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Shooting Drill: Federal Air Marshal’s Pistol Test [PICS]

Brooks Johnson

Protecting those that fly the friendly skies takes skill.

As you get settled into your seat for the last part of your flight home, you notice someone acting strangely. You keep half an eye on his while you get out the novel you have been immersed in since you started your journey. Suddenly the man starts screaming, throwing his hands in the air and cursing at the flight attendant. From the back of the plane a man in a suit coat walks up the aisle and confronts the man. They talk for a few moments, until the belligerent man turns around to be handcuffed. As he is led off the flight, you realize the man in the suit coat was a federal air marshal.

READ MORE: Shooting Drill: The FBI Qualification Test

Tasked with the mandate to detect, deter and stop hostile actions against the United States in civil aviation, the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) are effectively the police officers of the air. In addition to law enforcement training, they are trained to be excellent marksmen. Armed with only a pistol, they need to be judicious with their shots to not injure innocent passengers, should the need to shoot arise.

As a result, the FAMS Pistol Qualification Test is one of the toughest tests to pass. As such, it is also a great drill for concealed carriers to use to benchmark their skills.

Note that this drill cannot be run on an indoor range. The way the drill needs to be setup needs you to be able to shoot across lanes and one of the stages needs the ability to turn around without sweeping anyone, therefore this drill is best run on an outdoor range. But with spring right around the corner, this drill will give you an excuse to get outside and shoot.


The Drill

This drill uses the QIT targets like the FBI Qualification Drill. You will need three of the QIT targets and 30 rounds of ammunition. You will also need a concealment garment for two of the stages.

Stage 1: From concealment, draw and fire one round. Repeat. Total time is 3.30 seconds with 2 rounds fired.

Stage 2: From low ready, double tap the target. Repeat. Total time is 2.70 Seconds with 4 rounds fired.

Stage 3: From low ready, fire 6 rounds into the target. Total time is 3.00 seconds with 6 rounds fired.

Stage 4: From low ready, fire one shot, reload, fire one shot. Repeat. Total time is 6.50 seconds with 4 rounds fired.

Stage 5: From low ready, fire one round into 2 targets, each three yards apart. Repeat. Total time is 3.30 seconds with 4 rounds fired.

Stage 6: From concealment and facing up range with back to targets, turn 180 degrees and place one shot into each of three targets, three yards apart. Repeat. Total time is 7.00 seconds with 6 rounds fired.

Stage 7: From low ready and standing, fire one round, slide locks back, drop to one knee, reload, fire one round. Repeat. Total time is 8.00 seconds with 4 rounds fired. (Note this is basically the 1 + 1 reload drill just dropping to a knee before reloading)

So if you add all of that up, you need to fire 30 rounds in 33.8 seconds. Total time for each stage cannot be exceeded or you fail that stage. Hits in the bottle are worth 5 points, hits on the line or outside of the bottle are worth 2 points for a maximum total of 150 points.

To qualify, you need a minimum of 135 points and successfully completed all stages.

So how do you stack up? Would you be able to protect the friendly skies? This is a tough test, even for some of the best and highly-trained firearms instructors in the industry; so don’t get frustrated if you can’t shoot it as well as you would like. Practice makes perfect!

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Shooting Drill: Federal Air Marshal’s Pistol Test [PICS]