Sunday, August 16, 2020

Shooting the US Department of Energy (DOE) Protective Force Shotgun Qualification

This is the US Department of Energy (DOE) Protective Force Shotgun Qualification. The Department of Energy Protective Force Teams are the guys and gals that guard nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities—they are serious. The course of fire is straight forward and requires ten rounds of buckshot. The DOE qualification is fired on the DOE standard target with all pellets on the target counted as one point. The shooter must score 90% to pass at the SPO-III or Special Response Force/Tactical Response Force level.

The Stages:

7 yard line - 4 Rounds:

     -- Shotgun Loaded with 3 rounds

     -- Charge, and fire 2 rounds. Load 1 round in the magazine tube, and fire 2 rounds

Time: 12 Seconds

15 yard line – 4 Rounds:

     -- Shotgun Loaded with 2 rounds

     -- Charge, and fire 2 rounds from a standing position.

     -- While kneeling, load 1 round through the ejection port and close the action, load 1 round in the magazine tube, and fire 2 rounds

Time: 15 seconds

25 yard line - 2 shots:

     -- Shotgun loaded w/ 2 rounds

     -- From standing, Charge and fire one round, kneel and fire one round

Time: 6 Seconds

I fired the qualification using the DOE standard target. I covered the target with a t-shirt to reduce the damage the shotgun wads cause (even so, the large gaping holes are from the impact of shotgun wads).


I used the Speer Law Enforcement 8 pellet buckshot that has the Federal Flitecontrol wad. My Beretta 1301 is a 25-yard plus gun with the Speer and Federal 8 pellet buckshot loads with a typical pattern of six inches at 25 yards. The pictures below show a Federal 8 pellet buckshot round that I fired at an old (2003) Level II body armor panel. The pellets were clearly still in the Flitecontrol wad at seven yards and all the pellets fused into one mass. The Flitecontrol wad was embedded in the same hole as well. The round did not penetrate the Level II panel. 

Federal 8 Pellet Flitecontrol--All Pellets Fused into One Mass


In my Beretta 1301 the Speer 8 pellet buckshot load does occasionally throw one-pellet “flyers” outside the pattern as shown in the picture below from a previous qualification. I am not certain why this happens but it does. My 1301 does not particularly like the Hornady 12 Gauge 00 Buckshot Critical Defense with the Versatite load either and will have much larger patterns with occasional flyers at a given distance.

Previous Qualification Speer 8 Pellet Buckshot "Flyer"
 

The Speer rounds I fired in this qualification performed as advertised without flyers and the DOE target contained all 80 pellets which is 100% or a perfect score. The video below shows the entire course of fire.

 

It is a good idea to demonstrate and document your competence for record with any firearm you might use for self-defense. Since I use a shotgun as a home defense weapon, I periodically fire qualifications with my shotguns.

What course of fire should you use? There are several approaches you can take in choosing which course of fire to use to demonstrate competency. For the shotgun, I recommend the Department of Energy Shotgun Qualification course discussed here or your state qualification course. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) for example has a Shotgun Instructor Qualification that police firearms instructors must pass to receive TCOLE firearms instructor certification in Texas.

The only FBI Qualification I was able to locate was from 2000; however, given the general status of the shotgun in contemporary police doctrine it is likely still the standard. The FBI qualification is weighted toward slugs and is the only course that has 50 yard targets.

Georgia State Shotgun Qualification requires the use of cover and incorporates head shots. It also requires the transition to your handgun when the shotgun runs dry.

The Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee or MPTC Shotgun Qualification incorporates shotgun operation fundamentals and marksmanship including loading, firing from different positions, reloading, cover, movement, pivoting left and right, etc. It is a very comprehensive course of fire that I will shoot in the near future. Lee Weems in a post stated that the Georgia Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors uses this qualification in their Shotgun Instructor course as well.

Regardless of the course of fire you chose, fill out a qualification sheet and have a witness sign it. Demonstrating competence with your firearm can short-circuit the potential prosecutor’s tactic of arguing that you discharging of the firearm was an accident or negligent act rather than intentional self-defense. Remember that the claim of self-defense is for an intentional act, not for an accident or negligence.

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Georgia Shotgun Qualification (GASQ)

SQT A-1
SQT A-1
I. FIREARM: Standard Service 12 Gauge shotgun semi-automatic or pump action shotgun

II. AMMUNITION: 4 rounds 12 gauge slugs; 6 rounds 12 gauge 8 or 9 pellet "00" buckshot; 2 rounds handgun

III. TARGET: (two targets per shooter)

IV. CLOTHING: Issued duty gear, eye and ear protection.

V. SIGHTS: It is highly recommended that agencies and instructors have the officers pattern their shotguns on an SQT A1 target from distances of 3, 7, 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards in order to identify where the pellets begin leaving the target scoring zone identifying the shotgun ammunition's maximum spread.

