TYR Tactical

CQB Training – Let’s Be Careful Out There

Close Quarters Battle training has become the latest rage for the ‘new golf’. While some might argue whether this skill is justified for civilians, I feel it is a valuable skill considering most of us own weapons to defend our homes. Employing a firearm in such ‘close quarters’ requires a new set of skills rarely learned on the flat range. Oftentimes, this form of training for those who are not military or LE is referred to by another name such as house clearing or home defense. No matter the name, the principles remain the same.

By now many of you know that there was an accidental, non-fatal shooting last weekend during a CQB-style course in Texas. Details have begun to emerge and the instructor has manned up and accepted responsibility. This is not the first time this has happened and unfortunately, won’t be the last. So, I thought this would be a good opportunity to point out some common issues encountered by prospective students.

The biggest issue associated with this form of advanced training is that you should seek out instruction from someone that knows what they are doing. As CQB-style training becomes increasingly popular, more and more instructors are going to offer it. Some are excellent and some have no business doing it. One thing to ask a prospective instructor is about his credentials. There is one popular instructor out there who recently began offering this form of training and only started offering it after he attended someone’s else’s course.

Conversely, don’t lie about your experience. If you haven’t done it before, admit it. Once you find the right instructor, listen. Ask questions. Participate in dryfire. You can learn a lot about movement and procedures during practice runs. Finally, practice, practice, practice.

No matter who you decide to train with, pay full attention at all times and remember that safety is everyone’s responsibility. Listen to, and comply with all range commands. Col Cooper’s four rules of firearms safety are just as critical here as anywhere. In fact, probably more so due to the inclusion of the ‘fog of war’ where the shooter must face the unknown.

1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Whether in a home environment or in a strange building, remember, there will most likely be civilians. Identifying targets and what is beyond them is crucial to their safety. Remember your rounds may go through walls. Consider this both in training and in the real world. Pursuant to this, train in properly constructed facilities.

If you are going to engage in CQB-style training, train with people who know what they are doing, remember the fundamentals, listen to all range commands, and don’t let peer pressure place you or others in danger. Remember, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

There are myriad factors involved in this advanced form of firearms employment. Stick with professional, competent trainers and learn to do it right. Training is crucial to success, but let’s be careful out there.

99 Responses to “CQB Training – Let’s Be Careful Out There”

  1. WTF? says:

    Ok, so who shot who?

  2. MACK says:

    Can anyone give a heads up on some instructor based CQC courses offered out there?

  3. I teach home defense and Mil/LE room clearing classes every year and I can tell you first hand you have got to be 100% on top of your game as an instructor to pull off a safe class

    Many individuals who perform fine on the flat range get overloaded in a house clearing scenario and can do dangerous, unexpected things at almost any time

    Of all the open enrollment classes being taught it is the highest risk as experience has taught me there is a reason only a select few units in the US military conduct CQB operations at the highest level- and why the US Army’s Tier One Unit tasked with this role is world renowned for a CQB skillset that is unmatched by any SOF organization ; past or present

    Very carefully evaluate any instructor who is teaching this topic in an open enrollment format; bottom line in my opinion if the instructor does not have extensive US Special Operations experience I absolutely would not attend the class

    Certainly some allied SOF units could qualify in terms of instructor criteria but it is very difficult to adequately vett an instructor from overseas so my gut instinct would be to pass on a class being taught by a foreign instructor

    As far as instructors whose credentials are outside of US SOF or NATO Special Operations forces – such as Warsaw Pact – I would avoid those instructors at all costs as my experience is despite what hype may surround said instructor their actions and weapon handling techniques speak volumes about their true competency ; in other words stay away no matter what

    A good place to start looking at instructors with extensive spec ops experience is Alias training – check out SSD every Saturday for a Gunfighter quote from different Alias trainers

    • Matt says:

      Larry, thanks for adding that to the post. It expounds on what SSD just touched on in the article.

    • Lawrence says:

      Larry – what are your thoughts on using high-grade airsoft weapons for this type of training, as a safer alternative alternative to “going hot”? At least initially…. ?

      • The Local Asshole says:

        Lawrence, I am going to slide in to “Dick-Mode” real quick so bare with me: What kind of fucking question is that? Stop, and think about it for a minute. What do YOU think? I understand you are most likely just seeking public acknowledgement of Airsoft as a training tool from someone as reputable as LAV because it seems you run an airsoft blog, but come on… Now I obviously cannot speak for LAV, as he has probably forgotten more than I will ever learn. With that said, my guess is he will say something along the lines of: “Airsoft is a great training tool to PREP for the real deal if used correctly. Still, it is by no means a substitute for actual live fire CQB training from a qualified instructor. Just like anything (especially CQB) it is good to crawl before you walk. So training dry or with airsoft would not be a bad idea before training live.” Not sure why this bugged me so much, but it seems like you already know the answer to your own question… Its like those annoying kids in grade school who ask questions just so the teacher will know they are there… Rant/off, Charlie Mike

        • Chen Lee says:

          I am no expert, but CQB is more of a technique of movement and understanding the dynamics of the environment, the use of Airsoft is good for initial introduction to this very specialized skill set. compare to Sims, Airsoft hurt just as about much, the airsoft force on force are based more on a honor system, since this kind of system can not mark the hits.

          Airsoft does not carry the mystic of a real firearm and some time it is look down on because of all the kids dressing to play soldier. but I see no reason why that Airsoft couldn’t be a valid tool in training and cutting down cost.

