By: Trevor Thrasher, Senior Instructor
Many CQB methods taught across the country go against innate survival instincts.
Speed and aggression without surprise can be a recipe for disaster if not managed properly. What law enforcement most often needs is not what is used by highly select, hostage rescue dedicated teams with massive resources and training budgets. What we commonly learn for Close Quarters Battle (CQB) is often simply rejected under the pressure of a real fight and officers are left to fail, flail, or improvise.
In a multi-part series, I’ll demonstrate and explain the issues with many CQB methods, and why 88 Tactical’s High Threat CQB and Reality Behavior-Based Conditioning tactics are superior. This is Part 1 – Advancing on a Threat.
Why Many CQB Methods are Ineffective – Part 1: Advancing on the Threat
Before proceeding, let me start with a few disclaimers.
- I have executed at a high level or taught just about everything that I believe was sub-optimal. I regret it, but like many instructors, I was passing on what I was taught and what I believed without doing my own detached research.
- There is a time, place, and situation for everything. Just because your training should prioritize behavior, it does not mean that you should ignore other more high-brain responses. Get as good as you can with those tactics and techniques, but not at the sacrifice of things you will most likely need when times are at their most desperate.
The point of behavior is to work with it, not get stuck in it. You must drill working the primal into the more precise, deliberate responses and actions. Think for yourself. Do not rely on what people, including me, tell you. Investigate your beliefs and actually try to disprove them. When in doubt, go to real-world video evidence.
PRIMARY CQB TACTIC: ADVANCING ON A THREAT
Advancing on a threat is a common, very “macho” oriented tactic that assumes the officer is going to react, shoot, and perform in such a superior manner that the officer will “win” the majority of the one-on-one, close range gunfights it clearly puts the officer into. Reality, science and nature have a different opinion.
As a procedure or as a trained reaction, advancing on a threat is not taught in a parking lot, during a traffic stop, or in any other environment, because without certain specific situations, it is a terrible idea. It is a bad idea if the suspect has a knife and it is an even worse idea if the suspect has a gun. Short of the threat not being oriented on you, not being imminent or immediate, or when you are so close with so much momentum that you can’t or shouldn’t stop, the times when advancing on a threat makes tactical sense are very rare. Advancing toward danger is part of a police officer’s job. Advancing on a threat typically isn’t.
KEEP IN MIND WHEN ADVANCING ON A THREAT:
Closeness negates skill.
In other words, a person with almost no skill is nearly as accurate as a trained operator at closer distances. Some studies show that at close range, there is at best a 10% practical advantage for a trained shooter versus and untrained shooter. Moving directly forward takes away any defensive advantage generated by movement.
Action beats reaction.
Officers must wait until there is a perceived threat, while a suspect can produce a firearm from an unseen position and fire it in less than a second. This is most often before an officer can perceive the weapon and respond.
Why fight one-on-one?
Advancing on a threat in a room can often take away the ability of other officers to provide support by blocking out any clear line of sight. As the advancing officer closes down the distance, following officers must move at a greater angle to get a clear shot. Often, the fight is finished before support is available.
Split-second decisions lead to more errors.
Forcing yourself toward a threat creates less time, and less time means less factors are weighed in a decision before it is made. It also provides for less options. Ultimately, the results will usually be poor or wrong.
Closeness increases stress.
Stress, time and distance are heavily intertwined. An increase in stress past a certain point (the inverted “U”) will decrease performance for most technical skills.
Behaviorally, you will want to stop or dodge.
With the appearance of a potential sudden threat that needs maximum evaluation, your primitive systems are designed to stop you from forward movement until the threat is adequately evaluated. Psychologists call this the stick or snake analogy. When walking down a trail and just about to step onto something forming a zig-zag across the path, what do you do without thinking? You stop. If there is no time to evaluate, you stop moving forward or move away from danger. Skills are also compromised when they are not congruent with the associated psychological behavior of threat avoidance.
Bullets travel faster than feet.
You do not have to walk into a corner to clear it. Getting eyes on and being physically and mentally ready to address threats in the corner upon entry is far more important than actually being in the corner. There are several better options, each having their own strengths and weaknesses.
This concept of “direct into a threat” approach has many forms in the CQB world:
- Immediate entry
- Moving into the unknown
- Stepping to center
- Moving forward
The easiest way to evaluate a tactic is to weigh it against:
You also want to examine the tactic from a tactical perspective including offensive, defensive, and OODA loop advantage.
Training is a major consideration. All training has an opportunity cost and you have to decide where to spend your resources. Tactics and techniques that are behaviorally compliant we can easily learn. Techniques that are severely non-compliant with behavior are often just “thrown out of the window” and officers are left to improvise instead of performing a trained action.
If you want to take a deep dive into Reality Behavior-Based Conditioning (RBBC), then attend a course at 88 Tactical. We offer a variety of user level and instructor level courses in CQB, Vehicle Tactics, Active Killer Response, Firearms, Combatives, and other subjects. In the meantime, think for yourself, test everything in a reality-based setting, and watch real-world videos with a critical eye.