I’m all for basic skill and qualification tests. Too many gun owners (to include those with military training!) have a low level of skill, sometimes to the point of being dangerous.

Even if a mandatory test or qualification isn’t warranted or possible, par standards establishing competent, good, better and best performance should be well communicated. When incompetent skills could easily lead to injury, then a baseline of skill needs to be set and enforced.

Depressingly, a large number of ranges handle the safety issue by restricting everyone to a kindergarten level. Restrictions against rapid fire and speed gun handling are common. The most repulsive restrictions I’ve seen are those ranges that forbid position shooting, including slow fire, sequestering everyone to a bench rest. To a true rifleman, this is insulting and this sort of thing is a cause of the degradation of marksmanship skill.

Range personnel correctly assume that a large percentage of the attendees are low level and “solve” the problem with Romper Room restrictions. This describe almost all military ranges, most hunter sight-ins and is becoming more common nation-wide.

However, there are good and bays ways to handle this. The approach described in this blog posting is NOT the way to go!

FTQ is a notation for Failure to Qualify.

I’ve been planning to get back into IDPA, and maybe USPSA shooting; and my local range requires you have what they call a “holster qualification” before they let you do holster drills.

Of course they charge you $15 for “instruction time”; which consists of the instructor running you through a series of draw drills and malfunction drills with an empty gun, and a 10 rd qualifying shoot. There is no instruction, he does it cold, without telling you how he wants it done, and you are graded pass fail with no feedback until you are done.

The whole series consists of multiple four point draws (which I don’t do, I don’t like the 4 point draw), with a malfunction drill and a reload drill on every draw.

The drills were as follows:

Tap Rack Bang (TRB)
Rip Tap Rack Bang (RRB)
Rip Rack Rack Bang (FTE drill)
Tac reload
Speed reload
10 rds rapid fire from the ready, all in the black (a 5″ circle); on a 25 yard slowfire target (B-16) at 7 yards

Of course they have you do them with an empty gun, so the reload and malfunction drills end up with a locked slide you have to release, which throws you off on the drills.

Again, I don’t do the drills the way they wanted me to. I do them, I just do them differently. I slap the back of the slide firmly to make sure the extractor has seated before I rack for example.

Basically it’s a scam, the thing takes all of 5 minutes for your $15, and unless you are an active IDPA/USPSA shooter who has run through the qual at least once before, you are going to fail it. Once you fail, they say “come back in four or five days and we’ll do it again” … for another $15.

I’m a CCW holder who just re-qualified, a Gunsite grad, and a veteran. I can draw and fire from a holster safely, and I fail to see what malfunction drills have to do with the ability to draw from a holster without shooting yourself, which is supposedly what it’s for.

The guy ran through the drills as fast as I could possibly do them, firing the commands at me as soon as I was back in the holster. He went through each drill about four times, and he threw in a couple of surprises on me, that weren’t on the list of drills.

Honestly the guy had a shitty attitude from the beginning. He knows I used to be AF, and I think he wanted to take me down a peg.

Well I was pretty stressed to begin with, and pissed off about his attitude, and I blew it. I screwed up on a couple of the malfunction drills, and I put one round outside the scoring area.

Oh, and during onf of the reloads I wedged my palm in between the base plate and the gun, and I got a nice 1/2″ acorss blood blister.

I asked to redo the qual right away, now that I had run through it once I knew I could pass; and I only put one round outside the black, I know I can put them all in the black pretty easily. He said, no; I would have to come back in a few days and do it again, for another $15 of course.

Oh, and the actual draw and reholster drills? He said they were fine.

The best solution I’ve seen to date is the policy set by Pine Tree Pistol Club, a commercial indoor range run by savvy competition shooters.
The range is sectioned into separate bays. On open range days (when no event or match is scheduled) any patron may use the “slow fire” bays. No rapid fire or gun handling is allowed. Guns must be set on a table with cylinder/slide open between strings.
The “action” bays allow rapid fire, gun handling at speed, movement and steel targets but are open only to those who first pass the club’s holster test. To pass, the patron must participate in at least two IDPA or USPSA events at the club.

This does several good things.

First, it allows range personnel to individually watch each shooter for a number of stages under match stress and see if they are safe gun handlers.
Second, it is an effective moron filter. Don’t tell us how “safe” and “good” you are. Show up and show us. Cowards unwilling to shoot a couple matches for score aren’t worth messing with.

Third, it increases traffic for matches. This raises participation and funds for the club.

Finally, it raises the skill level of the general club membership. Good, active competition shooters are more skilled and safer than typical gun owners.

There is no special fee for this beyond the normal match fee. An RO has to watch each shooter competing anyway. And the incentive to use the “special” bays, thus distinguishing oneself from those shooting in the “regular” bays brings a number of folks into the fold.

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