        • Lawrence says:

          I don’t know why it bugged you so much either, and I was not seeking validation for an answer I already knew, nor do I run an “airsoft blog”…

          I was honestly curious to know what LAV thinks about it. My own thinking is exactly along the lines of your statement:

          “Airsoft is a great training tool to PREP for the real deal if used correctly. Still, it is by no means a substitute for actual live fire CQB training from a qualified instructor. Just like anything (especially CQB) it is good to crawl before you walk. So training dry or with airsoft would not be a bad idea before training live.”

          But I’m no expert. Other experts, such as Travis Haley, have recommended the use of airsoft weapons as an initial training tool, and I’ve used them in that way too.

          But at the end of the day, I have a tremendous amount of respect for LAV and value his views on things – so why don’t you let him speak for himself?

          • Andrew says:

            I’m not trying to speak for LAV, but I feel we are very fortunate that LAV takes the time to contribute here to our community. Because of this it irritates me when people waste time asking him “questions” that are usually just seeking validation or can be discovered by searching his earlier comments diligently. Especially when, like you just reiterated, you already have the answer.

    • Neil says:

      With your well documented experience Larry in mind regarding your commentary about Warsaw pact instructors. Blow it out your ass.
      A ridiculoous statement from a man who is counting on the ignorance of others to pass that statement off. That or you really are the blow hard you come accross as. Stop believing your own bullshit.

      Wishing Gene a speedy recovery.

      • Neil

        You need to lay off the crack pipe – on one hand you attack Jason Falla, who served in the Australian military in Afghanistan supporting the US led war on terror about his home countries gun laws then you defend Warsaw Pact instructors who specifically come to this country to take advantage of the gun culture here in order to make a living – exactly the kind of living they would not be able to sustain in Russia or elsewhere because the environment doesn’t support it

        Dude think before you type – and based on what just happened in Texas you need your head examined for defending SP


      • Mike says:

        I’m new to the forums but I quickly worked out who the “village idiot” is around here, as there’s ALWAYS one.

        Yes Neil, you need to lay off the drugs. Life will be so much nicer for you then, and maybe you’ll even get a girlfriend.

    • Mike says:

      What a load of crap. This is just protectionism.

      *NEWSFLASH* Ex US SOF instructors say only pay your money to ex US SOF instructors !!

      Film at 11.

      US SOF CQB are no better, and no worse, than a myriad of other international organisations.

      Brits, Germans, Canadians, Kiwis, Aussies, even the Frogs……..they’ll all perform just as good if not better than US equivalents.

      • Mike

        For clarification purposes please let us know what basis you have on stating that allied SOF will perform as an instructor as well or better than US SOF ? Don’t bring up Jason Falla as he worked for many years in the US at Blackwater as an instructor- he is obviously the exception to the rule

        Seeing that you can count the number of live fire shoot houses in Eurpoe on both hands and have fingers left over I personally would love to tap into your knowledge and experience on this subject

        On the other hand myself and several other Alias training instructors mentioned in this thread worked on Ft Bragg where in less than a 5 mile radius we had nearly a dozen such live fire structures that we and co workers trained in constantly. I would venture a guess that all the allied SOF units in Europe combined do not even come close to the number of live fire shoot houses on Ft Bragg alone. So if you have more experience than I do on this subject I am all ears.

        Standing by…..

        • Mike says:

          Oh please. While you were running around playing “make believe” at your ‘Fort’ *pew pew* those other forces were boots on the ground.
          I have no idea about Mr Falla but a quick google tells me he’s ex Australian SOF, there’s your answer right there. Playing boy soldiers with Blackwater isn’t going to magically transform anyone. He’s obviously taken his skills there that he learnt in the Australian military, a fine fighting organisation.
          Now..geeez..real world examples?..wow….well, seeing as all those Europeans (and Aussies and Kiwis and Israelis) are OBVIOUSLY so far behind the eight ball as they just don’t have a million pretty “Forts” to play in then I guess the Iranian Embassy, Flight 181, Entebbe, NIMROD, Lima Embassy etc etc etc never happened, right ?
          Lets not forget their actions in the Gulf War 1, and the ‘stan now, plus Iraq. At least they’re not busy gunning each other (and other friendlies) down on a daily basis.
          While the closest you got to a weapon being fired in anger was front row at the cinema these guys were walking the walk. It’s ok though, I understand where you’re coming from…go google up “hubris”. You guys can play “pretend” all you want, that’s fine. The fact remains though that the Europeans and Aussies/Kiwis and others wipe the floor with the bad guys when required to, as their actions clearly show. The US SOF are ok, granted, but it’s the height of stupidity to think they’re special, they’re representative. Other countries forces might be smaller, but they are every bit as well trained, even exceeding US standards.
          To make some sort of inference that their abilities are in any way ‘second rate’ is a slap in the face of these brave fighting men, and a disgrace.
          While I probably wouldn’t feel confident with some Third World instructor I sure as shit wouldn’t mind an ex SAS/SBS or Para instructor. In fact, I’d be wary of the American, as you can never be too sure of their mental stability.

          • Mike

            You obviously don’t have a clue who in the hell I am. Try a google search of Modelo Prison rescue of Kurt Muse and get back to me

            Where in the hell do clowns like you come from?


    • VooDoo says:

      Two cents….

