NRA Basic Pistol Qualification

Mr. Teeth and the AR: Part II

It’s funny how going back to basics can be a humbling experience.

At Artemis we have launched a new program for members.  Newness can be a double-edged sword though.

Coined the “Levels Program”, this structured training format allows for measured progression and recognition as a member proves demonstrable proficiency at each level.  Participation in this program is not mandatory and it does not cost anything.  Members simply check off a running log on their cards each time they come into Artemis. 

All members, regardless of their backgrounds or the amount of time they have been training with us (or anyone else for that matter), start at Level 1.  Most, if not all, of our members who have been training regularly with us have a technical proficiency beyond that of Level 1… still, they must check off their cards just like everyone else.

Because of this we noticed something very interesting on the way to the forum…

With even the most mild of induced stress, people start falling apart. 


One of the requirements to move from Level 1 to Level 2 requires completion of the NRA Basic Pistol Course. 

Now, honestly, for most of our members this is like going from college and being forced to take a junior high school course.  That being said, virtually everyone who has come out of our NRA Basic has remarked that there were nuggets of information they honestly did not know.

Regardless, it is a nationally-recognized certification… and as master of skill at arms, these are the types of things one “collects”.

Like most NRA courses, it comes with a live-fire qualification… and this is where things get interesting.

(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)

Once a quarter we go out to the range and run a qualification shoot.  Sometimes these shoots are department qualification shoots, like LAPD or State Department.  For members to move up in the Levels Program, they must show proficiency on these qualifications.  Other times, or in conjunction with another qual, we run the NRA Basic Qual.

This is not a particularly difficult qualification.

Students have an 8.5” x 11” paper target with four large circles on it; each circle is about four inches.  They must stand on the 10’ mark and fire five shots into each of the circles.  If they pass that shoot… and they get three separate chances to pass… they are designated as an NRA Basic Shooter.  They then move back to the 15’ mark, with the same type of target and same course of fire.  If they pull that off, they are now an “Intermediate Shooter”.  They get three chances at this too.  Then it is on to the final test with the same course of fire at the 20’ line.  Complete this, and you are an “Advanced Shooter”. 

This last Sunday we did the qual for about 14 members.  All made it to at least Basic, with about four getting to the Advanced level.  But all received “Master” status when it came to psyching out one’s self!

This is just, honestly, not a particularly hard qual.

Many of our members have come to our Range Day with Steven and Sandy and learned they have the ability to split a card perpendicularly from as far back as the 25 yard line.

Still… when a status marker was on the line, people fell apart… interestingly enough, usually as they were within inches of their goal.

If someone was going to miss the circle it would happen on the first, or the near the last shot of the course.  When it happened at the end, we could actually predict it.  We could see the muscles of the shooters’ faces and hands as they approached a perfect score.

We could see the sweat starting to form on their upper lip.

We knew that the next shot would be low left and out of the circle.

Sure enough it was.

But then something would happen each and every time that made me proud of each of our students.

They would continue to shoot. 

They were clearly defeated.  They knew it was impossible to pass the qual at that point.  Still, they would not give up.  They would fight on to the very end.

Yes… stepping back and working on basics, whether it is because of a mindset, or participation in a formalized program, has unique benefits that we must all be keenly open and aware of.

Steven Lieberman and Sandy Lieberman are the owners of the Artemis Defense Institute. A tactical training facility headquartered occupied California.   (  Mr. Lieberman is also one of the founding partners in the Law Offices of Lieberman and Taormina LLP.  Their law firm specializes in use of force, and Second Amendment defense and litigation.

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Comments (3)

  • Steve Miles Reply

    I have the solution for this. We deal with it all the time in shooting competition.

    10/02/2019 at 18:46
  • Gregory Shin Reply

    Another great article. Thanks

    10/03/2019 at 06:03
  • Kristian Krause Reply

    I am excited about the Levels program. I am a goal driven person. However, I know I am going to be one of those people you just described in the panic and not being able to hit the target. I see it in my regular training. I had one instructor laugh and shake his head, then ask, “how can you accurately, consistently hit a 1 inch square, but you couldn’t hit 3 inch plates?” Story of my life…

    But, as you described, I WILL NOT GIVE UP!

    10/06/2019 at 00:52

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