This course was hosted here at Shootlogic in our Simunition shoot-house. This part of our facility was specifically built to host, teach, and safely train in all manner of force escalation curriculum. With building a shoot-house, we’ve created a training environment that will help us explore the endless variables of any situation to managing the complications that involve being in and around vehicles. Our goal is to test what we learn on the standard square range when someone is shooting back at you. It allows us to see what works, and what is just typical Internet conjecture (i.e. nonsense). There is simply no better testing ground than facing off against a determined opponent that has a vote in what happens to them versus cardboard or steel targets blankly staring back at you. In conjunction with our classroom, this compliments these types of courses for the “learning lab environment”. Craig was able to use our moveable walls to genius effect, thereby crushing any “home field advantage” that Brian McGriff and I might have had in our own facility. Considering we built and designed the shoot-house, it once again proved why he is one of the best that I have trained with. We will certainly use his lessons on making better use of our own shoot-house classes.
One of the main aspects of Craig’s classes is that he wants to create tacticians first. He is very open in regard that there is a plethora of top tier shooting instructors in the market place, but he would rather put his energy and experience into developing his students’ abilities in making smart choices before, during, and after any violent encounter. He actively trains his students to look for options outside of a gunfight, and sees using deadly force as the absolute last option (another reason firearms should be trained to a subconscious level - see other posts for further thoughts on this). This was one of the most mentally draining classes that I have ever taken due to the lessons on movement, angles, light use, and confronting the boogeyman in your home. Throughout this class we were taught how to analyze our environment, movements, actions and words, and how they can and will affect the outcome of any dangerous encounter. We must be cognizant of the thought processes that will affect our safety, our loved one’s safety, and can be the difference between life and death should you have to move within a structure by yourself. While we worked through the exercises during the course, we had to examine every angle, foot position, and even handheld light movement. This is a class for those that are alone when things go bump in the night, and it brought the stark reality of surviving, winning, or losing based on the choices made to the forefront of the students’ psyche.
Tactics (per dictionary.com): the maneuvers themselves, or any mode or procedure for gaining advantage or success.
This is the meat and potatoes of the course. Every action must be an intentional decision to create a safe passage and environment for ourselves, and those who we are responsible for. Throughout the day we were taught, pushed, and painfully reminded (through the pain of an airsoft/simunition marker) that one small misstep can mean the difference between success and failure. We must be ever conscious that conflict is truly a chess match, not only between you and your adversary, but against yourself as well. Students began to realize that you are never truly “safe” if you must move room to room by yourself. During the lessons of tactics, Craig made sure to remind us that each room individually can be “cleared”, but any “cleared” room that you leave is no longer safe, and you must painstakingly recertify that it is still safe should you return. So, if you think your bedroom is “safe”, and you check the bedroom next door, your bedroom must now be considered unsafe, and you must slowly recheck it or assume the consequences for your assumption. While not physically demanding, the mental focus that this requires even for a 15 minute segment is mind-boggling.
Before the true Force on Force segment of the class, Craig walked us through the “murder board” and had an interactive walkthrough of a structure on a white board. Every student took part of the floor plan, came to the front of the class and communicated their portion of the walk through of how to approach an angle, hallway, room, and entryway while other students expressed what they deemed wise or downright foolhardy. Craig stood next to each student in front of the class through all of this and made corrections, gave advice, and explained each mistake that every student made. This is one of those coveted moments in a class, and I was truly reminded that I “don’t know what I don’t know” regarding the tactics portion of shooting. With 100% student agreement, the hard lesson is that not only is there no perfect and safe tactics when clearing a building by yourself; but that solo room clearing is incredibly dangerous and should be performed only when absolutely necessary. Craig continuously reinforced this commandment during the weekend and we were reminded every time someone got stung (by being shot) from a mistake. There is no safe way to clear a building (even your own home) by yourself. This ended the fairly accepted idea of investigating trouble in your home, when in fact; building clearing should not be attempted except when absolutely necessary or with a team of your well trained friends, with long guns, and a lot of ammo.
