The MPTC Shotgun Qual — Shuck and Drive

We are revisiting the Municipal Police Training Committee to examine their shotgun qualification. The MPTC comes up with the training standards for Massachusetts police departments. This includes numerous firearm qualifications. The MPTC shotgun qual is fairly extensive, with a rather high round count for a shotgun. 

MPTC shotgun qual

Also, it must be said: Me talking about a bit of training isn’t an endorsement of the state or its gun laws. It’s just an examination of some training that shooters can conduct on their own to become better skilled with their firearms. 

The MPTC shotgun qual suggests using nothing but slugs to make scoring easier. To me, that is silly so I’ll ignore that part. We will use a mix of buckshot and slugs to get the most out of this training.

Digging in with MPTC Shotgun Qual 

First and foremost, you will need seven slugs and 18 rounds of buckshot. Use whatever load you prefer. I’m not breaking out the Flitecontrol for this one. Defense Dynamics from Fiocchi is a good choice for cheaper defensive buckshot. You’ll also need something to carry spare ammo, be it a side saddle, a belt, or whatever. 

You’ll also need a range out to 25 yards that allows some fire and movement, as well as some kind of ‘cover,’ be it a blue barrel, a trash can, or something dedicated like a PTSB barrier. I’ll be using a PTSB barrier. 

Fiocchi Defense Dynamics Buckshot

The course of fire doesn’t list a specific target, but the MPTC typically uses the IALEFI Q Target. You only need one technically, but shotguns tend to tear up targets, so it might be wise to use more than one. Scoring is simple, slugs equal four points per hit, and buckshot equals half a point for each pellet. A passing score is 80% for most but 94% for instructors. 

A specific type of shotgun isn’t listed, so any repeating semi-auto or pump action will work perfectly fine. Don’t forget your eyes and ears and a shot timer! 

To the Range With the MPTC Shotgun Qual 

We are starting the MPTC Shotgun Qual with the slug drills at 25 and 15 yards. Make sure you have slugs in your side saddle or your belt as you approach the 25-yard line. 

Stage One: Kneeling From Cover 

Have your cover set up and ready at the 25-yard line. You’ll need to have four slugs loaded into your shotgun. This qual does not have a time limit, but don’t slow it down. Start at 30 yards, and on the beep, chamber a round and move to cover at the 25-yard line. 

Travis Pike aims shotgun at 25 yards behind cover in the MPTC shotgun qual
25 yards, behind cover, with slugs.

From behind cover, engage your target with the three slugs and then keep your gun covering the target. Top off your magazine tube with three additional rounds, then begin approaching the target with your firearm up and covering the threat. You’ll move to the 15-yard line. 

Stage Two: Off Hand 

Once you reach the 15-yard line of the MPTC Shotgun Qual, get ready to use your timer. Ensure you have buckshot ready to load your gun after this drill. At the Beep, engage the target with four slugs in seven seconds. 

Travis Pike aims shotgun in MPTC shotgun qual
You’ll get up close and dirty with this qual.

After firing, load your weapon with buckshot while keeping your gun on the target and readying yourself. If your gun allows it, you can load six rounds of buckshot. Now keep your target covered and move to the 10-yard line. 

Stage Three: Pivot and Shoot 

Now that you are at the ten-yard line, you will begin pivoting and shooting the threat target. It might be a good time to paste up another target. Mine was ripped to hell. You’ll do three pivot drills, each requiring two rounds. 

If you want to spice the stage up, only load two rounds and do an emergency reload between pivots. If your gun can hold the rounds, there is no rule saying it can’t be fully loaded in the MPTC Shotgun qual. 

MPTC Shotgun Qual pivot and shoot
Get ready to pivot to the left, right, and 180 degrees.

Pivoting in the MPTC Shotgun qual is a multi-step process that occurs quickly. First, at the beep, you look to identify the threat, then pivot towards the threat, and then bring the gun up and engage. 

  1. Pivot to the Left and fire one round in three seconds, then repeat the drill for a total of two left pivots.
  2. Pivot to the Right and fire one round in three seconds, then repeat the drill for a total of two right pivots.
  3. Pivot 180 degrees and fire one round in three seconds, then repeat the drill for a total of two 180-degree pivots. 

Stage Four: Controlled Pairs On the Move 

Load your shotgun with four rounds and chamber a round. At the beep, advance from the ten-yard line to the seven-yard line while firing a controlled pair. Repeat this drill one more time. There is no time standard for this drill, but the rounds should be fired without stopping movement. 

Stage Five: Controlled Pairs With Lateral Movement 

At the seven-yard line, you’ll need six rounds of buckshot. On the command up, raise the shotgun and fire two rounds, and then laterally step left or right. Do this in five seconds. Repeat this drill two more times. You can reload as necessary or start with six rounds loaded. I prefer to reload after every drill on this stage of the MPTC Shotgun qual to get more reps in. 

Travis Pike shooting shotgun while moving
Get ready to move as you shoot.

After your third string, keep the gun covering the target and top off with your final two rounds and advance to the five-yard line. 

Stage Six: Hammer Pair 

Face the target and assume a low ready position at five yards. On the beep, raise, aim, and fire two rounds in three seconds. With that, you are done with the MPTC Shotgun qual. 

Booming and Shucking 

The MPTC Shotgun qual presents a difficult but fun course of fire that stresses a number of different skills. I like the use of slugs and cover, as well as the implementation of movement and firing. It’s not a bad qualification and stresses some basic shotgun skills. I love that the qual encourages a tactical mindset by the constant top-offs of the gun and the fact you are supposed to cover the target as you move from yard line to yard line. 

Travis Pike aiming shotgun
You’ll get up close and dirty with this qual.

It’s fairly well thought out. The only big change I’d make is multi-target engagement. Recovering from one shotgun blast into another can be difficult and it requires good mitigation techniques. Other than that, this is a fairly rock-solid piece of training. As usual, the par times are fairly generous, and I think shooters should use par times that challenge them. 

These are my thoughts. What are yours? Share below and let us know what you think! 


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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