View Full Version : GSGI Course Review: A Peek at Hostage Rescue Training (Long)

Rich Lucibella
October 26, 1999, 03:48 PM
Harry Humphries' GSGI is a tough organization to pin down, curriculum-wise. Having borrowed, developed or improved techniques and strategies for everything from unarmed combat, to edged weapons defense and offense, to firearms, to team tactics, GSGI is tough to compare to the institutionalized schools of Gunsite or Thunder Ranch. GSGI is extremely fluid in it's ability to bring experts in any martial discipline to a given course. However, GSGI hardly lacks "doctrine", in the traditional training sense. Harry Humphries has spent a lifetime learning, practicing and perfecting techniques that work…from defense against street muggings to first response tactics for weapons of mass destruction. While Harry is well qualified or expert in all of the GSGI disciplines, he's more than willing to give up the spotlight to hand picked Instructors who specialize in any given discipline. This, combined with his extensive real world experience, is what sets GSGI apart.

And so it was at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin last week. GSGI was invited in to teach an AF/CQC course for regional Law Enforcement and Military personnel at Ft. McCoy's state of the art facilities. How I rated an invite is still a mystery to me…though, I believe this was the work of the indomitable Katherine Humphries, who took pity on me in my current state of inactivity. In any case, one does not look for reasons in gifts…one simply enjoys! :)

The class, as it turned out, consisted exclusively of SWAT/SRT personnel, former military persons and yours truly. They expressed an interest in all of GSGI disciplines and the GSGI crew did not disappoint. Curriculum was developed and the substantive portions of a two week training course was compressed into one. The disciplines covered were basic handgun and carbine, defense and offense with edged weapons in close quarters, movement and fire techniques, patrol and assault techniques and team oriented dynamic entry….oh yeah, did I mention rappelling? An aggressive agenda to say the least.

But GSGI proved that 18 students, carefully guided by 7 Instructors and Provosts can cover much ground. That we did. In addition to the basics of firearms handling and marksmanship highlights of the course included:

-Physiology of the Fight: Harry's described this on this Forum. However, it's worth mentioning again, as it dictates so much of the GSGI dogma which embraces moves and defenses which rely on Gross Motor Skills vs. Fine Motor Movement.

- Presentation of the pistol against the "rush": This involves GSGI's own adaptation of the Modern Technique, as taught by Cooper, and involves movement and proper use of the support hand/arm/elbow. It's simple and quite effective in gaining time and distance, without leaving your extremities out in space as a target for your own weapon.

- Close Quarters Shoot: Again, with due credit given to Jeff Cooper, Harry teaches a simple method by which accurate fire may be delivered on target from any point in the draw-stroke.

-Low light tactics: I've seen 'em before, but never like this! SEAL vet, Dave Maynard, architect of SureFire's program for using light offensively, proved the value of a high intensity light in entry and defensive positions. (Something more than the trusty 6P on the nightstand is a real plus). Dave teaches when to use the "light on/light off/move/shoot" tactic vs situations which lend themselves to using the light aggressively to seek more advantageous position (as when you're backlit).

-Patrol and Team Movement Techniques: From the classroom to the woods, the explanation , demonstration and practice of moving patrols from Point A to Point B, in the face of lookouts, perps and booby traps was a must. Perhaps straightforward to those who have been exposed to Military or SF training, for most of us, including the SRT guys, this was a real eye opener.

-Rappelling Techniques: Practiced from two low walls and, finally, a 60' tower, we were exposed to American, Korean and Australian methods for quick rappelling. This was a real high point for me...Jumping off a 60' tower after a couple of tries down a 6' wall, and I was hooked. I'd have loved to try the head first Korean method, but didn't get a chance to go it a second time. (Harry's single, smooth, fast skate to the ground was absolute poetry!)

-Basic Edged Weapons Defense and Offense: Taught by GSGI Trainer, Mike Mello, I had my doubts at first. However, the techniques taught were, simple, few and quite effective. No fancy takedowns or precision wristlocks; just simple movement to avoid the rush, control the opponent's elbow and create distance....all while drawing the pistol. Mike did add an outstanding mindset drill. At the beginning of the day, he quietly slipped two washable markers to students. He then announced that it would be their job to inflict "cuts" on fellow students during the day. If you spotted the attack, the marker would be surrendered to you. At the end of the day, he with the most "cuts" buys pizza. It's amazing how quickly one learns to maintain space, inventory those around him for hands in pockets and body language and to look for the palms of those around you. I highly recommend this exercise for groups that are training together: Ranges and chow halls are off limits. How these guys managed to fit in some knife on knife and empty hand on knife is beyond me. But we did it!

-Carbine and Transition from Primary to Secondary Weapons: Lots of move and shoot here. Run the primary dry? Control it while you go for the secondary.

-Movement in Dynamc Entry: This portion of the course focused not only on "the doorway stack", but on methods of moving and clearing a school or home hallway real fast; it included such tactics as Leapfrogging, the "Bump" and "the Australian Peel"...all methods for moving past, while clearing danger areas.

-Room Clearing Tactics: Geared toward entry teams, these tactics are equally effective for the individual or husband/wife teams...assuming you must move. The tactics for clearing "T"'s, "X"'s and "L"'s were explained, demonstrated and practiced repeatedly. It quickly becomes clear that such endeavors amount to no more than a suicide mission when the moving force (lone homeowner?) goes up against determined invaders.

-Dynamic Entry Solutions: This was what the class was all about, and what all the other training was geared toward. For the Simunitions portion, Harry produced none other than the cofounder of that product, Ken Murray! We had the opportunity to perform a number of force on force entry's against armed role players in hostage situations and various locations. The "final exam" required an all hands takedown of a remote farmhouse with outbuildings. We were given 60 minutes to create a chain of command, generate a plan, send out snipers and get moving. What a rush.

