The MPOETC Shotgun Qual – The Best One Yet?

Shotguns are quite underappreciated in the modern age of the patrol rifle. I think they are still very effective weapons and have been shooting my way through a variety of police and military qualifications built around the shotgun. Today we are looking at one from the Municipal Police officers Education & Training Commission of Pennsylvania. The MPOETC Shotgun qual establishes a standard and baseline for Pennsylvania Police officers’ shotgun skills.

The MPOETC Shotgun qual is one of my favorites so far, and it’s one of the few courses of fire that mixes up the use of slugs and buckshot. 

Benelli M4 with range gear
Let’s dive into it.

What do you need for the MPOETC Shotgun Qual?

You’ll need a repeating shotgun, preferably a pump or semi-auto. The MPOETC shotgun qual is normally shot with a pump-action, and they set the qualification up to acknowledge that. Take a semi-auto if you want. Heck, take a lever action and let me know how it goes if you do.

Next, grab five slugs and eight rounds of 00 buckshot. Rifled slugs are listed, but any slugs will work reasonably well. You will also need the means to carry spare ammo. You can use a belt, pouch, side saddle, or whatever. I’d suggest something you can quickly access and load the gun with.

shotgun side saddle for extra shot shells
The MPOETC Shotgun Qualification course requires a little spare ammo.

The course does require the use of cover, so have something you can hide behind. Also, you’ll need a range that’s at least 50 yards and allows for some movement. MPOETC uses the NRA TQ-21 target, but any target with a head and chest can work.

Don’t forget the basics, eyes and ears and a shot timer. Every stage has a time limit you must meet to pass the drill.

basic gear for firearms training. Ear and eye protection and timing device
Don’t forget the basics of any firearms training.

Terms You Need to Know

Hot dang, like a shotgun nerd, I forget not everyone speaks gauge. Also, not everyone was in the military, and there are two terms that pop up a few times in the MPOETC Shotgun qual that we need to define.

Cruiser Ready

Cruiser Ready is a state most shotguns are in when stored in a police cruiser. The chamber is empty, the hammer is down, the weapon is on safe, and the magazine tube is loaded. Ensuring the gun remains uncocked is important because this allows the pump to work freely without the need to hit the pump release.

Port Arms

The term Port Arms pops up a few times, and it’s a position to hold the firearm. It’s not necessarily a standard combat position. It seems to be an admin position until the drill starts. Port arms are when you hold the gun across your body with the barrel pointing upwards. The pump rests in your non-dominant hand, and your dominant hand grips the stock’s pistol grip.

Running Through the MPOETC Shotgun Qual

Now that you know the terms and you have your gear and gun, what’s next? Well, we get to shooting. Load up, and get ready. We are starting at the 50-yard line, so strap in, load up, and get ready to speak gauge.

Stage 1: 50 Yards

The target looks a lot smaller at these ranges, huh? Well, this is where we start and make sure you have something to hide behind because we need cover here. Load two slugs into the magazine and remain cruiser ready. Assume the port arms position and wait for the signal.

Travis Pike using shotgun for MPOETC shotgun qual stage 1
Shoot fast, there is a timer waiting!

For me, the shot timer’s beep is the go signal. Assume a ready stance behind cover at the beep, peeking out only enough to see and shoot your target. Rack a round in the chamber and fire two rounds at the target.

You have 15 seconds from the beep to make those two shots.

Stage 2: 25 Yards

That target got a bit bigger now, right? Even so, it’s still time for slugs to shine. Load your shotgun with three slugs, but remain in the cruiser-ready position. On the beep, chamber a round and fire one round standing, immediately transition to a kneeling position and fire two rounds into the target.

You’ve got 15 seconds from the beep to get your three shots off. Now that you’ve shot all your slugs, go check the target to score and replace or paste the targets. For scoring, slugs inside the inner portion of the target count as ten points, and anything outside the inner zone count as seven points.

Stage 3: 20 yards

Now you’ve moved into that buckshot range, right? Load two rounds into the magazine tube and come to a low ready position. At the beep, chamber a round, assume a kneeling position, and fire two rounds into the target.

topping off the shotgun tube
Tube top-offs are more important that port loads.

You’ve got ten seconds to get the whole thing done.

Stage 4: 15 Yards

Inside of 15 yards, the shotgun dominates, and that’s where the MPOETC shotgun qual takes you. Start with an empty gun, safety on. Combat load your shotgun. A combat load of an empty gun requires you to load a round through the ejection port and another round into the magazine tube.

Reloading is a critical shotgun skill, so get used to it.
Reloading is a critical shotgun skill, so get used to it.

Now at the signal, aim and fire both rounds. Then assume a kneeling position and combat load again. Again, this involves a port load and a magazine load. Once loaded, fire both rounds. You have twenty seconds total to accomplish all this.

Stage 5: 7 to 15 Yards

This stage of the MPOETC shotgun qual will be tricky if training alone. Start with an empty gun and combat load the weapon—one in the port, one in the magazine tube. The drill calls for the RSO to command the line to move. Then the RSO will command when to shoot as you walk from 15 to 7 yards.

As a solo shooter, I’d set a random timer on the shot timer. Hit the button and start walking. When the timer signals, fire and shoot both rounds into the target in two seconds. Boom, that’s it. The MPOETC Shotgun qual is over.

Traivis Pike aims MPOETC shotgun qual
Use the Push/Pull technique to mitigate recoil.

Now we score. Every pellet that hits the silhouette counts as one point, with nine pellet buckshot, which gives you a total of 72 points. A passing score is 91 points, and a100% score would be 122 points.

My Thoughts About This Qual

The MPOETC shotgun qual might be the best qual I’ve fired in the world of shotgun quals. The qual has some fairly strict scoring guidelines and accuracy requirements. Like most shotgun quals, it’s short and sweet, but it does involve some fairly long ranges.

Mixing in slug use and repeated slug shots is a nice touch. Mixing in reloads is smart, too. Even when they aren’t timed, they build good habits. The qual has some fairly strict scoring guidelines and accuracy requirements.

Benelli M4
The gauge can be a challenge unto itself.

What would I change with the MPOETC shotgun qual? Well, the times are super generous. I can just mosey through the qual without much stress. I’d knock five seconds off the first four stages, at the least. That makes it a bit more challenging and requires you to move a little faster.

Who the heck is MPOETC?

We know MPOETC stands for Municipal Police officers Education & Training Commission, but what the hell do they do? They are an organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that establishes and sets standards for police officer training in Pennsylvania.

They come up with the qualifications, the courses of fire, and set regulatory standards. MPOETC consists of 20 police officers in Pennsylvania appointed by the governor, and they regulate police training in the state. It’s a small but useful organization who’ve put together several worthwhile training quals. You will undoubtedly see more of MPOETC as we continue this series.

The MPOETC shotgun qual is a fun and quick course of fire for shotgun nerds. I’d suggest running it dry once or twice. Heck, an enterprising shotgunner will make this a great dry fire course of fire. What do you think? Let us know below what you like, dislike, and what would you change?

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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