VI. GENERAL: All reloads are the shooter's responsibility. If the shooter encounters a malfunction from 25 yards or less, they may transition to the sidearm and complete that stage. Rounds may be made up at the stage where problems or malfunctions occur, but only within the allotted time limits for that stage.

VII. SCORING: Slugs and handgun rounds will be scored 2 points each for “A” zone hits and 1 point each for hits outside the “A” zone but still within the scoring area. Total possible points for four slugs and two handgun rounds will be 12 points. "00" buckshot will be scored as 1 point for each hit within the scoring area of the (2) targets. Total possible points for the 8 pellet buckshot is 48 points. Total possible points for the 9 pellet buckshot is 54 points.

Maximum Raw Score: 60 (8 pellet buckshot)

66 (9 pellet buckshot)

Minimum Qualifying Score: 48 = 80% (8 pellet buckshot)

53 = 80% (9 pellet buckshot)

VIII. SAFETY: During the course of fire while reloading or clearing a malfunction, the shooter will maintain muzzle and trigger finger discipline, weapon pointed down range and finger off of the trigger and outside the trigger guard. While moving the safety will be engaged, finger off of the trigger and outside the trigger guard and muzzle pointed down range. 

While loading the shotgun, the shooter must visually and physically inspect each round of ammunition before loading the round into the weapon. Special care must be taken to differentiate between slugs and buckshot ammunition. 

Road Ready / Gun Box Condition: The action is forward on an empty chamber, the magazine is loaded, and the safety is on. 

Low Ready / Cover Positions: The Low Ready position is defined as shotgun stock in shoulder, weapon pointed down range, safety on and finger off of the trigger and outside the trigger guard. The shotgun will be pointed just below the target so as to clearly observe the suspect’s hands. 

The Covering Offset position is defined as pointing the weapon in a safe direction left or right of the target. This is advantageous when utilizing the prone position. 

Covering the target: The target does not become a threat until it is either presented (moving or turning targets) or sound/verbal indicator command is heard.

VII. COURSE:

Stage One: 25 yard line, 2 strings of fire, use of cover, 2 slug rounds. Instructor: Once all students are on the 25 yard line have the shooters load the shotgun to gun box / road ready condition with two slugs in the magazine tube and handguns will be loaded and holstered with a full magazine.

String 1- Right side of cover: 4 seconds one iteration Standing outside of cover at a low ready position, on command the shooter will move behind cover, chamber a round and begin searching for the targets using the angular search technique around the right side of cover. From a low ready when the targets are presented, the shooter will fire 1 round on the right target in 4 seconds.

String 2- Left side of cover: 4 seconds one iteration Standing outside of cover at a low ready position, on command the shooter will move behind cover, and begin searching for the targets using the angular search technique around the left side of cover. From a low ready when the targets are presented, the shooter will fire 1 round on the left target in 4 seconds.

Stage Two: 15 yard line, 2 strings of fire, use of cover, 4 buckshot rounds and 2 slug rounds. Instructor: Once all students are on the 15 yard line, have the shooter load the shotgun to gun box / road ready condition with 4 rounds of buckshot in the magazine tube.

String 1- Either side of cover: 8 seconds one iteration Standing outside of cover at a low ready position, on command the shooter will move behind cover, chamber a round and begin searching for the targets using the angular search technique and fire 2 rounds on each target in 8 seconds. Instructor: Have students out of battery load the shotgun behind cover with 1 slug into the chamber and in battery load 1 slug into the magazine tube.

String 2- Either side of cover: 6 seconds one iteration On command from a low ready position, the shooter will lean out from behind cover and fire 1 head shot on each target in 6 seconds.

Stage Four: 7 yard line, 1 string of fire, transition to handgun, 2 buckshot rounds and two handgun rounds.

Instructor: Once all students are on the 7 yard line have the shooter out of battery load 1 buckshot round into the chamber and in battery load 1 buckshot round in the magazine tube.

String 1- 6 seconds one iteration

On command from a low ready position, the shooter will give verbal commands and fire 1 round on each target, Transition to their handgun, and fire 1 round on each target in 6 seconds

Guidelines for Scoring the Georgia Shotgun Qualification Course (GASQ)

Slugs and handgun rounds will be scored as two (2) points each for “A” zone (center mass/central area) hits and 1 point each for hits outside the “A” zone, but still within the scoring area of the two (2) silhouettes. Total possible (maximum) points for four slugs and two handgun rounds will be 12 points. "00" buckshot will be scored as 1 point for each pellet hit within the scoring area of the (2) targets, without regard to whether the hits are in the “A” zone (center mass/central area) or the remainder of the silhouettes’ scoring area. Total possible points for the 8 pellet buckshot load is 48 points. Total possible points for the 9 pellet buckshot load is 54 points. 

