The FBI Shotgun Qual — Fedboi Shoot 2.0

It’s that time of the month when we pretend to speak in-ear mics, dress in black, and pretend to LARP as Feds. Well, not really. But we are going to take a crack at the FBI Shotgun Qual. It bears mentioning that outside of the Hostage Rescue Teams, the FBI isn’t exactly known for its gunfighting prowess. In fact, they existed for years before they were even allowed to carry guns. They are a Bureau of bureaucrats that are more likely to be lawyers and accountants than gunfighters. However, they still have to have some firearms training.

Shotguns aren’t as popular as they used to be, and the Feds have already traded them in for ARs and similar carbines. Still, in my mind, the shotgun is the best close-range fighting weapon out there, and I can’t help but love them. With that in mind, let’s look at the FBI shotgun qual.

What You’ll Need for the FBI Shotgun Qual

You’ll need an ill-fitted black suit and cheap shoes to look the part if you want to be authentic to the Federal Law Enforcement lifestyle. If that’s not an issue, then we can focus on the guns and ammo. You’ll need a shotgun, duh—specifically, a repeating shotgun. A semi-auto or pump action shotgun that’s tube fed is really the way to go, but someone will undoubtedly use a Winchester 1887.

You’ll also need some ammo. In accordance with the course of fire, you’ll need 11 slugs and five rounds of buckshot. You’ll be doing some reloading, so make sure you have a convenient and accessible means to get your hands on that ammunition. A side saddle, an AmmoPal, or something similar will work.

Shotgun with safety gear
The gear and gun requirements are fairly light.

For targetry, you’ll need a classic FBI Q target. You’ll also need something that can act as cover. This can be a blue barrel, a PTSB, or a board conveniently leaned against something. If you got all that, you are ready to go! I would also suggest a sling because a good long gun should have a sling. I’d also bring a couple of targets, mostly because shotguns are brutal to paper targets, and they tend to tear them up.

Of course, as always, bring your eyes and ear as well as a shot timer.


Scoring is pretty simple. Hits in the bottle-shaped Q target are the only ones that count. Each slug hit is worth five points. Each pellet in the target is worth one point. This is why multiple Q targets can be handy. It gets awfully difficult to score a target that’s basically cut in half by shotgun fire by the end of the course of fire.

A passing score is 90%. This allows the course to be adaptable to different types of buckshot; not necessarily different shot sizes, but different pellet counts of 00. If you have an eight-pellet buckshot, then you know that 100% of your buckshot rounds would be 40 pellets.

Shooting the Course

Alright, let’s pretend to be feds or at least shoot like them! Grab your guns, ammo, and cover and head to the 50-yard line.

Stage One: 50-Yard Line

We are stepping into good slug range with the first stage of the FBI Shotgun qual. Out here, we will deal damage to our Q target, and you’ll wish you had something more than a bead sight. Load two slugs into your shotgun and assume a high-ready position behind the barrier.

 behind high cover
I used a blue barrel as my cover.

At the beep, you will engage the target with one shot from the standing position, using the strong side of the barrier. Strong side is whatever your dominant side is. After the shots are fired, immediately transition to the kneeling position and fire a second shot into the target. You have 20 seconds to fire both shots.

Stage Two: 25-Yard Line

For Stage Two, you will start in the low ready with an empty weapon with the action open. Have that spare ammo ready because we are reloading against the clock. At the beep, load five slugs into the gun. With the action open, I suggest doing a port load, followed by shoving the other four into the tube.

Once loaded, fire two rounds from the standing on the strong side of the barricade. Then transition to the kneeling position and fire three rounds. You have 45 seconds to accomplish this, which is a ton of time.

Stage Three: 15 Yards

This stage is broken down into two phases.

Phase One

Start with an empty weapon, with the action open and safety on. On the beep, load four slug rounds. I still suggest one port load and three into the tube. Once loaded, fire one round. You have a total of 20 seconds to accomplish this.

aiming the shotgun
A good set of sights allows you to put those slugs right where you want them.

Phase Two

With your gun loaded with three slugs from Phase One, assume a low-ready position. You’ll be doing Up drills, meaning on the beep, raise, aim, and fire one round from the gun. You’ll repeat this drill three times. You have three seconds to complete each Up drill.

Stage Four: Seven Yards

Finally, we are done with all the slug work and will turn our attention to buckshot. Start with an empty weapon, with the action opened and safety on. At the beep, you’ll scramble to load three rounds of buckshot into the gun, then fire those three rounds into the target. Now immediately load the gun with two more rounds of buckshot and fire the two rounds. You have a total of 35 seconds to accomplish this.

port loading
Start your reloads by throwing one right in the port.

My Thoughts

The FBI Shotgun qual is good, but not great. I like the big focus on timed reloading as part of the drills. However, the times are very generous. I feel like I can walk, not run, and accomplish each of these drills and stages within the time limits. It’s not super hard to accomplish, and tightening the times would be the first change I’d make.

mossberg 590 reloading
Follow the port reload with quick tube reloads.

I’d also change Stage Three to buckshot instead of slugs. Fifteen yards is prime time for a shotgun loaded with buckshot. It seems silly to cling to slugs at 15 yards. This creates a bit more of a challenge and does force a shooter to know how their gun and ammo patterns.

If they are so slug-obsessed, I’m surprised we don’t have a slug select drill where we work switching from buckshot to slugs.

Shooting Shotties

The FBI Shotgun Qual is a great piece of training for new shotgunners. It focuses on a lot of the basics and introduces some minimal standards to meet. It’s not particularly challenging, but it could be if you cut those times by at least a third. It’s a fun way to spend some time at the range.

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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