El Cerrito Handgun Qual — Doing it Cali Style

It’s that time again! What time is it? It’s time to train! We try our hardest to collect the best and worst police and military qualifications from around the country. Today we are looking at the El Cerrito Handgun qual. It’s hosted by the El Cerrito police department.

El Cerrito is a mid-size city in California with a weird tie to the musical world. Seriously, this place has ties to Metallica, Kenny Chesney, Cracker, and Game Theory. Odd, but that’s enough about California cities and their musical ties, let’s look at the el Cerrito handgun qual and what you’ll need to shoot it.

What You’ll Need

Ammo is expensive, right? It’s pricey, and it’s not coming down anytime soon. So, with that in mind, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The El Cerrito handgun qual only requires 30 rounds total. That’s it! Outside of 30 rounds, you’ll also need at least two magazines and a mag pouch to carry your spare.

gear for el cerrito shoot
The shoot isn’t too gear-heavy by any means.

The qual calls for a duty-ready handgun, but we can shoot this qual with whatever handgun we feel like. For example, if you want to test your concealed carry piece feel free to do so. You could get through this qual with a Sig P365 or Glock 43X. I wouldn’t try it with a revolver, but it could be done with careful loading.

You’ll need your holster, which in this context is an OWB police duty holster. However, if you are training with your standard concealed carry pistol, then use your concealed carry holster. You’ll obviously need your eyes and ears. The qual calls for the BT-5 El Dorado DA Target, but this can be modified. You will need a target with a clear head and chest area.

Scoring the El Cerrito Handgun Qual

Now that we are all geared up, let’s look at the scoring requirements. The BT-5 El Dorado DA target has a very specific color pattern that affects scoring. To get an accurate score in the context of this qual, this target is necessary.

Any shot that hits inside the grey or red torso target or grey spine equals two points. Any shots intended for the torso that are in the back will count as one point. Headshots must all be in the red portion of the target to count.

A passing score is 42 points or 70 percent.

At the Range With the El Cerrito Handgun Qual

As usual, we are starting close and working our way rearward. These drills are short and sweet and will take from three to 25 yards. You will be moving backward and forward at some points, so make sure your range allows that kind of movement.

Stage One: Three Yards

Start with your gun holstered. At the beep, draw and fire a failure drill. A failure drill is two rounds to the chest and one round to the head. You’ll have a total of four seconds to complete this drill.

Stage Two: Five Yards

Make sure the magazine in your firearm has two rounds in the magazine. Your second magazine should be pouched and ready with at least three rounds, but five rounds will have you up and ready for the next stage.

reloading a handgun
Make sure those reload skills are sharp.

At the beep, draw and fire a double tap to the target. With an empty gun, commit a slide lock reload. Once reloaded, fire a failure drill to the target. You have a total of ten seconds to complete this drill.

Stage Three: Seven Yards

Reload your mags if necessary. Your spare magazine should be holstered with three rounds loaded. The magazine in your gun should have at least two rounds loaded. At the beep, fire a double tap, then reload on the fly. End the drill by firing another failure drill into the target. You have 15 seconds total to make it happen.

Stage Four: 10 Yards

At the 10 yards, we are starting once more from the holster and have a nice simple drill. You’ll be firing three rounds into the body of the target. You have five seconds to do so. Not too bad.

aiming a sig p365
The little Sig worked well for this qual

Stage Five: 10 to 15 Yards

Get ready to move your body and shoot your gun. With your gun drawn and in the low ready, you’ll need to start moving rearwards, and at the beep, you’ll fire three rounds at the body of the target.

Stage Six: 15 to 10 yards

This time we are going to reverse things by moving forward. It sounds odd, but basically, what you are going to do is start at 15 yards and move toward the 10-yard line. Start in the low ready, and move forward. At the beep, aim and shoot three rounds to the body of a target.

moving with handgun
This qual requires forward and backward movement.

Stage Seven: 15 Yards

Alright, take a breath; we are done moving. At the 15-yard line, your gun will be holstered, and at the beep, you’ll draw and fire a double tap to the target. Now, transition to the kneeling position and drop another double tap to the threat.

kneeling with a pistol
It’s nice to see multi-position shooting during a qual.

Stage Eight: 25 Yards

Hold your breath. You are getting outside the comfort zone of most pistol shooters. The smaller the gun, the harder this will be. However, it’s good practice.

You’ll start holstered, and at the beep, you have to fire four rounds at the target. However, you get to pick which position, standing, kneeling, or prone. You have 20 seconds total to decide what position to take, to take the position, and to fire four shots.

Prone with a handgun
Getting into the prone with a handgun makes things nice and stable.

My Thoughts

The El Cerrito Handgun qual isn’t too tough. The times are fairly generous. I applaud their accuracy requirements and somewhat dynamic shooting requirements. I also enjoy the low round count, which opens up the course of fire for shooters on a budget. It could be more difficult, but it does fit well with a somewhat new shooter and gives them applicable skills and standards to work towards.

It won’t challenge a seasoned shooter, but it isn’t a bad way to spend 30 rounds on the range. I might shoot it with a mouse gun to see how far I can get with just a .32 ACP or .22LR. Add it to your training roster, try it out, and let us know what you think below.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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