People outside the competition world often fail to understand the sort of skill levels possible. Routine qualification is the most vestigial level of basic understanding. Police and military qualification is the equivalent of a simple arithmetic quiz considered easy by elementary school children. It’s a perfectly acceptable level for a student actually in elementary school and basic/recruit/Academy training because we’re working with a brand-new novice. It is no longer acceptable years later because the student should have progressed.

I discuss this at length in my book Beyond Expert: Tripling Military Shooting Skills using U.S. Army qualification standards as compared to NATO combat competition courses. In it I show that anyone interested in competition shooting needs to at least triple military qualification “expert” (or even “perfect”) standards as a starting point. For handgun events, this can be increased by a factor of five or more. Shooters consistently winning need to be better still.

Champion shooter Robert Vogel further proves the point. In this video, Vogel demonstrates on the Ohio Police qualification course that he is capable of exceeding “perfect” police standards by a full order of magnitude. He takes the basic standard and shoots them at five times the distance in half the time, making the course ten times more challenging, and manages a near perfect score.

The same Glock 35 I carried as a police officer, same one I won my first national championship with in 2007.

Something to consider next time someone rants against match/competition gear. Firearms routinely carried by military and police personnel are all capable of winning national-level competitive shooting events. The difference is the person using it.