      As a suggestion to any and all training groups who are looking to keep training as real as possible with out any potential of serious harm to instructors or students it is highly recommend to remove live ammo from the equation. Period! There is a time, place and skill level were live can and should be introduced.

      Airsoft is great, however I am sure there are those who will agree with this statement. Train like you fight, fight like you train. For example, when we run our LEO Building Entry Course we do not use live rounds. We utilize the best possible replacement, UTM (Ultimate Training Munitions). The primary reason we here at Falcon and other training organizations utilize the UTM system is 3 fold.

      1. Students still utilize their own weapon system configure as they would utilizing real ammunition thus eliminating the requirement such as an airsoft gun/tool and having multiple setups or moving optics/lights between platforms.

      2. Live Round Lock Out. There is a ZERO possibility once you have converted your duty weapon or primary weapon from live fire to UTM which also has a BLUE chamber indicator. Additionally, the use of Blue safety magazines does not allow you to load live rounds. 2 simple parts converts your weapon and works synergistically together (Bolt Carrier & Safety Magazine)

      3. Mr. Lee’s comment about airsoft is a step in the right direction, however, you now have to attend to EGOS which most people in this line of work are A type personalities. Having to contend with the honor system and potential egos can be reduced from the get go. The UTM Man Marking Rounds will mark your adversary or target during FOF or FOT (Force on Target) training with a water base color so there is no arguing who got hit or not.

      Regardless, training and instruction should come from the best possible instructors who can conduct a safe, organized event so that learning occurs and information is retained with out the fear of serious injury or death. However, even some of the best instructors are human and humans make mistakes. Setting yourself up for success from the start through sound infrastructure is key to having a successful training evolution. I believe the issue here is not so much who the instructor was as insinuated in the above comment, but, reviewing the equipment utilized to conduct these types of courses should also be addressed. Its a blend.

  4. Chris says:

    THE WAY OF THE GUN- RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE with Sonny Puzikas and Max Franz. Nov. 3-4, 2012. Dallas, TX


  5. I would stay away from instructors with a Coast Guard background. Stick with SOF guys and do your homework on the internet. Alias is a good start. They really have some quality guys teaching. Larry being one of them.

    Have a good one,

    • Bill says:

      Why the blanket statement about the Coasties? They’ve been doing VBSS since like 1790, and it doesn’t get much more CQ than the corridor of some Liberian flag tramp freighter. They don’t get the constant training evolutions of mil SOF units, but the basics don’t change.

      • DJ says:

        I think that was intended as a swipe at Costa.

        • In Chris Costa’s defense I am not aware of him teaching any room clearing/CQB courses – in addition there are many former SOF instructors who either don’t teach it at all or only for LE/Mil

          Open enrollment classes with civilians for home defense techniques- an incredibly valuable skillset- takes everything to a completely new level; I learned the correct approach from my mentor and friend Ken Hackathorn and we have talked about it many times that you can count on one hand how many instructors could safely and effectively teach a civilian based open enrollment class not at your home range

          It’s real simple; if you ain’t taught it then you don’t know what I talking about – no matter what your background is

      • Andrew says:

        Bill hit the nail on the head. That type of blanket statement is totally uncalled for and unprofessional.

    • WKL says:

      I take exception to your statement. I have performed CQB and have trained at Blackwater Trainining Center as a member of the USCG. In addition I have also been involved in ship boardings as well. We aren’t as sexy as Special Operations Personnel but we do in fact carry hot weapons and perform clearings in confined spaces.

      • SSD says:

        Thank you for your service but are you an instructor teaching CQB?

        • WKL says:

          No I am not teaching it nor did I state that I am. I am simply talking about the ignorant wide brush statement that was made and the swipe at Coasties.

  6. Brookhaven says:

    Wow, what an interesting thread. Right on time as well. I am seriously interested in attending a class like this. How should evaluate CQB/Shoot House classes now? I’ve found classes from a large number of instructors. My research shows; Tactical Response (James Yeager – small town Sheriff/Iraq Contractor), LMS Defense (John Chapman – Local LE), Larry Vickers (Delta Force), EAG Tactical ( Vietnam vet – Armored Forces/NYPD Not SWAT) & EAG assistant instructors who it seems are Doctors or at least work in the medical field as their day jobs, Suarez International (Gabe Suarez – Sheriff), plus many more. All but one of them seems to have zero experience or background on this subject and certainly have never done it for real.

    This makes it a lot harder to find a class.

    • SSD says:

      There are many many more options out there if these guys aren’t what you are looking for.

      Check out Redback One. Additionally, I’m pretty sure that Grey Group Training can pair you with the right instructor and as already mentioned, Alias Training has a trainer or three that is quite adept at this form of combat.

      • mike says:

        I’ve trained with Redback One. Jason and Muz are class acts and know how to instruct. They effectively communicate course material and control the student population with authority. Regardless of who you draw as an instructor through their courses, Jason has selected them and that’s enough vetting for me.

        As with any instructor or knowledge base, do your research. Not sure about someone’s credentials or abilities? Look them up. Doing the research on Redback One will only have you checking their course calendar and your bank account as they do not disappoint and the AARs you find from people across the web speak volumes about the level of instructions you receive.

        • Jason Falla says:

          In light of this article, I thought that it would behove me to advise and reassure our students and future students of the following:

          All Redback One Instructors have been formally trained by the military as military instructors. Our cadre have received over 16 weeks of instructor training and have been employed as an instructor on courses conducted by Special Operations. We maintain a high standard of safety and ensure that our training courses are progressive in nature and our students have assimilated the instruction given, by way of test of objectives.

