Saturday, June 8, 2013

Close Quarters Carbines, Square Ranges, CQB, Weapons Manipulation and Tactics

Max Velocity wrote an interesting post called The Great Tactical Training Con. I agree with him in some regards but disagree in others. This stumbles into something I have been thinking about for awhile.

Over the past few years or maybe the last decade the role of the rifle in close quarters fighting has changed.  What used to be considered almost solely shotgun territory has become dominated by AR's, AK's, etc all. These rifles hold 30 rounds and reload themselves which is pretty handy. Not taking anything away from shotguns but their primary benefits are low cost, legality in non permissive environments and versatility, not capacity or reloading. At the same time these rifles have come into prominence CQB (close quarters battle) has become the buzz word and all the rage. Though really SRM (short range marksmanship) is probably more accurate. There are all sorts of courses, classes, video's and such to teach you to be a super cool Sammy Seal type guy.

We need to realize that firearms training is a business. As a business the firearms training industry wants to sell people on paying money to take classes. They want to be able to offer classes in as many places as possible, with the lowest overhead possible, to as many customers as possible. Many of them are genuinely good people who want to train people to use weapons to defend their selves but they also like making money.

The average American range is probably a hundred meters wide and a couple hundred long. They have a safe backstop but limited capacity for movement and very little capacity for shooting in different directions. These ranges can support shooting from 0 to whatever meters strait downrange. People can move a bit left or right as long as they still shoot downrange. They can move forward and back also but still shooting must be in the same downrange direction.

Shooting in multiple directions while moving or static is significantly more complicated. Instead of needing a relatively safe backstop in one direction for a fairly narrow arc you need a lot of space. I'm talking roughly 2+ kilometers in any direction you will shoot in to support shooting rifles. Of course a backstop like a rock quarry or a cliff cuts that down a but but we are still talking a lot of space. Due to the lack of spaces that can readily support this type of training it is a lot easier to gravitate to what we call the square ranges. Folks do this because there are many more ranges that can be used for training that way.

CQB as the cool kids call it is simply using rifles to engage targets at close range, we'll say under 50 meters to keep things simple. Lots of ready up drills, turn and shoot, etc. Reloads are of course mixed into all of this. There is movement but it is usually limited to a few steps in whatever direction. This is good stuff. If you use a rifle for home defense you have to know this stuff (if you use a shotgun do the same thing with it).

A person who is not trained in this stuff can make huge strides in a day of instruction. Part of the business side of the firearms industry is that trainers can leave people feeling good about what they learned wanting to take another class. They can offer Cool Guy CQB Sammy Seal Classes 1-6 or whatever.

CQB is important. I have heard it described, I think by American Mercenary, as a survival skill set. That is true I think in that it's how civilians are going to realistically fight with a rifle. Joe the Engineer who lives in the Burbs or Frank the Farmer are not going to get into 300 meter gunfights. They are going to hear something that shouldn't be in the garage, grab their gun then check it out. People start moving and a 7 meter fight becomes a 50 meter fight but we are still within CQB ranges.

Like anything it is too easy to get overly focused in on one thing. The Tactical Tommy types can practice regularly andgo to 20 classes yet never shoot past 50 meters with a rifle capable of 400 meter accuracy. On the other end of the spectrum there are some high power types and sniper wanna be's who are hyper focused on long distance shooting.Which one of them is right? Neither of them are right. They are wrong on the opposite ends. The CQB Ninja needs to learn how to reach out and touch someone. Mr. High Power needs to learn to rapidly engage targets at close range.

There have been some interesting discussions by Mountain Guerilla and American Mercenary about how much of each skill set you need. In general I am a fan of balance. Instead of being great at either end of the spectrum focus on being competent engaging targets at close range quickly all the way out to putting accurate hate on folks a few football fields away. However if I had to get pegged into a more specific answer I would lean towards CQB for civilians whose rifle concept of use is defensive. The reason is that they are far more likely to fight up close than far away. Yes if you stand in the middle of the road in front of the house you can probably see pretty far, however the odds of you being there with somebody on the other end 400 meters away shooting at you are low. On the other hand getting in a gunfight with somebody in your house or trying to jack your car is considerably higher.

