Saturday, December 27, 2014

"Urban Defensive Tactics" class, 12/14/14

In previous installments of "The Education of D.W. Drang" we saw him take an "Introduction to Handguns" class (One Step Back, Two Steps Forward?) and the same (local) range's "Progressive Handgun Skills" class (Another Step Forward). I've also shared some Soul-searching (Gringo Pistolero edition) with you and inflicted some related but Random thoughts on the subject of guns and gun design on you.

On Sunday 12/14/14 I took Federal Way Firearms Training's newest class, Urban Defense Tactics. FWFT conducts it's training at my Friendly Local Gun Store & Range, Federal Way Discount Guns. About a week before the class, we were notified that the course description had been updated to emphasize that we were encouraged to bring a rifle and/or shotgun to practice with, and also that a quality flashlight was highly suggested.

I also realized Saturday night that it suggested a good pair of knee pads, and I had neglected to get any; fortunately, the Big Blue Big Box home improvement store opens at 0800 on Sunday morning, so I was able to get a pair before class.

Instructing was Grif, retired King County Sheriff's Deputy and Law Enforcement Instructor. Janice, the manager of FWFT and the lead instructor of the Introduction to Handguns class I had taken, was assisting.  There were two other students.

While the Progressive class moved directly to the range after a short safety briefing, this class started out in the classroom and stayed there for an hour or two. Topics discussed in the classroom started out with a review of Revised Code of Washington (RCW) articles:

One thing that came up frequently in the course of the, um, course, was the likelihood, or not, of the techniques being practiced actually being used by a "civilian."1 For example, "It is extremely unlikely that, as non-LEOs, any of you will actually need to know room clearing techniques, but it is possible that, if you think there's an intruder in your home, you would be checking on your kids, and moving them to the Safe Room."

And, yes, selection, construction, and equipping of the Safe Room was discussed. Pretty standard, really, although it is surprisingly common to meet people who do not keep their cell phone on a charger in their bedroom. (Master bedroom being the most common choice for Safe Room.) It was mentioned that a good practice is to keep your car keys in there, as well, especially if you have a remote to activate the "Panic" alarm. Also, your "bedroom gun(s) should have the ammo with it/them, including reloads.

While on the subject of the safe room, security of firearms while not actually repelling boarders was also addressed. Biometric lockboxes for pistols are fairly inexpensive these days; also, BTW, full sized gun safes are sales tax-free in Washington State.

Another thing that came up, originally in passing, is that body armor is legal for "civilians" to possess.2 For home defense, we probably don't need plate carriers with trauma plates suitable for re-enacting the Battle of Fallujah; having worn mil-spec body armor, I don't want to again. Really, for our purposes a fairly inexpensive NEW vest rated for pistol calibers should be sufficient. One with PALS webbing for MOLLE attachments, for ammo pouches, a first aid kit, and maybe a multi-tool, should suffice. Buy new3, make sure it fits, practice wearing it.

The topic of the aftermath of a defensive shooting was also discussed.  Most of the techniques we practiced, if used at all, are most likely to be used in a home defense situation. Certainly we'd all like to think that, if we are involved in a defensive shooting the case will be so clear cut that even Sarah Brady will praise us for our good judgement and congratulate us for prevailing. Alas, it is all too likely that even if you have a security camera showing the zombie ninja drug dealing bikers kicking in your front door that there might be some question as to the propriety of the shooting in someone's mind.

Much of the material is pretty much standard for the topic. One thing that I don't think I've heard anywhere else is that Police Officers involved in a shooting have 72 hours to make their statement, and we do too!  This gives you time to get your thoughts to together; immediately after a shooting, you are likely to babble semi-coherently and say the worst possible things in the worst possible way...

