Combat Rifle: Solid Basics to Keep You Alive

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    • #95637

        I know this blog has been all about the new Max Velocity Tactical training courses lately, so I have been thinking about a new information download and also pondering some of the instruction I gave last weekend. I am going to attempt to express some ideas here on paper that may be better expressed in face to face instruction. To some, who are used to what is out there in the ‘tacticool’ world of carbine training, these ideas may seem a little different or at odds to what you are familiar with. Well, that may be true and I stick by it.

        I have always been a little wary of the term ‘gun fighting.’ I trawled YouTube and the internet in general before my training course to get an idea of what people were up to and therefore what may be in people’s heads when they showed up to my courses. There is a lot of ‘tacticool’ and a lot of ‘Hollywood’ out there. In my opinion, there is altogether too much standing on square ranges, engaging targets from a standing position, as if they are not shooting back and as if they are not potentially in depth or cover and able to take you out as you stand there. Some of it seems very impressive but in my mind much of it is almost in the category of ‘circus trickery’ carbine mastery – showing off. Although there is a lot to be said to being awesome with your carbine, most of this lacks tactical application and if you don’t have all day every day to practice, you will be missing out on good solid basics and putting yourself at great risk.
        Some of the instruction also appears to incorporate drills almost for their own sake that appear to have been invented as ‘something to do’ on what are otherwise very limited ranges.
        I see a lot of this training as an equivalent to boxing training by just punching a heavy bag. It’s not punching back, and I can stand there and hit it all day, looking good. When it starts to hit back, you need to think about moving, duck and covering….
        What you need to focus on are very good basics. I will attempt to explain some of this below:
        Reaction to Contact: This can be covered by RTR, which stands for:
        ·         Return fire
        ·         Take Cover
        ·         Return Appropriate Fire.
        What does this mean? It means that once you come under fire, or see the enemy, you immediately bring reactive fire onto the target in an attempt to kill, disable or at the very least distract the enemies aim at you (if you miss close!) You then take cover. You then adopt a fire position and bring accurate fire onto the enemy. This is the first part of your reaction to contact and will be followed up depending if you are alone, or with others, and whether you are in an offensive or break contact mode. So, basically, what you do next all follows from your initial reaction of RTR.
        When you train with me, I will drill into you not only the initial ‘R’, but also the ‘Take Cover’. This can simply be in the form of reaction drills where the target comes up (front. right, left or rear), you go from a ready to a fire position and engage with a controlled pair. But MOST IMPORTANTLYyou then go into cover, which can be simulated on the basic range with a step to the left or right and taking a kneeling fire position, following up with a steady aimed shot from the kneeling, or prone position, to simulate the final ‘R’.
        It’s a 360 degree battlefield. In any situation you cannot afford, if you can avoid it, to be hit by a rifle round. That is penetrating trauma and particularly in a post-collapse situation your ability to either fight the resistance campaign, or protect your family/tribe, or both, will be severely curtailed or over. Done. So let’s get away from standing ‘gun fighting’, however fast you can run your gun.
        However the thing to note about the RTR procedure is that the initial ‘R’, the initial return fire, is also optional. In a close quarter engagement you will need to react fast and get accurate fire onto the enemy. That works in a situation where you both see the enemy and they are close enough for you to get a quick accurate shot or two off into them before taking cover. It’s a judgment call. Many times, either in a wooded or longer range or even desert environment, you will come under contact and not initially locate where the fire is coming from. In such a situation returning initial fire from the standing position may get you killed. You could fire into likely cover, but that is best done from the last ‘R’ i.e. Return Appropriate Fire after having taken cover.
        Therefore, if you come under contact from an unknown location and cannot effectively return initial fire, to try to do so will leave you standing there effectively frozen on the enemy’s ‘X’: Far better to skip the initial ‘R’ and just move straight to Take Cover. Once you have done that, either alone or with your tactical element, you can scan and attempt to locate the enemy before going into your follow on drill as appropriate.
        The most effective reaction I have seen of this unseen enemy situation  is exemplified by a team coming under fire from a range of 100-200 meters where the enemy was not immediately obvious, the team immediately bomb-bursting and zigzagging into cover, followed by locating the enemy, communicating this, and bringing accurate rifle fire down upon them.
        If we go back to the initial ‘R’ then we will see that the reaction is a balance of speed and accuracy as ranges increase. You will train and know yourself what distance you are effective out to. At close ranges you will be best to use the point shooting method, looking over the sights, and immediately engage the guy before he hits you. As ranges increase, you will be moving to your sights with quick reactive controlled pairs, until you find that you need to hesitate and acquire the target for just that faction of a second longer. You will know where your skills are at and you can work to improve that. There will be a point, where you either don’t see the enemy after the first contact, or they are at a longer range, where you will know you are best to simply get into cover before returning fire.
        So, second in importance to being a good reactive shot is the overwhelming importance of TAKING COVER. Russian conscript troops train to assault by exiting their APCs and running towards the enemy positions firing their AKs on automatic from the hip. And that is supposed to happen after a massive bombardment designed to leave no one alive to assault. I have seen pretty much that level of skill on the internet videos out there, the difference being that the standard US Civilian is firing from the shoulder as he does the Hollywood line walking towards the targets.
