage 1, all shooting is done with two hands

Stage 2: 5 yard line

  • 3 rounds in 3 seconds
  • 3 rounds in 3 seconds
  • 3 rounds in 3 seconds
  • 3 rounds in 3 seconds

Total of 12 rounds for Stage 2

Stage 3: 7 yard line

  • 4 rounds in 4 seconds
  • 4 rounds in 4 seconds
  • Have two magazines loaded with four rounds each. Fire four rounds, reload, fire another four rounds in 8 seconds.

Total of 16 rounds for Stage 3

Stage 4: 15 yard line

  • 3 rounds in 6 seconds
  • 3 rounds in 6 seconds
  • 4 rounds in 8 seconds

Total of 10 rounds for Stage 4

Stage 5: 25 yard line

Requires barricade.
  • Move to cover and fire 2 rounds standing, then 3 rounds kneeling, all in 15 seconds
  • Move to cover and fire 2 rounds standing, then 3 rounds kneeling, all in 15 seconds

Total of 10 rounds for Stage 5

Shooting the “New” Course

On a cold (24F) January afternoon, I headed to the range with my Generation 4 Glock 19 and 60 rounds of Winchester 147 JHP ammunition.  My Glock is a stock gun, equipped with Trijicon- HD tritium night sights.  I used a Safariland ALS paddle holster and two injection molded magazine carriers.

Stage 5 requires a barricade, so I used a portable one to shoot this course.  My portable barricade uses MGM barricade brackets (available from Brownells) and a 2′ wide 4′ tall piece of 1/2″ plywood.

I have a bunch of QIT-99 targets because I buy them in bulk (100 cardboard targets fit into a box) from The Target Shop.  I like the counter shaded (gray background) version shown below, it provides an excellent sight picture in low light conditions.  You can also purchase the QIT-99 with a white background (shown further below), but it can be hard to see the outline at distance and in low light conditions.  They cost $48 per 50 on cardboard, but, they don’t always have the reversed targets in stock- only when he has left overs from large orders- so you may end up with the white version.  If you just wanted to shoot this a few times, other vendors sell paper “Q” targets for less.

A PACT timer, with a 3-second delay, and set to par times described in the course description, provided the start and stop signal for each stage.  The actual course would typically be shot on turning targets (and some would argue this makes it harder),  but I didn’t feel like dragging the target system out.  If you take your training seriously, and would like a portable turning target system, check out my review on the TAC II Portable Target System.

FBI Qual new 100 percent passing Glock 19

Gen 4 Glock 19 on QIT 99

Despite the 24 degree weather and no gloves, I shot a 100% on the course.  I counted the center box as an “x-ring”, so I gave myself a 60-47x.  Not bad.

The next day, I headed out in 30 degree weather to shoot the course again. I really wanted to clean it, 100% 60x.  I also took the time to snap some pictures as I shot the stages.

The first 40 rounds at 3, 5 and 7 yards in the "x" ring.

The first 40 rounds at 3, 5 and 7 yards in the “x” ring.

For comparison purposes, I brought my buddy along.  He is an LEO in a major PD (not known for their marksmanship training program) and shot the course using his duty belt and issue G19 with a 12 pound trigger.  I didn’t tell him the course of fire in advance, I just told him what to do at each stage.  I’ll refer to him as Mr. Heavy Trigger.  How’d he do?

Not too bad at 7 yards.

The first 40 rounds.  Not too bad at 7 yards. Keep in mind he is drawing from a level 3 holster, and shooting with an extremely heavy trigger.

Pushing back to 15 yards things start to get a little more difficult (which must be why 66% of the course is shot inside of 7 yards).

My 15 yard target.  I dropped three rounds outside the "x" box but kept them in the scoring zone.

My 15 yard target. I dropped three rounds outside the “x” box but kept them in the scoring zone.

Mr. Heavy Trigger glock is still holding his own.  All the hits count.

Mr. Heavy Trigger Glock is still holding his own. All the hits count.

The final 10 rounds at 25 yards are the hardest part of this course.  How’d we fair?

Here is my final target.  59/60.  I dropped the one round to the upper right.

Here is my final target. 59/60- 52X. I dropped the one round to the upper right. I rushed a shot on the last string and pushed it outside the scoring area.

Here is Mr. Heavy Trigger's tart, 59/60 , 98%.

Here is Mr. Heavy Trigger’s target, 59/60 , 98%.

Mr. Heavy Trigger fared well.  While this course of fire was more difficult than the one his agency uses, he still shot a 98%, with an inferior trigger.

