Shooting the Stephenville PD Qualification Course

A KR Training student recently sent me the qualification course of fire used by the Stephenville, TX, police department. It uses the CSAT (Paul Howe) target, which is basically a USPSA target with a 6″x10″ A zone.

Officers are not given a specific load out to force a reload during a specific string of fire. Officers show up with mags loaded to capacity, but because a variety of handguns and calibers are authorized, there will be variation in how many rounds are fired before the gun goes empty and a reload is required. When a reload occurs, officers get a 3 second grace period on the string in question. The other difference is on Stage 6 at 3 yards. Officers using a red dot are required to shut the dot off to “simulate” a failed optic.

Stage One

25-yard line, standing outside, left side of cover, on command officers will aggressively move behind cover while drawing and engage their target with 1 round in 6 seconds, repeat once


25-yard line, standing outside, right side of cover, on command officers will aggressively move behind cover while drawing and engage their target with 1 round in 6 seconds, repeat once


Stage Two

15-yard line, officer stands outside strong side of cover, facing target weapon holstered & snapped in.

On command officer will draw their weapon while moving to cover. Once behind cover, they will engage their target with 8 rounds in 12 seconds


Stage Three

10-yard line, no cover, facing target, weapon holstered and snapped in.

On command officer will step left while drawing and fire 4 rounds in 10 seconds.


On command, officer will step right while drawing and fire 4 rounds in 10 seconds.


Here is video of me shooting stages 1-3. To keep the video short enough for instagram, I trimmed all the “transition, scan and holster” parts out, except for the first few segments.

Stage Four

On command officer will draw with dominant hand and transition to their support hand and stand by. On command, fire 6 rounds in 9 seconds, support hand only.

Transition and holster as you normally would.

On command, draw with dominant hand only and fire 6 rounds in 9 seconds, dominant hand only.


Stage Five

One Shot Drill – Facing target, weapon holstered and snapped in. On command officers will draw and fire one round. After firing, they will reluctantly transition, scan and holster. This will be repeated 5 times, for a total of 6 rounds. Each round fired in 3.5 seconds.

If using a RDS, at this stage officers will be required to shut off their dot.

Stage 6

3-yard line (Controlled Pair) 

On command, officer draws while moving left or right (officers’ choice) and fire 2 rounds in 3 seconds. (6 if reload is needed at this stage)


Reset and repeat drill 5 times for a total of 12 rounds.

Here is video of me shooting stages 4-6. I did the strong hand/weak hand segments out of order. I assumed that it was OK to use both hands for reloading during the one handed strings, because a 3 second addition for reload time is appropriate for a two handed reload, but not for a one handed reload.

My Performance

I didn’t have an actual CSAT target handy, but I did have some of Dave Spaulding’s center chest overlays printed on 8.5×11 paper. Click the link below to download your own copy of this handy target.

I shot this course of fire as a cold drill (first drill of the day) during two separate practice sessions. The first time I shot, I couldn’t remember what the correct target was, and used a TQ-19, shooting the drill with the Taurus G3 (with iron sights) during my 1000 round torture test of that gun.

If the entire light colored section was 5 points, then I had only one shot outside it…but a lot of my hits were lower (below the heart), a few strayed up to the top of the shoulder and there’s that one low right flyer. When I went back and looked at that video, I also realized that I didn’t shoot all the strings exactly the way they were described. I topped off the gun between stages and never had a slide lock reload during any string. So my “perfect score” was probably down 7-10 points (or more) and the video wasn’t a fair representation of what the course of fire intended.

A couple weeks later, I shot the course of fire again, using my Glock 48 with Holosun 507C green dot, this time using the Spaulding overlay on a USPSA target to approximate the CSAT target more closely. I paid more attention to stage procedure and used more of the available time to get better hits.

The white center on the brown target, plus the dot optic, definitely made it easier for me to focus on putting all my hits in the 6″x10″ box. That run was a 50/50 (250 points).


The 25 yard stage is good, with movement to cover and emphasis on getting a first shot hit, moving to cover from each side. This might be difficult for people shooting this drill at an indoor range using a single lane. If you eliminate the movement and cover requirement, dial the par time down to 4 seconds.

The 15 yard string also requires moving to cover, and 8 rounds in 12 seconds is really closer to one shot per second after you factor in the draw and movement to cover for a typical shooter. Those running this drill on a single lane at an indoor range should be able to sidestep, even without cover, to run this one with the 12 second par.

For the 10 yard string, a 10 second par to fire 4 shots seems slow, and off-pace from the one shot per second expectation at 15 yards. The 7 yard string has a 3.5 second par with no movement, so a 4 second draw time “par” and one shot per second should really lead to an 8 second par, not a 10 second par.

The 6 rounds in 9 seconds for one handed shooting is a reasonable par for a cop qual, in my opinion.

The 3.5 second draw time at 7 yards, though, should be 3.0 or even 2.5 seconds. Fast shooters working from open carry retention duty holsters are capable of 1.5 or faster draws, 50% of that is 3.0. It’s not clear why movement for the one shot draws at 7 is omitted when it’s included for all the other strings, all the way back to 25 yards.

Shutting off the dot at the 3 yard line is a reasonable requirement as passing this part of the qual requires using backup irons, using the shell of the dot sight, or simply good body index (back of slide aligned with center of target). The timing for this string is significantly out of sync with the 7 yard par times, though. Someone with a 3.5 second draw time at 7 yards isn’t going to be able to make 2 shots in 3 seconds at 3 yards. 2 shots in 3 sec is fine, but it points back at the need to make that 7 yards one shot draw par time faster so the standards for each string are roughly equal in difficulty.

Overall this is a decent police qual course, testing a variety of skills, including use of cover, limited movement, one handed shooting, true surprise slide lock reloads (not “programmed slide lock reloads” where the shooter knows it is going to happen on round X of the sequence), with reasonable balance in round count vs distance. 12 rounds (24%) at 3 yards, 18 rounds (36%) at 7 yards, 8 rounds (16%) at 10 yards, 8 rounds (16%) at 15 yards, and 4 rounds (8%) at 25 yards. The LAPD on-duty shooting incident data shown below (linked from a longer Lucky Gunner article on this topic you should read) uses different categories and has more longer distance shooting, but the NYPD data is biased toward closer distances. So there’s no universal distribution curve that fits every jurisdiction.

Go Shoot The Drill Yourself

Go shoot the drill yourself. A standard USPSA target with it’s rectangular A zone is the best simulation of a CSAT target, or print out the Dave Spaulding target I linked above and paste it any larger cardboard backer. Don’t have a shooting timer? Just run the drills and try to get all the hits, at any speed. Can’t draw from a holster at your range? Shoot the drills starting from a ready position, and if you are using a timer, take 1 second off the par time for each string where you replaced drawing with starting from ready.