July 28, 2016 at 10:55 pm #29561MaxKeymaster
Above: Virginia CTT Class this weekend. Day 1 on the Square Range.
After running a Combat Team Tactics (CTT) class this weekend, I wanted to put this information out there. The reason being that there is plenty of talk out there about ‘training,’ but unless you are incorporating professional live fire training into your overall training plan, you will probably not understand, in a practical sense, what I am about to discuss. In the same way that it is easy to talk about ‘shoot, move and communicate’ on the internet, but harder to actually conduct for real. You need to be building real operant conditioning via the right training.
What I am going to talk about, namely buddy awareness and scanning, seems so simple. However, on training classes we spend a deal of time drilling this into people, and first drilling bad habits out of them. Unfortunately some of these bad habits come from individual focused training on basic shooting and weapons manipulation on the square range. When it’s all about ‘driving your AR’ and your INDIVIDUAL shooting skills, scans can become notional, robotic. This is one of the chief problems with training when it never makes it off the square range: it is an individual sport, not a team activity. This causes big problems when trying to operate as a team in a live fire environment.
At MVT, we run live fire training with movement. This means that shooters are not always ‘on line’ – something that is alien to many who have grown up on ranges run by range nazis. We have specific safety procedures that will not translate well if I try and describe them here in writing. Suffice to say, there are safety angles and procedures that include mantras such as ‘head-body-weapon,’ ways to move (absolutely no pirouetting, ever), safety angles off your muzzle, and active muzzle awareness. The way weapons are carried and movement is conducted is operational safety, i.e. it translates to real situations when you are on patrol, or moving with weapons. Not ‘over safe’ procedures such as seen on many ranges, which actually end up being less safe (such as moving backwards with weapons). Patrol ready, active muzzle awareness, finger outside trigger guard, safety on at all times except when not engaging the enemy.
This is vital. If a target pops up, the important thing is not to engage the target, but to know where your buddies are before engaging the target. You are always scanning and conducting a version of ‘head-body-weapon.’ The weapon part of the mantra applies equally to ‘ready ups’ when bringing the weapon on to target prior to firing, such as with an RTR drill, or equally to active muzzle awareness if you are conducting the manta as part of a move from one piece of cover to another.
When running training and safety, we are always fighting tunnel vision and students being glued to their sights. It is important to pull your head away from the sights every couple of rounds, to locate your buddies and maintain spacial awareness. This is a hard thing for new shooters to grasp. You need to turn your head towards your buddies and yell in their direction when yelling is needed (i.e. MOVE!) otherwise your yell will be lost into the stock of your weapon. Is your buddy moving to the next cover? Is he beating at his weapon because he has not yet grasped the muscle memory to conduct weapon manipulation under stress? Is he writhing on the ground, bleeding? Is he laying there silent?
Imagine you are lined up with your buddies on the firing line on a square range. Weapons will all be aligned facing down the range to the targets. Shoulders will be roughly aligned, assuming we are adapting dynamic shooting positions, and not ‘blading off’ to the targets. You are now ‘on line.’ Now, in a realistic combat environment it would not matter if you and your buddies were a little misaligned, perhaps due to the positions of cover, and the line was not exactly straight. So long as no one was inside the muzzle safety angle of each others weapons, we are good to go. That’s what happens in fire and movement.
Now, take that target away straight down the range and put one up half-left to the firing line. Because the enemy gets a vote, and will try and flank you. Now, everyone’s weapons and shoulders swing (although they wouldn’t swing, like a turret, they would scan and acquire the target and then go ‘head-body-weapon’) to the left by 45 degrees. This may have an impact on the safety angle. If there are two of you, and you are the right hand guy, then when you acquire the target with ‘head’ and scan, then you will also need to note the location of your buddy. As the angle of the target moves more to the flank, it may be that you cannot bring your weapon up to engage, because your buddy would be within the safety angle of your muzzle. This would mean you would have to ‘push right’ or ‘push up’ depending, in order to clear that safety angle and safely acquire the target. In a dynamic situation, it is always important to note your buddies as you acquire a target, keep both eyes open, and also be ready for when they may make an unpredictable movement, perhaps to adjust their position of cover. If they do this, be ready to drop your muzzle. The key is simply to avoid the herd mentality and keep spread out from your buddies, in order to open up the safety angle. Do not, and we do not allow, people to be firing past each others ears!