          We will be offering several courses in 2013 that include CQB related activities. Our instructor cadre are former members of the National Counter Terrorist Unit and have been qualified in all aspects of Close Quarters Battle. Our instructors have been deployed on operations and conducted multiple missions involving the conduct of CQB.

          We have now developed our own proprietary method of CQB known as Offensive Stronghold Clearance (OSC) that we teach exclusively to Military units and Law Enforcement agencies. We have also developed our own proprietary method of Home Defense tactics known as Individual Defensive Movements Techniques (IDMT) that we teach to responsible armed citizens during our Home Defense courses.

          Redback One cadre have trained personnel from elements of the following Units/ Agencies/ Departments etc, in Close Quarters Battle tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP’s);

          U.S Special Operations Command,
          U.S Army,
          U.S Navy,
          U.S Coast Guard,
          Government Agencies,
          Federal Law Enforcement Agencies,
          Department of Homeland Security, and many
          Domestic Law Enforcement SWAT teams.

          Should any of you have any questions regarding RB1 cadre and our capability, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

          Jason Falla
          Director of Training
          REDBACK ONE

          • Neil says:

            Always good to hear from a man who was trained by the tax dollars of a nation which doesn’t allow the tax payers a whiff of the firearms they paid for. What else is to be expected from a place started as a penal colony. Frankly in the world of firearms and training Australian instructors teaching American civilians is a joke. Not to mention an insult to Australians. Feel free to use the you’re helpless to change it excuse. The same one that doesn’t fly with 2A Americans.

          • Jason Falla says:

            Neil, you clearly have a lack of understanding and insight into this topic and anything else that is relevant. You need to turn your computer off and go and have a good hard look at yourself!

            Jason Falla
            Director of Training
            REDBACK ONE

          • Ted Bundy says:

            Hey Jason didn’t you have a student shoot himself recently in a class? Life flight, etc.

          • Sboza says:

            I’ve trained with Jason a couple of times and look forward to more opportunities in the future. RB1 is an excellent training operation and Jason works his, and his student’s, butt off. They have a great cqb program for le/mil and Jason takes an active role to ensure consistency (an issue with larger organizations such as BW). The TTP’s are kept up to date and Jason has made the RB1 battlefield proven system truly unique and effective.

            I know that the Internet is full of folks like Neil but that kind of trash does not belong here. The troll demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge amd understanding.

            I look forward to training with you again Jason.

          • Patrick says:


            Can you please clarify for the record your above statements.

            Has your “cadre” been contracted directly by the following for CQB instruction?

            U.S Special Operation Command
            U.S Army
            U.S Navy
            U.S Coast Guard
            Department Of Homeland Security

            I think it’s important to differentiate between training elements of the above entities and being contracted by the government to provide training to the above mentioned entities.

            I read your comments as being contracted to train them, and not just having a few of them on your line during a training class which is commonplace for countless instructors, and I wouldn’t think it worth mentioning.

            I also find the “proprietary method” interesting, I would love to hear about the breakthroughs that RB1 have created and how those methods were vetted against proven TTP’s used in combat today in The War On Terror.

            Thank you in advance for your clarification and setting the record straight on this matter.

          • Jason Falla says:


            We do not discuss specifics of customers or contracts in the open forum. If you require any further information please contact me directly, please include your Unit/ Agency specifics.


            Reference your comment on ‘breakthrough’ techniques, here’s a comment from a student taught by Military CQB Instructors that we have trained in our techniques.

            Alex P – “I went to Army SRT school at Ft. Leonard Wood and a few of the instructors had recently taken one of your courses. Your method of room clearing is on point. I have learned several ways to clear a structure but I prefer yours hands down.”

          • jim d says:

            So you’ll elude to/brag about all of the sneaky dudes you’ve supposedly trained (unsolicited), but you are not willing to verify any of it when asked for specifics?

            One student testimony is hardly evidence that you’ve been contracted to train:
            “U.S Special Operations Command,
            U.S Army,
            U.S Navy,
            U.S Coast Guard,
            Government Agencies,
            Federal Law Enforcement Agencies,
            Department of Homeland Security, and many
            Domestic Law Enforcement SWAT teams. ”

            Was the student who provided THAT testimony there on his dime, or his units?

            I heard a story about you asking other instructors in the industry “how to get a government contract”. I wonder why you’d be asking for advice on how to get such contracts, if you had actually secured training packages for the units you’ve mentioned above…

            It looks to me like you are trying to use this event as a marketing opportunity, and are implying a lot of things that are misleading at best.

          • Jason Falla says:

            Take it how you want to take it!

            I am letting those that are interested know that there are other viable options for training in this subject than just former U.S Special Operations personnel.

    • Manymore says:

      You could checkout the already mentioned Redback One, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Jason Falla and his guys.

      Also worth a look:

      Kyle Defoor (SEAL)
      Travis Haley (Force Recon, Private Contractor)
      John McPhee (Delta)
      Mike Pannone (Force Recon, Delta)
      Pat McNamara (Delta)

      I personally don’t any any experience with these guys, just going from reputation amongst people that shoot a lot more than I do.

    • Chen Lee says:

      Larry Vickers is more than enough to teach a CQB style course?you will not find a finer instructor……also look into John McPhee under Alias training.

