Small Team CQB with Forge Tactical

Richard L.
by Richard L.

Forge Tactical

I recently took Small Team CQB with John Chapman (Chappy) at the Alliance Police Range in Alliance, Ohio. Chappy and John Spears are the founders and directors of Forge Tactical. Chappy draws many lessons learned from his career in SWAT and as a Private Military Contractor. John Spears teaches from his extensive military experience as a former 18 Delta Special Operations medic and sniper with 7th Special Forces Group. He also gained valuable instructor experience with Pat Rogers and EAG Tactical. Small Team CQB is a 4 day course open to US Citizens who are graduates of reputable handgun and carbine courses. Eight students attended giving us numerous runs and individual attention from Chappy and 3 assistant instructors. For more information on Forge Tactical courses go to

Chappy had two AIs on the ground to ensure the safest training environment possible and enhanced attention to detail. There also was an AI in the catwalk looking down.

Individual Mission

The class began with an understanding of classes, their importance, and proper class selection for continued education. While many choose a class by watching the latest YouTube video, an organized and structured method for class selection will result in overall better course selection and a less fragmented learning process. First, define your mission. Your mission may be personal protection, home defense, law enforcement tactical operations, military operations etc. Then break down your mission to tasks, capabilities, procedures, techniques, and skills. Using this formatting enables an individual to choose courses that fill in the gaps in training and establishes a higher level of competency.


While many see the armor and rifles in the course and think it would be only useful for SWAT or military applications, the course brought to light in a very real sense how applicable the knowledge was to a responsibly armed citizen. The armor and helmet are necessary for proper safety during the course, but the concepts taught could easily be applied running slick with a pistol.

Defining CQB

Much of the initial CQB brief was a discussion of definitions, giving us a frame of reference and a baseline to better understand engagements in close quarters. We discussed how while many thought of an 80’s balaclava and room clearing as CQB, it was much broader. Instead CQB simply refers to proximity to an enemy, usually 100m and in. This could be an engagement in a parking lot around vehicles, in a forest, or even in the checkout lines of a local department store.

Two Man Element

The emphasis of the course was to help establish fundamental principles that could be used in a two man element. While the fundamentals could be applied to larger teams, the focus was on a two man element. A husband and wife, two friends, or numerous other situations reminded us of the information’s practical application.

There are plenty of times we may be alone, but learning how to work with a team member is also extremely important.

Processor Speed

One of the aspects that continually was discussed was the human brain and how we are born with a processor speed that cannot be changed. We can however become more efficient. By establishing heuristics or a physical reaction based on numerous repetitions, we allow our processor to focus on the problem we are attempting to solve. An example of a heuristic response is seeing a stop sign while driving and slowing down while activating our turning indicator to communicate our intent to other drivers. These actions are not individually thought of but done as an automated physical response. By not having to think about individual such as the shooting process or door procedures, we can focus on processing rooms and reducing threats.


In order to be on the same page when processing rooms we discussed 3 shapes and their proper heuristic response. By the end of the 4 day course it was easy to visualize the shapes and quickly solve them with in a far more automated fashion.

Having well articulately definitions provided a great base to quickly learn and apply CQB fundamentals. It was also easy to see how the fundamentals could be applied to more complex scenarios with larger teams, scotopic environments, etc.

Door Procedures

After dry practice on the square range and the shoothouse, we began working on door procedures. Understanding proper SOPs for doors enabled training to create another heuristic response.

Throughout the course I had to remind myself not to outrun my headlights. Seeing a problem sooner allowed me more time to properly analyze and respond accordingly.

Room Procedures

Next we learned about room procedures. By organizing threats in order of people, portals and places, we were able to easily reduce the room. Communication is a key element, but people often talk way too much. Brevity codes were discussed along with their associated meanings to help cut excess communication while still providing necessary information such as “on you”.

Joe Nagy from Team Wendy and I were partners for the course and quickly learned the efficiency of short, concise communication.

Make Ready

The last major topic we covered before transitioning to live fire was the make ready process. The make ready process is a systematic means of ensuring all your gear is properly adjusted and you are ready before entering the shoothouse, starting a shift, etc. While this is a basic concept it must be done very systematically and can prevent basic but potentially fatal mistakes. This alone is something anyone who carries a gun should use to prevent foreseeable failures.

Accuracy Requirements

The first few live runs were used to focus on the importance of accuracy while also remembering the mission briefing. Chappy stressed the fact that shooting is only 10% of the gunfight. We quickly moved to targets that represented 3 dimensional threats and focused our shots on the human anatomy in an attempt to ensure 2 shots were placed in areas that would quickly incapacitate the threat.

The targets were scored after each run and students were expected to call their shots as part of a tallied point system.

Low Light

One of the training days we shifted the schedule to allow for some low light runs in the shoothouse. Chappy gave a low light lecture explaining the science behind how lights work along with some key elements to proper flashlight selection.

This transitioned into low light tactics. While we live half our life in the dark, many shoot far too little after dark. This was a great primer for Forge Tactical’s Low Light CQB.

Major Takeaways

  1. Forge designed a CQB curriculum that when done properly reduces angles of exposure and does not require a large team of shooters with the fastest processors.
  2. Course content easily stacked in a natural progression and the years of instructional experience were evident.
  3. Communication is important but should be done concisely to use up less processor speed.
  4. I understood shot placement was key, but got a finer, three dimensional understanding of anatomy for quick, incapacitating hits.
  5. Shooting is only 10% of the gunfight and the other 90% is extremely important.


If you have taken rifle and pistol classes and are looking for the next step or carry a firearm professionally, CQB courses from a reputable trainer are essential. Forge Tactical offers a host of courses ranging from skill classes building the foundational handgun and carbine skills to NVG CQB and Instructor level courses. After taking multiple courses from Forge Tactical I quickly saw how the information fell in line from one course to the next.

Richard L.
Richard L.

Richard lives in southern Indiana and has a strong interest in training, modified pistols, optics, and low profile gear/tactics. Some may consider it hoarding or some form of addiction, but he never tires in his pursuits as a stamp and lumen collector!For any corrections, input, or interest in posts, you can reach him at

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2 of 4 comments
  • Payce Payce on Aug 03, 2018

    One day I'll make it up there, one day...

  • Worm Worm on Aug 03, 2018

    I was in that class. It was solid training and I am going back for another course in a few months.

    Nice work on the article sir.