Maximum Raw Score: 60 (8 pellet buckshot); 66 (9 pellet buckshot)

Minimum Qualifying Score: 48 = 80% (8 pellet buckshot); 53 = 80% (9 pellet buckshot)

In all scoring scenarios, should the perforation ring of a slug, a handgun bullet or buckshot pellet break the scoring line of any scoring area, the shooter shall be credited with the scoring value of the higher of the adjacent scoring areas and graded accordingly. Accurate scoring of the target, due to the target damage incurred as a result of short range shotgun fire, can appear to be a daunting task. Below are some tips for managing this task successfully and accurately.

Begin by assuming that all rounds have penetrated the silhouette area of the target. Because pellet rounds from the buckshot are scored with equal value regardless of where they impact the silhouette, the ‘A’ zone of the target does not carry any more weight than the rest of the target. Next, search for pellets that have impacted outside of the silhouette. Count the total number of pellets in the green area (outside of the silhouette) and subtract this number from the total possible pellet count. The difference here will be total pellet count that has impacted within the silhouette.

Buckshot only: It is acceptable to shoot the entire course utilizing buckshot, however the instructor may have to adjust the distance for the student to ensure that the ammunition used DOES NOT exceed the pattern spread at the qualification distance. 

In simple terms, if the student’s ammunition and weapon system exceeds the scoring area on the SQT A1, start the qualification course stage 1 at the 15 yard line. For the head shot portion on stage 2, incorporate it on stage 4. Leave all other stages the same.

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Shotgun Qualification Course


FBI Shotgun Qualification Course

TARGET: FBI"Q"

AMMUNITION: 11 Slug, 5 Buckshot (00) (5 points per rifled slug, 1 point per pellet)

Agent Qualifying Score: 80%; Instructor Qualifying Score: 90%

STAGE I

STARTING POINT: 50 YARD LINE

TIME ALLOTTED: 20 SECONDS

Start from Position 1 (shotgun empty, action closed, safety on). Assembly area load 2 rounds of rifled slug into the magazine and come to Position 5 (high ready position). On command the shooter chambers a round, disengages the safety and fires 1 round standing strong side barricade and 1 round kneeling strong side barricade. Upon completing Stage I, the shooter will unload and return to Position 1 with an empty weapon and the safety on.

STAGE II

STARTING POINT: 25 YARD LINE 

TIME ALLOTTED: 45 SECONDS

Start from Position 2 with an empty weapon, action open and safety on. On command the shooter loads 5 rounds of rifled slug, fire 2 rounds strong side standing barricade and 3 rounds strong side kneeling barricade. Upon completing Stage II, the shooter will unload and return to Position 1 with an empty weapon and the safety on.

STAGE III

STARTING POINT: 15 YARD LINE

TIME ALLOTTED: 1 ROUND IN 20 SECONDS,

3 STRINGS OF 1 ROUND IN 3 SECONDS

Start from Position 2 with an empty weapon, action open and safety on. On command the shooter loads 4 rounds of rifled slug and fires 1 round in 20 seconds. The shooter then comes to Position 3 (low ready position) with the safety on. On command the shooter fires 3 strings of 1 round in 3 seconds, returning to Position 3 with the safety on after each string. Upon completing Stage III, the shooter will unload and return to Position 1 with an empty weapon and the safety on.

STAGE IV

STARTING POINT: 7 YARD LINE 

TIME ALLOTTED: 35 SECONDS

Start from Position 2 with an empty weapon, action open, and safety on. On command the shooter loads 3 rounds of buckshot, fires 3 rounds, reloads 2 rounds of buckshot, and fires 2 rounds. Upon completing Stage IV, the shooter will unload and return to Position 1 with an empty weapon and the safety on.

FBI FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR HANDBOOK 

REVISED 1/11/2000 

FIREARMS COURSES OF FIRE Part 25-4

Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee Shotgun Qualification Course

 

MPTC FIREARMS TRAINING PROGRAM

Title: 25 Round Shotgun Qualification Course w/time limits

Course Type: Qualification

Date Written: March 2, 2009 Revised: March 31, 2011

Rounds: 28 (only 25 will be fired) Distance: 25, 15, 10, 7 and 5 Yards

Passing Score: 94% for firearms instructors, 80% for all others

Scoring: Slug – 4 points for each valid hit

00 Buck (8 or 9 pellet)* – ••• point per valid hit

*If the agency only authorizes buckshot, the 18 rounds fired at the 10, 7 and 5 yard line stages will be buckshot. Slugs will always be fired from the 25 and 15 yard lines.

Fundamentals: This course of fire incorporates the fundamentals of shotgun operation and marksmanship including loading, putting the shotgun into operation, firing from different positions, tactical reloading (topping off/put back what you shoot), downloading and unloading. Additionally, officers will use good tactical fundamentals such as verbal commands, scanning, use of cover and movement.

