What a rush. Force-on-force tactical simulation was the name of the game for our Tactical Tuesday at the range last night. This was completely unexpected and a total surprise for me. I have never had the experience or the training that prepares you for these "real-life" scenarios. Yeah, I had a situation a while back. I believe that I acted correctly and got through it okay, but this is something completely different.
Our instructor and 'fearless?' leader volunteered to be the bad guy for the exercises. This appealed to everyone for the obvious reason of getting to shoot him. We used Airsoft Beretta 92f replicas. These were very realistic, complete with hammer release and working slide. The only problem was not having a proper holster. I opted to carry in my back jeans pocket. I have practiced with my XD-40 in the pocket with relative success and no hang-ups, so I gave it a shot.
The situation was presented as such: We were all asked to sit in the lounge area to wait our turn. Instructor Greg didn't want us to know what his evil plan was. The basic plan was to imagine we were coming home from work/fishing/whatever. We were to walk in and disarm our alarm pad with our back to the living area of the home. After that, game on. The RO stood by the door and informed us if there was no need for suspicion or if the alarm might have been tripped. We ran through three different scenarios, each person having a different set of incidents to work out.
SCENARIO 1: RO instructs me that all is well, proceed as normal. I walk in the "door" and turn to my right to face the alarm keypad. I 'punch in the code' and turn to face the room. Playing the part of Dirty Scumbag is Instructor Greg. Dirty Scumbag looks at me and I ask him what is going on. We get into a verbal confrontation. This lasts about a minute with me keeping a distance of about 10 feet. He backs up towards the "back door" and I, keeping my distance, follow. He turns and books it to the door. I skin my Roscoe and we get to dancing. I backed up behind another partition and started yelling commands. I felt it was save to move from cover and try to engage DS. Came up on the other partition and started to pie the corner. I yelled commands and he started playing stupid and yelling spanish curses at me. DS is buried in the corner and I cannot see him. He sees my head poke around the corner and snapped a double tap my way. I took one to the side and returned fire. I retreated to the cover again and the RO called the engagement.
RESULTS: I got my ass whupped like a red-headed stepchild. Can anyone in the Peanut Gallery tell me where I went wrong? You got it. I let myself get sucked into a confrontation with the DS. I did right by going to cover, but made the mistake of going after him. I should have retreated to the front entrance and established a defensive post and called 911. Lesson learned. Second goof was that since an unknown subject was in my "home," I should have been on the gun the whole time. He was the bad guy in my home and I have every right to defend such. He is a THREAT with a capital T. Just because I did not see a weapon did not mean he wasn't a threat.
SCENARIO 2: Same basic situation. RO said nothing appeared wrong, but the alarm pad indicated a perimeter violation. I walked in and quick checked the keypad. When I turned around, DS was running full-on-boogie-tilt towards me with a knife raised above his head. In the ambient light we had, I could not tell if it was a knife or a wet noodle. I didn't care, there was a guy coming at me and I don't think it was to give me a hug. Before I had time to wet myself, I drew my gun and fired four shots. Each shot found its mark on center mass. Actually, I grouped over his right lung. Those shots stopped him dead and he dropped like a brick. The RO gave me another minute to keep on him to insure that the threat was over.
RESULTS: Nothing really to critique. I probably should have made an attempt to call 911 when he was down, but that is just armchair quarterbacking. I did realize in that situation that I did not check six. Even though I had my back against the wall, I should have checked the door and cleared it. Who knows if a threat would come from there?
SCENARIO 3: RO instructs that nothing is wrong. I walk in and hit the keypad. I turn around to see DS coming from behind cover. I drew my weapon and ordered him to stop. He was mumbling about being hungry and wanting his food on the chair. I could not get a view of this chair and feared a weapon there. He made a step and I ordered him again to not move. I made sure his hands were up and just mimicked the cops on t.v. I went through a felony takedown procedure to get him in a submissive position. I ordered him to turn around. With hands on his head and fingers interlaced, I ordered him to his knees. At every command, he tried to move a hand or turn to face me. Each time I repeated my command with the threat of being shot. **Special Note** I would have shot him had he not obeyed my commands. I was not taking chances that he didn't have a weapon tucked in his waistband (he did!).** I finally got him to the floor and spread eagled. I did a mock conversation with the RO pretending he was 911. I was surprised that I cleanly drew my phone out of the holder and could make the call while still holding on the DS. I retreated to the door for cover and that ended the scenario.
RESULTS: Again, not a lot to criticize. Again, I didn't check six. I was locked on target and the adrenaline dump had me pretty wired to that. I was fully aware of my surroundings at about 180 degrees visually. I didn't seek cover, but then again, why should I? I had the drop on the guy. I think it was asked of me why I didn't close and disarm him. Why should I? I am not trained in police takedown procedures. Some of the LEOs actually got him on the ground and started to cuff him. About half had problems holding a weapon, calling it in to 911, and detaining the DS.
Also, I think it is important to pay attention to how you dress for the day. I started carrying my cellphone on my weak side. I just felt better doing it a) cuz it didn't interfere with my holster and draw technique, and b) I wanted to be in the habit of wearing it like that when I start wearing my weapon concealed.
LESSONS: I think the group as a whole learned that we tend to vapor lock on the target. Everyone, LEOs included, tended to focus on what was in front and not what was behind them. Very easy to do when you are in that situation. Understandable as well. The RO noted that we had problems with trigger indexing. Now, I couldn't tell you if I had my finger in register or not. I do know that I thought it best to be on the trigger as opposed to being in register. Wrong conclusion there. It is apparently just as easy to slap that trigger from register and send steel downrange as it is to have a finger on trigger.
It took me a good half hour to return to earth after my range time. There is no mistaking the adrenaline dump you get when you are put in that environment. Even in the controlled confines of a range, with a range officer and safety equipment, the knowledge that this is real and life threatening is enough to sober you up. It stands to reason that I was giddy as a schoolgirl when I heard our lesson plan for the evening. Force on force with simulated weapons and hostile targets reminds me of playing on the block with my friends. We'd run around with our cap guns playing capture the flag and re-enacting our favorite scenes from Red Dawn and Rambo.
We have plans to make this a monthly event. Something to sharpen our senses and put our knowledge to work for us. I was surprised that the skills I picked up in class actually worked. Repetitive drills really do instill the muscle memory and intuitive thinking that are required when you are faced with these challenges.
One of the guys even thought we could expand on the monthly event by using the office space upstairs from the range. Great! We would have access to stairwells, rooms and hallways. We can even clear out most of the open area for serious hostile situations and scenarios. I'll post back next month on how it turns out. In the meantime, I am gonna peruse the websites for my own Airsoft Gun. Now why haven't I added one of these to my arsenal already?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Comes from Instructor Greg. We were having a discussion on .50BMG sniper rifles when he said: "When he invented the .50 BMG, John Browning never intended it to be shoulder fired." This of course was said with a wince and a shrug of his right shoulder.