A deputy runs through the rifle portion of the training with Captain Lenderman timing the course.

The Importance of  Firearms Training for Gun Owners

If you plan to own a gun for self-defense, I’m a huge proponent of firearms training. Not just the “once upon a time” firearms course, and definitely not the short Concealed Handgun License class, but ever expanding, personally challenging, diverse training courses that will give you confidence and advantage should you need to defend yourself.

One benchmark we can use to audit our defensive skills is to look at law enforcement. I spent the day with the Angelina County sheriff department for their annual firearms requalification to see how they train and qualify their officers.

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) sets minimum standards for firearms proficiency that every state agency must meet annually.

Before heading to the firing line every service weapon was completely stripped, cleaned and inspected. Every officer is required to show proficiency in care and cleaning of their weapons.

Then I participated in a short training exercise that more resembled a small 3 Gun match. Shooting against a timer, we fired their AR15 rifles at 50-yard steel targets in various positions using the VTAC barricades with limited ammunition.

The limited round count was challenging to me since I’m used to the luxury of missing if I find myself running a gun too fast. However, when a law enforcement agency trains personnel for public law enforcement it’s great to ingrain the idea that every bullet is a liability and must find its appropriate mark.

After the rifle refresher we shot pistols from the holster at various steel targets. The last event, the pump shotgun stage, involved knocking down some heavy steel plates that demanded a well-placed shot to neutralize them.

The TCOLE minimum handgun qualification standards are pretty straightforward. This requires the course of fire to include at least 50 rounds, with five rounds fired at ranges from point-blank to at least 15 yards and a minimum of 20 rounds fired from at least seven yards, including at least one timed reload. The rest is up to each agency’s instructor’s preference and discernment to train and challenge their officers.

The qualification course that the sheriffs’ office used required a minimum of 70 percent hits on a TQ19 target with the following:

  • From Contact Distance, within five seconds, shove the target and shoot two to the chest, one to the head. For the second string shove and shoot one to the chest and two to the head.
  • From the two yard line, with one hand, shoot one shot center mass, on the second string fire three shots center mass
  • From the four yard line, within five seconds, fire two shots to the chest, on the second string, two shots to the head.
  • From the seven yard line within 30 seconds, fire 12 rounds including a reload.
  • From the 15 yard line, within 40 seconds, fire six shots with strong hand, perform a tactical reload retaining the magazine, then fire six shots with support hand.
  • From the 25 yard line, within 60 seconds, fire three shots standing, strong hand; three shots kneeling, strong hand; three shots standing, support hand; three shots kneeling, support hand.

The Captain explained that this is just a starting point; and as the officers improve, the target size will decrease and the standards will become more challenging. So, I challenge you to test yourself with these minimum standards, find training, and improve your skills to be the best shot you can be.