This is an update of an article I wrote in 2018 that described what I was able to glean concerning the pre 9/11 Federal Air Marshall (FAM) qualification or Tactical Pistol Course (as it was known at that time). From 2016 – 2018 despite numerous tries, I could not pass the TPC even though I was shooting at an IDPA Master level on the old 90 round qualification. I essentially stopped trying.
Fast forward to 2023 and Duane Thomas’ article in the Dillon “Blue Press” on the FAM TPC using the FBI Q target (The Blue Press, June 2023, pages 60-63). Coincidentally, a friend’s daughter is interested in becoming a FAM and asked me to teach a basic pistol class for her and another student. Since I was satisfied that I could pass the TPC using the FBI Q target, I dug out some FBI QIT-97 targets so I could demonstrate the pre 9/11 TPC using that target. I shot it cold and passed the time requirements (barely) and the points.
I shot the qualification with my P320 Carry in 9mm with a Holosun green dot optic sight. I used an open front concealment garment for the strings that required concealment. I was somewhat concerned that the accuracy necessary for success on the QIT-97 would require a bit more deliberation and therefore a quicker concealed draw than the FBI Q target—this proved to be the case.
Target Placement: Two targets placed three yards apart from edge to edge with a third target placed in the middle. Targets are seven yards from the firing line.
Scoring: The maximum possible score is 150 points with a minimum passing score of 135 points. Hits earn five points for inner bottle, 2 points for line hits on inner bottle or full value hits on outer bottle. Zero points for line hits on outer bottle or for a miss. You must be within the time limits for each string of fire.
Shooting the FAM qualification course within the time limits while hitting the inner bottle necessarily requires a careful balance between speed and accuracy. This is not trivial. If you do not meet every stage’s time requirements, you fail even if you managed to shoot a passing score overall.
Stage 1: From concealment, draw and fire one round on one target. Repeat. Maximum time is 3.30 seconds for 2 rounds fired.
Stage 2: From low ready, double tap (two shots) on one target. Repeat. Maximum time is 2.70 seconds for 4 rounds fired.
Stage 3: From low ready, fire 6 rounds into one target. Maximum time is 3.00 seconds for 6 rounds fired and all splits (shot to shot time) must be 0.60 seconds or less.
Stage 4: From low ready, fire one shot, reload, fire one shot into one target. Repeat. Maximum time is 6.50 seconds for 4 rounds fired.
Stage 5: From low ready, fire one round into the one of the two outer targets and then transition and fire a round into the other outer target. 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 the three targets. Repeat. Maximum time is 7.00 seconds for 6 rounds fired.
Stage 7: From low ready and standing, fire one round into one target, 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 a slide lock 1-reload-1 drill just dropping to a knee while reloading)
The times for the qualification shown in the picture above using my P320 Carry were as follows:
Stage 1: Draw: 1.56, 1.57 = 3.13 (Standard: 3.30 seconds or less)
Stage 2: Double Tap: 1.06, 1.03 = 2.09 (Standard: 2.70 seconds or less)
Stage 3: Rapid Fire: 2.84 (Standard: 3.30 seconds or less)
Stage 4: Speedload: 3.26, 3.34 = 6.50 (Standard: 6.50 seconds or less) I barely squeaked by on this stage.
Stage 5: Transition: 1.55, 1.49 = 3.04 (Standard: 3.30 seconds or less)
Stage 6: Turn & Draw, 3 Targets: 3.04, 3.07 = 6.11 (Standard: 7.00 seconds or less)
Stage 7: Slidelock Reload: 3.10, 3.98 = 7.08 (Standard: 8.00 seconds or less)
Times = Pass for all strings
Points = Passed with 138 points (I dropped a total of four shots (or twelve points) outside the inner bottle)
The Federal Air Marshall TPC is an extremely challenging pistol qualification and particularly challenging using the QIT-97 target.
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