NOPD Shotgun Qualification Course — Scattergun Time

Good old New Orleans. Home to bitchin’ parties, a street named Bourbon, and today’s shotgun qualification. The New Orleans Shotgun Qualification Course, aka the NOPD Shotgun Qual, is a three-stage, multi-string affair designed to test your limits with the scattergun. Okay, I’m being a little hyperbolic, but why the heck not? It’s fun, and I love shotguns, so I love shotgun quals. 

Travis Pike shooting the NOPD shotgun qual

The NOPD Shotgun qual is short and sweet and fairly easy to run through. The NOPD handgun and rifle quals are longer, but sadly the recent resistance to the gauge shows that this qual doesn’t get the same love. Something about heavy recoil and such keeps these courses of fire from being too long. 

Let’s exercise our gratefulness that NOPD makes this easy-to-find public knowledge and get shooting. 

What You’ll Need 

You’ll need your favorite scattergun, ten rounds of buckshot, and two slugs. The course of fire suggests a nine pellet buckshot, and you’ll need that ninth pellet to get a perfect score. You are also going to need something to carry extra ammo. It can be a belt, belt mounted, a chest rig, a sidesaddle, or whatever you have on hand. It needs to be able to hold at least five rounds of spare ammo. 

shotgun side saddle
A side saddle that holds at least five rounds is nice to have.

As far as the gun goes, that’s it. You can use a sling and red dot, but they aren’t necessary. You’ll need either a B-27 target or a Post Qual P-1 target. There are separate scoring procedures for each target. You’ll also need something to act as cover—I use a PTSB-Lite. As always, grab your eyes and ears as well as your shot timer. Now you are ready to rock and roll.  

Winchester Defender 12-gauge slug
You are going to need at least two slugs for this run.

Well maybe. Let me give you some scattergun advice. Make sure your sights are good to go for slugs. Second, make sure you’ve patterned your gun. You need to take a few rounds out to 15 yards and pattern the gun to see how the buckshot spreads at that range. This will be invaluable information to know before you dive into this qualification. 

Scoring The NOPD Shotgun Qual 

As mentioned, different targets require different means of scoring, and there are different scoring procedures for buckshot and slugs. Slugs are worth five points each. Each pellet of buckshot is worth a certain number of points depending on where it hits. 

If you use the B-27, each pellet is worth five points if it hits inside the number 8 circle. Shots inside the number 7 circle, it’s worth four points. If it hits inside the black, it’s worth three points. 

If you use the big green P-1 target, you get five points if the pellet lands in the scoring rin and four points if it lands in the green. 

Any pellets off the target count for zilch. You have to score at least 75% to pass. 

Shooting the NOPD Shotgun Qual 

We got our gear, our targets, and we know how to score the NOPD Shotgun Qual, so let’s dive in and start throwing buckshot and slugs. We’ll start with slugs. 

Slug Stage 1: 25 or 50 Yards 

The slug range allows you to shoot at either 50 or 25 yards. If you have a 50-yard range, I really suggest shooting at 50 yards. It’s good training and allows you to exercise those slugs and stretch their legs. If the cover aspect allows, you can use it as a support to stabilize your shots. 

Travis Pike aims shotgun from behind cover
It sucks being over six feet tall and trying to use cover.

Load your shotgun with two slugs. At the beep, take cover and fire one round from the standing position, then immediately transition to a kneeling position and take a second shot. 

If you fire this from the 50-yard range, you have 15 seconds to make your shots. If you shoot the slug phase from the 25-yard drill, you’ll have seven seconds. 

Buckshot Stage 1: 25 yards 

At 25 yards, you are still well within the capable ranges of the shotgun. In fact, I think 25 yards is the sweet spot for the shotgun. Today you’ll find that out for yourself. Admin load two rounds into the shotgun and assume the low ready. Make sure you have three rounds located somewhere close.

On the command to fire, or beep of the timer, the shooter will raise and fire two rounds center-mass. The gun is now empty, so do the reload dance. First, take a knee that tactically makes sense and is part of the qual. I recommend a port load followed by shoving two into the tube.

reloading shotgun in kneeling position
Reloading is a skill you have to master with the gauge.

Once you got that big boy loaded fire off those three rounds. If you’re competent at reloading, there is nothing saying you can’t reload on the way down and save some time. Although, you do have a whole 35 seconds to get all five rounds fired. 

Buckshot Stage 2: 15 Yards 

Move up to the line, but leave your gun empty. Have five rounds sitting on your gun or body ready for a reload. 

String 1: At the beep, load all five rounds into the gun and fire two shots within twenty-five seconds. 

String 2: On the timer, from the low ready, fire one round into the midsection of the target. You have two seconds. 

NOPD shotgun qual
It’s all about buckshot. Don’t sissy out with birdshot, boys.

String 3: On the timer, from the low ready, fire one round into the midsection of the target. You have two seconds. 

String 4: On the timer, from the low ready, fire one round into the midsection of the target. You have two seconds. 

Boom, that’s it. You’ve done it! The NOPD Shotgun qual is over. 

What I’d Change 

First and foremost, trim the time on the two reloads. You don’t need that much time to fire a few rounds and reload. I would practice the drill a few times and use my best time as the par time and keep driving it lower. 

The last three strings of fire are identical…why? Why not add a lateral movement? What about taking a knee and firing? You can certainly change it up and not do the same old same-old. I’d increase the round count as well and probably mix in multiple targets to work transitions. 

Holosun red dot mounted on shotgun
An optic on an autoloader is one way to roll.

Even with these issues, the NOPD Shotgun qual course is perfect for a little afternoon range time. You’ll certainly need to know your zero and pattern your buckshot. Plus, you’ll learn how to reload and reloading is important with a shotgun. 

More Than Mardi Gras 

The NOPD Shotgun qual is a great way to blast a little buckshot at the range. It’s fairly basic, but a great way to exercise 12 rounds out of your scattergat. What do you think about the NOPD Shotgun qual? 

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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