Maine Criminal Justice Society Shotgun Qual By: Travis Pike


With Maine being home to so many Stephen King monsters, it’s wise to go armed. You never know when a dancing clown might come at you. With that in mind, we are heading to Maine Criminal Justice Academy to try out their shotgun qualification. The shotgun, aka the repeating claymore, is a very powerful tool that is not for the weak-willed or untrained. Hopefully, the Maine Shotgun Qual can provide a little training in the art of the gauge.

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The Maine Shotgun Qual — The Logistics

You can use your shotgun of choice, but if you’re serious about shooting this qualification it should be a repeating option in the form of either a pump or semi-auto. If you want to make life simple, use one that can hold at least six rounds. If you’re stuck at below six, don’t worry. They have a solution for that.

You’ll need 16 slugs and 12 rounds of 00 buckshot. That’s a lot of slugs, admittedly, but I’m down with it. The target is listed as a standard bottle target, so I’m assuming the FBI Q target. It vaguely looks like a bottle. You only need one, but I’d bring more than one. Shotguns tear up paper targets, so you might feel better with a few targets to replace one that’s shot to hell and back.

shotgun and gear
Don’t forget your eyes and ears.

You’ll need something to carry up to six spare rounds. It can be a side saddle, a belt, a butt cuff, or whatever. Just have spare ammo that’s easy to access. Make sure you get the usual suspects, including a shot timer and your eyes and ears. Now with all this gear in tow, let’s start shooting the Maine Shotgun Qual.

Scoring the Maine Shotgun Qual

Scoring is pretty simple. It’s divided into a slug phase and a buckshot phase. You have to just hit the FBI Q bottle-shaped target with your slugs. You need to score at least 90% to pass the slug phase. This means you need to hit the target 14 times.

To score the buckshot phase, you won’t be counting over a hundred pellets in the target. Instead, if you land nine pellets outside of the target, you fail. Pretty simple, right? To pass each drill, you have to do it within the allotted time.

mossberg 590 from the front
Any shotgun will do, but one that holds more than six rounds works best.

If you have a shotgun that holds less than six rounds, you’ll get an extra five seconds to top off the gun and load those extra rounds. I’ll let you know which drills are eligible for the extra five seconds throughout the course of fire.

Shuck Shuck Your Shotgun

Drills start in the ready, and each drill starts with you loading the weapon. Your time for the drill does not start until you are shooting. So load, hit the timer button, and at the beep, start shooting.

Stage One: 50-Yard Line – Two Slugs

With the shotgun ready, feed two slugs into the magazine. On the command to fire or the beep, fire both slugs in either the standing or kneeling position. This is not a timed drill.

extra ammo on a shotgun
You’ll need extra ammo on hand to reload on the fly.

Stage Two: 40-Yard Line – Two Slugs

Get your gun ready and combat-load two slugs. This means loading one into the port and closing the bolt and then loading a second slug into the magazine. On the beep, fire both slugs standing. There is no time limit for this stage.

Stage Three: 25 Yards – Six Slugs (Five Extra Seconds Available)

Combat load six slugs into the gun. Remember, one into the port and then five into the magazine. Fire all six slugs standing. You have a grand total of 14 seconds.

Stage Four: 15 Yards – Six Slugs (Five Extra Seconds Available)

Start by combat loading the gun with six slugs again. On the fire command, fire all six slugs into the target. You have eight seconds total.

reloading the shotgun
Reloading the shotgun is a key part of this qual.

That’s the end of the slug phase. Score your target and grab your buckshot.

Stage Five: 10 Yards – Six Rounds (Five Extra Seconds Available)

Combat load your shotgun with six rounds of buckshot. When you hear that beautiful siren song of your timer, fire three rounds of buckshot. You have a grand total of five seconds.

Now load three extra rounds of buckshot into your gun while watching the threat.

You’ll repeat this drill one more time for a grand total of six rounds of buckshot fired. The stage should end with three rounds left in the tube.

Stage Six: 15 Yards – Six Rounds

This stage is tricky. You are going to be moving a bit. They call it the Groucho walk, where you squat as you slowly walk. This covert movement makes you lower and helps you get behind cover. I’d suggest setting your timer to a randomized part-time between 4 and 7 seconds.

shotgun groucho walk
The Groucho walk is awkward, and I’m not sure if it’s useful.

Once you hear the beep, fire three rounds into the target as you continue to advance. There is no time limit for this drill. You’ll repeat this drill one more time for a total of two Groucho walks, and six rounds fired.

My Thoughts

This is a pretty good shotgun qual. It’s above average, for sure. The constant reloading is nice to see, and the heavy use of slugs is interesting. It’s fairly quick, and I feel the times are too generous. If we cut the time and made the course more demanding, we would need to use proper form and recoil mitigation to succeed. The 50-yard line would have been a great place to make use of cover and to even use the barricade as support while you shoot.

Moving and shooting are always great to see. I would have preferred more buckshot drills, potentially with multiple target engagements. On top of that, they had a great opportunity to utilize a slug select drill and get some practice in there.

The Maine Shotgun qual is a good bit of training and great for beginners wielding shotguns. It won’t make you John Wick, but it will certainly help you learn how slugs work and why bead sights suck. Give it a spin, and let us know what you think.