Historical Handgun class April 2021 (part 2)

As part of the 6 days of training Tom Givens (Rangemaster) taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range in April 2021, Tom and Karl co-taught a one day session of Karl’s Historical Handgun course. The course consisted of a 4 hour lecture from Tom, and a 4 hour block of live fire drills from the 1910’s-1980’s run by Karl. Part 1 of the class AAR is here.

US Army 1930 Qualification

We shot the US Army’s 1930 pistol qualification, which was all slow fire at 15 and 25 yards, on a giant bullseye.

We shot a version of the standard Gunsite 250 qualification test, using 1911 pistols shot using the Weaver stance.

We also shot some of Chuck Taylor’s drills, from his late 1970’s training program.

The final course of fire we shot was the FBI qualification from the 1980’s. Those striving for historical correctness shot 9mm DA/SA style pistols using the Weaver stance.


The class is not a competition, but I do track scores, to get an idea of the relative difficulty of the different historical qualification courses. For this particular group of shooters:

  • Pollard 1918 test: average 50.4%, high score 77.8%
  • Fitzgerald 1920’s qual: average 82.7%, high score 90.7%
  • Army 1940: average 73.1%, high score 97%
  • FBI 1945, average 79.8%, high score 95.2%
  • Gunsite 1970: average 60.8%, high score 96%
  • Chuck Taylor basic 1970s: average 83%, high score 100%
  • FBI 1980’s: average 88.8%, high score 100%

Different sessions of the course have included a variety of courses of fire. All the data for all the sessions:

  • Pollard 1918 test: 15 shooters, average 50.4%, high score 77.8%
  • Fitz 1920: 15 shooters, average 82.7%, high score 90.7%
  • Army 1940: 42 shooters, average 73.1%, high score 97.0%
  • FBI 1945: 43 shooters, average 70.5%, high score 99.2%
  • Gunsite 1970: 43 shooters, average 68.1%, high score 96.0%
  • Chuck Taylor basic 1970’s: 15 shooters, average 83%, high score 100%
  • FBI 1980’s, 38 shooters, average 83.0%, high score 100%
  • Texas metro PD: 27 shooters, average 95.9%, high score 100%
  • FBI 2000’s: 20 shooters, average 81.1%, high score 96.7%
  • Marine Combat Pistol 2013 qual: 7 shooters, average 78.5%, high score 99%

The dataset is good for a rough estimate. Some shooters had the correct guns for the courses of fire. Some used their modern carry gun for everything. Some made a good faith effort to use the correct techniques. Some reverted back to two handed modern isoceles when the whistle was blown.

My general observation is that modern shooters do well on courses where the shots are 15 yards or less, and have difficulty when the shots are at longer distances and there is plenty of time. The ability to hit targets with a pistol past 15 yards isn’t emphasized in many training programs, and based on data from actual incidents, is rarely needed for self-defense. The classic FBI qualification from 1945 is the hardest of the most widely used standards, requiring proficiency at hip shooting at 7 yards and long range shooting out to 60 yards from prone, sitting and barricade positions, but none of the aimed, rapid fire, close range work modern pistol programs teach. Tom’s data on FBI agent-involved shootings 2012-2016 shows only 9% of shots fired past 15 yards, with no shots fired past 25 yards.

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