Review: Close Quarter Battle Course May 26 – 28: JohnnyMac

The CQBC course was probably the most exciting, fun and mentally challenging tactical course I have ever taken. Fresh out of training, I’m truly ecstatic by the level of personal development gained through this course. First and foremost, I give huge props to John, the primary instructor for the course along with his two assistant instructors (AI’s please come back!). The course was well thought out, the instruction was skilled and professional, and the facility spectacular as always. The real world context and stories John and his team were able to share with us gave the TTPs meaning and applicability that were honestly invaluable. Understanding the *why* behind something working or not working made it much easier to generalize a concept from a learning perspective. I think we were all humbled by the sheer depth of knowledge and skill required to be successful in CQB, but John was able to serve it up in bite size pieces that we could digest.

The course began on the square range with live fire. We were able to skip over zeroing rifles because everyone was already zeroed. I think this was a big time saver, allowing us to focus more on actually training and might be a good standard for follow on classes. Although there aren’t any prereqs to take this course, having solid weapon manipulation skills is going to allow you to focus on the important stuff instead of running your rifle (see the very good Combat Rifle Skills Course for that). We started with basic firing drills, mostly on color/shape targets. This allowed us to start practicing target discrimination right at the beginning- which is critical in real life. I’ve found PID to be one of the most important and neglected skills taught in ‘the industry’. We finished the morning by progressing to more and more advanced drills, mostly centered around shooting on the move at close range, again, setting us up for success later in the course. We spent the rest of the day learning the footwork and basics of entering and clearing a room, dry. Footwork and efficient movement is key and the very detailed instruction and practice we got on movement really set us up for success. We started as individuals, under the watchful eye of the instructors, and then progressed to student pairs. By the end of the day we were executing drills as four man teams, getting coached every step of the way, on every rep. Getting feedback and points for improvement is where the magic happens with any sort of physical training. I encourage you to not just accept it (Ego) but go one step further and constantly seek it in any training course you take.

Day 2 we moved to the CQB huts and started with dry runs, getting ourselves warmed up before moving to force-on-target room clearing. As we did the drills, a multitude of photorealistic targets were used- both threat, and non-threat. It forced us to try to process what we were seeing, not just robotically shooting anything in sight. We also got the opportunity to learn different types of breaching, and practice shotgun breaching. For me, breaching was the most exciting part of the course and I would personally love to take a course just devoted to that task.

Day 3 we moved to force-on-force. We started with pairs and then worked up to 7/8 person teams clearing “megahouse” by the end of the day. Something that was really valuable was the use of both hard and soft walls. In the real world, this simulates dry wall and hard masonry walls. After some experience, it’s pretty scary to think that all our houses are made of 2×4 and dry wall- and all the implications associated with penetration. We’ve all heard about it, but experiencing it, it’s pretty unnerving.

A few general takeaways from the class:

When things are happening so quickly in a CQB environment, it’s pretty difficult to process everything that’s happening, especially for a new student. A recurring theme throughout training was to “slow it down”. This is both so that you can process the situation but also so that your team can have the flow/momentum it needs. I could give you countless examples where going too fast got people killed or led to mission failure. At the same time, I could give you countless examples where going too slow also got someone killed. Most tactical questions come down to “it depends on the situation”, but it’s even more so in CQB. Literally one wrong step could result in failure, just looking the wrong way for a split second could result in failure (yes, it happened to us). One of the biggest takeaways is that CQB is one of the most technical and flat out dangerous things you can ever do. We learned that you can mitigate some risk with good Intel but, most of all, SURPRISE is a huge advantage. The difference in casualties taken between surprising an unprepared enemy and a well-trained enemy with his gun pointed on the entry point was substantial. I think we also saw that each team worked slightly differently. They communicated slightly differently, reacted to things slightly differently, etc. As we worked together, we really meshed in terms of tempo and started to be able to anticipate each other a bit. This is absolutely essential in becoming proficient. Max has said many times that you can’t grab some people and expect to be tactically successful- and just like everything else I’ve mentioned, it’s even more so in CQB. We went through hundreds of repetitions over the three days but I think it really takes thousands of repetitions to be really good at this, which brings me to my last point. I CAN’T WAIT TO TAKE THIS CLASS AGAIN. I want to devour everything CQB- because it’s such a valuable, complex, and perishable skill set. (Advanced CQBC Max and John?!) If able to, I might just sign up for every MVT CQBC course for the foreseeable future- it’s THAT good. The lessons that I’ve been able to share with you are only like 1% of what I learned. This is a multi-week military course transformed into a 3 day course for civilians. I was astonished by how well John was able to boil it down to the nuts and bolts so that we could see significant progress and be successful in such little time. I never felt overwhelmed in the training progression, which is a testament to how good this course is. Most of us spend the majority of our time in buildings, if you want to learn how to fight in them, you NEED to take this course.

Thanks again to John, his AI’s, Max and, of course, my fellow students. It was a pleasure.

Next CQBC Class: August 18 – 20. We have some spaces available at this time.

We do teach one-day CQB intro classes as part of the Force on Force Team Tactics weekends. These are optional add-on days on the Friday prior to the weekend. These will not replace CQBC, but they will give you a clue. They are primarily intended to give you a leg-up on the Force on Force weekends, because the CQB huts are included in some of those scenarios as the objective. We are offering a huge discount the class coming up on Father’s Day: ‘Massive Father’s Day Discount! Force on Force + CQB June (16) 17 – 18.

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