    • Kevin says:

      EAG: Didn’t Pat Rogers run a multi-week CQB course for the Marines for a few years?

      • Ted Bundy says:

        Actually no, he did not. I know it is heavily hinted at or maybe even stated behind closed doors for marketing purposes but this info is absolutely false. EAG/Pat Rogers taught some very basic firearms classes to some standard Marines but nothing CQB and most times only to the support “Non Shooter” elements. Even that ended when his close friendship to the CO of that unit ended abruptly. He has been PNG from them for many years now. So no, Pat never trained the “Shooters” at all, and certainly not in CQB. How could he? He has no personal training or background in CQB/Special Operations. He was a Vietnam era armored crewman and an NYPD cop. Everything since has been teaching very basic level firearms classes.

  7. Anonahole says:

    Why is it that no one will say the name of the instructor that shot the other?
    Was is Sonny Puzikas?
    Did he shoot Gene Smithson?

    For a bunch of bad ass gun people there sure is a lot of walking on egg shells about this.

    • SSD says:

      This isn’t a gossip issue. What’s important is that it happened and I don’t want to see it happen anymore.

      • Anonahole says:

        Correct, and by knowing who was involved it will help people make educated safer choices.

        • SSD says:

          Or, we could talk about how to find the right instructor for this training and potential students might avoid a multitude of trainers who aren’t right for this discipline.

          • It is considered bad form to publicly trash another instructor in the business- not that it hasn’t been done before and I’m sure in certain circumstances I have even done it- but it is also not required because with an Internet search and keeping your eyes and ears open on various forums the incident will come to light

            Case in point; it took you only a few hours to put it together

            As always educate yourself and make your own decisions

          • Anonahole says:

            By simply yelling the facts, such as the parties involved will help avoid and dispell any gossip. No trashing of anybody.

  8. theblackknight says:

    “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

    Ugh. It is impossible to be slow and fast, at the same time. This is a tired tactical un-truth that needs to die. I’ve seen sloppy fast beat slow smooth, the timer and target dosent lie.

    • SSD says:

      Obviously, you don’t get it. If you go too fast, you fumble it and then it isn’t fast at all now is it? Not when you’re fumbling with shit. Go smoothly and you’ll be much faster than speedy who is all kinds of fucked up because he went too fast for his skill level.

    • Brookhaven says:

      Yeah, at 3-5 yards and then not consistantly.

      Makes for good Youtube videos though.

    • You are saying you disagree with an old play on words, this has been a saying for over two decades (yes, we’ve been doing it that long). You train slow, it develops smoothness, that eventually develops an instinctive speed, thus becoming fast, it’s that simple…

      In 2000 when I first learned advanced techniques we had more sayings, as corny as some may consider them, they all shroud a truth and convey it simply… BLUF stick to the basics and be capable of doing them in slow controlled movements. Being fast as a shithouse rat when the lights come on don’t mean shit if you don’t get the cheese. Be capable of hitting under stress, no matter how slow, and you will be successful. Train you’re body at fine tuning skills that you will be capable of accomplishing when you are relying on nothing but gross muscle movements. It is that simple.

      My saying… We’ve been saying this one since I was a private… “There’s a fine line between high speed and meltdown.”

      As for CQB instruction: find someone who has not just done it; find someone who has lived it, as a troop member, stack member, assault SGM, etc… It’s not a fucking mindset, its a fucking lifestyle, a way of life, a whole different way of looking at the world and know that it is the highest casualty producing form of attack the military undertakes, if you don’t fear it on a certain level you wont understand its power. Not trying to sound provocative, but one doesn’t just wake up and decide to do this without resolve on the level of accepting death as a threshold away.

      Jon, OPT

  9. Smokie says:

    As for USCG guys have a look at the MSRT and MSST units. After spending 8 years with the teams your out look is wrong. We trained alot and by some of the best SOF guys in the country. Put a local SWAT or other unit other then seals and MARSOC on a ship watch their eyes turn into deer in a headlight look. Huge difference from a building or a house. Just my two cents.

    • We aren’t talking about unit’s here. We are talking about instructors that have several hundred real world assaults under their belt. I want to emphasize “real world.” Training is one thing but if you haven’t tested it over and over again in a “real world” setting you’ll never really know how your techniques work.

      There are a lot of instructors with the above talent. Find them, talk with them, talk with others about there courses and choose.

      Stay safe!

      Have a good one,

      • Mike says:

        Sorry…bear with me here…

        You’re referring to instructors that have actually participated in hundreds of actual assaults ? Where they bust into a stronghold filled with terrorists or enemy combatants that are all armed to the teeth and firing back at them ? Hundreds of times ?

        Is that what you mean ?

        Or do you mean running a few hundred times into a fake building in Virginia firing off live rounds at some plywood targets ?

        I’m confused.

  10. Jon of OPT

    Spot on

    Be safe


  11. jon c says:

    “As for CQB instruction: find someone who has not just done it; find someone who has lived it, as a troop member, stack member, assault SGM, etc… It’s not a fucking mindset, its a fucking lifestyle, a way of life, a whole different way of looking at the world and know that it is the highest casualty producing form of attack the military undertakes, if you don’t fear it on a certain level you wont understand its power. Not trying to sound provocative, but one doesn’t just wake up and decide to do this without resolve on the level of accepting death as a threshold away.”

    -Quite possibly the best explanation ever written, especially the “fear” line.

