Dumbed Down: New OPOTC Rifle Qualification Course

by Greg Ellifritz

The Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy revised the statewide police rifle qualification course of fire last week. Like several other recent revisions, it was a step in the wrong direction. Rather than make the rifle qualification more challenging or more relevant, they dumbed it down. Slower time constraints, no shooting on the move, shorter distances, no multiple targets, no use of cover. It's really a step backwards.

I've heard that the revisions of the rifle course (and last year's revisions of both the shotgun and duty handgun courses) were brought about by police chiefs and sheriffs complaining that the former qualification courses were too difficult for their officers to pass and too costly in terms of numbers of rounds fired.

It's unbelievable how short sighted these administrators can be. Rather than expend the time and money to train their officers to actually be proficient with their firearms, they'd rather just make the qualification course easier. Police officers and the public both suffer under such idiotic logic.

Staff at OPOTA have defended the course changes by saying "Training is more important than qualification. In times of budgetary difficulties, with a shorter qualification course, more bullets can be devoted to training." That is true, but in reality it won't happen. I would estimate that 75% of the police agencies in Ohio ONLY shoot the required qualification course every year. The qualification test IS their training and a shorter test equals less training.

Did you know that most of the police officers in the state of Ohio fire fewer than 100 rounds a year in training? How confident are you in their abilities to face a lethal threat (or to defend your family) with that level of training. Shooting is a psycho-motor skill that requires practice to maintain. If you aren't a shooter, a similar psycho-motor skill that you might be able to better understand is the shooting of foul shots in basketball. It takes practice to get good at shooting foul shots and practice to maintain that ability once you acquire it.

Cops are supposed to be the "professionals" when it comes to handling violence. How good would a professional basketball player be if he only practiced 100 foul shots a year? How is it that the concept is so easy to understand in sports, but so difficult for a police agency to understand?

You can download the specifics of the course below:

Download (PDF, 212KB)

Here's just the stages of fire from the document above. What do you think? Remember, this is for a patrol RIFLE (usually an AR-15 style)...

Stage 1: range 15 feet; (3) three rounds; 4.0 seconds

1. Index low threat cover

2. On signal, engage the target preferred area three rounds in 4.0 seconds

3. Index high threat cover, threat assessment

Stage 2: range 20 feet; (3) three rounds; 5.0 seconds

1. Index low threat cover

2. On signal, engage the target head oval three rounds in 5.0 seconds. (The instructor has

the option to designate a pelvic oval on the target)

3. Index high cover, threat assessment

Stage 3: range 30 feet; (3) three rounds; 6.0 seconds

1. Index low threat cover

2. On signal, engage the target preferred area two rounds and the target head oval one

round in 6.0 seconds. (The instructor has the option to designate a pelvic oval on the

target)

3. Index high threat cover, threat assessment

Stage 4: range 50 feet; (2) two rounds; 5.0 seconds

1. Index non-dominant low threat cover

2. On signal, engage the target preferred area two rounds in 5.0 seconds

3. High threat cover, threat assessment

Stage 5: range 75 feet; (1) one round; 1.5 seconds

1. Index low threat cover

2. On signal, engage the target preferred area one round in 1.5 seconds

3. High threat cover: threat assessment

Stage 6: range 75 feet; (5) five rounds; 12.0 seconds

1. Load the rifle/carbine with one round chambered and one round only in the magazine for a total of two rounds

2. The shooter should have at least one reserve magazine charged to operational capacity

3. Low threat cover

4. On signal, engage the target preferred area two rounds, assume a kneeling position, reload the rifle/carbine according to agency policy, and engage the target preferred area three rounds from the kneeling position in twelve seconds

Stage 7: range 150 feet; (3) three rounds; 10.0 seconds

1. Low threat cover

2. On signal, assume prone position and engages the target preferred area three rounds in 10.0 seconds

3. Threat assessment

The qualification is shot on OPOTC's approved target. Center mass or head hits count as one point. Arm hits count as zero points. Any miss off the silhouette deducts a point from your score. 20 total shots. 20 possible points. 16 points passes.

Download (PDF, 212KB)

I know that I could pass this course with my pistol...probably even with my .38 snub! This course isn't helping the patrol officers or the citizens of Ohio.

Even if you are not a police officer, it might be good practice for you to shoot the course. Take video or save your target. If you ever have to use your rifle in self defense, it may be useful to be able to tell the court that you passed the state mandated police qualification test with the weapon you used.

Fire the course and let me know how you do. I'm not going to even bother shooting it with my rifle until my agency requires it. I'll be trying it with my .38 snub for a little more challenge!

Greg Ellifritz is the full time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department. He holds instructor or master instructor certifications in more than 75 different weapon systems, defensive tactics programs and police specialty areas. Greg has a master's degree in Public Policy and Management and is an instructor for both the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute.

For more information or to contact Greg, visit his training site at Active Response Training.

Help us fight for your rights!

Become a member of Buckeye Firearms Association and support our grassroots efforts to defend and advance YOUR RIGHTS!

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

Get weekly news and instant alerts on the latest laws and politics that affect your gun rights. Enjoy cutting-edge commentary. Be among the first to hear about gun raffles, firearms training, and special events. Read more.

We respect your privacy and your email address will be kept confidential.

Mission

Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.

JOIN