Next, Flashlight techniques were demonstrated. (Obviously, this is better introduced in a well-lit classroom than in a tactical bay with the lights out...)(Links go to Google Image searches for the technique. See how many of the "models" you recognize!)
  • Harries- flashlight in support hand, shooting wrist crosses over support hand wrist, backs of hands pressed together in isometric fashion; provides more support.
  • Neck index- flashlight held at shoulder level
  • FBI - flashlight held off to one side and overhead, slightly forward of body
  • Chapman [not used] and Ayoob [not used]4
  • Barricade - when shooting with a flashlight from behind cover, make sure the flash is forward enough that no light reflects back on you from the cover.5

Automotive defensive tactics - "why" as well as "how". Again, it is highly unlikely that we will be trapped in a car with someone shooting at us and be unable to simply drive away, whether around an assailant or over them.

This was the first of the actual techniques we practiced, moving behind the building and utilizing Grif's car:
  • Inside - Having been issued inert training guns, we practiced unbuckling the seat belt while drawing, all without muzzling ourselves. Kinda tricky; use the steering wheel to guide the gun to your left. (Assuming you holster your pistol on the right.) Potentially made trickier by the construction of the car seat...
  • Dismount - awkward!  But if you have to...
  • Position, cover. Best cover is behind the front wheels, where you're protected by the engine as well as the wheels and the tires. If your assailant is in front or behind, you'll need to move. Gets tricky...
Again, the best thing to do if you're in a car is to put it in "D" or "R" and get out of Dodge! Always try and leave enough space between you and the car in front that you can see the tires on the ground, this leaves you room to maneuver. Of course, in many areas this may be seen as an invitation to merge...
We then moved inside and reiterated the classroom discussion of Room Clearing - why and why not - followed by demonstration, and then practice. (Again with the training inert guns.)
  • Terms: "Slice the pie" "Slicing the pie" is a bit of a cliche, and is often the punchline in gun forum jokes, but it is a valid, useful technique, whereby one divides a room (or other area) into sectors and searches them in a methodical manner.
  • Terms: Fatal Funnel, term used for the entrance to a room and the area immediately inside. Soldiers clearing room try to go through the wall if possible, we can't probably do that, so the Bad Guys know where we'll be coming...
  • Solo - Alone is scarier, and you don't have someone watching your back, but it's also less complicated.
  • Team - Room clearing as a team is trickier than solo, for obvious reasons - the person watching your back is coming in behind you, keyed up, you both have to be careful not to muzzle each other.
Again, this is something that is unlikely for those without a badge to have to do.

Next we learned, and practiced shooting from, the Urban Prone position, both strong & weak side. Grif demonstrates a couple of variations:

All three students had M4-style AR15 carbines, and we practiced the prone positions with those. Janice had her M&P9. Frankly, by the end of this drill I was wishing that I was using my pistol instead, because by the time I had expended the .223 rounds I had with me the strain of trying to shoot it while on my back or side, to get a good cheek weld and a steady position, and of doing a sector scan after the drill was over was causing my arthritis and bursitis to act up.

YMMV. Firing a carbine offhand will generally have better results than firing a pistol; however, I have found that all the ibuprofen I can safely take, plus the stretches I (should) do, have a limited effect when it comes to moving like I was 30 years younger. If I'm flat on my back, or on my side, firing over the minimal cover of a curb, it may well be that I would do better by firing my .45 from a weak hand position rather than strain my shoulders trying to use my carbine. (I had to give up archery because of bursitis in my right shoulder.)

We also practiced a variation of the Urban Prone position which I dubbed "Modified Creedmore Prone", in that you lie on your back, upper back and knees elevated, and fire between your knees.
Here's a Gutenberg image:
Only we weren't crossing our ankles. (I suppose you could...) (Don't know why I didn't get a pic...)

We mostly used standard IPSC-type cardboard silhouette targets.
Photo from Targets Inc.
We ran several drills from these positions, first shooting "double taps" and then "Mozambiques". We finished the Urban Prone portion of the course with what is called an ABC drill with our carbines; an "A" is drawn on the "face" of the silhouette, "B's" on the "shoulders", and "Cs" on the hips. Grif would call out a combination ("A, C!") and we would shoot said combination.

