BLUF: this course made my brain hurt and was very much a problem solving/thinking class with a low, very precise round count.
Overview: I saw this course while trying to delv into outside agency training. Being a trooper it isn't uncommon to arrive solo to an alarm call and have backup fairly far away. My daily commute is roughly 5 counties so the chances of being first in on a call are fairly high. While we do train single-responder entry for active assailant type situations, there hasn't (that I can remember) been training I've received on single responder to "routine" events that required an actual building clearing. Sure we've all done it, but kicking ass on an empty house really isn't good assessment of my ability or tactics.
Instructors: Chappy Chapman, Doc Spears, Chris Sizelove
Facility: Alliance OH PD. There really isn't anything I can add to this facility that others haven't already commented ad nauseam except that the folks here are some of the nicest and most down to earth I've ever met. Their facility (especially the bathroom) is first rate.
Prior training: the usual police academy training, 6 years on SRT (prior agencies SWAT team with very different tactics), ongoing agency based firearms and decision making courses, Friends of Pat 3 (some pistol/rifle courses there) and Will Petty's VCQB earlier in the month.
I listed my prior training not to have an "I love me" moment but to give a baseline as to why I struggled due to ingrained or institutionalized habits., especially in terms of Forge's accuracy standards.
Gear: Colt M4 w/ 16" barrel, 15" BCM mlock rail, surefire DF fury, Magpul Pmags, BFG padded sling, 62gr Armscor bonded .223 (mirror of my duty ammo), Glock 35 w/ TLR-1 HL in a Safriland 6360, blade tech single mag pistol and bladetech single M4 mag pouch (2) on a Crossbreed leather gunbelt. Plate carrier was the First Spear Stranhogg running AT Armor STOP plates, helmet was a LF swapmeet purchased MICH with stock internals and MSA earpro with the gel cups.
Students: 16 total (I believe) 4 cops, a doc, many industry folks/engineers, a high school teacher and a tattoo artist
- the usual intros, safety brief, etc to start the day. Physical security checks would be conducted prior to every dry evolution.
- I'm going off of memory, but the class started with us being told that individual CQB sucks and it is really tough to conduct, especially when you may have not learned the basics of team/partner CQB. While from the outside someone might say "oh they are trying to sell another class," the instructors couldn't have been more right. The idea in ICQB is to pick up what your #2 guy normally would, so if you have a firm basis of what your responsibilities are on a room entry it isn't hard to learn what you are missing. For folks who may have never made a room entry before, they are having to learn both #1 and #2 rolls at the same time. Knowledge firehouse just in terms of figuring out angles, etc.
- The day included lectures of shapes, how to break down pretty much any terrain (rooms, hallways, buildings, vehicles) into shapes. This was very much an "ah ha" moment to me because I stopped seeing "couch, chair, tv" and started seeing simple shapes. The tactics Forge taught we very fluid and easy to adapt to these shapes. The only issue I had was apparently I was a "tactical diabetic" and "stuck on pie" as I heard Chappy refer to someone else, in that I wasn't using the space of an open door to its full advantage and clear large portions of the room without having to pie all the way around and turning my back on deadspace.
- other lectures included the excellent violence of action lecture as well as demos of what exactly that means, i.e. using smooth and efficient actions to gain the advantage on the bad guy.
- practical drills that day included the flow drill, going over numerous rifle/pistol positions and how they fit into the idea of CQB. I really, really like this drill because it gives you a ton of options that you often don't hear about due to institutional knowledge on the square range (i.e. the only way is muzzle up/down, only reload in front of your face, etc.)
- We ran all of our shape clearing techniques dry on the pistol range, which has sidewalks that intersect at all three angles needed to form the 3 shapes Forge taught us (coincidence?) Students who ran pistols primarily did the runs with their pistols while students with rifles/pistols did runs with both for the reps.
- We moved to the shoot house (freaking awesome shoothouse FYI) and ran multiple clearing runs as individuals dry, starting with one room and moving up to hallways and multiple rooms. It was here I had my next "ah ha" moment and my biggest takeaway. As far back as I can remember I've "broken down" the gun when making an entry. With a pistol, due to how my prior team made entry, I'd go to a tight retention position. For a rifle, I used to go muzzle down then started using muzzle up. Chris Sizelove did a great demonstration of how to utilize the doorway to its fullest and never have to change muzzle position while never exposing the muzzle or yourself to a grab. He demo'd it using my rifle (16" Colt) to prove that it was applicable to standard sized rifles and not just SBR's or smaller guns. This I really liked.
- Day 1 ended with our first live run in the shoothouse. Targets used were the excellent EAG/Forge multicam targets. I made my run, found my target, engaged and scored two hits that on the police range would have either been "go" or high scoring. Here though, it was two misses and a failure to neutralize because I hit just below the 8" ring. Here was another "ah ha" moment as the accuracy standards here were focused on neutralizing and not qualifying by killing paper. The color of the target makes it hard, if not impossible, to see the ring at distance which means you need to be confident in you POA/POI, mechanical offset and sight positioning. I really, really liked these targets.
- Day 2 started with the flow drill and followed with runs in the shoothouse. Scenarios varied and the targets got increasingly difficult, going from the previous 8" circle down to a 3"x5" index card and ending with (secret kept) high percentage/high risk/high reward shots. I believe all told I made 5 runs in the house that day with a total of 15-18 rounds fired over the 2 days.
Days ran until 1730-1800 and I found myself taking a done of notes complete with sketches and diagrams throughout the class. My head literally hurt at the end of each day trying to loose some prior habits and using what I was learning. I really, I really like the "make ready" procedure the utilize for loading and unloading your weapons. I had already been doing a version of this but I can see why the methodical nature of it is used. I figure that is getting added to my daily kit-up routine when I get ready for work.
- I really liked the techniques here and I think they will fit into what the other guys are already doing in terms of clearing techniques, etc without raising too many eyebrows.
- Gear is constantly evolving. and I need to move a few items on my duty belt to maximize my ammo and reloads.
I highly recommend this class for anyone who has a gun in their home. The instructors did an excellent job making the scenarios relevant not only for police but also for armed homeowners, so there wasn't any "oh you don't need this" stuff. I certainly plan to come back for team CQB as soon as time allows.