    Folks need to realize that in a honest self assessment most people do not possess the intelligence or processor speed to do CQB.

  12. Not LAV says:

    I would think that someone who writes for a living should know the difference between “perspective” and “prospective”. Just saying.

    • SSD says:

      Just sayin’ if that’s all you got I’m doing pretty well. Of course, there’s a knowing the difference and actually typing it. I’m well known for being a horrible typist. Of course, typos never happen. At least not when you’re publishing 6-8 articles a day. Yeah, I’ll take that.

  13. JB Gleason says:

    Distinguished crowd in this thread and I hesitate to jump in but I, for once, have what I believe to be a legitimate point to make…

    1. Totally agree that this training is inherently dangerous and, in my day, I have walked away from courses where guys who had no business teaching this skill set had students running through shoot houses live fire. I have had the bad luck to be present (not involved) in three training-related accidental shootings including one fatality over the years. This stuff isn’t “the new golf” and needs to be taken seriously by student and instructor. If, as I have read on-line, this was the Lead Instructor shooting an Assistant Instructor that boggles the mind even more.

    2. That being said, I am going to disagree (with appropriate deference given) with LAV on the sole point that SOF experienced individuals are the only folks qualified to teach this skill set. READ THE REST BEFORE YOU START BLASTING GUYS. I am not saying that every member of a part-time domestic SWAT team is qualified by any stretch. They aren’t. BUT there are certainly units who are active enough and skilled enough to know what they are doing. There is a reason that the guys from Bragg used to cross train with LAPD SWAT and other selected domestic units. Before we were at war for 10 years, those were the guys who were doing live entries day in and day out. I received early training from SOF units as a LEO and their methods were problematic in a domestic setting. The old paradigm of banging and flooding every room wasn’t always the best technique for our operations. Not looking to start a keyboard fight here by any means but wanted to point out that SOF and SWAT requirements are often different and you should consider your mission set before picking a course. Unlike SOF operating in a non-permissive environ, domestic operations often have the advantage of being able to control the perimeter and move much more conservatively. Limited Pen and Surround and Call Out are domestic techniques that don’t have realistic applications in a combat environment. As much fun as it is to train like them, domestic units need to realize that they are not Delta/SEAL’s.

    • JB

      Good points in your post – my experience is a really good CQB instructor can tailor the material to fit the students needs and requirements; in the classes I teach I do that because even the career SOF guy needs to know slow one man clearing techniques because he may need to respond to a bump in the night just like anyone else

      The problem with your argument is that LE only personnel do not have the ability in my experience to teach all aspects of CQB – just what they are exposed to

      It’s the difference between permissive and non permissive environments – LE operate 99.99% of the time in a permissive environment – US SOF ( in particular Tier One units ) operate the vast majority of the time in non permissive

      The difference can be night and say – like comparing high school football to the Pittsburgh Steelers; it’s the same game but that’s where the comparison ends

      Then you have to ask yourself – all things being equal with access to both types of instructors do I choose to learn from a guy who was a champ in his senior year or someone who’s wearing one of 6 Super Bowl rings the Steelers have earned over the years

      Easy call to me

      • Guerrilla says:

        You have to give yourself more credit than the Steelers.

      • Neophyte says:

        I recently attended a class from a former Tier 1 unit member, excellent instructor (Paul Howe) and I would highly recommend his courses. Had a mix of LEO’s and Mil backgrounds in the class. Good discussion on differences. SWAT guys laughed when comparing LE vs my military experience in CQB (limited that’s why I was in the class), suppressive fire (shift-lift), frag, enter. Cannot gain superiority, A-10’s, Apaches, Armory unit close by? A lot of sharing TTP’s between both groups, added to overall experience. But, Paul had the chops to guide the discussion and teach why, when and how.

        I would agree with Larry on choosing your instructor

    • JB,

      Good post and very valid points. There are a couple key things that need to be addressed here. First, what LE brought to the table was dealing with non-threats and search techniques, having years of experience dealing with the criminally minded is something the military lacked. Room clearing to those who conduct it daily is the easy part, conducting an exploitation of that target post assault, especially when looking for concealed contraband is an art, and an art that is ever being developed by the criminals of the world.

      Also, one huge reason for these exchanges was resources, for a unit to ever expand its horizons it must train in as many adverse types of areas as possible. SOF, contrary to popular belief, does not have a bottomless bank account. If I can fly 50 men to a location, practice my skillsets involved in deploying and redeploying (which outnumber the skillsets required to kick a door, trust me), at the same time train with another unit that has a like mission, with TTPs learned from years of experience in parallel subjects to mine, then this fosters an environment for learning for both units involved in the exchange. Having access to a facility that is paid for by someone else, and is set up for your mission set is what we refer to as a combat multiplier, all at the cost of some TDY and fuel.

      Now, are LE instructors with years of CQB, SWAT, SRT whatever name your department gives it valid instructors for all aspects of CQB? If the instructor has instructor experience; real world experience; can actually teach, coach and mentor someone with possibly limited firearms discipline or shooting experience; then I would submit to you that would be the person to teach classes in individual home defense, particularly against home invasions, robberies, etc. if they possess knowledge and expertise in dealing with prior incidents and investigations of these crimes. Would I want that person to teach me urban movement techniques and CQB for an upcoming trip to OEF? Not so much; I am sure I could learn from them, but time is our scracest resource and units or individuals that need this training have to go for the biggest bang for their buck.