We also practiced "transitions", that is, shooting at multiple targets. I also tried a technique I'd heard about for quick shooting, which involves bracing the butt of the carbine against the centerline of your chest instead of shouldering it. This is mostly used when wearing body armor, but recoil with a .223/5.56mm round is low enough that it works without a shell.
    We then moved on to the flashlight techniques, described above. I had two Surefire lights with me, the E2D that rides in my magazine pouch, and the G2Z that is normally my "bedside light". The later has a lanyard, making reloading a little easier, so I tried to practice reloads with the former. The recommended technique involves tucking the light under the strong side arm while reloading, and taking it back in the support hand afterwards. The other students' lights didn't have lanyards, so they didn't get to see how much easier that would make it6.

    One thing that we all got to experience is that multiple modes for a tactical flashlight used for defense can be less than helpful; the strobe effect equally disconcerting to the user as it is supposed to be to the one you are trying to use it on, and 2 or 3 levels of brightness almost guarantee that you'll be using the wrong level at the wrong time7.

    I also tried a few magazines from the Colt Rail Gun with Surefire X400 attached, using the DG switch which allows me to activate it with a natural firing grip. This works far better than any of the flashlight techniques described above, and is highly recommended if your gun can accept a light.

    The day was capped off by a "Speed Steel" shoot-off, about which the less said the better...

    The class was described as being 8 hours long, and we were finished at the 7 hour point; I'm sure of there had been more students that it would have gone longer, or, perhaps (and unfortunately) some of the drills would have been scanted.

    Once again, my equipment was my Colt Combat Commander in K-Rounds IWB holster, K-Round custom single-mag and flashlight pouch. I also had a Blade-Tech 4-magazine pouch with Tek-Lock belt attachment. My 5.11 Tactical Apex Gunners belt held all the weight well. I used two Pachmeyr stainless steel 7 round magazines, 3 Wilson Combat ETM 8 round mags, and 2 Colt OEM 8 round stainless mags. (I don't think I used any of the horde of GI and other cheap magazines I've accumulated over the years...)

    For my carbine I had 4 30 round P-Mags; the carbine also has a Magpul MOE fore-end, stock, and pistol grip, as well as Magpul back up rear sight. As mentioned above, I took my Colt Rail Gun with me, but since I have no holster for it yet (thanks to I594, my plans for getting one custom made locally is out the window) I had to deploy it from the carry case.

    All in all this was a very useful class, highly recommended for anyone in the South King County/Pierce County area who wants to learn more advanced techniques, oriented to self-defense, and who cannot budget the time or the money to travel to another state, or to take a weekend when one of the "Big Name" instructors travels to our neck of the woods.


    1.  I am all on board with the point of view that, unless they are active duty Military Policemen or another service's equivalent, local, county, state, and Federal law enforcement officers are also, properly speaking, "civilians." In a class such as this, however, it saves time and therefore leaves more time for teaching/learning, to shorten the distinction to "civilians" and "cops." I can live with it, and debate the point over beer after class.
    2. At least this year, and in this state. Rumblings on the topic have recently been heard from statist anti-liberty congress-critters all across the country, however.
    3.  Because you don't know where it's been or how it's been maintained. If abused, it might now just be an uncomfortable Halloween costume...
    4.These techniques are mostly used with larger flashlights with the switch at the front instead of the tailcap, i.e., Maglites and Kel-lites. We all had smaller lights with tailcap switches.
    5. Once again, "Cover protects you form fire, concealment only protects you from being seen."
    6. The method I used for the lanyard, which is a long one, was what I learned aeons ago about using the wrist thong on a night stick: Instead of just putting your wrist through the loop, you place your thumb there, and wrap the cord around your wrist. That way, if the stick gets stuck or grabbed, you can easily let it go. In this case, that also meant that when the light was dangling from my hand it was still controlled and easily grasped after the reload.
    7. It seems to me that the way to build the flashlight would be to have an on/off tail cap switch, with a "momentary on" option; other modes would be selected by a switch on the body of the light or rotating a ring by the lens.


    Anonymous said...

    No mention of the subway shooter and innocents in the background?

    D.W. Drang said...

    That was clearly an accomplice.