Category Archives: tactical preschool

tactical preschool 10

Today I will teach you a lesson in what NOT to do. Perhaps the title should be…“Guns, Common Sense and being a Good Neighbor”.

When you are out with your friends playing with things that go BANG, its is good to remember the Cardinal Rules of Gun Safety;

Rule # 1: Treat all firearms as if they are always loaded.

Rule # 2: Never allow the muzzle of your firearm to point toward anything you do not intend to kill or destroy.

Rule # 3: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned with your target and you are ready to shoot.

Rule # 4: Be sure of your target, it’s surroundings, and what’s beyond it.

I don’t know about anybody else, but when “I” am out with some heavily armed associates, it’s RULE #2 that concerns ME the most. In other words “DON’T POINT THAT THING AT ME!”


All kidding aside… In the heat of the moment it can become easier than you think to “sweep” your buddy with the muzzle of your weapon.


It is also easy to forget that YOU have other guys with guns around you and step across their line of fire.


One of the nasty effects of combat stress that you tend to get “tunnel vision“. Your “reptile brain” decides that its best to focus all of your attention on the thing that looks like it may KILL you; to the exclusion of the things you cant see that may kill you. Besides pure ignorance, this is perhaps the main contributing factor to how this stuff happens…even with highly trained operators this can happen.

The best way to combat this is to think that your gun could go off anytime and that the muzzle is constantly projecting a “death ray” that will destroy whatever it crosses. If you constantly treat a weapon that way…when you take it out to clean it…when you are walking around the range…while training…etc.  it starts to become second nature to handle the weapon so that it never points at something you wouldn’t want to shoot.

Now. Sometimes you DO have to point your weapon to the other side of a buddy. The way to do that is simply to lower the muzzle of your weapon as you sweep past a friendly then raise it back onto target.

You also need to be aware that your buddy may have to pass in front of YOU. If he does you simply point your muzzle towards the deck till he gets past then snap back up onto target again.

Once again…common sense? Perhaps…but something that needs to be highly stressed.

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tactical preschool 9

A critic of my posts recently said…“That’s gotta be the most worthless “well duh” information I’ve ever read.” Which means that I’m doing my job. Most of this stuff is pretty damn simple, hence the “preschool” thing. Putting it all together and doing it when someone is shooting at you is what makes it hard. Today’s lesson is on what is called “bounding overwatch”.

Bounding Overwatch is a technique that you use while you are maneuvering in hostile territory with a buddy or two and you are NOT actively being engaged. In other words you know that the bad guy is out there but he’s not shooting at you yet.  When there are shots flying back and forth you will likely be using a “fire and maneuver” technique.



To “bound”, one buddy covers likely areas where a bad guy may pop-up while the other moves in a “3 to 5 second rush” to another area of cover/concealment. If the cover element observes an opponent attempting to engage the maneuver element he can place fire on the bad guy  to protect his buddy. The cover element has to be constantly scanning for threats.



Bounding Overwatch is also called “leapfrogging“…after the first guy has found a position he/she becomes the cover element and the other buddy moves up (or back depending on whats going on) to another position of cover/concealment. In this manner the group moves along to their objective.


Bounding Overwatch is a simple and effective way to move through a dangerous area, however it does require some practice and a mutual understanding of the technique between the “operators”.


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tactical preschool 8



Today’s lesson is on something we in the trade call the “fatal funnel”. In close quarters combat (CQB) within structures an operator has to deal with entering rooms. Of course, the way to do that is limited to doors and windows unless you have the time, ability, equipment and/or tactical necessity to blow or ram a new opening into a room.  Even then, when there are bad guys within that room the most dangerous area is near or “in” these openings.

There are behavioral and perceptional influences that cause people to fire into entryways. Logically, the defender knows that the only way in is the doorway so he is going to be focused on it. Secondly, these openings silhouette the attacker against the entry point from the defenders perspective making him an easier target to focus on. Even if the walls near these entry points are more “concealment” than”cover” you will find that more shots will be directed at the entry point vs. the walls next to it.  The other thing that makes the doorway “fatal” is that you will be vulnerable from the corners closest to the entry point immediately after you enter the room. A bad guy in either of these corners will be able to attack you from behind if you enter the room and move to its center or if you turn into the corner he is not in.

The lesson here? DON’T STAND IN FRONT OF DOORS! When you have to enter a room do so quickly and get out of the doorway immediately. There are various techniques for “how” to do this and how to choreograph this dance when you have a bunch of friends with you. That will be covered after graduation.


tactical preschool 7

When you are approaching an area where there is a distinct possibility that you could get yourself killed, you should be paying attention about exactly HOW you are approaching that area.


To begin with, if you are arriving via a vehicle, pulling right up in front of the house is a bad idea. Park down the street and walk your lazy ass a few extra yards. As you are approaching, be aware of what types of cover and concealment are available. You should know by now that “cover” is something that is likely to stop bullets and “concealment” is something that just conceals you from view. While “cover” is always better, don’t poo-poo the value of concealment. If you are not being actively engaged, getting behind available concealment between areas of cover is better than exposing yourself for a long period as you move from cover to cover.


If you are approaching a structure on a “routine call”, I’m not suggesting that you make a “fire team rush” from cover to cover while the citizenry are rolling their shopping carts out of the store, but you should be walking with the intent of passing close to areas of cover and concealment that your “Terminator Vision” is selecting as you walk along.

