A while back we looked at LAPD’s D-Platoon handgun qualification. If you are not familiar, D-Platoon is LAPD’s SWAT unit. Their shooting standards are generally quite a bit higher than the typical law enforcement shooting standard, as evidenced in the handgun qualification. Let’s take a look and see if that holds true for shotguns too.
The “Industry Standard”
If you look around for law enforcement shotgun qualifications online, it won’t take long to realize that if law enforcement handgun qualifications are a joke, shotgun qualifications are the joke that flopped. For example, in my state, the law enforcement shotgun qualification requires shooting 5 slugs at 25 yards, and 5 rounds of buckshot at 15 yards. The target required is a B-27. Any hit inside the 7 ring counts as a hit, and 80% of all projectiles fired must hit within the 7 ring. The area inside the 7 ring on a B-27 is about 337 square inches. The time limits to pull off this feat of marksmanship is an astonishing 5 seconds per round fired. Tom Givens likes to describe law enforcement qualification standards not as tests of marksmanship but as sobriety tests. That certainly applies here.
Now that we know what the typical law enforcement shotgun qualification looks like let’s take a look at the D-Platoon shotgun qualification. Now, this is an older version of the qualification, shot back in the 80s and sourced from a thread on pistol-forum.com. The current D-Platoon qualification could be quite different.
Target and Scoring
The qualification calls for the use of a B-27 target, 11 rounds of 9-pellet buckshot, and 2 slugs. Buckshot pellet hits inside the 9 ring are worth 2 points each. Slug hits are worth 10 points each. Hits outside of the 9 ring but still on the target are worth 1 point each, and slug hits outside of the 9 ring but still on the target are worth 5 points. If any pellets or slugs completely miss the silhouette, it is an automatic failure. All pellets and slugs must be accounted for on the target.
Course of Fire
The first string of fire is shot at the 25 yard line. The shotgun is loaded with slugs, and from the low ready, the shooter must fire 1 round in 2.5 seconds. Repeat for a total of 2 repetitions. Twice as fast as my local qual and a target area about 25% the size for max points.
The second string of fire is shot at 15 yards. Load the shotgun with buckshot, and from low ready, fire 1 round in 2 seconds or less. Repeat for a total of 2 repetitions.
The third string of fire is shot at 10 yards and is the same as the 15 yard string of fire. From low ready, fire 1 round in 2 seconds. Repeat for a total of 2 repetitions.
The fourth string of fire is shot at 7 yards. From low ready, fire 1 round in 1.5 seconds. Repeat for a total of 2 repetitions.
The fifth string of fire is shot at 5 yards. From low ready, fire 2 rounds in 2 seconds.
The sixth, and final string of fire, is shot at 3 yards. From underarm assault position, fire two rounds center mass, transition to a shouldered position, and fire 1 round to the head in 3 seconds. The head is scored as 1 point per pellet.
It is pretty to see that this is a more difficult qualification than most law enforcement shotgun qualifications. The time standards are decent. The accuracy standard is at least better. Keep in mind, this qualification was around in the ’80s before we had a lot of the high-performing buckshot loads that are available today. I think that shooting this with good modern buckshot like Federal Flite Control, this could be a buckshot only qualification.
Based on my rough math, there are 218 points possible (198 points from buckshot, 20 points from slugs). Requiring 90% to pass means scoring a 196 or better. Since there is one headshot where pellets are automatically scored at 1 point each, that only leaves 13 points on the table that can be dropped and still pass the qualification.
I appreciate the simplicity of the qualification. Much like the D-Platoon handgun qualification, it is focused on the essential shooting tasks and getting them done in a timely fashion. There isn’t much emphasis on manipulations of the shotgun, just the shooting. Given the time standards and the tighter accuracy standard, I think this one ups the ante considerably over the typical law enforcement qualification.