TAKE COVER! – Yes, Really.

Patriot Dawn: Update to book description
February 25, 2013
Update: ‘Patriot Dawn’ & Training Schedule
March 13, 2013
I have been making some observations lately that have prompted me to write this post. It’s important that I try and get my thoughts across accurately because with all subjective tactical commentary there is a danger of being misunderstood, or alternatively egos and ingrained ideas prevent proper understanding of the point being made. 
I have commented before about two related topics:
1) The prevalence of CQB and ‘tacticool’ firearms training, often passing for real tactical training.
2) The effect this has on what I see out there masquerading as tactics.
So, I was recently watching two episodes of ‘Doomsday Preppers’ (yea, yea, I know). I noticed a couple of things which just backed up other observations and previous comments: Among the preppers shown, there were a couple of groups that had obviously made an effort to get tactical firearms and equipment and do some training. I applaud their efforts. I noticed the following:
1) A focus on standing firing positions shooting at close ranges combined with doing that as they walked towards the targets.
2) An odd technique of pairs movement back to back, doing the ubiquitous ‘half-crouch” with the rear person walking backwards. This was tied in with weapons always at the ‘ready up’ position, eyes to the sights, making for an awkward patrol action.
Comments on 1): this must come from Police style CQB training where although the technique is practiced on an open range, it is designed for movement down corridors and similar in a building/structure. This will allow a standing firing position and engagement of targets while moving towards them down the corridor. Fine for raiding a crack house and ventilating some stoned meth addict grabbing for a revolver. (Yes, I generalize and use sarcasm, but I hope you get my point?)
Well, most preppers are not preparing for SWAT operations (with the exception of defense from such operations!) You may want to practice some room clearance and also MOUT, but not police style arrest operations in buildings. But that aside, the point I am getting to is that such training will get you killed out in the open or in the woods.
Standing firing at targets and also moving towards them while firing has its place. You do need to practice your shooting. And it looks cool and is easy….But doing so is the equivalent of boxing training while punching a bag. The bag does not punch back, and you need to practice to move and cover. You would be better off once you have moved beyond shooting from the standing position, with practicing an initial return of fire followed by a move to cover, whether that be a kneeling or prone position  If you remain standing then you are open to incoming fire from any shooter out there. Because you are not doing CQB in a building the sharpshooter in depth with an optic will put a round through you while you are doing your tacticool shoot/walk towards the target 25 meters to your front.
But getting in the prone is hard work right? It makes my tacticool gear dirty, right? Plus I’m 100 pounds overweight with my belly hanging out from under my plate carrier, and that is hard work. Its way easier to be all cool and ventilate the paper at 15 yards, standing upright in the open. Right?
If you get in a fight out there in the woods or fields, that is no different from combat. In combat, you need to get into cover and return fire. Depending on the circumstances/range of the engagement and how you train  you may want to return an initial fire, perhaps a controlled pair (double tap) and then take cover. But unless the enemy is at CQB ranges that will simply leave you standing there for an instant while the enemy, who had the drop on you, lines up his sights. The best reaction when the enemy is not stood right in front of you and fire is suddenly incoming, is to bomb burst into cover. A way to remember this is:
dash(short distance)-down-crawl (into cover)-observe (locate the enemy)-sights-fire
I don’t know whether it comes from too much exposure to police tactics, more of the same via Hollywood, or even the cultural tradition of the cowboy gunfighters standing at opposite ends of the street, but you need to seriously think about “TAKING COVER!” Remaining standing could seriously impact your health.  Even when fire and moving over open ground, think about taking a kneeling or prone position as you are firing and covering your buddy. Kneeling is faster, prone is safer.
In any situation where you have incoming fire that is not yet suppressed you will need to get as low as possible or behind cover or a combination of the two. You may only have an option to crawl. The whole standing walking thing is for situations where you over-match the enemy so can afford to remain standing as you walk forwards firing. Not in an equal firefight you won’t!
[You may also want to note that Soviet tactics to train conscripts at the basic level were to dismount from their APCs short of the enemy trenches and advance at a jog firing the AK from the hip. That is basic tactics 101 for a poorly trained conscript army. Unless the occupants of the trenches are suppressed and taking cover in their trenches, they will easily target and kill those advancing infantry. Bear in mind that this evolved from the Second World War where only one in ten (or so) had a rifle and they were trained to link arms and charge enemy machine gun positions  picking up the rifles of their downed comrades as they went. Does not sound like a recipe for survival to me?]
Comments on 2): It has been long known among professional infantrymen, from experiences spanning from the streets of Northern Ireland thru the Balkans to the current wars in the Middle East, that walking backwards on patrol is not done. You will trip and fall. You also need to modify the way you carry your weapon. You cannot carry it ‘ready up’ with eyes to the sights at all times. You have to carry it in  a patrol position, like the low ready or a modification. If you suspect imminent danger/contact then you will increase your posture up to a full ready up position,  in the shoulder with eyes to the sights (both eyes open). But you have to be aware of tunnel vision, so when patrolling it is better to be alert and looking around, with the rifle ready to bring up and engage if enemy is seen.
Frankly, my opinion on the back to back half-crouch movement I saw on those shows is similar to my thoughts on having those on the right side of a file carry their weapons left handed:  its f**king stupid. Its an example of someone without enough supervision being allowed to implement stuff because it seemed like a good idea. “Yea, lets be super tacticool and have the rear of the pair walk around backwards,  that way our six is always covered right?” (As the guy falls flat on his ass). “Yea, lets have the weapons facing out to the right that way they are better able to engage the enemy (as the guys on the right have no training to use their weapons their left hands, thus making for a cluster all round).
If you are patrolling in pairs, then use a single file formation (or whatever works for the situation) and the rear guy routinely turns around and scans to the rear. If you really need to have someone walking backwards, you need to have another person with their hands on their shoulder guiding them back. That is done for the baton gunner in a civil disorder situation when the team has to make an exit and the baton gunner covers the crowd while walking backwards, led by the patrol leader to prevent him falling – in that situation there will be bricks and debris and other stuff thrown by the crowd laying on the ground, to trip him. Similar hazards in the woods.
Anyone with any experience on operations knows that you don’t walk around with your weapons at the ‘ready up’ position at all times. You will do if you expect imminent contact. But that is why some of these virus-like techniques get in, because they can be hard to argue with if you don’t know any better- who can argue with ‘being more ready’ by having the weapon up and ready to go at all times? That’s the problem.
Next time I watch Doomsday Preppers, I want them to have read ‘Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival’ and I want to see them taking fire positions in cover, moving with covering fire, staying low and using the ground.


