Category Archives: tactical preschool

tactical preschool 67

If you are ever confronted with a situation where you have to escape from a kidnapping attempt or vehicular ambush, and backing out of the killzone is impossible, a simple rule to keep in mind is….


….consider the size/weight of your vehicle and the size/weight of the vehicles blocking you in.

Regardless of that comparison, you do not want to impact the engine end of a vehicle with yours. Most of the mass of a vehicle is in the engine and you don’t want to strike the heaviest part of their car with yours.


If you absolutely have to push your way out of a roadblock, pick the car that is as close to or smaller than the size of yours and aim for the back end of it.



You do NOT want to hit the other vehicle at a high rate of speed, 20-25 MPH is the sweet spot. Do not hit the brake as you push through, remember to keep your foot on the gas and accelerate through. Be prepared for airbag activation, but do NOT stop. Recover from the impact and drive away ASAP.

tactical preschool 66

This lesson is going to cover a basic counter-surveillance technique called a Surveillance Detection Route, otherwise known as an SDR.

Counter-Surveillance is, simply put, the art of preventing people from seeing what you are doing. This can cover techniques as simple as alternating your daily movement patterns to as complex as sweeping your bedroom for electronic listening devices.

This lesson covers a simple technique for detecting if you have a “tail”.

Law Enforcement Officers should always have their “head on a swivel” when they get into their personally owned vehicle (POV) at the end of shift and head home. You never know who you may have pissed off and it’s wise to take measures that prevent someone from following you to your residence. Even if you are not LE, you may have irate exes, stalkers or your spouses PI (LOL!) trying to follow you.

Most often, picking up a tail will be while you are operating a vehicle. The basic concept of an SDR applies while on foot as well, but for this example lets say you have a nice suburban home:


Your normal trip home from the Supermarket is something like this:

home 2

Say one day you notice a car follow you out of the parking lot and something starts to “tingle” in your head. Nothing serious enough to call 911 or start driving to the nearest police station, but a “better safe than sorry” sort of thing…

home 3

Take a turn. This is when you start your SDR. Which, simply put, is just taking a little trip and seeing who follows you and for how far.

home 4

In Narcotics parlance this is sometimes called “squaring the block”. If you see the same vehicle following you turn-for-turn, or if it turns off then re-appears behind you later, assume you are being followed.

Of course, if you think you are being followed by “professionals” they are going to have multiple vehicles following you with communications between them, and maybe even air assets and stationary posts along your known route. One car may turn off while another that was on a parallel street picks you up. But that’s Jason Bourne style $@!# and unlikely to be something the average reader should be concerned about.

However, If for some reason you think this incident requires a bit more caution, you can park in the vicinity of your home, but not right in front of it:

home 5

Sit in your car for a bit and look around for anything out of the ordinary. Are there any occupied cars parked on the street? Any people you’ve never noticed before walking the dog, or jogging around the block?

A pair of binoculars in your car can be a handy tool.

You could then get out and walk the sidewalk to the corner and back..or all the way around the block if you are up for some exercise.

What I would warn the reader to avoid is simply using SDR’s as part of their daily habit. I’ve seen a number of people pull SDR’s simply as habit while not really paying attention to if anyone was actually following them. Alternating your daily route as “habit” is fine. An SDR is a highly conscious thing that requires your full alertness and concentration.

tactical preschool 65

This lesson will cover an alternative room clearing option from the “room flood” technique most commonly seen.

The “room flood” is the one you see in all the movies and cop shows. The door blows open and all the good guys “flood” into the room, shooting down the bad guys…



The idea is that “speed, surprise and violence of action” will overcome any resistance.

There is something to be said for the technique. The SAS perfected it and most US Special Operations Forces and Elite SWAT Teams still train and use it effectively. But to work when people are actually shooting at you as you enter, you need to be HIGHLY trained and willing to accept losses. In essence you are stepping into a room with the bad guys and shooting it out.

For SHTF situations like hostage rescue where you HAVE to get in and get in fast or else the hostages are going to get killed, this is probably still the best basic method (incorporating other things like window porting, sniper shots, diversions, etc.).

However, when used as a default method for all SWAT entries like high risk warrant execution, single person barricades and other less exigent reasons…well…you are asking people to wade into possible gunfire, expecting them accept losses and “drive on”.

For the average “operator” I don’t see that being something that will work out too well. Over and over again we have seen situations where the team meets gunfire at the breach and bogs down in the fatal funnel:

An alternative method of room clearing gaining ground is commonly called the “limited penetration” technique.

This is a concept that combines two previous lessons.

In Tactical Preschool 11 we covered the basics of room entry/room clearing.

In Tactical Preschool 46 we talked about how sometimes it’s wiser to deal with an armed subject from outside the room rather than trying force your way inside with him.

In this method, instead of rushing into the room to clear the funnel, the operators slice the pie from opposite sides of the door and engage any threat from outside the room. If the room is clear, they button hook the door and clear the corners and then proceed to the next entry point.

lim pen


This is becoming one of the preferred techniques with the Israelis and the South Africans. If you go to the 1:28 point of the following video you can see the South Africans training in it….live fire….with an instructor inside….

Some detractors of the method don’t like the “loitering in the fatal funnel” aspect of the technique, but I believe there’s something to be said for the idea that perhaps…instead of trying to force a group of armed men into an enclosed space with a bad guy…it may be a better idea to deal with him from the door.

tactical preschool 64

This lesson is closely associated with tactical preschool 5 and the geometry of cover.

Your distance from cover will dictate how much area behind cover will open up when you move sideways away from it.

