Police Qualification Examples

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Arkansas State Capitol Police Firearms Qualification

It should be noted this was posted by the Arkansas State Capitol Police as promotional material demonstrating their prowess. More disappointing than the low level of performance is the fact an agency with arrest powers tasked with State Capitol security felt this was something worth putting out to the public. It’s one thing to be forced with under-trained personnel but it’s worse when there’s no realization of that fact.

UPDATE: Arkansas State Capitol Police pulled the video posted above. Perhaps they do have a sense of shame afterall. It took about 60 seconds to find three more relevant examples demonstrating the point.

Of course, some commenters pointed out the lack of tactical, Dynamical Critically Incidented shooting and movement. Like the Capital Police, they lost the plot. They’re worried about kung fu fighting with a group desperately struggling with fundamentals on an easy, fixed, basic, elementary qualification course. It’s like worrying about teaching new football plays and field strategy to a group of people incapable of tackling a run up a flight of stairs or even just walking particularly fast.

Debunking the Police Qualification Myth

While it would have been useful to include what USPSA Classifications the tested shooters held when this was recorded, it’s apparent these are local club shooters and not top-flight competitors. I mean no criticism or disrespect, just pointing out this is a demo by typical, local hobby competitors compared to one of the better police qualification standard. Every organized practical shooting club has people shooting this well or better.

The fundamental skill needed at the high end of USPSA C class (the lowest earned classification) is approximately 200-300% higher than that needed to earn high or “perfect” marks on most law enforcement and military qualifications.

Qualification and Skill

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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.


Hawaii Marines Improve Range and Qualification Scores


The United States Marine Corps Table 1 Qualification Course is derived from the 50 round National Match Course and is a test of fundamental marksmanship, base skills which apply to any situation and regardless of sights used. Anything less than 250 points indicates fundamentals can be improved. Even a perfect 250 can be improved upon as the USMC qual targets are large.

Details are in MARINE CORPS ORDER 3574.2K
Page 66 (B-1)

Click to access MCO%203574.2K.pdf

The Hawaii Marines wisely chose to eliminate variables not congruent with this test. This is a smart move. Table 1 is not a simulation, a dick-measuring contest, or any other stupid thing wannabes (or Marines not good enough to make it to the Pacific Division Matches or elsewhere) pretend it is. It is a test of fundamentals with feedback. Any score less than 250 can be improved. Despite the chest thumping, very few Marines shoot this well.

Firearm Training Reality – The Naive Shooter from a Law Enforcement Perspective: Hit Probability


Force Science Institute published The Naive Shooter from a Law Enforcement Perspective: Hit Probability, a study that identifies the problem with shooters that remain at novice skill levels.

The real risks during deadly police shootouts:
Accuracy of the naive shooter

Force Science News #280:
Eye-opening study suggests deep flaws in academy firearms training

By actual test, an average police recruit completing academy firearms training is only marginally more skilled in shooting than a person who has never shot or even held a firearm. The study found that personnel completing military or police handgun instruction and passing qualification enjoyed a mere 13% improvement over complete novices. Between groups labeled “expert”, “intermediate”, and “novice” there was no effective difference in skill between the identified groups.

Force Science Institute executive director Dr. Bill Lewinski said, “[R]esults indicate an alarming need for improved firearms training for officers,” because despite being academy graduates and passing mandated firearm qualifications the new officers “were a mere 13%” more accurate than novices in shooting at distances where a high proportion of officer-involved shootings occur. What these statistics appear to imply is that officer firearms training is not extensive enough and occurs too sparsely for officers to gain, and maintain, the expert level of accuracy with their service weapons that is expected of them.”

Qualified to Teach Tactical Training: SEALs

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All good instructors and coaches must be serious students of their craft and this requires demonstrated performance at higher than novice levels. Sadly, within the firearms world this higher level performance is rarely required or found outside of organized competitive shooting. Regardless of the instructor or coaches background (claimed or real), this is reason enough to demand some sort of reasonable level of success in something like competitive shooting, if only to demonstrate the person is capable of doing more than merely qualify.

If you’re foolish enough to believe a military or police service record is enough, watch this video. Skilled people will note his demonstrated gun handling and shooting and realize he wasn’t worth considering, regardless of the claimed experience.

Qualified to teach Tactical Training, Again


So it turns out a “trainer” for a security company is notably unskilled with firearms and managed to shoot one of his fellows while conducting routine maintenance just after returning from teaching a class. Shocking to hear, I know.

Yet another tactical trainer managed a negligent discharge, causing critical but (luckily) non-life threatening injuries. This one just days after another misguided tactical trainer posted (and then removed) a missive concerning imagined issues about competitive shooters. Following the posting of that one, I managed to find eight (!!!) videos on YouTube of police/tactical “trainers” causing actual, real negligent discharges (as opposed to a remote chance of possible, imagined ones) that were caught on video and made public. This took me 30 seconds after typing “police tactical negligent discharge” into a search box.

Also notice the distinct lack of these stories concerning active, skilled competition shooters, or the complete lack of these incidents occurring at competitive events. While no amount of skill can make a person immune from mistakes, training for and competing in higher level, organized events greatly increases skills and significantly reduces the chance such mistakes will be made.

At least this security/tactical trainer that shot his comrade didn’t develop any bad habits by attending competitive shooting events…


Dry Practice, Marine Style

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From John Tate

You think “dry fire” practice is new?  Consider this quote about USMC rifle training circa 1950:

“The first week on the range was devoted firing with no ammunition while aiming at large black dots painted on white wooden posts. The second week recruits fired both the .22-caliber and M1 rifles, and worked pulling targets in the rifle range pits.”


Qualified to offer Tactical Training, Again

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So it turns out some sheriff in Florida is notably unskilled with issue firearms, even when compared to police officers. Shocking to hear, I know.

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre, who has pushed for bans on certain firearms, drew deserved criticism for not being able to pass minimal local police qualification standards. Apparently, he isn’t even required to attempt this. “There is no such requirement [to pass basic qualification] that exists for the constitutional office of County Sheriff,” the article notes.

It is worth pointing out that if Sheriff Manfre cared to, he could put himself up as a tactical trainer and offer classes. His credentials could legitimately read:

  • Certified law enforcement professional with more than a decade’s experience.
  • Passed multiple law enforcement firearms certifications
  • Extensive leadership experience as elected County Sheriff
  • Regularly audited law enforcement firearms training and gained a deep understanding of multi-agency training programs


Qualified to teach Tactical Training


It turns out a Texas police officer assigned as a firearms instructor managed to shoot himself during a firearm lesson. Shocking to hear, I know.


It is worth pointing out that if Sgt. Vanek cared to, at least prior to this incident, he could have put himself up as a tactical trainer and offer classes. His credentials could legitimately read:

  • Certified law enforcement professional with over a decade of experience.
  • Passed multiple law enforcement firearms certifications
  • Certified law enforcement firearm instructor
  • Lead law enforcement firearm instructor for over five years.
  • “One of the best!” – Jim Devlin, Hewitt Police Chief


History of the Marksmanship Qualification Program


The following is a history of the National Rifle Association Marksmanship Qualification Program originally written by Denise Conni for NRA InSights (http://www.nrainsights.org).


Please note, even though this program was initially motivated as a method to involve junior shooters, the NRA MQP is not for kids only! Adults are encouraged to participate as well!

The real pity about the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is that it continues to decline. In 1961 the NRA reported that with a membership of 418,000 total the Marksmanship Qualification Program had 374,112 participants.

Today, despite having over 4 million NRA members and financial support from Winchester again, there are less than 10,000 MQP participants total, youth and adult combined.


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