The MPOETC Handgun Qual: Competency to the Max

We’ve talked about the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission of Pennsylvania before. I was quite impressed with their shotgun qual, so I went back to the well to find out how they qualled with their sidearms. The Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission is the state organization that comes with the training standards for police forces in the State of Pennsylvania. This includes everything from driving and law lectures to my favorite — firearm quals. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until 2020 that they had a standardized course of fire for handguns. 

The requirements are interesting as the police forces of Pennsylvania likely vary quite a bit in terms of weaponry. The minimum caliber is .380/.38, which I assume is .38 Special, but hey, maybe .38 Super is bumping around Pennsylvania. Let’s hop into the logistics of what we’ll need to shoot the MPOETC Handgun qual. 

Packing Heat for the MPOETC Handgun Qual 

Let me give you the good news right off the bat. You only need 50 rounds for this course of fire. That’s it. A mere box of 9mm is all you need. With that said, the bad news is they use a real specific target that is required for scoring. It’s easy to find, google MPOETC TQ-21 target. However, I think you could use a small target, like the FBI Q or a USPA Target, and use the various zones to improvise your scoring method. Mixing the Sage Dynamics targets with an FBI Q actually works well too. 

gear for handgun shoot
Gear up and get ready.

We will need a handgun, a holster, and at least two magazines. This is a police course of fire, and the accepted holster would be a duty type with retention. I’m using my Blackhawk T Series holster, and I’m using my SIG P320 to complete the course of fire. For most of those reading this, it’s not likely much value to you to shoot from a duty-style holster, so feel free to run it concealed. The concealment will certainly make things more complicated. 

As always, we are going to need our PPE. I’m using some Gatorz glasses and ISO Tune earplugs to get things started. This is a timed shoot, so bring your shot timer. Also, we’ll need something to act as cover. There are some segments of this drill where you can really benefit from a partner, so if you have friends grab one. 

Scoring the Qual 

If you are using the correct target, you score shots inside the black line as fives, shots in the grey as three, and misses as misses. The qual is shot in two phases. Each phase is graded individually, with each phase requiring 94 points out of 125. If you fail one phase, you fail the entire MPOETC handgun qual. 

Blasting Away With the MPOETC Handgun Qual 

One thing to remember with this qual is that reloads are on you. They are rarely mentioned in the qual. It’s expected that you’ll reload as you shoot. The problem is that you’ll 

Stage One: 25 Yards 

We are working with cover for the first drill, but we will be starting just outside of cover. At the beep or command to fire, the shooter will assume cover while drawing. The shooter will start in the standing, lean right outside of cover, and fire two shots. Then they will swap to the left side and fire two shots. Now assume a kneeling position and fire two shots from the left side of the cover. Finally, remain in the kneeling and fire two rounds from the right side of the cover. 

kneeling barrier shooting
Switching between multiple positions is a fun challenge.

Once you’ve fired eight rounds, conduct a tactical reload. (Meaning, retain the magazine.) You have 40 seconds total. As a pro tip, go ahead and reload your other magazine between the various courses of fire. 

Stage Two: 15 Yards 

We’ll need cover set up two yards to the right of the shooter’s start position. At the 15-yard line, you’ll face the threat, and at the beep, you’ll draw and fire two rounds at the target. Then, you’ll shift to the low cover and take a knee and lean out from cover and fire another round. 

shooting from behind low cover
The second piece of cover is a bit closer.

After that, you’ll repeat the drill, but this time the cover will be to your left. Repeat the drill with the cover to the left of your position. You’ll have eight seconds per run. 

Stage Three: 15 to Seven Yards 

We are going to start moving with this course of fire. Set your shot timer to a random delay; I’d say between two and five seconds. From the 15-yard line, you’ll begin walking forward. At the beep, stop, draw, and fire three rounds. You have five seconds to do so. 

Stage Four: Seven Yards 

At the seven-yard line, we are going to play quick draw McGraw. It’s high noon, so be ready to draw. Oh, and you only get to use one hand. At the beep, draw and fire two rounds with your strong hand only. As soon as you finish firing, pass the gun from your strong hand to your weak hand and fire two rounds. You have 10 seconds to get it done. 

one handed shooting handgun qual
I still suck with one hand.

Repeat the drill one more time before you call it a day. 

That’s Phase 1. Score and see how you did. 

Phase 2 

Stage Five: One Yard 

We are up and close now, boys. Start with your weapon holstered and close to the target. At the beep, strike the target, take a step back, draw your handgun, and fire two rounds into the threat. You have four seconds to make it happen. 

Stage Six: Three Yards 

Alright, the target is close, so you have no accuracy excuses, and you should be moving fast. At the beep, draw and fire two rounds in three seconds. 

Stage Seven: Three to Seven Yards 

This one involves moving and shooting, so be ready and don’t rush it. At the beep, you’ll draw and fire four rounds in eight seconds while moving rearward to the seven-yard line. You have plenty of time. 

backward walk shooting handgun qual
Walking backward and shooting was a new experience.

If you have a partner, they can help you with the next part. You’ll keep your weapon trained on the target, and your partner yells, “Body Armor,” and then you need to take one shot to the head of the target. You have two seconds to do so without a partner. Hit the shot timer again and use a random beep to trigger the shot. 

Stage Eight: Seven Yards 

This time the target is behind us. We are facing away with our guns holstered. At the beep, you will pivot 180 degrees and then draw your pistol and fire two rounds in four seconds. You’ll repeat this drill three more times. 

Again we are going to do a body armor drill. Use your partner or shot timer. When it goes off, fire a headshot in two seconds. 

Stage Nine: 10 Yards 

It’s time to get off the X. At the beep, you’ll draw and fire three rounds as you move to the left. You have eight seconds to fire those three rounds. 

moving while shooting handgun qual
Step to the left, step to the right, cha cha slide

You’ll repeat this drill one more time, but this time you’ll be moving to the right. 

Stage 10: 10 to Five Yards 

This time we are taking the fight to the target. At the beep, draw and fire three rounds as you advance toward the target. You have eight seconds to get it done. 

Clear and Holster 

Ahh, we are done. The MPOETC Handgun Qual lives up to the shotgun Qual’s reputation. This is challenging, diverse, and uses a good mix of skills. We see cover, headshots, movement, and more. The times are fairly tight. It’s a great course of fire. It’s surprisingly challenging, and I do enjoy a good challenge. 

If you’re looking to try something with some fire behind it, then check this handgun qual out. I recommend walking through it dry, it’s certainly not for amateurs or new shooters. It stands out as one of the most impressive handgun quals. 

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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