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Thread: Guerrilla Approach High Threat Environment: Vehicle

  1. #1
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    Guerrilla Approach High Threat Environment: Vehicle

    20160909 Metcalf Range. San Jose, California 0900-1600

    Instructor: Aaron Burraga, 8 year veteran of 1st Special Forces Group. Communications Sergeant (18E)

    Introduction: This year, I have been filling out slots in what sort of tactical training I would need as I head into a career of law enforcement. Vehicle work is a very critical for not only the law enforcement officer but the average citizen as well. Aaron has been attracting and addressing a lot of flack on the internet and industry as a whole on how to approach tactical training, specifically vehicle defense. So, I figured since he was in the area, that I would take this course to get a foundation on vehicle work and a vehicle ballistics introduction.

    Equipment: JACK 2.0 and 727 clone as back up carbine, Beretta 92 G-SD. Ran PMag Gen 2 with magpods and USGI mags. HSGI Slim Grip Belt: Double Pistol Tacos, 2 ITW Rifle Fast Mags, Ronin Tactics medical pull out pouch, Safariland holster with UBL w/ single leg strap. M81 woodland BDUs, 5.11 boots and Arcteryx Knee Caps.

    Ammunition: Assorted mix of Tula and American Eagle .223 (~700 rounds), assorted mix of Blazer aluminum and brass 9mm (~400 rounds).

    Begin of Class: Safety brief, skipped introductions, and went straight to positioning of cover. I volunteered to demonstrate cover behind a vehicle or obstacle. Primarily situated at the front of the car, the engine block and front wheel wells, are points of a car that possess the most cover. Aaron pointed out the flaws of distancing yourself from cover (5-15ft) in order to reduce your silhouette from an enemy firing at you at a distance. A flanking enemy would not need to move laterally to get a clear shot of you if you were distant from a piece of cover, demonstrated as another student simulated to flank me as I was at 5, 10, and 15 feet from cover. The overall silhouette signature is a constant variable depending on distance between yourself and the threat, so be proactive with the case.

    Ballistics on a Vehicle: Aaron then set up a paper target situated between the car and car door to demonstrate bullet impact from skipping off the hood. Aaron addressed something that I constantly hear over the years in regards of the distance between cover. Rounds skipping off the hood, is like anticipating the enemy to purposely miss. Aaron demonstrated how easy it was to skip rounds and following through to actually hitting the target. Aaron then demonstrated the controversy of stacking pillars. Pillars could stop bullets, but relying on them to actually use as cover is very foolish as they are way too thin. I personally see them as temporary cover as I move to another hard piece of cover; the engine block and wheel wells. Next, Aaron launched a few shotgun slugs into the trunk of the car, showing that the trunk can either be hollow or occupied, but it definitely cannot be relied as a hard point of cover. With the target still posted in between the car and car door, Aaron ran a quick skirmish where the pillars were shot and rounds were sprayed into the target from advancing laterally forward.

    Mindset and Terminologies: Aaron addressed two scenarios in two terms: a shooting and a gunfight. A shooting usually entails being one on one and at close range. While a gunfight involves multiple shooters and varying distances. From there, Aaron explained the factors in which to respond to either scenario.
    Mobility
    Signature
    Security

    Mobility entails that you move from the point of contact, out of range of the incoming fire or to the nearest piece of cover.
    Signature entails that you reduce your size for the fire to be accurate.
    Security entails that you are able to cover sectors and respond with accurate fire into said sectors.

    Generally, mobility and signature takes priority before establishing security. In a shooting, mobility may be priority as you would want to maneuver to achieve violence of action. While in a gunfight or ambush, signature would take priority in which the adversary would take more time to put down accurate fire as you seek tighter cover. Security is the follow through process where the direct threat(s) are disposed of and maintaining the scene or egress out of area.

    Vehicles overall, are considered terrain and are as pieces of cover. Yet, specific points of cover on the vehicle that possess the most density to ensure that the piece of cover is the most reliable for stopping incoming fire. Identifying these pieces of terrain and cover is translated to what Aaron refers as; a "Combat Snapshot." Identify, predict, and execute a course of action in whichever scenario.

    Trigger Time: This was a foundations and tactics class, but was not a beginner class in a sense of weapons manipulation. We are to be utilizing carbines and pistols inside and outside of vehicles, so the proficiency of each student was paramount. Aaron is a believer in utilizing the mechanical safety of the carbine whenever the carbine is disconnected from the shooter, I am a firm believer too. However, I noticed nearly half of the class had trouble with that simple task while practicing shoulder transitions. A good number of them were fighting with their slings as well. We did positional shooting and there was still a good number of students still struggling with utilizing the safety as they transitioned shoulders. This portion of the class, I breezed through easily. I was reviewing my notes as I waited for most of the students to finish. It became very adamant that various shooting schools that the students came from, were not up to par or the lack of practice these students had before attending this course. Possibly something more classes should advertise in the future of what specific skills students should know prior to attending.

