Notes on what I learned at Camp Skeletor
Since I am waiting for a while at the airport on my way back home, I have decided to pass some time by using my mobile to start typing up some notes on what I learned at Camp Skeletor. It will be brief for now since I'm typing on a mobile but after I get home I'll organize it better and type more using a computer.
Clearing rooms and engaging barracaded suspects is a fight, just like a boxing match. Even if you are getting owned, you must always maintain your offensive momentum and get as many guns past the bottlenecks if you can. If you are getting owned in a boxing match, the solution is to redouble your attack, not putting your hands up and trying to think of some clever way to attack your opponent without getting punched. In room clearing, you can't just keep everyone stacked up and try to make up complicated verbal directions in the hopes that nobody will get shot as the stack flows into the room. You just need quick simple instructions, and for your team of badasses to flow into that room while the enemy is still off balance. Even if someone gets shot in the doorway he has got to keep moving because if he stops he just isolates the people already in the room by cutting off the flow of more guns into the room. At these close distances you must dominate, not try to snipe from cover from within a bottleneck. When I played Daryl F. Gates' SWAT 2, the training mission instructed me to "always keep the big truck moving" and after Camp Skeletor I finally think I really understand what that means.
Don't try to survive; instead simply dominate the enemy. That's some Musashi stuff right there.
A flashlight is indispensible for clearing rooms, but that means if you can't shoot well one handed you hardly have **** if you have to clear a dark house someday.
You probably need at least 3 people to stack up and clear a room. You can't cover your own back.
Lots of people really suck at shooting, so take heart. Just because you would never miss under a particular set of circumstances it doesn't mean that someone else who is shooting at you won't. It takes a lot of rounds fired under conditions of competitive stress not to shoot really low due to trigger mashage or what have you. You have got to get proper form and trigger control hard into muscle memory.
You'd better be good at shooting left handed and reloading one handed.
If you miss a single adversary while clearing a room he can wait till the stack has moved on and silent kill everyone you left behind to cover unexplored rooms since they will keep their backs turned to him.
Don't cock your head while you slice the pie.
You don't need 20/20 vision to hit dead center mass on someone ten or fifteen or twenty feet away.
Don't backlight your team members and always have an extra flashlight.
A good pair of tactical boots will let you move with stealth and will protect you from unsafe floors and twisted ankles.
Sometimes a pistol can be better than a longarm.
You can be walking death incarnite but you will still be shot in the back if a teammate didn't succeed in clearing his area of responsibility. You have your area to clear so you can't keep looking over your shoulder.
Clearing stairs is a fantastic lower body workout.
I learned that I can trick a team of 7-9 people into slaughtering their point man by setting off a few flashes in their face in a hallway.
Ah, yes. For those who weren't present, I was the point man in question. I've got a bunch of bruise marks on my back because at one point when I made contact in a dark cooridoor with an armed suspect who fired on me the rest of the squad opened up, but hit low, and hit me in the back a whole bunch of times instead of hitting the suspect who was firing on me.
Seeing as the suspect was armed with an uzi, but lots of the squad was toting rifles, if that had been real, I probably would have been fine taking a 9mm round to the vest from the front, but would be dead or paralyzed from taking multiple rifle rounds to the back at close range.
That's another very important thing I learned at Camp Skeletor which I wouldn't have been able to learn without all the low light room clearing exercises we had done; the nature of friendly fire, and why planning to shoot over your team mates can end very badly if there's any chance of anyone shooting low under pressure. This is the kind of thing you can only come to experience if you "spar" with your simulated firearms and a team, so to speak.
Wow, what a privledge it was to attend this camp. Most people who aren't actually SWAT team members or what have you would never even get the chance to learn about this.
Sounds like fun.
I did some room clearing drills with a Security company I used to work for mostly. Our boss was a former SWAT captain and mostly we did them for fun/team building, but it was an eye opening experience.
Well..you're mostly right dead-on, there. Especially not crowding the "fatal funnel" near the doorway....sidestep and keep getting guns through the door.
About slicing the pie, though....the reason why it works...is because our heads are strategically located...uh, between our shoulders and arms. And as a result, when we're standing straight up, something has to come into our field of view before we see it. While we're "pieing a room" for a badguy, we're actually going to see the "bad guy's" shoulder or foot first, simply because
1) We're methodically moving and the bad guy is usually near the same place.
