Becoming an Agent: Firearms Training

New agents learn to shoot a pistol, shotgun, and carbine at the FBI Academy. Rhys Williams, a special agent and instructor with the Firearms Training Unit, explains how and why new agent trainees achieve proficiency with their weapons during their time at Quantico.

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Rhys Williams: The FBI takes people from a whole slew of different backgrounds, and so here at the Firearms Training Unit we take those people, regardless of their background—if they’re prior military, prior law enforcement—we teach them the same ways we teach those people who have never touched a gun before in their lives. If they come to us with experience, we make them better; if they come to us with no experience, we teach them everything on the fundamentals of the gun—how the gun works, how their ammunition works—and the fundamentals of marksmanship, and we get them to leave here being extremely proficient with that gun. So when the new agents come to us, the Firearms Training Unit, we train them on three specific types of weapons. Their primary weapon, their sidearm, is a Glock 19M; it’s a brand new weapon—that’s predominantly what we’re going to teach them with. In addition to that we’re going to expose them to the Remington 870P shotgun, 12-gauge. And then we’ll also have them qualify and we’ll teach them on what we call the Colt Pattern Carbine, what most people would consider an AR-15 or an M-16 variant. With their pistol, they’re going to shoot approximately 4,000 rounds of ammunition through their pistol. With the shotgun, they’re going to shoot around 120 to 150 rounds through the 12-gauge shotgun. And then with the carbine, they’re going to shoot approximately 620 rounds through the carbine while they’re here with us. After graduation, as soon as they leave the front gate of Quantico, they have to be prepared to defend themselves or, more importantly, defend the lives of those who they’ve already sworn to protect. And so for that reason, we put an awful lot of emphasis on their being competent, familiar with that weapon, so that they can defend themselves.

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