      Jon, OPT

  14. Brookhaven says:

    So other than greed, ego, etc why do so many who have NEVER done or it, or had any lengthy training in it decide to teach it to others?

    • SSD says:

      I’d love for some of the folks who shouldn’t be doing it to come in and explain why they do, but I’d say that you covered the reasons well already.

  15. Kevin says:

    Great points covered. Thanks.

  16. Vlad says:

    Probably, a slightly different perspective on an accident. I am russian firearms instructor who is teaching active duty spetcnaz. I have been watching Sonny’s activities for a very long time. For me they are VERY questinable. These are simply not the techniques russian special forses are using. I am sure he is a good hand-to-hand combat instructor, I would like to see his perspective on Systema, but I really don’t like the fact that this guy representing russians in any way.

    By the way, shooting targets in low-light without a weapon or handheld light is fucking retarted.

    • Andrew says:

      “By the way, shooting targets in low-light without a weapon or handheld light is fucking retarted.”


  17. John says:

    I’m a civilian and not at all familiar with CQB, so my question is: Is there anything you should look for in terms of the facilities where these types of courses are taught?

    I’m assuming all shoot houses are not created equal, and while a qualified instructor wouldn’t put students in an unsafe place, what are some things a civilian should look for as “red flags” that maybe this isn’t the place to be?

    • Andrew says:

      If you go to a qualified instructor for training, you will not have to worry about looking for red flags. Heed the advice given above regarding people to train with.

    • The military technique I was raised on for learning and teaching CQB has a myriad of pre-requisites before we even flowed a single outline of a room drawn on a field with a dry weapon without any other team members.

      The first thing is the instructor should require you to attend CMMS courses. The endstate for CMMS is the ability to shoot, move and communicate through an aparatus reacting to multiple types of target scenarios, proving yourself capable of doing this with your assigned weapon(s) is a minimum to just get to the house. The test for eligibility to progress is commonly refered to as a stress test. Failure of this test results in retraining CMMS, or proceeding to CQB but without live rounds.

      Alarm bells should sound if safety is not trumpeted as being paramount; if there is no thorough walk through of all drills with dry weapons; if there is no prerequisite to prove yourself as capable of shooting and moving as an inidvidual; if the instructors do not seem to be well versed or rehearsed at their class; if the instructor seems to be ambushed by the product they are presenting (ie “I should have reviewed these slides better” said during their class); if there is poor range discipline; if the instructor does not have a solid reputation and doesn’t introduce themself including their prior experience and training in the subject; and of course, if your spider senses tingle, that might be all it takes.

      Hope this helps,

      Jon, OPT

  18. Vlad says:

    If you are going into a shoothouse on your first basic class, that’s the clue.
    No medical briefing before the class.
    If you can easily get to the shoothouse anytime during the class and instructor will start the drill in a shoothouse without you. Oh, well, you are already fucked.
    If there are no dry runs.
    If there are no planning before the run and no after-action immediate feedback from instructor after every run.
    I am sure there are more things, but that’s what comes to mind first.

  19. Paul says:

    This has been a very informative eye opening thread, thanks to all contributors

  20. How does someone shoot another by accident THREE times? Let alone an instructor…

    • Neil says:

      CQB requires some speed in engaging targets. Credit to Sonny he
      manned up and took responsibility. That’s despite actually not being
      the complete cause. Though again, he doesn’t see it that way and takes
      full responsibility.
      No problem at all with receiving further instruction for him.

      • DZ says:

        “No problem at all recieving further instruction from him.”
        I hear he has an AI position open.

        You’re statements paint you as clueless and the mere prospect of having someone like you in a shoot house is why I will avoid open enrollment courses on the subject

      • LL says:

        Spoken like a true sycophant, Neil.

      • JinVA says:

        Anyone cranking off rounds at a target they haven’t identified should learn the 4 rules. After they have those down cold, they can continue on by taking an NRA first steps pistol course maybe.

  21. Bill says:

    Part of the issue may be the term “CQB” itself: it can’t mean the same thing to everybody in every situation. A solo deputy sheriff whose backup is 75 miles away whose fighting a burglar in a pharmacy at 0330, a big city team serving a warrant on a meth cook, and a .mil team searching a compound overseas may all be battling in close quarters, but the tools, tactics and ROEs are all different. I also don’t know what counts as usable “experience.” Doing something over and over doesn’t count for much if it’s done badly, but with benefit of luck and opponents who are less skilled, and less lucky. And experience in doing doesn’t equal skill in teaching. And skill in teaching doesn’t always equal skill in contingency management and risk mitigation.

    I have pieces of paper that state I’m an instructor, including several that say that I can instruct people how to shoot in big metal boxes. Personally, I want shoot house instructors who’ll use an accountability system for everyone in or out, a walk-through before each run, and bloodstoppers duct-taped at various points in the structure. But that’s just me.

  22. David G says:

    No one is above a bullet. Don’t let your ego or “training” allow slop in your firearm safety. Too often I see people feel way to comfortable with a weapon and that ends up with someone hurt or dead. I understand people make mistakes, but for gods sake don’t do it on the firing line.

    Stay safe, always remember what you have in your hands can kill your best friend standing a foot away from you.

  23. JohnS says:

    “Credit to Sonny he manned up and took responsibility. ”

    Took responsibility? He should be facing criminal negligence charges at the the minimum. This was no accident, it was negligence, pure and simple.

