We all make fun of the ATF and their penchant for shooting our favorite furry friends, but if we really want to thumb our nose at a Federal agency, we should beat them at their own game, in this case, their own shooting standard. As I have been working my way through John Daub’s Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests I came upon the BATFE handgun qualification. While law enforcement qualification standards, in general, are not that difficult to meet a passing standard, acing the qualifications can sometimes be a different story.
The ATF handgun qualification is a 48-round course of fire, with strings of fire at the 3, 7, 15, and 25 yard lines. About 70 percent of the rounds fired are on the 3 and 7 yard line. Only 30 percent are from 15 and 25 yards. Using the experiences of Tom Givens’ students, the majority of private citizen gunfights occur in that 3-7 yard range, so it is appropriate for our purposes for a course of fire to emphasize those distances.
Course of Fire
Target & Scoring
Officially, the qualification is shot on the ATF’s own target. It is a variation of the Transtar target, and it scored 2/1/0. It is not a target that many of us have just sitting around. An alternative would be to just use a sheet of printer paper with an 8” circle. Hits in the 8” circle score 2 points, other hits on the paper score 1 point, and anything else scores 0 points. A 3”x5” index card can be used for a head zone. This makes it logistically much easier to shoot this course of fire.
While I hate to say anything nice about the ATF, as a qualification course, this is not a horrible standard. The time standards are not super tight, but nor are they super loose. The accuracy standard is mostly reasonable, I suppose.
While I personally would not consider it to be very difficult, it is decently well-rounded. There is a good variation of target size with body and head shots, a couple of reloads, a malfunction clearance, and shooting from kneeling. It is not so important to test reloads and malfunction clearance per se, but that really isn’t the point. It is more about adding task complexity and requiring mental gear shifts to go from shooting to manipulating the gun, to shooting again.
As a standard for the private citizen carrying a concealed handgun, I like this qualification more than the FBI Handgun Qualification. Even though on its face, this qualification doesn’t appear more difficult, with more going on within the course of fire, I think it just edges the FBI qualification.
If you give this one a go, be sure to drop your score or thoughts in the comments. See you on the range.