The Lowdown on the Combat Rifle / Contact Drills Class (CRCD)


The combat rifle/contact drills (CRCD) class has now been running since I opened the Max Velocity Tactical school in May 2013. Since then, I have made significant improvements to the ranges and added the Combat Patrol class. The CRCD curriculum has now settled down into a standard class. I’m writing this post because I think it would be useful to let everyone know exactly what goes on at the CRCD class.

I would admit that I was partially spurred to do this by some comments I saw. They were sent to me by email and were taken from a firearms forum. A CRCD student (unknown) jumped onto the thread and made reference to the class being very ‘basic’.

I feel the need to address this before moving on to the guts of the CRCD class itself. Back in October 2012 I wrote a post titled ‘Good Solid Training‘. Here is a quote from that post:

“A last word on ‘the basics’: It is my experience that what is considered the basics in terms of tactics is really all there is. These ‘basics’ don’t really get any more complicated than they are. As an example, fire and movement: from individual up to Company or Battalion level, fire and movement is what it is. There are variations on how to do it, and some ways work better than others, but there is no super-secret ‘secret squirrel’ technique to it. As an example some of the break contact drills that I lay out as options in ‘Contact!’ and ‘Rapid Fire!’: These are ‘simple drills’ in the tradition of using in combat drills that are simple enough to work under stress: KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid. These are the same drills that are used by the British SAS and SOF.

“The key point here is that it is not making a drill complicated on paper that makes it ‘high speed’. It is making the drill simple and logical enough that can be successfully carried out by trained operators when under enemy contact. The real skill to all this is to train good solid drills but be able to bear up under the stress, pressure and fatigue of being out there for long periods of time; being hot and dehydrated or wet and cold, without adequate sleep and food. That is when it counts. Intestinal fortitude and backbone. That is what separates the more ‘high speed’ operators from the ‘tacticool’ mall ninjas.”

So, is very important to be clear what we mean by ‘the basics’. It is important to conduct the right sort of training, and avoid the tacticool nonsense, where often spurious activities are invented to provide additional nonsense, intended to keep square range paper punching interesting. This is particularly prevalent for those who never progress beyond the square range (which can be equated to transition to field firing), to actual tactical field firing.

I talk about this in detail in my December 2013 post: ‘Clarification on Training‘.

So, now that we have that out of the way, onto the guts of the CRCD class. This class takes place over two days and is designed as both a transition to field firing, and a field firing class. It will take you from individual react to contact drills, up to four-man team break contact drills, and includes an introduction to a squad hasty attack. This is designed to give you the good solid basics of infantry maneuver up to fire team level. Putting modesty aside for a moment, the value that I bring to this is in the instructional environment that I have created, where I’m able to do this with you over the course of two days.

Depending on your level of experience, depends on the level that you reach after the two days. Newbies to light infantry tactics will often go away with an appreciation of the basics and an understanding that they need to do more PT. But let’s not fool ourselves: even the the former military, of whatever vintage, and even the combat veterans, may never have done this sort of specialist small unit training. Even if they did, this is about keeping the knives sharp. Many students benefit from returning for multiple CRCD classes. At each one they improve, and go from splashing about in the shallow end, to swimming lengths. By which I mean their understanding grows, and they start to see beyond the small world of their own rifle sight, to the bigger picture of team mechanics. Shoot, Move, and Communicate dawns on them.

And this leads me to the real value of this type of training. Not even, however high-speed they may be, the team tactics themselves. It is the understanding of TEAM, the holistic affect of TEAM, that is the real lesson.

Day one:

0700: Arrive at the meet point. Convoy 2 miles to the parking area. Grab gear, throw it in the Ranger, two or three shuttle runs to the schoolhouse, situated by the ranges out in the woods.

0800: Safety brief.

Main safety points:

1) Orientation.

2) Carriage of weapons, rules for loading and unloading, use of the rifle rack.

3) Rules for movement and safety procedures.

4) Commands.

5) Target identification & engagement.

6) Medical/Trauma plan

The remainder of the day is a mix of sit down lectures in the schoolhouse, utilizing magnets on the whiteboard, walk-through and rehearsals, and live firing. Day one takes place exclusively on Range 1.

Reaction drills: in the first lecture I introduce RTR drills. These are the individual reaction drills that will form the basis of everything the students do throughout the weekend. Every drill begins with the individual reaction to contact, whether that leads to a buddy pair assault or break contact, a team action, or the squad hasty attack.  Is important to note that the RTR drill is not dogmatic. It is tailored to the situation. On the class I start it out as a standard drill, but allow students to adapt it as they move on. By day two on the jungle walk students really understand the need for the RTR drill and also start to focus on taking cover.