Objectives: This course of fire was designed to better evaluate an officer’s ability to –

    ● Load the shotgun in a safe manner;

    ● Access the weapon from the vehicle storage rack (if applicable);

    ● Place the shotgun into operation;

    ● Effectively put rounds on target;

    ● Fire the shotgun from realistic shooting positions including on the move;

    ● Keep the shotgun in a “ready to fight” condition by continuously topping off the magazine;

    ● Engage threats from various angles while pivoting and on the move;

    ● Scan effectively for additional threats;

    ● Download and unload the shotgun in a safe manner.

Notes: For ease in scoring, it is recommended the course be fired with slug ammunition. In this course of fire, the term “up” is used as the cue to fire. It should be noted that any cue such as “six” or “deadly threat” can be used as well. The command to fire should be decided by the instructor based on their agency’s policy.

STAGE ONE – KNEELING FROM COVER 25 Yards 3 Rounds (slug only)

Preparation: Begin with the shotgun in the condition it is normally transported in on the 30 yard line. This can be either unloaded or “transport condition” as the department’s policy dictates. If spare ammo is not positioned on the weapon, it will be positioned on the body where it can be easily accessed. Instructors are encouraged to have their officers demonstrate their ability to remove the weapon from the storage location in the vehicle if applicable. On the command “gun” or “threat”, the shooters will access their weapon, chamber a round and advance to the 25 yard line where they will cover the threat from the kneeling position using good cover and verbal commands.

On the command “UP”, the shooters will engage the target with 3 rounds, scan while covering the target then top off their magazines. On the command to “advance”, shooters will move to the 15 yard line covering their target. Finger off the trigger – Safety ON

STAGE TWO – OFF HAND 15 Yards 4 Rounds (slug only)

At the 15 yard line, shooters will engage their targets with 4 rounds in 7 seconds from the standing position on the command “UP”. Shooters will scan for additional threats, cover the target, top off magazine and move to the 10 yard line when the command “advance” is given. Finger off the trigger – Safety ON.

STAGE THREE – PIVOT & SHOOT 10 Yards 6 Rounds

At the 10 yard line, shooters will demonstrate their ability to engage a target to the side or rear. Instructor will demonstrate the SAFETY CIRCLE and how to keep the muzzle depressed inside it when pivoting. Have shooters face in the desired direction with muzzles fully depressed. On the command “UP”, shooters will (in order of sequence) –

LOOK to identify the threat,

PIVOT to face the threat,

Bring the MUZZLE UP to the threat and

ENGAGE with ONE round in 3 seconds.

Cover – Scan – Top Off

Pivot to the LEFT – fire one round in 3 seconds. Repeat 1X (2 rounds).

Pivot to the RIGHT – fire one round in 3 seconds. Repeat 1X (2 rounds).

Pivot 180 degrees – fire one round 3 seconds. Repeat 1X (2 rounds).

Instructors should have shooters look and pivot BEFORE bringing the muzzle up on target. If you are running a crowded line or working with novice shooters, you can reduce the angle to 45 degrees so all muzzles remain in a safe direction.

STAGE FOUR – SHOOTING ON THE MOVE 10 to 7 Yds. 4 Rounds

Shooters should still be scanning from “low ready” on the 10 yard line. On the command “Advance and Engage” or “UP”, shooters will advance to the 7 yard line while firing two rounds. Once at the 7 yard line, shooters halt, scan and top off magazines. Repeat again for a total of 4 rounds. Instructors should encourage shooters NOT to stop when they shoot - keep the line moving.

Safety ON – Scan – Top off magazine if necessary

STAGE FIVE – CONTROLLED PAIRS w/ Movement 7 Yards 6 Rounds

Shooters face threat with shotgun at the low ready position. On the command “UP”, shooters will engage with two rounds then move one step laterally (left or right) as directed in 5 seconds. Scan – cover threat.

Repeat twice more for total of six rounds.

Top Off if necessary

Safety ON – Low Ready

On the command “Advance to the Five”, shooters move forward to the 5 yard line.

STAGE SIX – HAMMER DRILL 5 Yards 2 Rounds

Position shooters facing the threat with weapon at “low ready”. On the command “UP”, shooters will fire two rounds in 3 seconds in rapid succession to center mass.

DEMONSTRATE ABILITY TO UNLOAD & DOWNLOAD THE SHOTGUN

The shotgun will have 3 rounds remaining (including one in the chamber). Shooter(s) will demonstrate ability to download to Transport Mode and then unload their shotgun. If necessary, this evaluation may be conducted off the range with dummy rounds. In that case, only 25 rounds are required for the qualification course.

This skill set is part of the shotgun qualification and must be demonstrated.