    We then got to shooting from points of cover on the vehicle. Aaron demonstrated three shooting positions; the double knee from the front of vehicle, leaning out from the rear of the vehicle, and broke back prone from the wheel wells. It was my first time utilizing a double knee shooting position, but it carried validity for shooting elevation and maintaining a lower signature. The key factor for me was to keep the stock on top of my shoulder and get really low onto the gun to reduce my signature. Aaron and most of the students were using two point slings while I kept my MS1 sling in single point mode. So the emphasis of pulling inwards from the rail and upper receiver was slightly difficult without the aid of a sling. Also add that my optic is mounted to the very rear instead of utilizing it for stability, added to the challenge.

    Shooting from the rear wheel well; this put an emphasis of leading with the firing side knee so the adjacent wheel well on front of the rear wheel well would provide cover for a majority of the body. Transition to broke back prone was fluid from there, though there was no escaping mass dust and concussion blow back due to the confined space where the muzzle is under the vehicle. Also, the length of the stock position and position of the optic is critical in maintaining stability of the shooting position. For you would want to pin the stock onto the deck with your shoulder. I found myself being real close to the optic and having it hitting my eye protection, so lol scope eyed if I was not wearing eye protection.

    We did a few runs of positional shooting with the carbine on a single vehicle and transition between the three positions with three points of cover. Then we did a relay of those three positions with three other cars. Aaron addressed "battlefield snapshot" again and wanted us to shake any "search and assess" gimmicks that a lot of novices are caught doing without purpose. Aaron caught me "funking the funk" with my scan as I came out of a broke back prone and paused my run to address it to the class. Even though I was primarily looking for where he was as my last "snapshot" was him standing to my right as I went into the broke back prone position, but whatever, I served as an example for a majority of his demo's throughout the class already.

    Pistol Work: Aaron then had us break down and stow our carbines and move to pistol work. He wanted to see us move and shoot with the pistol safely and muzzle awareness. He set up two barrels with two targets and had us shoot from one barrel and move to the next and go through two magazines worth of ammo between the barrels. We did two runs each and set up positional shooting from the vehicle. Shooting from the exterior of the vehicle at the same points of cover as we did with the carbine. However, instead of a prone position, we practiced shooting from the top side of the rear of the vehicle and side of the rear. We broke down for lunch and went into interior pistol shooting.

    Interior shooting of the pistol, involved shooting through the windshield. The tow company contracted for the vehicles, did not bring any spare windshields and the vehicles were shot to shit after two previous days of teaching a closed enrollment class. So there was a quick run down on glass deviation and the emphasis on not relying on the curvature of the windshield to guide your rounds. Simply, make a hole in the windshield and follow through from there. If anything, most round deflect upwards, a few inches from the point of aim. However, a student fire a 9mm round from his Springfield 1911 and hit dead onto the X from about ~15 feet, which was pretty funny but the windshield was already deformed and such so lucky shot?

    I learned quickly that shooting through a windshield was pretty difficult and should not be relied as a position to stay in while shooting at the threat(s). First round makes a hole and essentially a port and from there, fire through that port until you can break contact either by egress via getting the vehicle going again or out of the vehicle and carry on. The fractures of windshield while making that fire port, proved difficult to even get a good sight picture and obscure the image of the target into what I could only make out to be a blob. Aaron determined that shooting through the port with a pistol only would reduce your effective range with the pistol from the engaging from inside the vehicle to effectively half. Advise not fight it out from shooting inside the vehicle primarily because of the confined space of being inside the vehicle and the lack of visibility through the broken windshield.

    Engaging from Inside the Vehicle: We had the vehicles situated with the targets on the right side of the vehicle, up range. Aaron demonstrated the procedure of initial engagement on the right side threats: draw pistol without muzzling yourself or the other student, strong hand engagement of two targets, disengage the seat belt with support hand, open the door with support hand, kick the door out and attempt to pin it with the foot, move the body away from the door, engage the targets from a hasty point of cover right out of the car door between the two pillars, then finally move to the rear of the rear to utilize the rear wheel wells are points of cover to conduct further engagement of the targets. Simple enough, I was wearing a battle belt that made things hard to squeeze through while exiting from the vehicle and add a Safariland SLS hood that the seat belt would lay on top of it. Challenging but I managed to do it fluidly without any muzzle violations, made it a point to decock whenever I was disconnected from the pistol while moving out of the vehicle. Hasty coverage is paramount that one would not want to fight it out from that position because you are presenting yourself as a large silhouette with only two pillars and possibly the engine block as hard cover, large portion of the center mass is still exposed. Quickly moving down to the rear of the vehicle and reengage with two more positions from the rear wheel wells as cover. Simple enough, I did four runs of this exercise.

    We transitioned to moving from vehicle to vehicle lateral to up range. Ex-filtrate from downed vehicle after engaging direct threat on front of the vehicle through the windshield, then engage 15 yard target either static or moving rearward to the trunk area. Top off pistol and move to the next vehicle to engage the threat on the right of the vehicle on front from the rear of the vehicle. Simple enough, engaging through already broken windshield proved difficult to see my impacts, I basically put down an NSR and when I engaged the 15 yard target from exiting the vehicle, I did so moving rearward. I only did one run of this exercise as we were coming up on time.