Perhaps the best recommendation for this course came from the SWAT guys themselves. Evenings in the barracks would find them discussing and practicing tasks, learned that day. Very little of what Harry's group brought to the table was already known by these guys. All in all, I rate the Course an A+++....and so did they! This is my third GSGI course. The first was basic handgun and rifle, taught by Harry and Jack Furr. The second was "Precision" Rifle and has been written up here and in LEO mags, by TFL Member Hugo Teufel Hugo's Article (http://www.thefiringline.com/NonCGI/Forum18/HTML/000089.html). If you ever have an opportunity to avail yourself of GSGI training, Do it!

Obligatory Political Comment:
I have never been a fan of "No-Knock Warrants" or "High Risk Warrants". Unconstitutional at the outset, Judges and Police Brass have taken these ops to an extreme. Good cops and citizens are dying as a result. My major objection is that the innocent most likely to be killed in such ops-gone bad, is the real American, who has determined that he will stand up against the home invader with his life. There is little enough time in these situations to gather one's wits, let alone ID the invaders. Thus the Sheeple goes to the floor and gets wealthy off the action. The individual who would, in other invasion circumstances, be a hero to us all goes to the grave and his widow....is still a widow.

However, there is a real place for SWAT Teams and Dynamic Entry procedures in hostage or barricade situations. As these tactics must exist in the LEO arsenal, only proper training can protect the innocents on both sides of the badge. Dynamic entries are dangerous for all concerned, including the LEO. GSGI provides the guys in the stack such training....to that end, they do us all a service.

George Hill
October 27, 1999, 02:06 AM
[envy] Sounds like you had a great time! Rappelling and shooting - better than Disney Land! Does GSGI offer such courses to Citizens like Gunsite & Thunder Ranch?[/envy}

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud

Rich Lucibella
October 27, 1999, 07:23 AM
GSGI does, in fact, offer standard and custom courses for citizen groups at more than reasonable prices. The problem is in getting appropriate ranges for the purpose.

However, depending on interest, we might talk about a TFL shoot with Harry et al. This would be great fun.

George Hill
October 28, 1999, 02:02 AM
That would be extremely fun...

October 28, 1999, 09:49 AM

It sounds like you had an amazing experience. I still can't figure out how Harry et al got all of those subjects into a week. Did you train 18 hours a day?

[avarice off]

It is far better to dare mighty things, though riddled with failure, than to live in the dull grey of mediocrity.

[This message has been edited by Mendocino (edited October 28, 1999).]

Shutoku Shia
October 29, 1999, 02:21 AM
Rich, that was an outstanding review! Thanks for doing the writeup and informing the rest of us.

How would you rate this course compared to other small arms and tactics classes you've taken so far? What was most unique and eminently valuable about this class, in your own opinion?

Good job!


[This message has been edited by Shutoku Shia (edited October 29, 1999).]

Rich Lucibella
October 29, 1999, 07:10 AM
This course cannot be compared to any others I've taken as it uses the others as it's starting point. It has been said that Gunsite will teach you how to shoot while thunder ranch will teach you how to fight. So it was here.

I know you've trained with Walt Marshall. I've not had that opportunity except under the Gunsite umbrella, but I know that he takes the Modern Technique into varied tactical scenarios also.

If I had to pick the most useful parts of GSGI's course, I'd be doing the course material less than full justice. However, Harry's CQ techniques for presenting the weapon and clearing spaces are essential to all; Similarly, the techniques of team tactics are something that everyone should be exposed to. Biggest Rush: Rappelling!

Shutoku Shia
October 29, 1999, 12:50 PM
Rich, the philosophy of the nature of the course sounds similar to Halo Group's CQB Pistol I took in July'99 from Gabriel Suarez.

CQB Pistol curriculum integrated and builded upon Cooper's Modern Techniques but in addition, it went outside that box in absorbing what is considered to be useful.

I consider your article to be a very positive review of GSGI's courses, and to be a recommendation for the SUREFIRE Institute's Low Light Tactics class (I understand that it is taught by GSGI instructors).

Thanks, Rich.


November 6, 1999, 01:04 PM
So Rich, are you ready to try the Tuellers drill with me, maybe Wendell? ;)

Soory for the late response, been real busy, sounds like things are going well with you.

Take care


November 7, 1999, 10:55 AM

November 11, 1999, 02:22 AM
Thanks for the great review, Rich.

Shutoku, having taken Walt Marshall's classes, how would you compare Gabe Suarez's CQB class in terms of curriculum, teaching style/effectiveness, etc. I find Walt's training to be superb, and will continue to train with him, but I think it may be good for me to get other perspectives as well.

Thanks in advance...

Shutoku Shia
November 14, 1999, 04:56 AM
Hi, Ringo.

I would rate Walt Marshall very, very highly in his teaching skills (how he imparts "tactical" skills) and in teaching you to think for yourself. He would always explain why he is teaching what he is teaching (i.e. the basis for the technique) and make you do it a manner that forces the student to think and apply it.

In regards to Gabriel Suarez's CQB Pistol, the 2 strongest points were: (1) very articulate explanation/lecture by Mr. Suarez (he is even more articulate in person than in his books --- meaning, he explains things verbally very, very well); (2) exposure to various ideas and techniques outside the Jeff Cooper's Modern Technique that Suarez himself have devised or adapted from others. For example, strobing flashlight technique during a search in a low light environment (from San Diego SWAT), combining traditional martial arts strikes with the GSGI's Close Contact position, etc.

So, Ringo, what you would get from 2 different instructors/schools are not comparable (it's like comparing apple and orange).

If you have any more question, Ringo, you may send me an email and I will try to answer it.

Shutoku Shia
Email: [email protected]
San Jose, California