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Old May 5, 2008, 08:04 PM   #1
Siderite
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After action report: Tactical Response - The Fight (Force on Force)

I was at Tactical Response's "The Fight" force-on-force course this past weekend and got a huge eye-opening experience out of it.

Safety
The class started with safety protocols to prevent live weapons from being introduced into the scenarios - everyone, including instructors, gets frisked twice - no one goes to car or gets anything out of a bag without a buddy watching. Even with this, they went over a plan in case something did happen. I really appreciate this "defense in depth" for safety.

Basics
The first drills were a getting-to-know activity for the UTM marker pistols (Glock 19's) we would be using - everyone shoots and everyone gets shot. They set it up as one-shot "duels" between students at 5 yards. Even as simple as it was, the stress level really jumped - I've done IDPA, and even the competition stress isn't the same, racing a clock is self-paced, here someone else is trying to dictate pace (OODA loop). I rushed - too much. I didn't see my sights the first two exchanges - and I didn't hit my opponent. Even for those who did, the point was made that they immediately dropped from ready after shooting - their opponent was still standing, why weren't they ready for that? Many people didn't think to use verbalization skills they had been taught.

Movement got added to this, and I realized a gap in my training - I'd practiced moving and shooting, and shooting moving targets, but never moving and shooting a moving target that is trying to shoot you. The marker rounds sting, and will break exposed skin - but much of the time you don't feel them under the stress.

The Scenarios
These are the core of the course. I'm not going to go into details about the individual scenarios, so as not to ruin some for future students (some stay relatively similar from class to class, others get changed for the specific group of students). The scenarios were realistic - everything would be something that I'd call an activity of daily life. It is important as the student to do these realistically - don't approach every scenario in orange, it isn't how you live your life. The role-players were AWESOME. They immersed me in the scenario to the point where I didn't notice the face-shields. The stress is real - people got "the shakes" afterward, and we were drained at the end of each day (imagine going through several life-threatening situations in a day).

Each person experienes them individually and each finds their own solution - we had several scenarios where the some people shot and others didn't - each unfolds in it's own way. Also, scenarios don't end when the bad guy is down; dialing 911 for help (fake phones) under stress and talking with dispatch is part of the situation.

Lessons
The lessons learned are individual too - you learn something about yourself. Here are a few of mine and some that others in the class shared during the debriefings:

Most important for me: Make sure you test what you think you know. Some of the things I had been taught, and thought were good ideas - didn't pan out.

Movement is good, but it is not enough by itself. It should be purposeful in getting you to safety - find cover.

Make sure you are in a safe location to call for help - several times I lingered at the "scene" where the downed criminal could have shot me with the weapon in his hand.

Shut up. I found that once I started talking I kept talking and said things in the heat of the moment.

Know you got shot, but stay in the fight. One of the other students trained in a martial art where you move with the strikes to absorb the impact - this had gotten so reflexive that he knocked himself over when shot with simunitions. Don't train in something that gives you bad habits.

Know how to use (shoot, reload, clear malfunctions) one-handed. Most of the class opted to use gloves, even though they didn't in real life, because of the frequency with which hands got lit up. I had a situation where I had a double feed (type 3 malfunction) when I only had one hand left.

Keep your gun topped off - especially for me as a 1911 guy (for now, at least, this may change as a result of this course). You run through rounds fast and several times I was asked at the end of the scenario how many rounds were left in my gun - I didn't know (turned out to be 2, 1 and 0 remaining), and I still had a full, spare mag on my belt.

There are more, but these are the big ones.

Overall
Excellent course 10/10, I really enjoyed it - even though it showed me that some of my prior training wasn't useful. It taught me a lot about myself under stress and areas of training I need to address. I'd recommend it to anyone who carries. It lets you see your mistakes, and learn from them - life is not so forgiving.
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Old May 5, 2008, 10:03 PM   #2
BreacherUp!
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I'm glad you experienced this course, and no doubt, learned quite a bit about your training (pros/cons), your gear (pros/cons), and what works tactically, and what falls short.
IMO, way too many people on this forum are content with shooting bulls and disparaging good training b/c it seems to be "tacticool" or some other errornet nonsense. 19 people read your post and zero replied. Hmmm.
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Old May 5, 2008, 10:23 PM   #3
Siderite
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Pics

Some photos to show a little of what it was like (without giving away the scenarios)





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Old May 6, 2008, 09:43 AM   #4
djc7
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Great post, Siderite! I don't have a CCW, but would love to get one in the future so this was very informative. I'll definitely have to look into one of these types of courses down the road. I guess it could even be helpful for home defense situations since the stress and moving targets are still present in that type of situation.
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Old May 6, 2008, 06:55 PM   #5
Avenger11
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A day at the paintball park will cost less and teach most of the same skills.
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Old May 7, 2008, 07:53 AM   #6
Siderite
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Avenger11,
that may be. If you get a chance to setup something like that, post how you did it - there are probably people who aren't close enough to an actual course who would like pointers on setting it up with friends.

Also Tactical Response has a money-back guarantee - if you don't feel like you've gotten your money's worth from the training, they'll give it back. There were no takers in this course, so if you could do it for less, you should have no trouble starting your own force-on-force program for a tidy profit.
-Siderite
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Old May 7, 2008, 09:31 AM   #7
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
Know you got shot, but stay in the fight. One of the other students trained in a martial art where you move with the strikes to absorb the impact - this had gotten so reflexive that he knocked himself over when shot with simunitions. Don't train in something that gives you bad habits.
Yeah, okay, but how do you know it gives you bad habits when what it teaches is good for its discipline? How do you know the moves you have learned for years in one discipline will be counterproductive in some other discipline you take years later down the road?

It is sort of like saying, "Don't make a mistake." Nobody tries to make a mistake (it isn't a mistake if you do it on purpose). They try to do things right and they don't work out for some reason.


Quote:
Keep your gun topped off - especially for me as a 1911 guy (for now, at least, this may change as a result of this course). You run through rounds fast and several times I was asked at the end of the scenario how many rounds were left in my gun - I didn't know (turned out to be 2, 1 and 0 remaining), and I still had a full, spare mag on my belt.
Keeping your gun topped off can be fine, or not. The trick is to keep it topped off when you are in a safe position to do so and to top it off because you need to do so. I have watched students over manage their guns such that they have a pocket full of 3/4 loaded magazines that are no longer available for as quick of access as the mags were on their belt...because they over-managed their gun.

Wow, you had zero rounds remaining in your gun so you ended the scenario with a malfunction (failure to lock back on empty)? That is scary.
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Old May 7, 2008, 09:47 AM   #8
Siderite
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Double Naught Spy,
what I meant by training in bad habits are things where you know the training would counterproductive in a self-defense situation, not something discipline-specific.

I would consider reflexivly loosening one's grip when someone taps-out in martial arts an example. It should be a conscious decision or else a badguy might use it to get enough of an opening to counterattack.

A firearms example would be range practice where you shoot to slide lock and don't reload immediately - I'm trying to make sure that now I scan and reload - even at a "square" range.

I've never been able to track down the origin, but I've heard a tale of a police officer who was killed in a gunfight who had his revolver brass in his pocket, because that was the habit at the police range - dump brass into your hand and then pocket it for the brass bucket at the end rather than immediately reloading and then picking up brass at the end.
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Old May 7, 2008, 11:00 AM   #9
Water-Man
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Siderite...Thanks for sharing your experience.
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