    Closing: Aaron stated in the beginning of the class that we had over 9-12 hours of material that had to be compressed into 7-8 hours and really only a 6 hour class because of possible down time and lunch. He was definitely right. This class was faster pace but I again felt that the material was rushed due to time and range restraints. Aaron addressed that this class is merely a foundation base class to have a better understanding in the tactics and exhibited in fighting around vehicles. The class consisted of around 15-16 students with 4 RSO's, a good number of RSO to help out the students that were struggling or completely new to concepts and the required weapons manipulations that the course entailed us to do. I noticed students struggling with sling management, utilizing the safety upon weapon transitions and/or movement, struggle with shooting positions while static lined, improper shooting technique and not having accountability with their shots on target (basically hastily jerking the gun into action), etc. Things that should have been ingrained before going into a tactics class, a good number of students were struggling and effectively did slow down the class.

    Though, I would like to also address the lack of resources and features in the class. The tow company contracted effectively forgot and did not replenish the supply of fresh windshields, after two previous days of teaching at the closed enrollment class, still was not able to provide replenish the supply for Aaron despite requesting more. Okay, cannot really blame Aaron on that one. Targets, a really big factor, as we used paper solid black silhouette targets throughout the entire class. It made sense when we were on the static line practicing manipulations and showing where the impacts were on target during the ballistics lab and demonstrations, but reusing the same targets with the same holes throughout each shooter and exercise, I did not think that was really effective learning. I wanted to know where my shots were landing instead of just putting down an NSR as most students were doing. I resorted to simply aiming for the head for most of the runs as the other students were not bothering with shooting the head anyways. The class entailed marksmanship, but I did not see any sort of shot accountability being put downrange at all. Another feature of the class that I was disappointed with was that we did not utilize carbines inside the vehicle. I recognize that the average citizen and even the patrol officer would not employ a carbine inside a vehicle, but with the round prescribed for the class (650 rounds), roughly under 300 rounds of .223 was actually used for the exercises. Lack of carbine work was very underwhelming to me.

    Personal thoughts: Overall, I felt that the class was good for introducing vehicle tactics. I wrote down a lot of notes during the first portion of the class, but I felt that there could have been material covered and introduced. I simply feel that a single 1 day, ~8 hour class was not suffice to get a full understand and grasp of vehicle defensive theory. Perhaps a two day course could have addressed more on movement, more on problem solving, possibly introduce how to work with an armed/unarmed partner in the vehicle, how to shoot from inside of the vehicle at a threat not directly on front of you, etc etc. I recognize that the class was advertised to address the complexities of working around and inside of vehicles, but I did not feel challenged at all. I truly hate to say that I was not challenged or pushed during a course, but it really felt that way. Show me the curriculum and exercise procedure, got it, execute. None of which I really felt challenged. The only hindrance was being in more overt kit with a battle belt and large pouches and support equipment and a duty holster, but overall I was still able to move in and out and around of vehicles more fluid that most that were running slick. The lack of emphasis of marksmanship really discouraged at the end. I honestly would have been fine about paying a bit more more to have implementation of steel targets or targets that were more reactive to feedback on unconventional and awkward shooting positions. Overall, I fully recognize the restraints that Aaron had when conducting the class. I truly believe in his teaching abilities, but again, another class that I felt a bit short due to time.

    My suggestion to Aaron for future tactics classes as such; have a list of skills that a student should already know and be proficient at in terms of weapons manipulation, marksmanship ability, and positional shooting. This would make the class go more fluid and smoother in my opinion. It would also give more time to work on deficiencies of the students working on the material and to introduce more tactics to teach. A drive into marksmanship and accountability would be imperative for this type of class. I was chatting with an active duty police officer (who paid out of his own pocket to attend) that he also noticed most students were not being accountable for their shots. That the NSR looked more like "spray-n-pray" than actually putting rounds into vitals under duress. I would also suggest adding further demonstrations of why certain tactics, weapons manipulation, and positional shooting would not work around and inside vehicles. A further explanation would always be beneficial for the students who all came from different shooting schools and backgrounds. If Aaron would change, revamp, and add more material into this class, a class that he is very adamant towards; that students like myself would not only appreciate but attain more knowledge base for ourselves.

    Again, I would like to address my appreciation for Aaron to make the drive and stay for multiple days of instructions. His material is sound, but there are still parts that could use some tweaking. I still came out with a good amount of notes on tactics and mindset and overall had a good time despite the time constraints. Thanks Aaron.

  2. #2
    Hopefully his course has been fully worked out. I am contemplating taking his 1 day vehicle tactics course in NJ in Oct 2018
    Aim Small Miss Small

  3. #3
    I took the 2 day version of this class, this past October in NJ. I also had similar thoughts that a lack of accuracy accountability during drills meant several of my classmates were merely burning ammo while completing the drills when they could of gotten the same reps without live fire it they just wanted to practice the movements. I realize this was not a marksmanship class, so this is just a personal pet peeve of mine, not a knock on Aaron. I thought Aaron did a great job of presenting his lesson plan and will be attending more of his classes in the future.
    We covered a lot of material in 2 days, so I can't imagine how much of the curriculum had to be cut or compacted to make the class a 1 day event.

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