Thursday, June 21, 2018

Practice 2018 -- The Federal Air Marshall Qualification Course

Air Marshall Qualification -- Score 144 Points
I believe that it is important to have goals and this includes measurable goals associated with your shooting practice. My current goal is to shoot 100% on the old Federal Air Marshall (FAM) Pistol Qualification course. My best effort to date was a score of 144. This was the first time I have ever made points; however, on three different strings I went over the time limits by 0.42, 0.11, and 0.09 so . . . . I failed to qualify.

The FAM qualification course requires a fine balance between speed and accuracy because of its strict adherence to the maximum time requirements for each stage. If you do not meet the time requirement on every stage, you fail even if you managed to shoot a passing score over the whole course of fire.

Shooting the FAM qualification course is best done on an outdoor range. The course requires you to shoot targets spaced across lanes and one of the stages requires the shooter to turn 180-degrees without sweeping anyone. You must use a concealment garment for two of the seven stages. The course of fire is 30 rounds from 7-yards, fired at three targets spaced three yards apart.

Stage 1: From concealment, draw and fire one round. Repeat. Maximum time is 3.30 seconds for 2 rounds fired.

Stage 2: From low ready, double tap the target. Repeat. Maximum time is 2.70 seconds for 4 rounds fired.

Stage 3: From low ready, fire 6 rounds into the target. Maximum time is 3.00 seconds for 6 rounds fired.

Stage 4: From low ready, fire one shot, reload, fire one shot. Repeat. Maximum time is 6.50 seconds for 4 rounds fired.

Stage 5: From low ready, fire one round into 2 targets, each three yards apart. Repeat. Maximum time is 3.30 seconds for 4 rounds fired.

Stage 6: From concealment and facing up range with back to targets, turn 180 degrees and place one shot into each of three targets, three yards apart. Repeat. Maximum time is 7.00 seconds for 6 rounds fired.

Stage 7: From low ready and standing, fire one round, slide locks back, drop to one knee, reload, fire one round. Repeat. Maximum time is 8.00 seconds for 4 rounds fired. (Note this is essentially the 1-reload-1 drill just dropping to a knee while reloading)

FBI QIT-97 Target
At the 2016 IDPA Nationals I asked Mike Seeklander which target the FAM qualification used and he told me it was the FBI QIT-97 Target. A clean shot inside the inner bottle not touching a line (dark gray) counts for five points. A shot in the outer bottle (light gray) or touching either inner or outer bottle lines, counts for 2 points. Shots outside the outer bottle that miss completely receive zero points.

Shooting within the time limits while hitting the inner bottle necessarily requires a balance between speed and accuracy. This is not trivial. The maximum possible score is 150 points with a minimum passing score of 135 points. A minimum passing score of 135 allows for three complete misses or seven inner bottle misses. From my experience, if you are at the level where you miss the QIT-97 entirely your chances of passing the qualification are slim. The inner bottle scoring area measures 3-7/8” wide x 15-1/8” long; that leaves very little room for lateral error if you wish to earn 5 points with every shot.

The FAM Qualification course tests several major tasks you must perform in the course of shooting a match or using a pistol for self-defense. They are:

-- Safely draw the pistol (clear concealment garment)

-- Extend to fire

-- Transition between targets

-- Reload the pistol 

-- Execute precise shots (sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control)

-- Turning then drawing the pistol

-- Moving from standing to kneeling

In my series of articles on deliberate practice I discuss the value of structured drills with specific goals designed to improve performance. Each of the major tasks listed above is composed of sub tasks that also must be performed correctly. Once we break each major task down into sub tasks we can then apply the deliberate practice methodology to improve our shooting.

The Federal Air Marshall course of fire is an extremely challenging pistol qualification and is a good tool for concealed carriers to use to benchmark their skills. If you can stay within the time limits and score a perfect 150, I will tip my hat to you.

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