AAR – Suarez International: CRG-4 – Force of Force Gunfighting

Organization: Suarez International

Course Title: CRG-4 – Force of Force Gunfighting

Instructor: Steve Collins

Dates: August 29th & 30th, 2015

Having taken (and taught) many defensive shooting courses over the last several years, I have a level of skill with a defensive handgun superior to that of the average person that has taken nothing beyond their state mandated concealed carry course.  I don’t mean that to sound boastful or arrogant but it is difficult for one to achieve a higher level without putting in additional effort.

That said, I am pleased to discover that this course challenged me in many ways.  It was able to confirm many of the beliefs I have had for quite some time and it also answered some of the questions I have had about real world defensive situations.

It is simply impossible to completely simulate a real life defensive encounter in any training course.  Many things have to be toned down for safety reasons.  But this course comes very close to providing participants with a stress-inducing problem to solve.

The course began with a quick safety briefing and a triple check to ensure the students possessed only training knives and airsoft guns.  Once we were totally confident no one could be hurt by a real weapon, we geared up and took part in the “Suicide Drill.”

The Suicide Drill is performed by two participants.  One is the assigned “bad guy” and initiates an attack with a firearm.  You could picture an old west showdown at high noon.  The moment the “bad guy” goes for his gun, the “good guy” goes for his in response.  Throughout the exercise, both participants are to remain glued to the spot in which they are standing.  This exercise has one specific purpose.  Unless the “bad guy” fumbles the draw, the “good guy” is always shot before he can respond with a shot of his own regardless of the distance.

From just this exercise alone, it’s more than apparent that the old “Speed Rock” method is not only inadequate, but it will likely get you killed if you try to employ it.  The solution, of course, was for the good guy to MOVE.  Movement to either side, preferably at an angle, may be all you need to not only stay alive, but you might not even get shot.

After the suicide drill Steve had the good guys start moving upon recognition of an attack.  The bad guys were instructed to continue to shoot where the good guy was originally.  He layered difficulty by then allowing the bad guys to “track” the good guys as they ran and finally allowing the bad guy to also move once initiating the attack.  These drills were practiced starting around seven yards and then working in to about five or so feet.

By lunch time on the first day it was blaringly obvious that if you don’t move, you will die.

We practiced similar drills with a knife wielding attacker.  This is commonly known as the Tueller Drill.  From seven yards, even my less-than-swift self, running in gravel, can reach an extremely aware good guy and stab him before he can shoot enough times to stop me.  Typically I would get shot about three feet from my intended victim.  At that distance I would have enough momentum to finish my attack even if I were nearly dead.  A less-than-aware average person would have less time to respond after recognizing an attack was imminent and an attacker high on drugs would be less likely to feel any effect of bullet wounds.

On the other hand, if the good guy moved off the line of attack there was little chance of the bad guy changing direction fast enough to compensate.  As the attacker, I might get a cut in on their arm but it wouldn’t take them out of the fight.

Steve discussed with us how an attacker with a weapon that is only a few feet away is not a gun or knife problem.  He demonstrated methods of disarming someone with a gun within arm’s reach.  It’s no surprise that each of these techniques utilized an explosive movement out of the line of fire before attempting the disarming moves.

Over the course of two days, the traditional methods of defensive gun technique were continually destroyed.  Over and over we discussed various traditional techniques that simply don’t work in real life.  Spending the time necessary to acquire a grip or shooting position simply isn’t possible.  Over two days and hundreds of pellets, I never once used or even saw the sights on my gun.

The second day found us working on two on one and three on one evolutions.  Let me say this.  You better hope your attacker’s buddies are smart enough to run away when they see you are armed because, if they aren’t, you will probably die.  It’s virtually impossible to overcome more than two opponents.

By the afternoon of the second day, Steve set up several life-like scenarios; an outdoor café setting, a walk-up ATM or Redbox, and a car in a parking lot.  We were each able to test the skills we had learned in an environment that required problem solving.  We wouldn’t know who the bad guy was or who innocent bystanders were.

I was pleased with my performance on some of these scenarios, very disappointed on others.  That was the idea.  Find the flaws in your technique and skills in order to better yourself.

In all, I returned home with a lot more knowledge and a whole lot of welts, blood blisters, some bruises, and sore legs.  Some people have asked, “And you do this for fun?”