  1. Crustyrusty says:

    That’s fine with me if OPFOR continues to use those funky paintball tactics they show on Youtube. I will be behind cover taking their asses out from about 400 meters.

  2. Former Sapper says:

    DDCOSF is solid drills, RTR is good as well and more aggressive in my opinion but I suppose a Prepper isn’t going for aggressive. Does your book go in to section battle drills too?

    • Max Velocity says:

      RTR: Return Fire, Take Cover, Return Appropriate Fire. I agree with RTR if the initial R is optional. Both are covered, as well as section battle drills, re-named as squad battle drills. There is a mix in Contact: infantry drills from a mixed Brit/US background, close protection team drills, counter insurgency patrolling methods, defense, everything written for the purpose of families or tactical defense groups surviving post-collapse.

    • Former Sapper says:

      Sounds like a solid book then! People should definitely take a look, those tactics have been the foundation of British warfare for years and rarely fails us. I think I will take a look after the next pay day.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Have you seen so-called “active shooter” training? They actually told us to form a diamond formation.One guy facing to the rear, one to the left, one to the right. Of course, we were supposed to be doing the “duck walk” while in formation. They told us to use this formation to cross open space. We were to approach a series of buildings about 100 yards ahead of us.

    I yelled, “SNIPER FRONT!” and told them to spread out to double arms distance and meet me at the first building.

    When the staff asked me why I did that, I told them that the only reason somebody wouldn’t have killed us all was that he’d be too busy pissing himself laughing. They didn’t like that very much, as you might expect.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great advice!

    Many of us should have the first goal to live long enough and beyond that to a time where we stop messing our pants if SHTF actually happens.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I can’t really comment on that Doomsday Preppers show – nor do I really want to. I suspect I’d have a gut feeling that I’ve really wasted some time doing if I did. I agree with your musings on the cause of the new “styles” of tactical movement. I do still remember learning bounding overwatch, and the three count rush…”I’m UP, he SEES ME, I’m DOWN”. I also remember getting a solid kick in the ass from SGT W the first time I forgot that little drill. Thirty years later, it’s still with me. People need to polish the basics before getting tacticool.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Any “prepper” who goes on TV to show off what he has just lost any credibility.

  7. Chuck says:

    Learn METT-TC and how to apply it to everything from what’s in your pack to what weapon you carry to the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) you use.

    M – Mission
    E – Enemy
    T – Terrain and Weather (use OAKOC – google it)
    T – Troops
    T – Time Available
    C – Civilian Considerations

    Analyze everything taking these into account. Keep in mind that while TTPs might vary depending on the type of mission and environment (e.g., rural ambush vs. urban raid) principles (see: 5 Principles of Patrolling) do not change. For example, always, ALWAYS maintain security. Techniques for how you maintain security will vary, but the need for it does not.

    In addition to Max’s books, the Ranger Handbook is an invaluable reference and if you can find one, (especially in hard copy) the old 1992 version of FM 7-8, The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad. Don’t bother with the more recent versions of FM 7-8 (FM 3-21.8) except as a desk reference because they have become too large and unwieldy and are no longer useful as Field Manuals.