The DOE Shotgun Qual — Scattergun Joy

The Department of Energy isn’t typically the organization you’d think of when it comes to firearm qualifications. The DOE keeps an armed paramilitary service because, hey, who else will guard nuclear material? You’d be surprised at how many quals they have. We covered the SMG qual before, and today we are looking at the DOE Shotgun Qual. If we ever get a chance and an M249 SAW, we’ll shoot their light machine gun qual.

For now, let’s load up the scattergun and hit the range. The DOE has numerous shotgun quals, including low light variants, but today we are just doing the basic shotgun qual. It’s relatively simple and low maintenance. You won’t need much to be successful with this drill.

Gearing Up for the DOE Shotgun Qual

You’ll need a shotgun, duh. The qual calls for a pump-action, but I think any repeating shotgun works fine. I used a Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde. You’ll also need ten rounds of buckshot. The scoring standards use either nine-pellet or 12-pellet buckshot. I used a simple nine pellet load from Monarch. You’ll also need the means to carry spare ammo. I used my belt, but you can use a side-saddle.

ammo belt with shot shells, ear protection, sunglasses, and timer
You won’t need much to complete the qual.

The DOE has its own target, available on Amazon, but I used a simple silhouette target. The DOE target is fairly simple, and the scoring for the shotgun qual isn’t exactly precision-based. You’ll be under a time constraint, so bring a timer if you have one.

Oh, and don’t forget your eyes and ears.

Shooting the DOE Shotgun Qual

Each drill starts with a loaded weapon with an empty chamber and the weapon in the low ready. You will start each string with the weapon on safe, and at the end of the drill, the shooter will also put their weapon on safe.

Scoring is simple. Every pellet will count as one point when it strikes the target. If using nine pellet buckshot, you’ll need to land 80 percent of your hits, or 72 pellets, on target. If using 12 pellet buckshot, you’ll need to land 96 pellets on target.

Monarch 9-pellet shot shells in ammo belt on top of Mossberg 590A1
Ten rounds of ammo aren’t much.

Now that we know all the boring stuff, let’s load up and blast away with your favorite scattergun. The DOE Shotgun Qual only has three strings, so we’ll be home before dinner.

String 1

I always love government speech when it comes to these kinds of quals. They sound so official and scary. Here is how the technique is described by the DOE in string one.

“Immediate and continuing response to a lethal threat at a short distance while reloading.”

Begin the drill with three rounds loaded into your tube, but ensure the chamber is empty. You’ll start at the seven-yard line and fire four rounds. Set a par time of twelve seconds.

reloading Mossberg 590A1
Practice those reloads to succeed.

At the beep, charge the weapon, aim, and fire two rounds into your target. Then load 1 round into the magazine tube. I bet you thought that target was dead. Well, it’s not, so fire two more rounds into the threat. Do all this in 12 seconds.

String 2

The Technique for String 2 for the DOE Shotgun qual is listed as:

“Immediate and continual response to a lethal threat at a moderate distance, while changing shooting position and reloading, using an alternate method to load.”

For this round, we are backing it up to the 15-yard line. Set your par time to 15 seconds and load two rounds into the magazine tube. In this string, you’re going to fire four rounds total and move from standing to kneeling.

Port loading Mossberg 590A1 while kneeling for DOE Shotgun qualification drill
Be fast on your port loads.

At the beep, fire the rounds in your gun. Then, take a knee with the empty gun and immediately port load a round directly into the chamber and charge the action forward. Load a second round into the tube and fire both rounds into the target from the kneeling position. You’ll need to complete this in 15 seconds.

String 3

Our technique for the final round of the DOE Shotgun qual is listed as:

“Immediate response to a lethal threat at a moderate distance while moving to a more advantageous shooting position.”

As you can assume, you will back up to a ‘moderate distance’ of 25 yards. That is a good distance for a shotgun but still well within the capabilities of a shotgun.

DOE shotgun qual, string three
A good push/pull technique will work wonders.

Pop two rounds into the tube. You’ll only be firing these two rounds. Set a par time to six seconds. Charge and fire one round into the target on the beep, then immediately transition to a kneeling position and fire a second round. Make sure it’s done in six seconds.

That’s it. You’re done. Now let’s examine the DOE Shotgun qual in depth.

What I Like

The DOE Shotgun qual isn’t bad. It’s fairly short and implements many shotgun skills I think are valuable. It forces you to port and tube load, which are both valuable skills with a shotgun. You also have to shoot at 25 yards, which is a real possibility with a shotgun, and it’s a completely reasonable range with that weapon.

Department of Energy Shotgun qual, kneeling
You’ll move from standing to kneeling often.

I like that you start with an empty chamber and have to get the weapon ready before each drill. There is also some movement with the drill in taking kneeling positions. You have to move, reload, and think. Also, if you want to succeed, you need to have your shotgun patterned with the load you’re training with.

What I’d Change

Like most of these government issue quals, the DOE shotgun qual has a very generous par time for these strings of fire. I wouldn’t cut them in half, but maybe reduce them by about 25 percent and make them a little tighter. I never felt challenged and was always well within the times allowed. I ran the qual dry once and twice live and never came close to failing.

Mossberg 590A1
Work that action!

I wouldn’t mind seeing multiple targets and target transitions. Also, like most of these quals slug, select drills are completely ignored, and they shouldn’t be. A good slug select drill followed by a headshot would be challenging and work a good skill to have.

Pump, Shoot, Pump

The DOE Shotgun Qual is a good bit of fun. It’s not super challenging, but the low logistics requirements and easy-range requirements make it easy for most of us to shoot. It’s fairly easy to do with just dummy rounds if you can’t run it live. What do you think about this qual? Let us know 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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