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Realistic CQC Drills - Part 1: What’s the Objective?

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Realistic CQC Drills - Part 2Realistic CQC Drills - Part 3

Handgun drills intended to develop close-quarter combat skills often focus on one of two basic formats. One emphasizes putting two, three, or more shots (sometimes up to an entire magazine’s worth) into center mass on the target, usually under some kind of time constraint. The other—the body armor counter—calls for two rounds center mass followed by one to the head. These drills are normally performed at a set range by a shooter online and facing the target.

That training scenario begs this question: How often will an assailant come at you squarely from the front, very cooperatively stop moving once you identify him, and refrain from shooting back or otherwise attempting to assault you once you commence your engagement?

Right. You may have guessed that the question was rhetorical.

A real self-defense engagement is likely to occur with little to no warning, with your assailant approaching from the direction that most benefits him, not you, and with your rounds fired at a much closer range than you are accustomed to on the firing range, with minimal time to draw your weapon. In fact, you would probably think that shooting on the range at the kinds of distances you’d probably encounter in a real CQC situation would constitute cheating—and in the relaxed environment of the range, it might well be.

Aside from the shooting conditions, let’s consider the objective of one of these typical training scenarios. The point is to put rounds where they’ll (at least in theory) do the most damage: center mass (heart, lungs) or head (brain). But the little-discussed reality is that handgun rounds are only so effective at stopping a human being. At the end of the day, there are three basic ways to accomplish that goal:

•  Severe damage to the central nervous system (brain or upper spinal         cord),
•  Hypovolemic shock caused by massive blood loss, or
•  Massive and overwhelming shock and pain.

Even with a head shot, it takes a fair amount of precision to achieve a fatal hit. Hits to the lower face are unlikely in many cases to reach the brain, and given the curvature of the skull, rounds striking at the right (for the target, at least) angle may fail to penetrate. As for hits to the torso, even collapsing a lung is no guarantee of a quick takedown—especially not for an assailant hyped by drugs or just adrenaline—and there are few blood vessels you can hit that will produce a quick bleed-out. In short, a quickly-fatal torso hit is even harder to achieve.

All of that leaves us with option three: shock and pain. The best way to achieve that is not with precision; it’s with as many hits anywhere on the body as possible, as quickly as possible.

While we’re not advocating wild firing—there may well be innocent bystanders in the area who would not appreciate backstopping your real-world target—the point is that the surprise, stress, and adrenaline associated with reacting to an actual attack are not going to give you the time or the fine motor control that you enjoy on the range. Instead, your focus needs to be on putting as many rounds into your assailant—anywhere on your assailant’s body—in the shortest possible time.

This CQC philosophy differs fundamentally from much of what you’ll hear from others, but we think it has much to recommend it. In later articles, we’ll discuss specific training techniques meant to reinforce the skills you’ll need to succeed with this style of self-defense.

Written by Daniel Stone a new Carry Concealed Contributor