Practical Firearms Training (Pat Goodale)
Force on Force
Anvil Rock Facility, Alderson WV
Yesterday, 21 May, Practical Firearms Training hosted a private FoF course for a group of shooters. The shooters were an experienced group with other PFT courses under their belts, what this class brought to the table was the chance to take those fundamentals they have learned in the past and use them along with split second decision making under realistic scenarios while "fighting" with an actual person. The day started out with a short classroom portion to touch on the ground rules, safety briefing and mindset.
The safety protocols put in place had each student pat down the roleplayer before being searched themselves. This ensured there were no live weapons brought into play. We then quickly moved outside and started with open air exercises with the students starting out seated in a vehicle. Each scenario was different and very fluid. The actions of the roleplayers were based off of the posture, verbal commands and actions of the student. The scenarios ranged from a person aggressively asking for money, a carjacking, a staged fender bender set up as an ambush, a road rage incident, rolling up on a person being attacked by multiple assailants and other realistic scenarios.
The one constant was that each student had to make a decision as to how to act and and what point force was the correct option (if at all). While one student was training the rest were able to observe, this was great as you will learn something simply by watching the actions and reactions of others.
Once all of the students had a chance to run through a scenario we broke for lunch before moving out to another training site. It was a multiple story structure that included stairwells, multiple rooms and long halls for students to work through. Several rooms were set up to mimic places we encounter everyday. Before moving inside students and roleplayers were again searched to ensure there were no live weapons
While the entire class would be involved only 1-3 of them would be armed. It was up to them as to if they should become involved and to what level. The other students could simply stand by, try to verbally defuse certain things, simulate calling 911 or even decide to get up and leave the situation. The first was a doctor's office before moving into a mock convenience store, a factory type setting and finally an office environment. The scenarios ranged from a simple argument where a knife gets brought into play, a domestic in public that goes very bad, robberies, active shooter situations (both targeted killings and someone indiscriminately attacking everyone they come across) and others.
The students had no idea who was armed, what the role players planned on doing or how they would react. There were also scenarios that involved off duty officers becoming involved and the possibility of mistaken identity. We also ran Tueller drills where a roleplayer armed with a shock knife would charge a student from 21 feet who had to draw a concealed airsoft gun and make solid hits before getting "cut". Although the students have previously ran this against a 3D moving target on a track they now have a human who can duck and weave while charging them. These kinds of FoF drills also help carry over the mechanical and technical skills we refine on the range and combine them with decision making, verbalization to the threat and others involved, use of cover in a realistic and ever changing situation and engaging a moving target while we are moving.
It also helps break us of the square range mentality involved in a lot of training. After dropping one suspect only to be shot by another across the room helps show that a scan and assess is not simply something we do as a range ritual but can help keep you alive. It also brings a whole new element of being sure of our targets foreground and background as non combatants are seeking cover as a threat is constantly moving around. You also have to be sure of your positioning in a room as a threat tries backing you into a corner, etc.
These are things that we can talk about and even try to visualize on a range but truly come into play when you have another human actively engaging you. Add into that the stress that comes from the threat of pain from either an airsoft gun, paintball marker or shock knife not to mention the fact that instead of shooting a static piece of paper you know have one or more human threats aggressively moving towards you, pushing and cursing while presenting a "weapon". It really helps to bring everything into context.
While LE and .mil types generally do this type of training there are very few opportunities for most civilians to experience these types of drills. Encountering these threats now in training will help minimize the time it takes to make a decision if you are ever faced with them in real life. If you ever have a chance to participate in this kind of training you will quickly see that it can be a life saver.