tactical preschool 11- “knock knock”

Well…now we are starting to move into kindergarten level material, but since I kind of like the “tactical preschool” title I’m going to leave it as is.

Today we are going to learn about how to make an entrance…into a room that is.


I am sure that I will be getting all sorts of “well yes but’s…” on this post. Nothing draws opinions from the tactical crowd more than room entry techniques, but since this is my blog I will be the “expert” in my own little domain so …”pbbbhttttt!!!”

Seriously though, I acknowledge that rooms come in all shapes and sizes and we can debate how best to deal with what’s inside them; but for all intents and purposes, when it comes to dealing with them, rooms can be boiled down to 2 basic types, “Center door” and “Light/Heavy”.

I believe that my illustrations are self-describing so I wont belabor the differences too much. Suffice it to say that, “Center door” rooms have equal lengths of wall to each door-side corner, while “Light/Heavy” rooms have varying distances from door to corner. The long wall is the “heavy” side and the short wall “light”. Each type will determine what the “optimal” entry technique will be.

The next time you are wandering around a building take a look at the doors as you walk the hallways. Pretty soon you will notice that there is a pattern to the “door/wall/door/door/wall” sequence. Soon it becomes fairly easy to figure out which wall will be the “heavy side” if you were to enter the room.

That’s not to say that sometimes the room just isn’t going to be what you expected once you go in. Sometimes you have to work from an educated guess. Unless you are in an operation where you have LOTS of intelligence on the building, most of the time you just have to “go with the flow” and work with what you have on hand.

When it comes to room entry you will find yourself in one of two fundamental situations. You are either methodically searching a structure for a threat that you do not know the exact location of OR you are going in dynamically to deal with a threat of (hopefully) known location or severe necessity.

If you are “stealth searching” a structure, the process of entering rooms is more a matter of “slicing the pie” on doors and then going in. When you are going dynamic you cant take the time to “slice” so you have to sacrifice some safety for speed. In reality..as in most of life..the lines tend to blur between these techniques depending on your circumstances. When I was an active member of a tactical unit, I found myself having to do “mini-dynamic” entries on rooms while stealth searching and “slicing the pie” on areas on dynamic operations. This stuff is all “rule of thumb” don’t become a slave to the text book.

To keep this lesson simple I will be describing a simple 2-man entry sequence.


For Center Door rooms, the operators “stack” on a side of the door to avoid the Fatal Funnel. To make the entry the first man will enter quickly and either cross the doorway towards the far corner or “button hook” into the near corner. The second man, while maintaining strict muzzle awareness and keying off the actions of the man in front of him, will take the opposite corner. Some people instruct that all operators will have pre-designated corners, but I find that Mr. Murphy and “brain farts” tend to screw up over-planed operations.

It is vital that these corners be cleared immediately AND that the operators stick close to the walls and not move to the center of the room.  After clearing these corners the operators “run the walls” and move to positions of room domination with overlapping fields of fire.


For “Light/Heavy” rooms the technique is almost identical, with a few small differences. In these types of entries it becomes important that the first person in takes the “heavy side” of the room. The reason for this is because, depending on just how “light” the light side is, the person taking that side may block the entrance-way and bog the two of you up in the doorway…which is a BAD thing.

Also, depending on the “lightness” of the light side, the second man may only be clearing that corner with a quick visual because there may not be enough room to physically get into or point his weapon into it. After clearing their corners, the operators again move to positions of room dominance with overlapping fields of fire. Typically, the light side operator will move up the room to the far corner. That becomes even more of a necessity when you have more than 2 operators coming into the room.


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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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look ma im on the internet-siniwali

A collection of training weapons used in an Es...
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My good friend and martial arts instructor Paul Martin has put together an online course for learning a basic Filipino Martial Art technique called Siniwali. Siniwali means “weaving” in Tagalog and is the technique you see on the silver screen when a character is swinging weapons around with both hands. Paul had to use his son and myself as demonstration dummies. 


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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.


self-equalizing anchors

A handy ropecraft skill to have is knowledge of how to set-up self-equalizing anchors. Many times while you are climbing or rappelling you will find that there are few solid “single-point” anchors available. Instead of a large, deeply rooted Oak tree you find that you have 2-4 smaller trees that just don’t leave you feeling confident. Or you could be setting up a belay point 800′ up with a series of cams or chocks being the only thing between a secure belay and screaming death. In these situations you will want to share the load between these anchors so that each of them is receiving only part of the load. You also want a system that will hopefully survive if one of your anchor points fail. Most self-equalizing set-up’s share the characteristics of the simple 2 anchor system I have illustrated below.


The first thing you do is take a loop of cord, rope, or tape and form a figure-eight. You then take a locking carabiner and clip it across the crossover point.


Two more “biners” get clipped to either side of the “eight”.


The two “anchor biners” are then attached to your anchors and the load is placed on the center carabiner. This splits the load forces equally between the two anchor points. If you have set your system up properly and one of the anchors fails, the center biner is still attached to the loop and will hopefully remain attached to your remaining piece of protection.


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Alright since so many people ask…a company called “Defensive Edge SLR15 Rifles” taught a rifle class at my dept. They make/sell rifles and train in their use. They gave out a bunch of these stickers which mean “Cover Your 6”. It’s a term that means “watch your a**” and is also a technique where you always check all around you after you are engaged in a gunfight.



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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prussik knots

Prusik” is a word that describes a knot and the action of ascending a rope using a “Prusik System”. Named after it’s inventor, Dr. Karl Prusik, the Prusik Knot is a friction hitch that allows a climber to ascend a standing line.


The Prusik is tied by wrapping a cord around the standing rope a number of times (usually 3-5 ), and then back through itself. This forms a barrel around the rope with a tail hanging out the middle. When the tail is weighted, the turns tighten and make a bend in the rope, securing the knot into place and allowing the climber to place his/her weight on the knot. When weight is removed, the loop can be moved up or down the rope by placing a hand on the barrel and pushing. Breaking the Prusik free from the rope after it has been weighted can be difficult and is easiest done by pushing on the “bar”. This unwinds the wrap to loosen the grip of the hitch, and allows the climber to move the knot.

A basic “Prusik System” is two knots. One knot which the climber attaches to his/her harness. This lets the climber “sit” on the standing rope. The second knot is placed above the first knot. The climber places his/her foot into the tail on this knot and uses it to “push” his/her weight up the standing line. The process is a “leapfrog” affair where the climber “steps” up on the “foot knot”…pulls up on the “sit knot”….sits on the “sit knot” and pushes the “step knot” further up the rope.


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