I agree with Max that most 'tactical training' is a bit square range  focused. However I look at it differently. This training is weapons manipulation. Teaching folks to engage targets, reload and clear malfunctions, etc. While some folks sell it as such this is not IMO tactics. It could be argued this is teaching you how to fight as a civilian in a close quarters situation to which I would agree. However if you want to remove some qualifiers, maybe add some friends and such you get into what I consider tactical training. How to move and engage targets, alone or as part of a team.

The two things are sort of different. Think of weapons manipulations as punching and tactics as boxing. Both are important. Weapons manipulations are essential but they sort of happen in a vacuum.  Tactics and small unit training like the stuff Mountain Guerilla and Max Velocity teach to be able to put use your weapons manipulation skills into the realistic environment of the two way range.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

5 comments:

fltactical said...

I agree with your basic assessment that square ranges do have their purposes. But a closer look at maxvelocity's training premise is for a militia or SHTF survival situation. In that sense, his course focus is more in tune with "real world" situations. I quote this because he is assuming real world could involve bug out or insurgent situations. In that sense, his post seems on target. Yes, he is selling himself and one should bear that in mind. But the idea of walking an asymmetric situation with targets in a 360 environment sure sounds intriguing to me.

Ryan said...

Fttactical, I think it depends a lot on the courses specific instruction and what you want to get out of it. Most of the gun handling type classes have some tactics sprinkled in. The tactical classes have some gun handling sprinkled in. That is just a general look, without the class's specific agenda it is hard to get more specific.

Max's stuff is great, just make sure to take the right class(s) to suit your needs.

Bret said...

I think your article is spot on. I've worked in law enforcement for 28 years and as a firearms instructor for 14. A person needs to be a well rounded gun user at all ranges. I realize not everyone will do sniper shots beyond 400 yards but it is nice to be able to shoot long range and do CQB. Also realize that firearms training is like the UFC, it is the current fad to make money. Alot of firearms training like mma, does not mirror real life scenarios and will get the neophyte in trouble.

Max Velocity said...

Hey, thanks for the article. I don't disagree with you. Looking that the blog post of mine that you have linked to, I believe that the driving factor behind the students comments and my commentary is that people are led to believe that they are 'combat ready' after a 'tactical training' course on square ranges. That's really what I am getting at.

If you would, take a look at my post about Shooting Fundamentals ( http://maxvelocitytactical.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-fundamentals-of-shooting.html)

What I am pointing out here is the tactical training is a continuum that does not stop at the square range. My courses are designed for those who are competent on square ranges and need to transition to field firing, otherwise known as real tactical training.

My ranges are set up in terrain that allows multi-directional shooting, flanking movements, use of ground etc. So it is set up, with pop up targets and even bunkers, to move beyond the square range.

One interesting thing is that because my ranges are set up in the woods in specific terrain, they could be considered CQB ranges because engagement distances do not exceed 100 meters and often more around 25 meters. Or short range marksmanship as you describe it.

That is another topic - CQB to me is as you described, short range marksmanship, with a subset of CQB dedicated to structure entry and clearance. That's another battle to be fought with those who are so tunnel vision on structure entry they cannot see that CQB occurs outside of buildings as well. Another post, I think....

My shooting fundamentals post entirely agrees with you that the foundation of all this is good marksmanship training. Not CQB training. Then, to be fully competent, you have to move beyond square range drills (of course I still do the basics in my training site also) to practice is realistic tactical environments. My aim is to bring that, bring the battlefield to my training site.

Ryan said...

Max, Thanks for the comment. I think we are in general agreement. Folks who have not received fire and maneuver type tactical training elsewhere (typically .mil) would be well advised to seek it out from you or other qualified instructors (John Mosby and K come to mind) in their region.

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