In this series we will review close combat as a tactical shooting element. Close combat is common in urban combat theaters, before and after the shit hits the fan. Using this information, develop close combat training programs with a primary focus on efficiency and confidence. Remember this above all else, any means of force is acceptable.
In an urban combat theater you are likely to encounter targets at close range. Contrary to belief, close combat is not within 7-8 yards. A more likely close combat range is within 8-10 feet. In short, don’t confuse range marksmanship with close combat efficiency. Your ability to hit a target at 50 yards doesn’t guaranty close combat efficiency. This was addressed in FM 23-35 Combat Training with Pistols and Revolvers. In this tactical shooting guide I will attempt to outline a few helpful guidelines for you to practice with your pistol.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Close Combat Explained…
At close distances, ‘Quick Draw McGraw’ is more likely to eliminate the threat. However, simply being the first man to pull your pistol won’t be sufficient. Human dynamics and reaction will affect your decision-action cycle (taking action before your adversary) and accuracy. If you are forced to fast-draw you will always be within a second behind the decision action curve, which is known as the OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop. This means you could possibly be behind your target by a full second and your target could possibly get a shot off before you.
Such close combat can be explained by action-reaction dynamics defined by the OODA loop. An OODA loop occurs when you make close combat contact, then observe, orient, decide, and taken action against your threat. Your goal is to be the first one to complete that action cycle before the hostile threat. Doing so puts the operator (you) in a more advantageous position. This explains the need for CQB (Close Quarters Combat/Battle) training.
CQB Close Quarter Combat
Within 2-3 yards, a target can come out of a blind spot not covered. For you to be successful you need to get your weapon inside the action order of your OODA loop. This must be done before the target can, and in a manner that causes vital damage. Your second action is to immediately remove yourself from the line of fire. Remember, your target will have his own OODA loop, and his goal is the same as yours. CQB OODA loop interaction will be continuously carried out over seconds and minutes for each action response until the opposing target is eliminated.
To perform the second action of moving to cover, this can be as easy as taking a lateral sidestep. Lateral movement is moving 3-4 feet in a dynamic and tactical manner. At all times your weapon should be pointed at the target. Many believe you simply take a step back and draw, but there are better ways…
CQB – Speed Rock Position
In extreme proximity the operator will lean back and keep the support hand by the waist, while holding the pistol alongside the ribs. This is a relatively flawed action-cycle. It is flawed because moving backward, while throwing your body off-balance puts you at an extreme disadvantage. In combat the speed rock is an obsolete cycle.
CQB – Close Combat Position
This cycle is a better alternative to the speed rock. This is done by pulling your weapon alongside your ribs while standing firm and erect. At this position the operator can have a 360 degree field. This cycle is the first OODA loop of CQB within 3-4 feet. After cycling through the close combat position and the threat has not been deterred, the operator then starts the second cycle. The second (possibly third) cycle requires additional cover.
CQB – Reaction and Cycling
Within such extreme distances momentum of the threat should be taken into consideration. To assume your initial OODA loop successfully eliminated a threat is not only naive, but it will get you killed. By not reacting and continuing your cycles, your adversary is likely to react before you. Now your opponent is within your loop. Even worse he may have started a complete cycle before you.
CQB – Continuing the Action Cycles
Due to the nature of close combat, you are likely to encounter a situation where the initial cycles didn’t stop the threat. This is a substantial occurrence in CQB and is primarily caused by panic fire. Panic fire is unlikely to fatally wound your target within such proximity. Just because you shot the guy doesn’t mean he’s done. When an attacker experiences the initial trauma, their body’s nervous system will ignore further ballistic injuries. So now what do you do?
CQB – Double Tap
One solution to this threat is known as the Mozambique Drill, otherwise known as the ‘failure to stop’ drill. This is a close-quarter technique where the operator fires twice into the torso of the target from the close combat position. After the first two shots are assessed, a third shot is placed in the head (focused on the brain/brain-stem). The classic double-tap cycle has its shortcomings, instead of assessing the target; immediately train your pistol on the head. Why risk it. Those seconds of assessment aren’t worth it. When the shit hits the fan, the smallest error will get you killed.
CQB – The Fear Element
In close-combat operators undergo extreme physical and mental effects. Such effects include; loss of peripheral vision, depth perception, bladder control, slowed perception and loss of hearing due to gunfire. Such changes can rock the combat foundation of any operator. Training and confidence in combat should be maintained at all times. In short… fear is a threat, and not all will perform well in combat when SHTF. Train to overcome fear. Simulate close-combat by any safe means. Acknowledge your threat, maintain determination, and attack with true murderous intent. Remember, CQB cycle hesitation will allow your target to complete their loop before you do.
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