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any federal agencies have standardized their pistol qualification courses for security personnel under the program defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS.) The FAA, ICE, and others all use the same basic course as outlined below. However, there are differences based on agency, employment status, and position. For example, many contract security personnel shoot the last two stages of this course from 15 yards instead of 25. You’ll also encounter differences in score requirements. The basic passing score is 200 points out of a possible 250. However, some personnel, including certain job types or instructors, will have to get a higher score on the same course.

If you want to start putting some structure around your training, this is a good qualification test to start with. Most of the time allotments are generous, so you can focus on accuracy and shot placement rather than raw speed. It’s a great way to build your skills by practicing different techniques and measure your progress over time.

Stage 1

Distance: 1.5 Position: Strong hand only from the holster using the bent elbow position with the support arm/hand placed against the upper centerline of the officer's chest. Shots: 6 Description:

  • Draw and fire 1 round and reholster. Time: 2
  • Draw and fire 2 rounds and reholster. Time: 2
  • Draw and fire 3 rounds and reholster. Time: 2

Stage 2

Distance: 3
Position: Using two hands from the holster point shoulder shooting, referencing sights.
Shots: 6
Description:

  • Draw and fire three rounds in the chest of the target, and re-holster. Time: 3
  • Draw and fire three rounds to the chest, re-holster. Time: 3

Stage 3

Distance: 6
Position: Body armor and cover drills. Two-handed shooting using the sights.
Shots: 6
Description:

  • Draw and fire two rounds to the chest of the target and one round to the head of the target and assume a high search position. Time: 5
  • From high search, move to an aimed in position and fire two rounds to the chest of the target and one round to the head of the target. Holster. Time: 4

At the end of this stage, the two headshot rounds must be in the five-ring head area for each to count as five points. The head area outside the five-ring is worth two points.

Stage 4

Distance: 7
Position: One-handed shooting
Shots: 12
Description:

  • Draw and fire three rounds, using both hands, then transfer the weapon to the strong hand only and fire three rounds. Time: 10
  • Draw and fire three rounds, using both hands, then transfer the weapon to the weak hand only and fire three rounds. Time: 10

Stage 5

Distance: 15
Position: Two-handed shooting from the standing and kneeling position.
Shots: 12
Description:

  • Draw and fire six rounds from the standing position. Move to a kneeling position. Time: 10
  • When the command is given that threat has diminished, shooter performs an emergency reload with an 11-round magazine and assumes a ready position. Time: 5
  • When command to fire is given, fire six additional rounds from the kneeling position. Holster. Time: 10

Stage 6

Distance: 25
Position: Barricade
Shots: 4
Description:

  • Take one step to the rear and one to the right of the barricade. Timed: 20
  • When the command to fire is given, move to cover, draw and fire two rounds from the right side standing barricade position, move to the right-side kneeling barricade and fire an additional two rounds. While in a position of cover, perform a magazine exchange. (Not timed)
air marshall qualification teaser
These videos from handgun instructor Tom McHale guide you through the various pistol qualification tests required by U.S. government agencies. Are your handgun skills up to the challenge?
Can You Qualify?

The United States Department of Homeland Security is a cabinet department of the United States federal government with responsibilities in public security, roughly comparable to the interior or home ministries of other countries. Its stated missions involve anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management. It was created in response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks and is the youngest U.S. cabinet department.

In 2017, it was allocated a net discretionary budget of $40.6 billion and includes more than 240,000 employees.

DHS is the third largest Cabinet department, and includes various agencies such as: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Transortation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Secret Service.