Let’s Shoot A Revolver Qual From the 1920s

I was recently writing an article about the Fitz Special revolvers and researching the concept as well as the man behind them, John Henry Fitzgerald. In this research, I discovered a book he wrote simply called “Shooting,” and I’ve been digging through it. In the book, there was a revolver qualification that was right straight out of the 1920s. It was used by the New York police officers and is a fascinating qualification. I decided to try my hand at the qual.

The 1920s Revolver Qual – Getting Started

I went out and shot the revolver qual, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find out how to score the qual. While certain drills are timed, I couldn’t find what the par time was supposed to be. It was after the qual I discovered an article from KR Training and was able to dig up the scoring and timing methods. By merely scoring hits by the target used, there is a potential of 150 points.

You add up each of the timed drills, then divide that number by three. Subtract the number you arrived at from your hit score, and you arrive at your total score. A passing score is 70 points. The method of scoring is a bit complicated, but for the time period, it was very progressive. These days we use hits and time for most all drills and quals, but this was very rare for the era.

To shoot the qual, we need a six-shot revolver, so I went with the Taurus 856 Defender. You need a holster, and this was designed to be shot from a police-style OWB rig. I went with a simple IWB design. The revolver qual called for two Colt targets, which is quite unique. I didn’t have those, so I added a right arm to my FBI Q targets. It’s a different scoring method, but I think as a training exercise, it’ll work fine. You also need 30 rounds of your chosen ammo and a shot timer.

Blasting Away With the Fitz Revolver Qual

Stage 1 – 10 Yards

Stage one is an untimed drill. It’s fired at ten yards, and you’ll fire six rounds in total. The shooter will fire three rounds with their right hand in single action on the right target and three rounds with their left hand in single action on the left target. Take your time and make your shots count. On the Colt target, the only hits that would count would be K hits.

Stage 2 – 5 Yards

This drill is a timed one. You’ll start with your revolver holstered and your hands at your side. On the beep or go signal, you’ll draw your revolver and fire three rounds in double action with your right hand. Shooters will then swap hands and fire three shots in double action with your left hand.

Stage 3 – 5 Yards

We’ll stick to the five-yard line for stage 3. This drill is all about the draw. You’ll start with the gun holsters, and on the command to fire, you’ll draw your revolver and fire one shot double action with both hands. You’ll then reholster and do the drill again and again until you have fired six shots. You are timed from the first command to fire to the last shot fired. Don’t rush your reholsters, that’s dangerous.

Stage 4 – 25 Yards to 12 Yards

We are stepping way back for this part of the revolver qual. This stage is action-packed, so be ready to move. You’ll start with your gun holstered and hands at your side. At the beep of the timer, you’ll draw and fire one round single action on each target. Now, you’ll run from 25 yards to 12 yards and fire one shot at each target. Finally, you’ll hit the ground and assume a good prone position. Now fire one round on each target. You are timed from the command to fire to the last shot fired.

Stage 5 – 10 Feet

We are close to both targets and ready to shoot. Your gun will be holstered, and your hands at your side. This stage is made up of three different phases.

Phase 1 – Start with the weapon holstered. At the command to fire, you’ll draw and fire one shot at the center zone of each target.

Phase 2 – Start with your weapon holstered. When the timer beeps, you’ll draw and fire one round into the head of each target.

Phase 3 – Believe it or not, your weapon will start holstered once more. At the beep, draw and fire one round to the arm of each target.

That’s it, we’ve finished the revolver qual.

Before It’s Time

This revolver qualification is impressive, considering its time frame. Heck, there are police qualifications currently in use that aren’t as good as this 1920s revolver qualification. It’s no surprise that Fitzgerald championed it enough to include it in his book. If you are looking for a good way to train, give it a peek. If you’re a revolver fan or a history buff, it’s certainly worth shooting, even if it’s just for fun.

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.


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