Speaking of “fire team rushes”..if at some point you do need to maneuver under fire, the rule of thumb is that you should be selecting an area to move to that is only 3-5 seconds away. That is the average time it takes for an opponent to see you “pop-up”…raise his weapon and get you in his sights…and fire. This of course is dependent on the range that is between you. The closer you are, the shorter your exposure time should be. I was taught to tell myself “I’M UP!”…”I’M MOVING!”…”HE SEES ME!…”I’M DOWN!” as I was moving from position to position. However that does not mean that you plop your can down in an open parking lot just because your “time was up”. These are just rules of thumb here…keep your common sense device engaged at all times.

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tactical preschool 6

If you are running an AR platform or any weapon system with its sights higher than the bore line, a common problem that is seen is the striking of cover instead of the bad guy. The sights may be clear of the obstacle, but the muzzle may not be. This problem can become less obvious the further you are away from your cover. You need to make a quick visual check that your muzzle is clear then shift your focus to your sights.


This sight/bore offset can also make a difference during close range engagements. At distances of 25 yards or closer you may have to hold your point of aim as much as 2.5 + inches high to place your round where you want it.



tactical preschool 5

I’m thinking of titling this lesson “Cover: Know what you are up against”.

In a previous lesson we learned what Cover and Concealment were. Cover as you recall is something that will stop incoming projectiles. To use cover is simple; get it between you and  the opponent. As long as the cover remains between the two of you, you can be yards behind it and it will still protect you. However, you have to consider the “tactical geometry” that is in play.


If you are facing a single threat, it is possible to gain more protected area and more maneuver room by moving away from your cover. One thing to consider however is the height of your cover…if you move too far back from an object you have to consider the elevation or depression of the terrain you are moving to.


If you have multiple threats facing you, the area of protection and maneuver will be less the farther you move away from cover. Of course, if you or your opponents move the area of protection will change shape and you will have to reposition.

Just as your area of protection and maneuver will be determined by this “tactical geometry”, so will your ability to engage targets.


In an inverse of the protection cone the cover provides you; the closer you are to cover the more protection your opponent has from your outgoing fire.


If you move away from the cover, the more area on the far side of the object will be in your target area.

Adding to these variables will be your ability to move left or right in response to the actions of  your opponent(s). When you move out from cover more area behind it will become visible but the more exposed YOU will be. Change the numbers of opponents or buddies helping you and the math becomes more complex.

That will be a 200 level course…..


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tactical preschool 4

Mmmmm Pie. I like Pie, especially when I am looking for badguys in structures or urban terrain.


“Slicing the Pie” or “Pieing” a corner is the term used for a technique used to traverse a corner while clearing a structure or while maneuvering around structures/objects out of doors.

In general, there are but a small handful of methods for dealing with corners, rooms, stairwells etc. You can “button hook” directly into the area and deal with whats there. This is typically a “dynamic” tactic where speed of entry and aggressive action is required. Or you can “Slice the Pie” to negotiate the turn, which is a systematic clearing of the area in “slices”.


The way you accomplish this is by approaching the corner fairly close to the wall with your “pivot point” being the apex of the corner. You then begin a series of small 90 degree side-steps (relative to your line of sight) away from the wall, in a semi-circular manner. After every step you pause and scan each “slice of the pie” from the floor at the corner to the ceiling.



There you go…easy as pie.


tactical preschool 3

Another lesson kiddos. This one is a simple concept called displacement:




Once again…nothing “new” or advanced here. When you and an opponent are looking for each other with bad intentions (1) and suddenly come across each other (2); what sometimes happens is an exchange of a few shots and a quick duck back behind cover (3). If and when this happens, it’s usually a good idea to “displace” to a different area of cover and/or concealment (4). If you are lucky, the opponent will peek back out expecting you to be in the place he last saw you. Then you can give him a nasty surprise.

Of course if your opponent is as wily and savvy as you, he may have displaced to another spot as well…keep alert!

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tactical preschool 2

Another basic, yet vital concept is the difference between Cover and Concealment:


Simply put. Cover stops bullets, Concealment doesn’t. Concealment..well…”conceals” you. The opponent may be able to hit you “through” what you are hiding behind but he doesn’t know you are there. Or perhaps he knows you are there “somewhere” but not sure of your exact location.

Cover on the other hand…the bad guy may know exactly where you are, he just cant hit you through it.  The best of both worlds is when you are behind good cover AND the opponent doesn’t know where you are.

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tactical preschool

I have always been a believer in fundamentals over “advanced technique”. The fundamentals, applied consistently and accomplished faster than your opponent can process will typically result in victory. Digging through some old notebooks I recently dusted off, I discovered some sketches I doodled a long time ago that illustrate some absolutely basic tactical fundamentals.















These illustrations show variations on the basic “flanking maneuver“. When confronted with superior numbers (and you have to fight vs. being able to flee) you do not want to stay put and slug it out with everybody simultaneously.  Displace to one of the opponents flanks and deal with him hombre a hombre. Or even better, if you have some buddies, two to one.  If the opponents buddy tries to engage you he will have his own man caught in a crossfire. If you are lucky the second bad guy may not be able to see that you have moved. If you are REALLY lucky, some of YOUR buddies will keep the other bad guys busy as you roll up the flank and take out the opponents one at a time.