COURSE OF FIRE: AR‐15 Malfunction, Reloading & Transition Drill

Course of Fire: AR-15 Malfunction, Reloading&Transition Drill

By Officer Ben Peterson, Park Ridge, Ill. PD

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

1. Two (2) AR magazines

2. “Go Bag” or user-supplied AR-15 magazine pouch

3. Dummy training rounds for AR-15

4. Standard silhouette training targets

5. Thirty (30) rounds of ammunition for rifle per shooter

6. Duty pistol, holster rig, and one (1) fully loaded pistol magazine

Instructional Goal:

For officers to be able to clear stoppages on the AR-15 rifle, and be able to reload and transition to their pistol when needed. Officers should understand that when feasible, it is imperative to utilize available cover to perform malfunction clearing and/or reloads. We will be simulating moving to cover by moving laterally off the current line of fire every time a malfunction is cleared or a reload is performed. When the Range Officer on the line calls out “TRANSITION,” shooters will transition to their pistol.

Instructional Objectives:

At the completion of this exercise, participants will have increased proficiency with:

1. Overall manipulation of the AR-15

2. Identifying malfunctions

3. Clearing malfunctions and stoppages

4. Knowing the difference between Cover and Concealment

5. Reloading

6. Importance of proper use of the AR-15 Safety and Charging Handle (sling shot method, and locking it into position prior to firing)

7. Transitioning to pistol when necessary and utilizing the safety on rifle when transitioning

Lesson Plan:

1. Introduction

a. Introduce self

b. State your qualifications

c. Explain course of fire as described in Body.

2. Explain why practice clearing malfunctions is important.

a. Explain that weapon malfunctions need to be cleared quickly.

b. Explain the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decided, Act) and how stepping to the side or seeking cover when a malfunction occurs may take the threat out of his OODA Loop and make it more difficult for the officer to remain an easy target.

c. Further explain keeping the rifle in front of the officer’s face during the malfunction drill instead of dropping the officer’s line of vision away from the threat.

d. Explain proper AR-15 malfunction clearing procedures.


A. Course of Fire on the Range

1. Distance to target will be 30 feet. Range Officer will specify point of aim on target. Consideration should be given for number of shooters on line in comparision to the number of lanes available due to lateral movement and range space constraints.

2. Two Magazines will be loaded with 15 rounds each, after every two (2) live rounds there will be one (1) training dummy round inserted into the magazines (i.e., every third round will be a dummy round). Prior to the start of the drill, shooter will load and make ready both AR-15 and pistol. Pistol will remain ready and holstered until called into transition.

3. On the command of “Threat!” rifle will be brought up from the low ready and firing will commence. Shooter will perform all necessary reloads, utilizing proper AR-15 clearing technique to clear malfunctions as they occur, shooting until their current magazine is depleted or until “TRANSITION” is called out by Range Officer.


5. At random intervals (at least twice per magazine/string of fire), the Range Officer will call out “TRANSITION.” When a transition is called, the shooter will put rifle on SAFE, and will transition the slung rifle to his weak side and then draw his pistol and fire two (2) rounds at the target. After the two (2) pistol rounds are fired, the shooter will scan and assess the target and area for threats by lowering the front sight of the weapon just below eye level and scanning/assessing the threat, “Did I hit? Did it Work?”

6. Shooter will then re-holster the pistol and transition back to the rifle to continue the drill. The drill will continue and progress through both AR-15 magazines, until they are depleted.

B. Scoring is Pass/Fail. Maintain a shooting speed where all shots are kept on the target in the specified target zone (center mass). Have the officer speed up only if all rounds are in the center of the specified target zone. Slow down accordingly if shots are misses. Attention is to be placed on smoothness of reloads and malfunction clearing. Proper lateral movement should also be stressed with no feet or leg crossing.



1. Questions

2. Thanks

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