The answer is a simple one.  It’s not fun to have a small plastic pellet hit you in the hand when it’s moving at 229 miles per hour.  It hurts like a son of a gun.  It’s not fun to have your ego put in check when you “die” in a given scenario and you have to look back to re-examine your choice of tactics.  It’s not fun to spend two days in 90 degree or higher temperatures while wearing extra layers of protective equipment.

Did I have fun?  Sure, there were several parts of the class that I found to be very much fun but that’s completely beside the point.  This is self-improvement.  Self-improvement is often painful.  A lesson learned the hard way (in that I mean the realization that if the last scenario had been real, I’d be dead) is a lesson not soon forgotten.

If you carry a gun for self-defense you need this type of training.  Nothing can substitute for the realism found in having an opponent that can move and shoot back.  And, although you’re not going to die from them, these pellets provide more than sufficient incentive to avoid being shot.

This course will take you far out of your comfort zone but that’s exactly what most of us need to become better.  You will leave with an entirely new understanding of what a real fight feels like.

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AAR – Suarez International: HITS-8 – Defensive Knife

Organization: Suarez International

Course Title: HITS-8 – Defensive Knife

Instructor: Steve Collins

Date: August 28th, 2015

I decided nearly twelve years ago that I would carry a gun to defend my own life or the life of another person if necessary.  That said, I typically do carry a knife as well but have never considered it to be of much use to me as a defensive weapon.  I had absolutely zero knowledge on the defensive use of a knife and had always viewed the knife as a last ditch weapon if other, more familiar, options failed to be effective.

It’s rare that I participate in a training course of any kind in which everything is completely new.  Defensive Knife put me into just that situation.  By the end of the day, most of the expectations and conceptions about defending myself with a knife had been shattered.  Having taken instruction from Steve Collins in the past, I had a general idea of how he would run a course.  His method of instruction works very well with my personal disposition.

The day began with a quick safety briefing and a triple check that each person had purged themselves of any functional knives, guns, pepper spray, or any other real weapon.  Steve explained that the method we would use involved a simple five step fighting stroke which he taught us and we practiced one step at a time.  He encouraged us to begin each set of practice strokes with our knife in its regular carry position so we could practice our presentation with each rep as well.

Once each participant had seemed to have the basic steps down, he moved on to using the steps in different ways.  He explained that varying ones knife strokes and cadence can be useful to keep ones opponent from taking advantage of a timed hole in your defense.

We partnered up and practiced the fighting strokes using the other person as a dummy.  Their role was to stand in place and allow the defender to better visualize how these knife strokes would affect a human body.

This is how much of the first half of the day was spent.

After a lunch break, we began learning how these strokes would be applied against an attacker wielding a knife.  Steve took great care in demonstrating each technique and, with each one, showed us how it could also be used if we happened to be unarmed.

It would be most difficult to attempt to describe the techniques he taught us so I won’t try.  I will say this:  There are really three primary target areas and a couple of secondary areas when fighting another person with a knife.

The first target area is a cut to the inner forearm of the knife wielding arm of your attacker.  This should be followed up with an immediate cut to either the bicep or tricep (preferably both) of the same arm.  These two steps should place you in direct contact with your attacker at which time you should attempt a deep and long cut to as much of the thigh as possible.

The concept is simple.  Once you have cut the two primary muscles on the attacker’s strong arm they will lose much of the strength in that arm and be forced to use their support hand if they want to continue the fight.  The cut to the thigh is meant to ensure they can’t chase you so you can get to safety.

Until now, I had believed that stabbing motions would be most effective against an attacker.  I learned that stabs are far less effective than cuts.  I also believed that one would need a very expensive, extremely sharp knife to get the job done.  I learned that practically any knife with a good working edge can be used as long as it can be deployed quickly when the time comes.

The most important thing I learned from this class is the fact that developing sufficient skill with a knife will take much more effort than developing sufficient skill with a gun.  I’m not sure I will ever get to what I would consider “sufficient” but most of the techniques are relatively easy to practice even if you’re alone.

If you’re a “gun person” but you carry a knife, I would highly recommend taking a course like this.  I’m willing to bet you know much less than you think you know.  I know that’s what I found of myself and I would be so bold as to suggest most of the other participants did as well.