I let ego get in the way and dropped a round for a final score of 98%, that won’t happen next time.  Next time out, I’ll shoot my Glock 22, I think the longer sights radius will help at the 25 yard line.

For comparison purposes, this is the “old” FBI Pistol Qualification Course:

“Old” FBI Pistol Qualification Course

Target:  FBI “Q”
Scoring: Hits in or touching “bottle” count 2 points; misses and hits outside bottle count zero points.  50 rounds service ammunition.
Qualification: 85% to qualify; 90% for instructors
STAGE I 
18 ROUNDS
Starting Point:  25 yard line
Time Allotted:  75 seconds
Procedure:  Start with a fully loaded weapon. On command, shooter draws and fires 6 rounds prone position, decocks, fires 3 rounds strong side kneeling barricade position, 6 rounds strong side standing barricade position, and 3 rounds weak side kneeling barricade position. Upon completing stage I, the shooter will conduct a magazine exchange and holster a loaded weapon.
STAGE II 
10 ROUNDS
Starting Point:  25 yard line
Time Allotted:   2 rounds in 6 seconds
                         4 strings of 2 rounds in 3 seconds each
Procedure:  Start at the 25 yard line. On command, the shooter moves to the 15 yard line, draws and fires 2 rounds in 6 seconds, decocks, and returns to low ready. The shooter will fire 4 strings of 2 rounds in 3 seconds, decock and return to low ready after each string. Upon completing Stage II, the shooter holsters a loaded weapon [without reloading unless gun capacity is only 10 rds ]
STAGE III 
12 ROUNDS
Starting Point: 15 yard line
Time Allotted: 15 seconds
Procedure:  Start at the 15 yard line. On command, the shooter moves to the 7 yard line, draws and fires 12 rounds in 15 seconds, to include a reload. Upon completing stage III, the shooter holsters a loaded weapon. Shooter then arranges remaining 10 rounds to have 5 rounds in the weapon and 5 rounds in a spare magazine.
STAGE IV 
10 ROUNDS
Starting Point: 7 yard line
Time Allotted: 15 seconds
Procedure:  Start at the 7 yard line. On command the shooter moves to the 5 yard line, draws and fires 5 rounds with strong hand only, reloads, transfers the weapon to weak hand and fires 5 rounds weak hand only. Upon completing stage IV, the shooter will unload and holster an empty weapon.

You’ll notice, the old course is more challenging.  In addition to a higher round count at longer range, the course includes weak side barricade shooting at distance, and has 3 magazine changes (Stages I, III, and IV).

Immediately following the new course, we both shot the old one.  I shot a 96%-24x (which is low for me) and my buddy shot a 84% (first time he ever shot it).  It shows how much harder the “old” version is.

So what are my thoughts on the “new” FBI Pistol Qualification Course?

  • 66% (40 out of 60) of the rounds are fired at 7 yards.  Passing is 48 out of 60.  This means you could miss all the rounds at 25 yards and still qualify.  I don’ t like it.  The skill set required to engage the targets quickly at greater distances will still allow the shooter to perform well up close.
  • I find the first part of Stage 1, all of Stage 2 and most of Stage 3 redundant.  I understand the need to test these skills, hence their inclusion in the course of fire.  I just don’t understand the need to repeat them as much as they do.  Shooting 3 rounds from the holster in 3 seconds is the easiest part of this course, why do it twice (three times if you count the third part of stage 3)?
  • While drawing from a holster is an important skill, I don’t see why a few stages do not start from the ready position.  I would imagine that agents may already have their weapons drawn when needing to use them.
  • I would have liked to see more reloads.  This course of fire only has one slide back/emergency reload.
  • The “old” course had the shooter fire 18 rounds (36%) at the 25 yard line.  This only has 10 (17%).  This course does not have the shooter firing weak side barricade or prone.
  • Prone has been eliminated.  While I generally don’t think the prone position is useful at 25 yards, it is an important tool to have in the tool box for longer range engagements.
  • I view a qualification course as an assessment of a shooters ability to meet a minimum standard.  This assessment if performed to make sure the shooter has the skills needed to survive a potentially life threatening situation.  I think they could have added more into the course of fire; for instance, starting some stages from the ready position, firing more rounds at greater distances, and more one handed shooting.  Some of the design seems administratively efficient, and, in my opinion, sacrifices quality for the sake quantity.
  • While I think this COF has some merit for some situations, I find it inferior to the course it replaced.  Personally, I will keep shooting it until I keep all 60 rounds in the “x” box, but that is more of a game.  If you had to teach your non  gun-guy brother-in-law how to shoot and needed a “graduation” COF, this would be a good candidate.
  • Overall, I liked the “old” course better.  I’ll post more about it later.

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