2) The bad guy's head (which is going to spot us) is between his shoulders;
thusly, we'll see his shoulders and feet...usually before we see his head
and eyes. Ergo...we win. Unless the bad guy is on his hips with his
head towards the door, in which case--it's a toss up as to who sees
However, if on a hard corner (like a street corner/doorway), it's totally LEGIT and PREFERABLE to get the gun out in front of you while maintaining hip control and cant (turn) your outstretched arms at the same angle as your head to give you *that much more* of an advantage on an enemy that can't see you. Notice the female cop in this picture "slicing the corner pie" out and how her hips are planted, but her upper body and head are twisting towards the danger/unknown areas and thusly will have a better advantage on a bad guy than her partner, who is simply sitting there watching the same, small angle.
Thank you very much for your very instructional post!
More things I learned at camp:
If your team leader talks too much or too loudly while directing the stack, the opponents will simply hear what he's saying and counteract whatever plan you're about to execute. Now that I think about it, that's probably why the LAPD SWAT uses hand symbols.
If the team leader spends too much time deciding what to do once the suspects already know the team is there, they can and will take advantage of that time to set up elaborate ambushes that have the potential to be devastating.
People who don't train with no-shoots have a chance of reflexively shooting an unarmed role player. Therefore anyone who is serious about self defense with firearms owes it to themselves to train with no-shoots.
Even though most tactical pistol and carbine courses cover prone and crouched shooting positions and many variations thereof and will cover the ways in which these different postures affect accuracy, that is mostly academic when it comes to CQB. Mobility is at a premium so in general you don't want to sit down or go prone, and if you crouch you generally want to do it in such a way that you can stand up and move immediately if you have to.
Be very careful if you are covering your partner over his or her head. You are likely to shoot him or her in the back of the head if he or she stands up suddenly for some reason, or if you have any chance at all of forcing your gun downwards while you fire. It might be better to extend your arms over you partner's head so that if he or she does stand up, it will bump your arms instead of go into your line of fire.
If you train a lot and have muscle memory, you will perform instantly. You'll shoot accurately and manipulate your firearm even if your mind isn't totally there.
When clearing a room, check behind furniture and debris that you pass. If you fail to do this for any reason, someone who is hiding there can shoot you in the back as you pass.
A grown man can hide anywhere a small child can fit. This includes behind very slim pillars, in small cabinets, and so on. When you clear a room, therefore, it must be a slow and methodical search, not an action hero dash.
Word things in a very concise and simple manner or people will misunderstand you under stress.
Psychology is a huge part of this game. A man may say, "They'll never take me alive", but if you bust around the corner, shine a bright flashlight in his face, and have him covered at close range by five gun barrels, he might decide to surrender after all, because on some primal level he fears the pain that those five barrels trained on him represent. The psychological affect you attain on the suspect can make the difference between him surrendering peacefully, or his shooting one of your team members.
Certain things we did in the training that we wouldn't in a real scenario in order to assist instruction as well as speeding up the course. Talking instead of silent signals was one of them. Yes, a real swat team would use hand signals. But we'd have to learn the signals, which eats time. And our instructors would have a more difficult time telling what we were planning, making it harder to correct. Another was light use. We knew to use intermittent light from the classroom training, but we had our lights on pretty much any time it wouldn't backlight the guy in front of us. The reason for this was so our instructors could see where we were looking, to tell if we were sweeping areas properly.
Some things I learned:
- Never clear a room with less than two people
- Get comfortable shooting either side, so that you can put as little as possible in the line of fire when covering a corner or room entry
- Always cover your assigned area and trust your team to cover theirs
- 1 flash light is not enough, 2 is just right
- Slow is smooth, smooth is fast
- A bad plan well executed is better than a good plan that nobody listens to
- When clearing a room, dominate the area
- The best odds you can hope for are 50/50, so expect to take fire and get shot
- I chicken-wing way too much when firing a rifle, I need to correct this
- Learning to deal with malfunctions in a fast but systematic way can save your life
- When searching, always check low and high as well as eye level, with emphasis on the high. Almost every time we got ambushed from behind is because we missed someone hiding up above us when searching a previous room.
Originally Posted by Money
Holy fucking, ****, Money. That's probably everything that I wanted to impart to you guys over the course of 3 days...summed up in 11 perfect sentences. You Sir, are a genius.
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