        When you move from individual reaction drills to fire and movement, you are using a combination of cover and accurate fire to maneuver, either towards or away from the enemy. You may be crawling, moving in ‘dead ground’ out of sight of the enemy or conducting short rushes covered by your buddies. However, whenever you are not moving, you are in a fire position in cover. If you are not firing or moving, you are in cover. I always train from the very basic level that if you have any stoppage on your weapon, from an empty magazine to an actual stoppage/malfunction, you are at least getting down onto one knee to simulate taking cover. If you are on a movement lane then you will actually take cover.
        If you happen upon a chance contact, let’s say it’s out there in the woods, and you deal with the first guy or two with your well drilled carbine skills, you simply don’t know where the rest of them are. Don’t stay up on your feet going all Hollywood. Take Cover. If you are with a team, at least two of you, which I hope you are, then you will go into fire and movement either to assault forward and clear, or to break contact back out of there.
        This leads me onto a related topic, that of ‘bounding overwatch’. I take issue with how bounding overwatch is mistermed and also with some of the ‘tacticool’ madness that I see creeping in. Ok, so here it is:
        Fire and Movement: This is the principle where movement under enemy direct fire is achieved through the combined use of suppressive fire and cover. If there is no cover (think billiard table) then you rely solely on your suppressive fire to allow maneuver. The principle of fire and movement (or maneuver) can be summarized by the words “no movement without fire.” This applies at any element from a pair up to a battalion. It’s not the size of the elements that matters, it that fact that they are fire and maneuvering.
        Bounding Overwatch: This is where you are not actually firing at the enemy. There is no enemy seen but you believe the threat to be high. You are placing elements in position to provide potentialfire support. So think of it like ‘dry’ fire and movement. Again, it does not matter what size elements you have, from two buddies up to two platoons. Think about having to move over some open ground and you think there may be enemy in the area: you place an element down in cover on the hill to give potential fire support. You then move an element across the open ground, they take up fire positions, and the original cover element then moves up. If at any time it goes hot due to enemy contact, you are immediately going into fire and movement. In this sense, bounds taken in bounding overwatch can be further than the usual “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” short bounds usually done during fire and movement.
        Ok, so now we have established the difference between fire and movement and bounding overwatch, we can now see the utility of being able to switch between the two and also use bounding overwatch as a way to conduct a high threat move or clearance through or towards an objective. Watching some of the prepper shows, I saw some tactical madness with buddy pairs ‘moving tactically’ in an exaggerated half crouch back to back. Front guy walking forwards, rear guy back to back walking backwards, moving slowly in the open. NO.
        This is where this kind of madness creeps in. Nobody is supervising this and it just spreads because people think it is the thing to do. Let’s go back to our solid basics. If you and a buddy had to move through an area where you had to clear, or move to an objective where there was a high threat of enemy contact, what would you do? Bounding overwatch right? Yep.
        But what about covering the rear, I hear you say? Well, you are moving through and over the ground so you are covering that ground and the rear is the ground you just covered. You check rear anyway as you are moving, but you don’t walk backwards. This was learned from years of experience on patrol: it used to be done, for example on endless long patrols by the British Army, but you just don’t walk backwards anymore. You will trip and fall. Turn and look, then resume. There is nothing wrong with coming together in your pair for a halt, and placing one covering front/flank, the other rear/flank. That is a basic security formation for a halt.
        So in summary, what has this article been about? It’s been about the need to build a good solid foundation of basic skills. I have said this before, and I chuckle to say it again, but that’s all there really is: good solid basics, practiced until they become slick second nature drills. Don’t be misled by tacticool snake oil salesmen. Learn to run your gun in the standing, kneeling and prone positions, learn to use cover with your fire positions; learn the importance of taking cover.
        One final thing: PT. PT is crucial. Fire and movement under enemy direct fire is an anaerobic activity – you will not be able to suck in enough oxygen to make it comfortable. However we are all training to survive here and you may be older or in not such good physical condition. This does not disbar you from these techniques. Yes, when conducting rushes during fire and movement the faster you can cover that ground the less likely you are to be hit. But there is an important distinction between speed and momentum.
        Momentum is keeping up the pressure on the enemy by the use of accurate suppressive fire that is killing the enemy or making them keep their heads down in cover, allowing you to maneuver. If you can locate the enemy and generate such suppressive fire you will allow yourself to move. You may be able to move in a steadier fashion, talking account of your slower speed and utilizing adrenalin to spur you through it. On my ranges, if you are less physically capable, I will not exhort you to efforts beyond your capability. At the very least, this would compromise safety. You will do the techniques at a steadier pace, and take away the fact that you need to work harder on your PT.
        Live Hard, Die Free
      • #95638

          Max, I remember your words from CTT this past March – “There is no secret squirrel shit…there just isn’t, and anyone who says there is, is full of shit.” Good stuff!!!

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