keep-calm-and-carry-a-fbi-badgeCan you shoot like an FBI  Special Agent? A single box of ammo will tell you, as the qualification runs 50 rounds. True, this is an outdated certification that dates from the days that the Bureau issued DA/SA SIG pistols. (The current qualification has some insignificant changes, like starting at the close targets and working back; and some significant ones, like eliminating the 25-yard line and requiring all strings to be fired after drawing from concealment. We may cover that in the future).

While a listing of a qualification’s stages in black and white is necessary and works for people who learn well from the printed page, we think videos like this one, which one of our readers found online, really help to get the points across.

The FBI then used the Q target. Scoring is simple: a round touching the line of or inside the “bottle” counts for 2 points, a round outsize zero. The standards are: 85% to qualify, and 90% for instructors. The stages are listed below this 2012 video from Darkwood Personal Defense, which lasts 4:18.

Stage I:

25 yards. 75 seconds. Firearm fully loaded. All shots (regardless of barricade side) are taken with two hand hold with strong hand operating pistol.

6 rounds prone; 3 rounds strong side kneeling/barricaded; 6 rounds strong side standing/barricaded; 3 rounds weak side kneeling/barricaded. Total 18 rounds.

Stage II:

Start at 25 yards, firearm fully loaded, in holster. Total time 18 sec.

Start at 25 yards; but shooter does not fire here. On command, shooter displaces to 15 yard line, draws, fires 2 rounds, 6 seconds. Decock (if DA/SA) and return to low ready. On command, Fire 2 rounds in 3 seconds, return to low ready. Repeat on command 2 rounds, 3 seconds, three times. Total 10 rounds (running total 28).

Stage III: 

Start at 15 yards, firearm loaded with fewer than 12 rounds, in holster, and spare magazine on belt. Total time 15 sec.

Start at 15 yards; but shooter does not fire here. On command, shooter displaces to 7 yard line, draws, fires 12 rounds — including a reload — in 15 seconds. Total 12 rounds (running total 40).

Stage IV:

Start at 7 yards, firearm loaded with a 5 round magazine, in holster, spare mag on belt with 5 rounds. Total time 15 sec.

Start at 7 yards; but shooter does not fire here. On command, shooter displaces to 5 yard line, draws strong hand only, fires 5 rounds.  Transfers gun to weak hand (this can happen before, during or after the reload. It is safest before, and fastest during, as the instructor demonstrates), reloads, fires 5 rounds weak hand only. Time limit 15 seconds. Total 10 rounds (running total 50).

This is a much simpler and easier qualification than the ICE/DHS HSI qualification that we’ve posted before. We’ve never heard of a Bureau candidate being sent to hit the bricks for failing the pistol test (we’ve heard of a few “retested” by managers after the instructors gave up on them, and miraculously passing. This happens in every agency), but we have heard of special agents in the field being retasked to desk work after repeated failures to qualify. It is a rare agent who will fire his or her firearm in anger, but every one is supposed to be ready to do so. The replacement qual is not significantly more difficult, although it’s generally closer in, and stresses starting from concealment, which is more realistic for an investigative agency. (Sure, if they’re expecting trouble, like a warrant service, they unholster in advance or even break out the long guns… or they re-plan the arrest so that it’s less risky, if possible). The FBI’s upcoming change to 9mm from .40 S&W will make it easier yet.

So, can you shoot like a Fed?

This entry was posted in Training, Weapons Education, Weapons Usage and Employment on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

14 thoughts on “Shoot Like a Fed II: The FBI Qualification 1997-2013

Trone Abeetin

Can I shoot like a Fed? ummmm, lemme think, no.

I don’t think I can shoot an unarmed woman in the head while she is standing at a screen door. I can’t shoot like a Federal Marshal either because I can’t shoot a thirteen year old boy.

Barry Subelsky


I am a retired FBI Agent (and a firearms instructor). This course is just too easy in my view. The Revolver Qualification Course and the first Pistol Qualification Courses started at the 50 yard line. My new agent’s class had 10 women in it and they all qualified. This course was supposed to reflect the reality of a gunfight. That is, more emphasis on close in shooting skills. The cover garment is barely used. Who goes prone at 25 yards with 75 seconds to shoot?

I dont see this as any improvement-except it will be easier to qualify….

Hognose Post author

Barry, I hear similar things from the instructors in other agencies (ICE, OSI, CBP, ATF, you name it). There is no “command emphasis” as we called it in the military, on realism in marksmanship training & evaluation.

The bosses point out that they’re investigative agencies, and that 90-some percent of their SA’s never fire a shot. As the Bureau of all agencies should know, you train not for what is probable but what is worst case. The FBI learned something from the Miami shootout, but recent shoots seem to all be close range, pistols against pistols (or pistols against knife- or blunt instrument-armed suspects), and the shoots have been going the Bureau’s way. Organizations do not learn from victories. They learn from defeats (or pyrrhic victories like Miami).

