The service pistol events are courses of fire designed to address the need to train members of the armed forces of various countries in the use of a personal protection weapon. As such the training is highly relevant for those who have a permit to hold, use and carry a firearm for personal protection. The main characteristic of the service pistol course of fire is that it establishes minimum standards of both speed and accuracy in the use of the service weapon.
Those individuals who complete the course of fire can be seen to have achieved the ability to discharge the weapon from various distances and positions within a specific period of time, whilst still being able to achieve certain standards of accuracy. The primary purpose of the courses of fire is to bring all participants in the training up to a specified level of proficiency. The emphasis is on determining the skill of the participants and this objective requires a degree of standardization of weapons, ammunition and equipment.
All weapons used in the Service Pistol events must be recognized service weapons. A service weapon is one that has been issued by a national authority to individuals mainly for personal protection. The characteristics of a service pistol are that it is of a size, weight and calibre that makes it easily carried on a regular basis for long periods of time. The weapon must be highly reliable and inherently safe when used, carried, dropped or otherwise abused. The calibre must be adequate for the task, with a minimum bullet diameter of 7.65mm or .30 inches. In general the weapon should hold at least six rounds. The ammunition to be used will be intended for personal protection purposes, no wad-cutter or target loads are allowed.
Most service pistols have been designed and manufactured with a minimum trigger weight of around 5 lbs. For safety reasons no weapon will be used in service pistol events unless it can support a trigger weight of 1500 grams.
Overall size and weight are important characteristics of the service pistol. Whilst a large, heavy pistol may have less perceived recoil and be easier to shoot accurately, it will not be easily carried for long periods. It may therefore not be to hand when it is required in an emergency.
Revolvers should be within an overall size of 10 inches by 6 inches, approximately the size of a Smith & Wesson revolver with 4 inch barrel and weight without ammunition must not exceed 48 ounces. For pistols the size dimensions should not exceed the Colt Model 1911A1 and must fit in a box measuring 9 inches by 6 inches by 1.75 inches. Weight must not exceed 45 ounces, empty.
Sights must be fixed and no optical sights or recoil compensators are allowed. No trigger shoes or enhanced magazine wells are allowed. Magazine or chamber capacity must be a minimum of six rounds. At least three magazines, if they are of six round capacity, or three speed-loaders are required.
Any negligent, accidental or premature discharge, or any other action which in the opinion of the Range Officer represents a danger to participants or others, will result in immediate disqualification and the individual concerned will be required to leave the event.
All events will begin with pistol holstered, chamber empty, with a loaded magazine in place. Revolvers will have the cylinder loaded and hammer down for double action use. Each participant must carry all the ammunition required for the entire course of fire on his person at the beginning of each event. Revolvers may be used single or double action.
In the Police Pistol and UK Service Pistol events shooters will be instructed by the Range Officer to draw, load, make ready and adopt the standing alert position at the beginning of each stage. The standing alert position is defined as pistol pointed down range, elbows into the sides, barrel and forearms parallel with the ground and finger off the trigger. At the end of each course of fire all weapons will be shown clear and holstered before leaving the point. There will be no re-shoots other than for reasons of target failure.
The participant is deemed to know the course of fire. The Range Officer will only give such instructions as are essential to the conduct of the shoot. At the beginning of each stage the Range Officer will identify the course of fire and the relevant stage, and call out "load and make ready"; “test and adjust on your target”; followed by "targets away". At the completion of each stage the Range Officer will call out, "unload, clear the weapon and holster". The Range Officer will instruct competitors to move forward at the beginning of each stage.
At the beginning of the shoot the competitor must have on his person the holstered weapon, spare magazines or speed loaders, together with 30 rounds of ammunition. Pistol, magazines and ammunition must be secure. Any equipment that falls to the ground whilst moving between the stages cannot be recovered until the shoot is complete.
Each stage will begin from the standing alert position. Shooters will return to the standing alert position between exposures of the target.
The participant is deemed to know the course of fire. The Range Officer will only give such instructions as are essential to the conduct of the shoot. At the beginning of each stage the Range Officer will identify the course of fire and the relevant stage, and call out "load and holster"; followed by "targets away". At the completion of each stage the Range Officer will call out, "unload, clear the weapon and holster".
At the beginning of the shoot the competitor must have on his person the holstered weapon, spare magazines or speed loaders, together with 36 rounds of ammunition. Pistol and magazines must be secure. Any equipment that falls to the ground whilst moving between the stages cannot be recovered until the shoot is complete.
Each stage will begin from the standing position, arms at the side, weapon loaded with a magazine of 6 rounds and holstered. During each stage shooters will return to the standing alert position between exposures of the target.
An appropriate holster, belt and a minimum of three magazine or speed-loader pouches are required. The holster, held by an adequate belt, may be worn in any position but the holster must hold the weapon securely. Any straps or safety devices present on the holster must be used. The holster must retain the weapon without being supported or reinforced by the shooter when doing a forward roll, jumping over an obstacle two feet high or running a distance of 25 yards.
Ear and eye protection should be worn at all times when the weapon is being used.