Student Review: Combat Rifle / Contact Drills (CRCD) 21/22 June: JC

Be Prepared. And Crawl, Walk, Run.

I’ve just completed my first Combat Rifle / Contact Drills (CRCD) class. It was excellent.

As “Prepper’s” we tend to fixate on stocking up. But acquiring food and kit is not the end game – it is just the beginning. Acquiring your stuff without adequate proficiency with it is false security.

If you are serious about protecting yourself, your family, and your friends in a deteriorating security situation then you must get this training to be adequately prepared.

Be Prepared
CRCD is basic training in combat fire and maneuver – reaction to contact, use of cover, moving & communicating in teams, advancing and withdrawing from contact, etc. And as Max has said – the basics are all there is!

The training will teach you the fundaments. It will also induce stress, and probably overwhelm you. This is a good thing. You will probably make mistakes – maybe a lot of them. I did. But that is ok. That is what a training environment is for. It is the place you want to make your mistakes. Learn from them and push on.

People do not multi-task well. We tend to fixate on one problem at a time. While fixated we tend to lose sight of what is going on around us. Fixation is also called tunnel vision. People also become overloaded when presented with a lot of new information. The answer to these two problems (fixation & overload) is experience through exposure to the environment, and repetition. Lots of exposure and repetition.

Which is what makes this training so valuable. It not only introduces the principles of combat fire and maneuver, it also puts you in a controlled training environment which allows you to experience (to a limited degree) the sights, sounds, confusion (lots of that), running a rifle, difficultly with communication, keeping track of teammates, difficulties of moving over rough ground, finding and braking from cover, physical exertion, keeping track of static targets, etc.

Until you & you buddies learn the mechanics of this and become acclimated to it, until it becomes practiced, until it becomes second nature so you can execute without thinking, you will tend to become fixated on what you’re doing, and lose your awareness of what is going on around you. This is called loss of situational awareness (and also having your head up your ass).

So, for example, if you are not very well practiced at changing a rile magazine (or clearing a malfunction), and must do so while in the middle of a tactical drill (or the real deal!), you will become preoccupied with getting that weapon back up, and lose awareness of the bigger problem raging around you. (Planes have crashed because both pilots are fixated on a stuck gauge, and lost track of the mountain they are now 10 seconds away from hitting.)

You have to learn to break the tunnel vision. This was one of my personal biggest challenges during the course. Here’s an example: my teammate and I were fighting back (breaking contact) from a contact to the front. We were about 40 yards away from the target when it went down (lost contact). We were scanning forward toward the target – but we were looking 40 yards down range. We did not see a new contact that was 45 degrees to our immediate left! In a real fight we would have both been dead. We had tunnel vision. We were fixated on the prior target location and had lost overall situational awareness of our soundings.

One trick to help break fixation is to just breathe. Deep steady breaths – Inhale 4 sec/ pause a sec or two / exhale 4 sec. Do at least 3 or 4 of them. It does wonders to help calm you down, re-oxygenate your eyes, etc.

Another technique is to physically verbalize – say to yourself and/or your teammate “scanning left” “scanning right” (or whatever). And then do it.

If you are really serious about preparing to survive in a SHTF situation, you must get this training – now. There is no substitute for experience, and the more you acquire in training, the better your chances during the real deal.

But – are you prepared for the training? Which leads to the second part of this AAR

Crawl, Walk, Run

Every skill you have ever developed has followed the same learning progression – crawl, walk, run.

Shooting skills, weapons handling, and combat maneuvering are no different.

CRCD class is basic training in combat fire and maneuver. But it is not basic. There are several prerequisite skills that you should develop before taking this class. Until you become reasonably proficient in these prerequisite skills, you will not be able to absorb the bigger lessons of CRCD because you will become fixated (there it is again) on simply performing (or attempting to preform) the prerequisite skills.

Think of it this way – you would not dream of taking a course in race car driving, if you did not know how to drive.

The prerequisite skills for CRCD are:
-Safe weapons handling: how to carry and move with your weapon.
-Weapons manipulation: loading & emergency drills from all shooting positions.
-Your ability to shoot and move
(The last two are not really skills, but are still prerequisites)

If you do not already have the skills/experience, you can develop them by attending the 2 day Combat Rifle Manipulation (CRM) class which Aaron teaches. This class, and/or the 4 hour Rifle Manipulation Primer (RMP) class, also taught by Aaron the day before CRCD, are also a good refresher for those who already have some training. (and you can never have too much training).

Aaron is a great instructor. I really like the malfunction procedures they are teaching – they are simple, effective and easy to remember and implement under stress. This was a great benefit while running CRCD.

Ideally, you will be able to execute the prerequisite skills without thinking. If you’re not at that level yet – practice, practice, practice (and take another CRM class).

Gear/ Kit
Start you gear selection by evaluating your needs (mission drives the gear). Max has written many many articles about gear. Read them! Learn from them. It will shorten your learning curve.

Once you have acquired some gear, get out in the woods (or even you yard) and experiment. Can you go prone? Can you change mags from the prone. Does your sling hinder your movement? Can you wear a light pack (or heavy pack) with the rest of the gear? Is it too heavy? Does it restrict your movement? Etc. Don’t be afraid to change it out. Try different configurations.

If you have never used your kit in the field, its difficult to really appreciate or anticipate what problems you will have with it. And you will have problems. Everyone does. It’s part of the learning cycle. You really don’t want to take CRCD with untested gear. CRCD is a good place to refining your gear. But the more problems you have, the more fixated on gear issues you are, the less you will be able to absorb the bigger lessons of CRCD.

Taking Combat Rifle Manipulation (CRM) class will allow you to test your gear and get feedback from Aaron. He is a tremendous resource and can really help sort things out.

Physical conditioning (‘PT’)
PT has been discussed often – and for good reason. It is another of those prerequisites that you need to address to get the most out of this training.

Sprinting from position to position up a slope with your fighting kit is physically demanding work! The better your physical conditioning (particularly aerobic and leg strength), the better you will be able to handle the stress of the job. So get in shape!

If you have physical issues (knees, etc) don’t be discouraged. You can & must still do it. I’m 60. I’ve had an active life which has taken its toll on knees, left hip, lower back, left shoulder, and wrists. They give me problems and I have to dial back the intensity and duration of my PT to preserve them (I might need them for the real deal very soon). The point is, don’t let physical issues be an excuses to not get this training. Get in the best shape you can. Understand your limitations, and push yourself to those limits.

In conclusion, what Max offers is absolutely essential training. There are very few places civies can get this training. So, get prepared. Develop your skills and take CRCD. Then take it again. Take it until you can operate without your head up your ass. Maybe then you might be able to survive a real contact situation.