The El Cerrito Shotgun Qual: Double Taps Galore

Finding Police and Military quals to shoot and write about isn’t always easy. Believe it or not, they tend to be tough to find online. I do appreciate the El Cerrito Police department and how easily they make it to find their various qualifications. Today we are taking the repeating claymore out for a run with the El Cerrito shotgun qual. El Cerrito is a small city in the beautiful San Francisco bay area. It’s the home of Metallica and the subject of a Kenny Chesney song.

That’s it for trivia about El Cerrito. Let’s talk shotguns. Shotgun police quals tend to be simple, and the El Cerrito shotgun qual is no different. It’s quick, simple, and easy.

What You’ll Need To Shoot the El Cerrito Shotgun Qual

We need a shotgun, duh, and there doesn’t seem to be any particular kind required. I’d suggest a repeating shotgun, obviously, and it can be a semi-automatic or a pump action. Just for fun, I used an Ithaca 37 Deerslayer with its short barrel and rifle sights. The Ithaca 37 was a classic police shotgun and fits the role well for what we are doing.

You will also need 12 rounds of buckshot, the qual lists Federal Tactical 00 buckshot, but I think any buckshot will do. The target required is a King County B-27 target, but any decent silhouette will do. Shotguns tend to destroy targets, so I’d bring at least two. I used the Sage Dynamics targets, which are free and printable.

Ithaca 37 with eye and ear protection and a box of ammo for shotgun qual
Don’t forget your eyes and ears.

As always, you’ll need eyes and ears to keep safe. This qual does not require a shot timer, which is somewhat distressing. Timers are a great way to apply a statistical and measured resource for skill.

In terms of range, you need at least 25 yards. Additionally, you need a few cones or markers to designate a couple of yard lines. You really only need two, but five would allow you to mark each yard line easily.


Scoring is very simple. You fail if more than four pellets fall outside of the silhouette. That’s a pretty big miss. This scoring method ensures you have patterned your gun and understand how your load works at various ranges. If you approach this qual with a loose patterning load, you might fail at the 1st course of fire. Get something that patterns nice and tight.

Shooting the El Cerrito Shotgun Qual

There are no specific instructions regarding reloading the gun, and it’s not done on the clock. Reloads seem to be up to the shooter and don’t seem to be part of the qual. To get the most out of my ammo, I only loaded what a specific drill needed and then reloaded in a tactical manner for the next drill.

Shooter aiming shotgun
A little push/pull technique will chew up recoil.

There is also no specific instruction for how to start each drill. I began each drill in the low ready with a round in the chamber and the safety on. The term double tap is used in each drill, and for the purposes of this qual, that is two shots fired, one rapidly after the other.

Stage One: 25 Yards – Two Shots

At 25 yards, you will engage the target with a double tap.

The 25-yard line is well within the confines of the shotgun. It really shines at 25 yards, to be completely honest, but there is little room for forgiveness here. If your shot pattern falls too much to the left or right and is too wide, you might fail right here at stage one. Ensure you have a sight picture focused on the center of the target.

shotgun qual, low ready
Low-ready is a great place to start.

Stage Two: 15 to Five Yards – Four Shots

We start at the 15-yard line and begin moving forward. You will fire a double tap at the 10-yard line and a double tap at the five-yard line.

This is where the cones or markets come in really handy. You can easily mark each line and not have to stress about where to shoot. Move in a tactical manner with the gun up and on target until you reach the desired yard line.

Stage Three: Five to Seven yards – Two Shots

Let’s back it up! At the five-yard line, you will move backward, covering the target with the gun. When you hit the seven-yard line, you will fire a double tap.

Again the cones come in handy here. Don’t just guess. Make sure you lift your feet as you walk and keep the gun orientated toward the target.

Stage Four: 10 Yards – Two Shots

At the 10-yard line, it gets a bit more again. From the 10-yard line, fire a double tap, and that’s it. Stress that push/pull and recoil mitigation. Get a good lead on target. Don’t slack at this yard line just because it’s close and easy. If that 2nd shot gets away from you, it’s easy to toss a few pellets.

aiming at steel target
Put those pellets where you need them!

Stage Five: Seven yards – Two Shots

At the seven-yard line, you’re almost in touchdown range. Again, launch a double tap into the target.

Boom, we are done with the boom stick.

My Thoughts

The pros of this qual are that it does challenge you to have proper recoil control, to know your weapon’s pattern, and you even get a little movement with the gun. Those are solid points. After shooting the qual, a timer isn’t necessarily needed. The double taps are inherently quick, but I don’t think a timer would be completely off the wall.

El Cerrito shotgun qual
This is a buckshot qual…none of that bird food here.

The El Cerrito shotgun qual could also use some reloading because reloading the gun and keeping it fed is a fight. Being able to skillfully and quickly reload would be valuable. That’s where a timer and a double tap drill could really come into play. Multiple target engagements or a headshot requirement for one of the drills could make it more challenging and stress critical skills.

This qual is fairly simple but still fun to shoot. I appreciate the accuracy requirements and the fact I’m not counting hits but looking for misses. Shooting the shotgun can be a challenge in itself for a new user, and this is a good piece of training to build speed and accuracy.

What do you think? 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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