An example of training that bosses and even many instructors think is wasteful, is that eliminated 50-yard requirement you mentioned. I think shooting pistol at 50 and even 100 yards is a great confidence builder. With a little time and coaching we were all on e-type silhouettes at 100 with .45s, and that was with GI rattly 1911A1s, and while none of us ever popped off at 100m with a handgun, we sure had more faith in our handgun shooting at contact range.


***With a little time and coaching we were all on e-type silhouettes at 100 with .45s, and that was with GI rattly 1911A1s, and while none of us ever popped off at 100m with a handgun, we sure had more faith in our handgun shooting at contact range.***

See following: The Death of a Jeep


The par times seem to be excessive to me. I think passing this qualification demonstrates no more than a basic level of competence.

Mr. AR-10

Hmm, could I pass, no I couldn’t. However I am certain that with practice I could do so pretty easily.

My problem is time to get to the range for practice and cost of feeding the gun and instructor led training…

It is what it is.


Mr. Ar-10: It doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might imagine. Many of the skills required for this test (presentation, trigger control, sight alignment, etc) could be developed to a high level with dry fire in your home. Most competitive shooters do a ton of it.

Jim Scrummy

Could I pass right now, no. The 25 yard shot would be my failure point with a pistol, right now. I haven’t practiced 25 yard shots with a pistol in awhile. So, next range session that will be on the training syllabus. I always learn something new here, always. Thank you!

Cap’n Mike

Compared to the state mandated Qual I do once a year with my department, that one is pretty good.

More movement and positions, and defiantly more challenging.

I asked one of our firearms guys once why ours isn’t more realistic and challenging. His answer was some of the guys and gals have a hard time passing the easy one.

Hognose Post author

Sad but true, Mike. The Bureau has people who have only passed on paper.


Been trying to do the FAM qual. No luck thus far. Even the new one is no cake walk, at least not for me.

Hognose Post author

Yeah, and they dumbed it down considerably from the pre-9/11 version. The two toughest quals I know are the FAMS and the PSD quals for a particular government agency (contractors and “blue badges” both). Although the PSD qual is a two-gun qual, you must shoot very very well with carbine and very well with pistol.


Shoot like a fed?

But, we crazed rightwing extremist domestic terrorist bitter clingers are not to be trusted with a rifle.

How’s this for shooting like a fed:

‘In New Video, A Grateful Al-Qaeda Thanks US For Supplying Anti-Tank Missiles’

The FSA has received anti-tank weapons from The Pentagon over the past two months so that they may counter the advance on Aleppo by Hezbollah and the IRGC. Given that the very same Iran-backed Shiite militias the FSA is fighting in Syria are also fighting ISIS in Iraq, the fact that the US is supplying the FSA with weapons to kill them is nothing short of ridiculous. Here’s how we described the situation last month:

The US is now supplying anti-tank weapons and other munitions to the rebels fighting in Aleppo and those weapons are being used to kill these very same Shiite militiamen who are driving US tanks, fighting alongside the Iraqi army, and indirectly receiving US assistance just across the border in Iraq.

So thanks to Washington’s twisted foreign policy, they are friends on one side of the Syria-Iraq border and mortal enemies on the other.

Well now, in what can only be described as an embarrassment of truly epic proportions, al-Qaeda has released a video thanking the FSA for supplying al-Nusra with American-made TOWs. Here’s Sputnik:

The Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, has released a grateful video, where they openly thank the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which the US has touted as a “moderate opposition group”, for supplying them with US-made anti-tank TOW missiles (“Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided”).

cm smith

In 1970, I had a class for locals with FBI instructors on the old 60 yard PPC. The instructors were old school FBI dogmatic, but it was a great experience.

The wild part was the then standard at-will forward movement in stage two. I had shooters behind me, shooters beside me, and shooters in front of me, all blazing away at the same time.

I had to look it up. Summarizing from Cooper:

Stage one (10 rounds) – seven yards, 25 seconds. FBI crouch required.

Stage two (40 rounds) – the shooter stands at the 60-yard line, with five rounds in his pistol and thirty-five rounds on his person. On signal he draws, drops to prone and fires five rounds. He loads in prone, holsters, runs forward to the 50-yard line, assumes the prone position, fires five shots, reloads in prone, assumes the sitting position and fires five more.

At the 50-yard line barricade the shooter rolls behind the barricade, reloads under cover and then fires five shots using the right-hand barricade position; reload under cover, fires five from the left-hand barricade position, reloads, holsters, and runs forward to the 25-yard line/barricade. Shooter fires five shoots sitting or kneeling. After five shots he jumps behind the barricade, reloads, fires five right-handed-barricade, reloads, and fires five left-handed barricade.

Time 5 minutes and forty-five seconds.