Force on Force: A Cup of Coffee

On February 25th of this year, I attended the Mass Murder and Terrorist Incident force on force class put on by QSI Training.

The scenarios in this course were all based on real events, from mass stabbings to terrorist bombings.

I was asked to meet a “colleague” who wanted to discuss his tech startup. This scenario was very plausible for me, since my day job is for a tech startup, and I meet a lot of people in coffee shops and restaurants.

Here’s how it played out.

Additional observations not discussed in the video:

Historical Context

This scenario was based on the murder of four police officers in a Lakewood, Washington coffee shop.

I, Robot

Some schools advocate pattern-based shooting (e.g., shoot a burst of 3-4 rounds, retract, look around, move). Some schools advocate reaction-based shooting (e.g., shoot them into the ground, or shoot until they change shape).

I am a believer in pattern-based shooting for several reasons, but one of the constant criticisms of it is that practitioners will get “stuck” doing what they have been trained to do.

I have been trained to fire four shot bursts from standard capacity magazines (15+ rounds), or three shots from reduced capacity magazines. After firing a burst, I retract the firearm, move, and assess. Repeat as necessary.

In this scenario, I stopped shooting after three presses. Not because the target changed shape or crumpled under my shots, but because the plainclothes officer started to turn into my muzzle. I did not fire a fourth shot into the back of the cop, despite assertions that I would become a four press automaton by training to shoot a predetermined burst.

First shot: good hit or near miss?

It’s hard to tell if my first round hit the attacker’s body, or just his clothing. The gas from the Airsoft pistol makes it difficult to determine the precise trajectory of the BB. The attacker’s open shirt doesn’t help, either. At first viewing I thought I missed, but the Airsoft BB is going into the “body” of the attacker. I’m just not sure if it’s his ribcage or part of his shirt.

What do you think?

Tape Loop and Post-Shooting Procedure

I am still working on the right “tape loop” to say while coming to the aid of an officer, as well as what to do after an incident. I attempted to imitate phrases from real life encounters – such as Thomas Yoxall of Arizona, who saved a twice-shot trooper’s life; Jason Falconer of Minnesota, who stopped the terrorist stabbing attack in St. Cloud; and Ashad Russel of Florida who saved the life of a police officer who was mounted and beaten by an attacker.

After the shooting, I attempted to communicate what I was doing to the “officer.”

While I did not consciously think to do so, the footage reveals I went to a muzzle down position called “Sul” to avoid pointing the gun at anyone — especially a cop whose colleague was just shot. I’ve taken some flak for this “Tactical T-Rex” position before, but I think it has real value in situations such as this one.

That being written, this is the least used tape loop in my library. “I’m a good guy” is a turn of the phrase Falconer reportedly stated in St. Cloud (“I’m a cop!”). I’m looking to improve, but finding a class that focuses on cop-and-citizen interaction has proved fruitless so far.

Close range shot vs contact shot

I considered shooting from where I was, or moving closer before taking a shot.

I have been taught several contact distance shooting techniques, two of which I like.

One is the “high pectoral thumb index” taught by Craig Douglas and the Shivworks team. This is used at clinch distances, the muzzle is angled down to the ground, and shots typically enter the abdomen and/or pelvic girdle.

The other technique is the “high entry” (my term) technique taught by QSI, DTI (John and Vicki Farnam’s company), as well as the DTI affiliate instructors throughout the country. Also used in clinch distances, the student raises the pistol and aims at a sharp angle from the top of the attacker to the ground. Shots typically enter where the neck meets the body or top of the chest.

I chose not to use either of these for the following reasons:

  • The attacker had already shot someone and I was about three steps away from the scrum. Time seemed critical, and I didn’t want to take the time to close.
  • I was reluctant to enter into an entangled fight with two people. I felt it was better to stay in control of the firearm and the distance by staying put.
  • Given the composition of the struggle and the dynamic movements, I was not confident that either technique would enable me to shoot the attacker without hitting the cop — or myself.

Additional Training

Scenario based training is critical for any student of self defense. While the majority of my force on force scenario experience has involved single-victim situations, this one involving an officer really hit my heart. I have several friends and family who are current / former officers, and many of my training partners are in law enforcement.

I want to do more training around coming to the aid of the officer, including use of force, trauma care, and post-incident responses — both with on-scene officers and those who arrive afterwards. I’ve been practicing 911 calls, but an “officer down” call seems more intense, with higher chances for mistaken identity or other error.

Would you be interested in doing training that focused on interacting with law enforcement officers?

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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