If you are close to cover, a larger slice  of area behind that cover will open up….



…than if you are farther away from cover, where a smaller slice will appear.



tactical preschool 63


While it’s generally a good idea to keep the muzzle of your weapon oriented in the same direction as your eyes, there are numerous instances where multiple areas of danger must be addressed.

In these situations (when you cannot divide areas of responsibility between multiple people) it is better to scan with your eyes while keeping your muzzle oriented between the danger areas.

areafire2This allows you to respond to threats to either side more rapidly than if you decide to commit to one over the other.


tactical preschool 25

Im re-posting this older tac-preschool lesson because this part of the blog has become more popular lately. This topic in particular was one that I was hoping to get more discussion on.

The tactical world is full of various debates.

.45 vs 9mm, 1911 vs Glock, point shooting vs aimed fire, you suck vs I am high speed.

Another issue that crops up is how to engage multiple opponents. There are various schools of thought on the best way to deal with this situation.

One method is known as “boarding house rules”. Which is stated as “everybody gets firsts before anybody gets seconds.” What that basically means is that, starting with the most immediate threat (which usually is the closest bad guy) you “serve” one shot to all opponents then go back and deal with the first target if it’s still there. A common training method is to hit the last target with two shots then go back and give the other targets one more. So in the illustration below the sequence would be: 1, 2, 3, 3, 1, 2 repeat as necessary.

A different version of this engagement sequence calls for you to “double tap” each target from near to far then back again. 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3….

The biggest problem I see with this idea is the presumption that you have actually hit the first targets before moving onto the next. Range/competition shooting at plates, poppers, silhouettes etc. isn’t the same as dealing with moving and shooting human beings.  I am a decent shot, but I’m not fooling myself into thinking that I can guarantee hits like that when the SHTF.


Another school of thought is that due to stress, tunnel vision and the natural human reaction to combat; that a better solution is to shoot each threat, in order of severity, until it no longer is a threat. In the illustration below this is shown as: 1, 1, 1, 1 then onto 2, 2, 2…and so on till all threats are dealt with.


I tend to side with the second approach, but what dogmatic people fail to acknowledge is that there is nothing saying that you cant mix these approaches up. Perhaps I may go: 1, 1, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1, 3, 3, 3, 3 depending on what the hell theses guys are doing.

What I find troubling in most training of this sort, regardless of the method you like,  is the “training in” of standing still in the midst of multiple armed opponents and shooting it out. What I think should happen is that you should be MOVING. Move to cover and deal with the closest threat. If he gets behind cover deal with the next available threat. And be thinking about your next move. If they are maneuvering on you or decide to keep shooting it out you are in a loosing proposition. Think about bugging out.


tactical preschool 61

I was thinking of titling this one “He who runs away, lives to fight another day”.

When searching a structure (this isn’t a military operation), don’t get into the mental rut of “NO RETREAT”. There is no hurry here, no need to be kicking doors, making dynamic entries and doing John Wu style rolls into rooms. Take your time and slice the pie. Clear what you can from a safe location.

Make your entry and immediately clear any area you couldn’t see from the outside.

Consolidate your position and begin to deal with any areas that require checking.

If you see someone, don’t allow the adrenalin to override your good sense. A small room is not the best place to deal with a possibly armed opponent. Especially if it’s possible that there could be a second guy behind that object.

If you don’t have to immediately use deadly force, SOMETIMES (nothing is set in stone here) it may be best to back out of the room to a secure area and call the bad guy out to you.


tactical preschool 60

If you are a military/firearms/tactical buff you have probably heard all sorts of terminology applied to types of targets and methods of fire; point targets, grazing fire, plunging fire, indirect fire, area targets, etc. etc. etc.

For todays lesson I am going to cover the two most basic types of small arms target engagement; point targets and area targets.

This is typically a military issue. There is a difference between targets that you can hit directly and targets that your weapon is capable of striking even if you cannot.

The difference is very simple.  Point Targets are when you are directly engaging an individual target. You see what you want to hit. You take up a sight picture and you engage the threat.

Area Targets are usually defined as those that are beyond a weapons range or capability to engage individual point targets or to be able to hit them effectively. This can also be expanded to include the shooters ability to strike targets at a given range. To engage an area target the firer typically aims for an “Area” that covers a group of targets, an area that is being suppressed for maneuver elements,or an area where incoming fire is coming from. Projectiles are then directed at that area in enough volume to hopefully strike one or more targets or at least suppress their ability to move or shoot back at you. This is a common tactic in the use of crew served weapons such as machine guns and grenade launching devices.

If you look up the data on any specific weapon you will see the ranges it is typically capable of. For example, the M4 carbine has the following defined range capabilities.

  • Maximum Range – 3,600 meters
  • Max Effective Range for a Point Target – 500 meters
  • Max Effective Range for an Area Target – 600 meters

Which means that it’s 5.56 mm projectile can travel as far as 3,600 meters. In theory a soldier with enough skill and the right equipment like optics (and a dose of luck IMO), should be able to select and strike a point target as far away as 500M. Between 500 and 600M a soldier should be able to select an area target and be able to land rounds on it. Beyond 600M the ability to control where the rounds land is a crap shoot.


tactical preschool 59


Another basic rule about the tactical use of lights. DO NOT silhouette your team mates! It is all too easy to forget this one and I must admit to doing it accidentally on occasion; but you should constantly be reminding yourself to avoid using your light if there is someone in front of you. Bursts of light to the left or right may be OK, but you must practice with your lights so that you know just how far laterally you can shine your lights and not cast shadows of any team members in front of you.