Force on Force Scenario: Grocery Store Hostage Rescue

| February 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

On Saturday, February 20th we attended force on force scenario based training offered by QSI Training. The class was similar to the one in January – common environments and scenarios based on real events.

Class Overview

This is an extremely brief description of the course.

  • 7 students, 6 male, 1 female
  • Students had varying levels of experience with firearms, other tools, and fight focused training. Most students were repeat students, with several live fire and force on force classes under their belts.
  • Students used Airsoft replicas of their carry weapons. I also had the safety trainer version of my Clinch Pick.
  • Conducted at the SCALE training facility, which was a former health sanitarium turned tactical training facility by the state of Minnesota. The facility has a mock apartment complex, jail, convenience store, courthouse, and bar.
  • Students who participated as “actors” in each scenario were given varying specific direction by the instructors. Sometimes we were told we had no weapons and how to react, other times we were given weapons and little guidelines.
  • The focused of each scenario was given limited direction, such as “go down this hall with a bag of groceries,” or “use this cash to buy this list of things at this store.”
  • Elements were changed if students repeated the same scenario. No one did the same scenario in the same location with the same situation with the same number of other actors. Something was always different.
  • Most scenarios had multiple paths to resolution. Many students could resolve situations without getting involved, or without firing a shot. One students didn’t fire a round all day – except when role playing an aggressor.
  • There was an after action review after every scenario. The QSI instructors explained the scenario, what was done well, what needed improvement, what could be done differently, and any historical context behind the scenario.

The Scenario

I was supposed to meet my wife at the grocery store.


The entire scenario lasted thirteen seconds. The actual confrontation was much shorter.

  • We have practiced hostage rescue drills several times over several classes, with pistol, rifle and shotguns. The chance of a hostage surviving goes down rapidly if they are forced to leave the area. My wife and I know that the other will attempt to stop the hostage taker. 
  • We know from several drills and scenarios that action beats reaction. I did not want to give the hostage taker time to react.
  • I had to make sure the angle of my shots would lessen the risk of hitting other people. I needed to avoid hitting my wife and the two people beyond the hostage taker.
  • I am glad I bypassed the door and drew from concealment. I am not sure if the hostage taker saw me or not, but keeping out of sight as much as possible gave me an edge once he entered the door frame.
  • I did not think it was prudent to issue a verbal challenge. I heard a gun shot and decided that if the hostage taker had already fired once they would be ready to do it again. If I failed to stop him, my wife would probably die. I wanted to have as much initiative as possible.
  • I fired four rounds. I did this reflexively. The hostage rescue technique calls for two shots. In another force on force class, a different student fired four times, and hit the hostage after shooting the hostage taker. With such high stakes and short distances, it is important to fire only as many times to be effective. I will try to only fire twice next time.
  • I think I was in a “low ready” position when the hostage taker came out of the store. That’s weird. We don’t train in that position, but I am pretty sure you can see me “bowling” my handgun into position. I wish there was a camera facing me so I could see what I was doing.
  • My wife dropped to the opposite side of the hostage taker when she saw me. This was a planned reaction, and I am glad that she did it, whether it was instinctual or purposeful.

This was a great class, and I believe every student serious about fight focused training should spend a significant amount of their time doing force on force scenarios.

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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