It’s a 3D Environment out there:
The issue of angles and movement is a delicate one. We were reminded that there are multiple planes that we need to be aware of and how to approach and conform to those planes. The planes of approach illustrated were horizontal, vertical, and diagonal (stairwells), and they all have their pros and cons in strategies to navigate them. We learned to be able to use the plane in front of us to as safely and effectively as possible search for or engage a threat.. We must also be aware of the depth of an angle, such as entering a long hallway or large room. The proverbial “don’t hug cover” comes into play here, and Craig plainly explained the nuances of each situation. Another aspect that Craig highlighted for us is that we don’t realize that cover can also be an anchor, and that can be deadly. As we have observed in our own Sims courses many people let “cover” become their security blanket of doom when their opposition stays mobile. Movement is survivability, especially when you are alone in a building with a threat. An interesting take away from this class is that the more distance that you have from the angle of impediment the greater field of view that you will have beyond the plane that you are trying to navigate. In short, edging up on a corner is not a useful tool, and only limits your information and mobility. Because of the 3D environment, we were constantly reminded of angles and to seek depth, not just cover/concealment along with a spacial awareness of potential threats at literally every corner. This constant need to analyze your surroundings, and choose the best angles only reinforces that a person’s firearm skills should be fundamentally grounded, as you will need to conform to your environment and as a result, this will change your shooting platform on top of the fact that you need to be 100% tuned in to what you are doing. If you struggling with drawing, reloading, or just finding the front sight…then Handgun 201 may be a better fit for you. This is not the time to try and figure out your shooting technique, but be so well versed in your gun handling, that modifying what you are doing to fit the situation should be second nature. This is what Craig calls, “change your geometry”. Movement in a building is an exercise in geometry due to the depth, angles, and visual acuity needed to due to as safely as possible.
Assuming you are left no choice, and that you are going into a building by yourself, what happens if “that time” comes? The time that you run into the adversary and the end of what any red blooded American male enjoys…the hunt. Do you let your pride get the best of you? Do you immediately shoot? Do you let them know you are there? Do you stop, and make that 911 call thereby taking your full attention away from the situation? Is everything truly what it seems? You must make all of these decisions in an instant and these questions are sorely overlooked in most force on force style classes. Craig gave us a crash course on what he calls MUC (managing unknown contacts). Just because we are armed and legally able to shoot we may still need to communicate with the person we assume is going to do us harm. So many people are eager to shoot, but we were reminded that it just might not be necessary as there is information unknown to us. This is where communication comes into play. Craig teaches the how, when, and why we must communicate with our “intruder” and how to do so to our utmost advantage. Should we have to shoot, how do we communicate with law enforcement clearly, concisely, and to our advantage (tactics) within the law of our respective state?
This is quite honestly one of my favorite subjects. Let’s be honest, many defensive situations occur during a low light situation. This doesn’t necessarily mean a pitch-black situation, but you truly need to have a proper tool to assist you in searching, identifying and aiming accordingly. We cannot overlook the completely different dynamic that a low light situation entails from a tactics perspective. Many of the skills we build in the name of proper defensive techniques take on a new dimension when we are now adding a light to the equation, and learning the proper implementation is a vital addition to our toolbox. Craig is a fan of both WMLs (weapons mounted lights), and handhelds, and more light can never hurt when in a low light situation. The low light portion of this class (held after sunset) was also an eye opener as Craig allowed role players to have random objects in their hands such as cell phones, sticks, or any other random object to confuse the “good guy” trying to discern targets during particular evolutions. This training scenario was a clear lesson in target discrimination and target identification (there is a difference). This nighttime based training may just change some perspectives if anyone wants to criticize others of shooting someone “just grabbing his wallet”. What was also interesting was Craig’s use of the handheld flashlight to use the light to confuse, search, and even use it in an offensive manner. Again, the recurring lesson to me is the more options in your toolbox, the better. This was mainly done with a handheld light with as many lumens as possible and it drove home the point for me to not only have a good EDC light (which I do) but to have one bedside and to continue to practice with its use. Being on the other end of Craig’s demo of light discipline and usage, I can see how disorienting proper light usage can be. There was no dogmatic approach of neck index, Harries, any other named and “famous” techniques. The main premise behind his tactics and use of the light would be to flash and move, flash and move. Think of yourself as Muhammad Ali and every time you shined your light either you or the light needed to move. This being my first force on force class in a low light situation, this class was worth its weight in gold for me. This was the part for me where there is so much more to managing a situation than just shooting and low light only compounds the problem that you are trying to solve.
Out of the many, many classes that I have been fortunate enough to take over the years, Craig Douglas is quite honestly one of the finest that I have learned from. He was incredibly patient with everyone in class, especially during the “problem solving” exercises. I’m not kidding…the man has the patience of a elementary school art teacher, while putting scholars to shame with his ability to reference where he received the knowledge that he was imparting to us while never being condescending. Craig Douglas is one of the most clear and concise instructors that I have had the pleasure of working with. Once a person has a solid understanding of shooting fundamentals to include drawing and reloading from concealment than a base of reputable force on force classes should be in any one’s toolbox and Craig Douglas and any one of his classes should be at the top of your list. His teaching style alone along with his ability to immerse students in an unforgiving learning lab is enough for me to want to get my rear end handed to me at the Extreme Close Quarters Combat course later this year. Look out for that review after I’m beaten, bruised, and bloodied.