Watch the video below for the first few seconds, and realize how close it came to a friendly fire incident, as the soldier runs across from right to left. After that, there is no safety angle as the helmet cam guy fires over the top of his buddies taking cover behind the low wall. Be prepared for random acts in combat!
It is vital to always maintain awareness of where your buddies are, and to keep the scan going throughout the engagement as positions move and the team fires and moves. If you do not have a shot angle that is not going to potentially kill your buddy, then you need to move.
As alluded to above, scanning is a constant activity. You are looking for cover, for the enemy, for your buddies. It is more important to know where your buddies are than it is to get that shot off. We struggle with ‘square-range-isms’ at MVT, otherwise known as re-training the training scars out of people, acquired from tacticool training. We notice the tendency to try and scan with the weapon glued to the eyeball, or to perform that fake-robotic-square-range-scan. Or to not scan at all, or to just take quick tunnel glances, like to the left, to the center, to the right, down a ‘tunnel’ in the trees.
- Lower the weapon out of your face.
- Get your eye out of the optic.
- If you have a magnified optic, it is OK to use it as a monocular to check out an item of interest, but don’t be glued to it.
- Scan by looking THROUGH the vegetation.
- Scan in a ‘S’ near-middle-far left-center-right.
- Cover your sector!
- Look from your buddy on one side to your buddy on the other side, particularly after an engagement. What is their position and are they OK? Does anyone need to move, including you?
As you move towards the enemy position, or away from it in a break contact drill, you are always looking for your next position of cover. You are always running ‘head-body-weapon’ and practicing active muzzle awareness. You are scanning for your buddies and moving your position as necessary in order to engage the target safely. As you locate your next cover, locate your buddies so that you don’t run the wrong way, into their safety angle. Communicate if necessary – “I’m on your left!”
It is always better to run the lanes slower and under control, than faster and out of control/unsafe. It is better to maintain a steady momentum of fire and movement on the enemy, as you press closer and closer to his position, that it is to run about the woods like headless chickens, causing a safety STOP.
And here is the kicker: those students who train at MVT learn this all under controlled conditions. It is vital that you learn these things at a reputable school that conducts actual live fire movement training. Otherwise you really don’t know what you don’t know. We have an expression at MVT which is students ‘going bluescreen.’ By attending battle inoculation live fire training with movement, under controlled and safe conditions, you are pushing back the point at which you will become exhausted and ‘go bluescreen.’
I had this conversation this weekend: I get it that some groups want to send one guy to training, so he can train the others. I hear all sorts about little afternoon training sessions going on. I even heard about one where it was ‘break contact drills bolts out.’ I hear that “Yeah, we are training.” Well, I call BS.
I mean, it’s hard enough for us to get people to a level with a professional training facility over three days, and students benefit by multiple return training sessions to reach a level of actual competence. If you are serious about learning to operate tactically, then you need to get you and your people to a professional trainer. You will then have an idea of what tactically right looks like, and have a clue how to safely conduct follow up training at your own place. You will probably still need to email them/me (as many do) to clear up disagreements where limited experience stops. You will then benefit by routinely returning, as a group, to repeat classes and do more advanced classes.
There are so many training scars out there, and so many bad habits imbued by ‘tacticool’ schools that focus purely on the individual, that it takes real skill to train people to actually function as a team.
“Shoot, move and communicate” sounds good on the internet. It’s not so easy to practice in the real world.
For those a little wary of attending CTT straight up, or needing to coax someone to training, we have the Citizen Close Combat (C3) Classes, that will keep you on the square range but teach you these things the right way.
Also check out the payment and information page for various family-style discounts.
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