    “That’s despite actually not being the complete cause.”

    How is he not 100% responsible and the complete cause? He was the Instructor, and I’m using that term loosely. It is his responsibility to ensure that all rooms are clear and ready to go prior to conducting a run. Lets not get into his failure to PID,maybe he should try to be low speed and put a light on a weapon. Or is he too cool for that.

  24. Thomasjane says:

    Was he showing that crazy “no look” shooting he demonstrated in his “Make Ready” trailer?

  25. Jim D says:

    On the subject of learning this stuff from LE, I’ll pass. I work with and around LE daily, and the number of SWAT cops I know that hold themselves to a higher standard than I hold myself (marksmanship and safety wise) is a single digit percentage.

    Add to that how infrequently a domestic LE team gets opposed, and you have hundreds of part timers doing run after run, building confidence in techniques they never validate on the two way range. And they’re all “SWAT cops who do it for a living”. The term is meaningless, IMO.

    The few times domestic LE teams are opposed, it usually doesn’t go so well. Case in point, one guy with a 6 shot revolver hitting 4 officers and stopping a full team dead in their tracks:

    Now a full time team from a big city that has been opposed plenty and verified their tactics… that’s a different story.

    Bottom line is everyone needs to be vetted. There a lots of people who served in illustrious units, but maybe never deployed, or were tasked with other responsibilities and never developed the skillset in question. On the flip side, I know another guy who never was in a “Tier 1” unit, but spent more time on target than most of those guys (10 years on a CIF team).

    I’ve seen plenty of “instructors” who repeatedly wander out of their lanes of experience. Those with real world experience on the topics they profess to be experts on is far and few between. Gents like LAV, Defoor, McPhee, Panonne, Howe, Macnamara, SouthNarc and the lead instructors for Northern Red come to mind as having that experience. A lot of the others… I’m not so sure about.

  26. It has come to my attention from a couple different sources that my statements here were a bit confusing – which is entirely possible based on how the responses have been posted thruout and not in one post ; with that being the case let me summarize a couple key points;

    1) There are many people who successfully teach CQB to LE and Military clients – some have SOF backgrounds, some do not. As far as I am concerned the responses here from me and others don’t really concern that market as the safety violation that was the topic of this thread was in an open enrollment class that included civilians

    2) When looking at suitable instructors for an open enrollment ( meaning civilian students will attend ) home defense or room clearing class do your research on the instructor and his background. A real good yardstick in my opinion is if the instructor has US SOF CQB experience; this does not necessarily mean he is the right instructor for you but it is a key résumé point to look for. If he does, continue to do your homework to see if he is a good fit. If the instructor does not have US SOF experience then extreme scrutiny should be applied before you sign up for his class. It’s the same as learning any other skillset; it’s comforting to know your instructor has performed the task at hand at the very highest level.

    I hope that clears everything up for anyone who was confused


    • JB Gleason says:


      Not sure if you are still monitoring this but thanks for the clarification. You just bridged the gap between what I think we were both trying to say earlier. See you at SHOT.

  27. J. Bruckner says:

    I have read of situations where people have been shot (and even killed) during USA SWAT training. Nobody is impervious from error.

    IMHO, the relative arrogance of some members of the student body community contributes to these unfortunate incidents. While many talk about the firearms safety basics, I have seen more than my share of students whose feathers get ruffled when an instructor tries to proactively stay on top of these rules. The attitude is like “they must be talking about somebody else because this kid is super squared away.” This mindset then leads to sloppier overall rules enforcement.

    Check your egos at the door. Let the instructors run a tight safety ship. This way we all get to go home.

  28. Neil says:

    Here’s some more clarification now that the story has actually come out.
    It appears as if while Sonny was the trigger it was a break down in how the range was operating.
    Anyone else interested in actually learning something can check this for themselves and understand what it means. Doesn’t excuse this happening.
    Still didn’t stop Sonny from claiming responsibility for it.
    Worth mentioning after reading Larry’s bullshit.
    See the thing is after the facts came out it’s quite the reveal that the immediate response from most rubbish Sonny under the banner of lets learn from this.
    Not the first such bullshit from some.

    It’s worth considering courses from LEO in CQB before some hypocritical oppurtunistic shit bag. The kind of who plays on some mystic and milks the rest. Those LEO’s have some real and serious experience when it come to room clearing and breech.

    Meanwhile “LAV” consider that lav in some parts of the world is short of lavatory. Fitting for someone full of shit. Hello to your friend from the gun grabbing socialist/commie shithole. You know how to pick ’em.

    Now that the facts came out, done with this. Get well soon Gene.

  29. Steve G says:

    Scrolling through this log, I find it funny that so many idiots can attack other professional instructors within this industry due to loyalty to a specific instructor.

  30. Brian says:

    Mr Vickers.
    Only US SOF has extensive CQB training worth teaching?
    What about grunt line units out of 18th airborne corp.
    82nd, 101st. Have you seen the level they are working at these
    Days? I believe you have trained a few of these guys as well
    No? In my experience (not as extensive as yours) but not inexperienced,
    I’ve learned we can pick something up from everyone. I’ve been in your training and I’ve been in Sonny’s class. They are very different. On completely different levels. If I had to spend my BAH on a class I’d choose yours but I did learn some valuable things from sonny. Thanks for all you do!!

  31. Brian says:

    Mr Vickers,
    I just saw you comment above…
    Answers most of my question. Once again thanks for all you do and have done