I have written in detail about these reaction drills in the following two posts:

Combat Rifle – Solid Basics to keep you Alive

‘React to Contact – Solid Drills to Keep You Alive’

Video: Individual Reaction Drill – Contact Right:

The initial RTR drills rotate the individuals through each iteration. Everyone watches, and individual debriefs are given, as well as group debriefs if a point is raised, or I am reminded, and something needs to be said.

Standard Iterations per individual:

1) 3 x contact front, rotate to next student.
2) 3 x contact left, rotate out
3) 3 x contact right, rotate
4) 3 x contact, random direction (one of each)
5) introduction to patrolling, random contact.

Once we have completed the reaction drill range, we return to the schoolhouse for a lecture on fire and movement and bounding overwatch. This is followed by a demonstration by me of live fire and movement, using my invisible friend as my buddy.

Students then conduct an individual fire and movement iteration. This begins as the student patrols up the range, conducts an RTR drill to a contact front, and then fights up the range to assault the enemy position. During this first practice, I act as a notional buddy, giving the relevant commands and responses.

By this time I have included instruction on stoppage drills and relevant commands.

This initial fire & movement takes place against the contact front target on the reaction range. Once we have done the individual movement, we push further up the range to another target. We move to buddy pair fire & movement. The pair patrols up the range in single file and deploys into line once contact is initiated. They then fight through onto the enemy position. Anyone can call the contact, but only the front guy can react with the initial return fire. The rear guy is pushing out to get on line.

At this point the students are starting to learn the need for communication and coordination. They are learning the need for the various commands, and also experiencing their gear and how easy it may or may not be to change magazines in the kneeling or prone positions. Battlebelts are becoming increasingly common on my classes!

We then move to a lecture on break contact drills. The break contact drills follow a procedure of reacting to contact as per the direction (front. left, right, rear), fighting back out of contact the way you came in, establishing a rally point/hasty ambush, accountability and tactical reloads, and bugging out.

On the new extended Range 1, we start off with buddy pair break contact front and then flank. Once we have done that I attempt on day one to move as far as team break contact flank.

The day ends around 1700 hrs. Everyone is shuttled out in the Ranger and free to go for the night. People either stay in local hotels/motels (the Koolwink in Romney is recommended), or they can backwoods camp for free at the training site. Often, many of the students will meet up in a restaurant downtown for dinner.

Day Two:

We start again at the meet point, bringing everyone in by convoy. Once everyone is shuttled to the schoolhouse I give my brief for the day.

Day two is exclusively conducted on Range 2. I have kept Range 2 under wraps so the students do not see the ground for the jungle walk.

We go back to individual level with the jungle walk, training observation and reaction drills. This takes a little time to get through, so I like to have a guest subject matter expert give a talk in the schoolhouse as concurrent activity while the jungle walk is going on.

Once the jungle walk is complete we start to ramp up on the larger Range 2. The training on day two is scenario-based, and everyone gets a scenario before they go up the range.

We do buddy pair fire & movement on a series of objectives, reacting to contact for each one. We then do buddy pair break contact front, reacting to enemy found while conducting a clearance patrol, as the group try to move into the area post-SHTF.

We then move up to team level and run through four man team contacts front and flank.

The video below is not a demonstration. It is a four man team running through their first live break contact front drill, warts and all.   The pair on the left is a father and son team, and the father has a malfunction, half way back, which is an explanation for some of the lost momentum. Topic was covered in the debrief. There is also a loss of momentum in the initial reaction to contact, where for safety I am moving a student further to the right, and his buddy thought I had called for a check fire. The drill then moves on. That’s why we train!

The final activity on day two is a squad hasty attack. This is fully rehearsed and walked through. The objective is in general an introduction to squad SUT (expanded upon on the combat patrol class), and specifically to show the utility of the flanking attack. There are two bunkers on the ranges, one in depth, and the attack is devised to show the squad:

 1) Reacting to contact

2) locating the enemy

3) Winning the firefight

4) Assaulting using the flank

5) Utilizing close support and flank protection groups

6) Blowing a bunker (bunker 1)

7) Suppressing the depth bunker 2

The squad attack is a real adrenalin burst and a great way to end the weekend.

Students learn a lot on the class about light infantry work, real tactics, and how to shoot, move, and communicate. A lot of false notions are washed away. The thing is, rather than ‘being basic’, the drills learned are very real. The break contact drills are applicable to a four man, or two man, team conducting tactical movement, such as a recce patrol, in a post-SHTF environment. The level to which you grasp these drills will make the difference with your ability to act as a trainer to others once you get home. I have had several four man teams come through the class, and I recommend coming with your team to train together.

If you don’t grasp it all first time, I recommend further attendance at CRCD classes. The progression is Combat Patrol (3 day), for which CRCD is a prerequisite.

An overview of available classes can be found HERE.

Class Schedule HERE.

Student AARs HERE.

Preparatory reading:

Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival


Scenario based reading:

Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises

Live Hard.

Die Free.


Till Valhalla!