Shoot houses and Close Quarter Battle (CQB) courses are often accompanied by misconceptions. People are confused with what the courses are about and who they are intended for. They assume the information will not apply to them if they are not law enforcement or military. Others see civilians that attend CQB courses as just wanting to attend a tactical band camp or be a Navy Seal for the weekend.
This misconception steals the chance from many who could benefit from the training. These courses are beneficial for law enforcement and military, but also important for the armed citizen.
In order to understand why CQB is important, we have to understand our Mission. The individual’s mission will often vary. Some are law enforcement officers that have to respond to a callout. Others could be a father or mother returning home and hearing screams coming from inside a kicked in door. Mission will vary from person to person. To properly learn and practice the correct skills, techniques, procedures and capabilities we must have a well-articulated and clearly defined mission. To learn more about your mission and how to properly apply it to training click here.
What is CQB?
CQB is fighting at close range, approximately 100 yards and in. This does not require a structure. It could be fighting between vehicles in a parking lot or moving between buildings in a trailer park. What is most important about that sentence is the word fighting. We often see CCW holders attending pistol and rifle courses on the square range.
This is great as it develops the fundamental skills to learn how to manipulate a weapon. However, this is not fighting. John Chapman, owner of Forge Tactical and accomplished CQB instructor says “Shooting is only 10% of the gunfight. The other 90% is learning how to make decisions with a gun in your hand.”
Where Do I Start?
The next thing that often confuses people is the idea of taking shoot house courses where teams or partners are involved. As a civilian, you most likely will not have a 5 man assault team fully kitted up and ready to conduct a raid. But, by starting with a small team CQB course, this will help you learn the material more quickly. The amount of work each student must do is cut down and they can focus on learning procedures.
Everyone is born with a certain processor speed. This cannot be increased. In order to improve performance, processor power must be used more efficiently. This is a result of unconscious competence with shooting skills, footwork, etc. The processor speed focuses on decision making and problem solving. This is why starting with Small Team CQB is so beneficial. Instead of having to process the entire room with every entry, you only have to process half the room. Removing complexity by adding a partner allows for more competent adoption of CQB fundamentals.
Learning how to work as a 2 man team will also help you easily transition to larger teams. More team members allow for more eyes and guns in the fight, a key principle to CQB.
Why All the Gear?
The armor and helmets are required for safety and liability reasons. In a learning environment, proper personal protective equipment is important. For those that do not own a plate carrier or helmet, they can borrow one for a course. For those that do own gear, it is an opportunity to weed out potential issues with setup and placement. Often students start with a large amount of gear and cut down to the essentials once they realize what is important.
Some might also make a “tactical Timmy” comment when seeing rifles, but even your average civilian can easily find a use for a good rifle for home defense. The courses are designed to augment the capabilities of the student. Whether that is to help an LEO take back some good information for their team or help an individual protect their family, it is given in a way that is applicable to the mission.
Mistakes are much better when made with paper targets or UTM rounds than live bullets and credible threats.
Having experience making decisions with that gun in your hand ahead of time allows you to avoid learning to make those decisions while someone is trying to kill you in a gas station parking lot. – John Chapman
Once you take a few classes and internalized small team tactics, then attend an individual CQB course. Forge Tactical offers an Individual CQB course multiple times a year at Alliance Ohio Police Training Range. Those that take a Small Team course first will understand angles of attack, angles of exposure and the fundamentals of CQB much better. Then during individual runs in the shoot house, the difficulty of doing individual CQB will be much easier to comprehend.
Individual CQB is only done in a worst case scenario. Usually, this is done in an attempt to escape or fight your way to someone. Having more eyes and guns in the fight is preferred, but not always available. Forge makes it clear what is at stake and the serious nature of CQB for an individual.
Your first CQB course will be overwhelming. Even basic skills like adjusting for height over bore are often forgotten. Define your mission and get the necessary skills and techniques. Then take a CQB course. This evaluates your skills and teaches you how to think with a gun in your hands.
Gunfights are won by millimeters and milliseconds. -John Chapman
Just like the laser focus you should have on your mission, have a laser focus on your training. Flat range courses are a great first step but will only get you so far. Don’t let your first time dealing with a threat in a close quarters environment be for all the marbles!