The OPOTA SMG Qual – Test Your PCC Skills

It’s another week, another day with the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, aka OPOTA. OPOTA releases the majority of their qualifications to the general public, and today we are going to look at the OPOTA SMG Qual. Submachine guns aren’t exactly available to the general public, but PCCs and subguns certainly are, and they’ll be a perfect(ish) stand-in for this qualification. As a PCC nut, I adore pistol caliber SMG-like platforms, and the cheap(ish) ammo makes them an easy date.

The OPOTA SMG qual isn’t super demanding, is fairly simple, and fairly fun. It’s a good change-up for your typical range day and gives you something practical to invest your PCC time into. The OPOTA SMG qual is perfect for all skill levels and doesn’t demand anything difficult to accomplish or have any crazy range requirements. Let’s dive into the logistics of OPOTA SMG qual.

What You’ll Need to Rock and Roll With the OPOTA SMG Qual

First and foremost, obviously some form of PCC, or subgun, or a semi-auto rifle. Heck, you can shoot this drill with a Ruger 10/22 if you want. I went with my B&T APC9K because it’s based on a real SMG and seemed appropriate for the OPOTA SMG Qual. Also, you might wanna grab a sling, because you’ll need it.

You’ll need 25 rounds of ammunition, as well as a spare magazine and magazine pouch. I used Global Ordance’s awesome 9mm ammo. I wore my uber tactical 5.11 Defender jeans with the spare mag pouch that’s built into the jeans. Additionally, you’ll also need a handgun and holster for a transition drill. I used the LS Edge from FN and a Blackhawk Omnivore.

PCCs and SMGs are like step brothers, so are big, braced pistols.

OPOTA wants you to use their huge target, but it’s not necessary. Honestly, any realisticish target will work. The FBI Q, the VTAC Skeleton, or even the free Sage Dynamics printable targets. The smaller the target, the more the challenge.

As always, you’ll need eyes and ears for safety reasons, and I also suggest a shot timer. I use a Pocket Pro 2, but you could easily make use of a cell phone app. Cell phone apps suck for detecting shots, but you can set a randomized go signal and a par timer, so you know if you at least pass the drill. You’ll also need at least 50 yards of range, which might be the toughest part to accomplish.

Going Whole Hog

Every drill will start with your weapon in the low ready, but each drill ends with your weapon indexed in the high ready. You’ll begin each drill with a magazine loaded and a round in the chamber. There are eight separate stages that range from 10 to 150 feet. We start close and back it on up as the qual continues. If you read the official qualification, you’ll need to use full auto. I doubt many of us have access to that, so squeeze that trigger and do it fast.

Stage 1

The stage begins at a mere 10 feet. You’re nice and close, and you ain’t got a reason to miss here. You’ll need three rounds loaded into your weapon. Start at the low ready, and on the signal, raise the weapon and fire three rounds into the preferred area of the target. The preferred area is the head or chest.

OPOTA SMG Qual - stage 1 starts in the low ready position
A lot fo drills start in the low ready.

You’ll need to fire these three rounds within two seconds. You can do it! I believe in you!

Stage 2

Stage 2 keeps you at the 10-foot line. This time you’ll need four rounds loaded into your firearm. On the signal, you want to engage the target with three rounds to the torso and then transition to a head shot with the final round. Your time is four seconds.

Stage 3

The third round of the OPOTA SMG qual starts at 15 feet and has you load a single round into your PCC/SMG/subgun, whatever. Next, you’ll load two rounds into your handgun. On the go signal, you’ll raise, aim, and fire one round into the torso of the target. As the gun runs dry, you’ll drop and let it hang.

OPOTA SMG Qual - Stage 3 transition to handgun
From there, you’ll transition to your handgun. Draw safely, and fire two rounds into the target. Do all of this in six seconds or less.

Stage 4

We are moving back to the 20 feet line, with our SMG loaded with three rounds. This simple drill has you engaging the main target with three rounds into the preferred area, i.e., head or chest. You have a total of three seconds to achieve this.

Stage 5

Tack on ten feet to your yard line, and you’ll be at the 30-foot line. You’ll need to load three rounds in your preferred weapon. On the signal, raise and engage the target with three rounds to the preferred area. Very simple, just a little extra range. Oh, and you still have three seconds to achieve this.

PCCs and SMGs are like step brothers, so are big, braced pistols.

Stage 6

Finally, we step on back to 50 feet. Now we are opening things up a fair bit. At 50 feet, we are loading two rounds into our SMG and starting with our non-dominant hand. On the go signal, you need to raise and fire those two rounds with the non-dominant hand in eight seconds. It’s different, but the par time is more than generous.

Stage 7

Back your butt up to 75 feet and load two rounds into your first magazine, and load three into your spare mag. You’re gonna be reloading. On the signal, you engage the target with two rounds until your weapon runs dry.

reloading B&T APC9K
You only have one reload in the qual.

Then assume a kneeling position and reload. I ejected the magazine on the way down to save some time, but you do you. Once you’ve reloaded, fire the remaining three rounds into the target.

Stage 8

Your final OPOTA SMG Qual stage takes place at 150 feet, or 50 yards. That might seem far, but it’s still within the range that the SMG dominates. You’ll need to load two rounds into your weapon and assume a standing position.

On the go signal, you’ll transition to the prone position and fire two rounds into the target. You got eight seconds to assume a prone position and fire the two rounds.

OPOTA Qual stage 8 in the prone position
You take the prone for that 150 yard shot.

This is the final stage, and passing requires 23 hits. You can miss twice, and that is it.

Is the OPOTA SMG Qual Worth It?

The OPOTA SMG Qual is fairly simple with light logistical restraints. There is some movement, but it’s not a ton. I do like the fact the qual has shooters reloading, assuming multiple positions, and even transitioning to a handgun. Heck, I need to work on my transitions because it was slower than I thought.

I used a 3D target, and a steel target, but you can use a variety of targets.
I used a 3D target, and a steel target, but you can use a variety of targets.

There is lots of good stuff in the drill. I do feel the par times are very generous. You can definitely cut them by a second or more and create more challenge for yourself. The accuracy standards are quite high, though, and to me, that’s a good thing. The OPOTA SMG Qual can certainly serve as a good baseline for skill.

I would add multiple target engagements and more reloads. I feel there is plenty of room to use multiple reload drills. Also, introduce some cover into the mix because cover saves lives. Ultimately it’s a fun little qual and is perfect for less experienced shooters. It’s a great way to get to know your PCC.

What do you think? Is the OPOTA SMG qual for you? Let me 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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