COURSE OF FIRE: Tactical Rifle | Handgun | Reload | Transition Exercise


COURSE OF FIRE: Tactical Rifle | Handgun | Reload | Transition Exercise

By Deputy Richard Hecht, Pierce County, Wash. Sheriff’s Department.

Each issue of The Police Marksman will feature a “Course of Fire” that police officers can use for their own department’s training. Training courses can be shared and used “as is” or you may wish to modify them as needed. If you have a firearms course that has worked well with your own department’s range training, send it to us and we’ll pay you $50 if it’s chosen to be shared here. Try to keep the round count at a single box of 50 rounds for pistol courses as we know today’s ammo budgets are challenging. Courses with movement, cover, shields, low light, etc. are beneficial to all police officers, so follow the standard instructional format like this issue’s course and e-mail it to us at

Required Items and Materials

Required Items and Materials:

  1. Patrol rifle with sling and two magazines (One magazine loaded with five rounds and the second magazine loaded with 12 rounds)
  2. Duty handgun with full duty belt (pistol magazines loaded with a total of 33 rounds)
  3. Silhouette target with scoring rings

Course can be fired with only a handgun. These shooters will start with one magazine loaded with five rounds and another magazine loaded with no more than 12 rounds, plus an additional 33 rounds

Instructional Goal

The purpose of this exercise is to combine the use of the patrol rifle and handgun, to practice the application of the tactical reload and transition from rifle to handgun

Instructional Objectives

  1. Officers will be instructed on the differences between a tactical and a speed reload and when each is appropriate versus a transition to another firearm (time, distance, cover, still in the gunfight or during a lull).
  2. Instruct the need to perform the reload “up in your workspace” versus dropping your head to the gun (keeping your awareness and eyes on the suspect… the gun should not obscure your vision)
  3. The exercise uses the standard PPC course of fire for familiarity and ease of scoring, but can be used on any distance range. No barricade post is used inside the 50-yard line. Officers will be encouraged to move laterally before firing
  4. Officers will conduct a 360-degree scan after each course of fire, checking for additional threats or incoming friendly units
  5. Officers will properly manipulate the safety of their rifles, placing it on “fire” when on-target and on “safe” when off-target


A. Course of Fire on the Range

  1. From the low ready at 50 yards, the officer shoots five rounds from his rifle (or handgun if not using a rifle), either standing, kneeling or prone, and does a speed reload with the 12-round magazine, all in 25 seconds
  2. The officer moves to the 25-yard line at low ready/SUL. At the 25-yard line with the 12-round magazine already loaded, the officer shoots five rounds strong side shoulder, five rounds opposite side shoulder, and five rounds kneeling strong side shoulder. When the rifle is out of ammo (after the last two rifle rounds are fired and the rifle is empty), the officer places the rifle on safe, transitions to the handgun, fires three rounds, and then performs a tactical reload of the handgun. All in one minute. (Handgun-only shooters will shoot five rounds strong hand supported, five rounds opposite hand supported, and five rounds kneeling strong hand supported, then perform the tactical reload
  3. The officer moves to the 15-yard line at a low ready/SUL with the handgun. The rifle is carried for the rest of the course on the sling. The officer will shoot 10 rounds, with a mandatory magazine change before the last round is fired, in 30 seconds
  4. The officer will move to the 7-yard line with the handgun at low ready/SUL. The officer will shoot 10 rounds with a mandatory magazine change before the last round is fired in 25 seconds, all to the target’s head
  5. At the 7-yard line, start loaded and holstered with magazines reloaded. Draw and come to a low ready/SUL. From the low ready/SUL, the officer will shoot five rounds weak hand only and immediately shoot five rounds strong hand only, all in 25 seconds

B. Standard scoring rings apply for a 500-point/50-round score. The officer may holster the handgun as needed in order to reload ammo or pick up any dropped items, before coming to a low ready/SUL and moving to the next stage.

If additional stress needs to be added, the officers can be made to wear their ballistic helmets and/or gas masks.

Scoring is done according to standard PPC scoring practice, although we will not be checking the shots after shooting from the 50 and 25.


  1. Questions
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