By Chris Upchurch, Suarez International Staff Instructor
Last weekend I took the Terrorist/Active Shooter Interdiction class from Jack Rumbaugh. This class is a bit different from the standard S.I. fare: rather than focusing on fighting with a particular weapons system, it examines a particular sort of situation in depth: someone with a gun whose goal is to kill as many people as possible. This is a class I've been wanting to take for quite a while. This was the first time it's been taught by anyone other than Gabe.
For the live fire portion of the class, I brought a pair of Glock 17s: one with an RMR and one with iron sights. The RMRed gun got the lion's share of the use, since these sorts of situations are an area where it's advantages really shine. I carried them in a pair of Dale Fricke holsters, one on each hip. Along with a large quantity of G17 mags I also brought one with an Arredondo magazine extension, which increases mag capacity by about five rounds. I got this recently and have been playing with it a bit and I have to say I'm pretty impressed.
Most of the other students in the class brought Glocks, though there were a few M&Ps, an XD, Ruger SR9, and a HK USP. Two of the other students' guns had RMRs on them as well.
On the Force on Force side, I brought a pair of KWA airsoft Glock, along with the usual safety gear. I also brought a couple of Nok trainers for knife work.
With the semester over, I was able to take a leisurely drive up here on the Blue Ridge Parkway over four days and visit with a friend in Northern Virginia on Thursday night. It was nice to arrive for the class feeling rather refreshed rather than the usual butt-numbing single day drive.
The class had a total of fifteen students, including a pair of S.I. Staff Instructors, myself and our newest addition: Dan Choi. One of the students referred to the pairing of Jack and Dan as 'The Green Hornet and Kato'. There were quite a few folks I recognized from the Trauma Care for the CCW Operator class here back in March, and even a couple who had been down to South Carolina for a class with Alex and I. After everyone arrived we started out with the usual administrative stuff: waivers, promising on video not to sue, the safety lecture, etc.
With the admin stuff out of the way, Jack started with some lecture on the context of what we were going to be learning. He began by asking us to list mass shooting incidents. Off the top of our heads the class was able to come up with fourteen incidents. The well publicized incidents like Columbine or Mumbai are only the tip of the iceberg, however. Jack had a fourteen page list of incidents going back to the '40s. The first five pages were dedicated to just school shootings.
We talked about some of the differences between your average robbery and an active shooter. Fundamentally, the active shooter is there to shoot people. He's not using violence as a means to and end in the way that a robber is (the end being your money), the violence is an end in itself. He's also very likely to be suicidal, or at least willing, or planning, to die in the course of events. This means strategies that involve dissuading or deescalating the situation are unlikely to work and we're more likely to have to achieve physical incapacitation, rather than relying on pain or fear.
From our point of view, an active shooter situation is much more likely to be a proactive gunfight than a simple case of self-defense would be. We'll probably be intervening in an ongoing situation, giving us the chance to initiate our action against the active shooter rather than waiting for the bad guy to initiate an action against us (or at least make his intent unambiguous). This makes certain skills, such as sighted fire and using cover, much more important and likely to be used. We're also likely to be taking longer ranged shots or having to shoot very precisely at whatever bit of bad guy presents itself from behind cover or around a hostage. This is far from your 'average' gunfight!
We warmed up with some simple precision shooting drills on 2" dots. Most folks had their fundamentals down, though a few had an area or two they needed to work on and some had sight issues (if you're coming to this class, verify your sights beforehand!). Then we moved on to some precision shots at relatively close range, starting with eyeball shots from 2-8 yards (this was convenient since we were running in two relays, one could shoot the target in the left eye, the other in the right). Further out, we switched from the eye socket to headshots more generally. Still, we tried to keep our shooting on the low side, below the eyebrows. The forehead is the thickest and toughest bone in the body, it can actually deflect bullets, depending on the angle of impact. We kept this up out to 20 yards, and everyone did pretty well.
After lunch, we did some work shooting from cover. When we teach how to use cover and take corners in a CQB environment, we teach staying as far back from the cover as practicable. This makes it easier to take small slices when doing an angular search, and diminishes the chances of giving away your position, or your gun, by extending the muzzle beyond the corner. In the active shooter context, things may be different. If we know the shooters location and are engaging him at long range, we're better off using the cover as a shooting support than staying back from it. Jack demonstrated this, and I contributed a bit as well on using the knuckles and thumb of your support hand against cove to provide support.
We started out at ten yards doing headshots, then backed it up a bit. By the time we got to 20 yards, there wasn't much visual feedback on where you were hitting. Jack had us redirect our fire to some steel plates up on the berm. These were a bit bigger than head sized, about 12" by 12", but they were about 40-45 yards away, making them pretty challenging to hit. Nevertheless, with a bit of work everyone was able to get on target. We backed it up a bit more to around 50 yards. At these ranges we started to discover some deficiencies in some people's sights.
Next up was the hostage rescue shot. Unlike a lot of hostage targets where the hostage taker's head is fully exposed, Jack set this up with less than have of the bad guys head visible. The aiming point was his right eye. We started at two yards. At this distance, if you've got your fundamentals down, it's not too difficult. Gradually, we moved back in 2 yard increments to ten yards, which was quite challenging. Nevertheless, we only had one hit on a hostage in the entire class (only a flesh wound). Some excellent shooting.
When teaching reactive gunfighting, we at S.I. generally don't put a whole lot of stock in the 12 o'clock line (moving directly towards the opponent). The proactive situations that we're talking about in this class are a different story. When you are ahead of the curve moving in aggressively and overwhelming the opponent with a high volume of accurate fire is a valid tactic. We practiced this, drawing and advancing while pouring on the headshots as we closed in. During one of these drills, I ran my primary dry and drew my second gun to pile on another four rounds.
While the 40 yard shots on steel we'd done earlier were impressive, that was just touching the surface of the long range shooting portion of this class. Before we started stepping back, however, Jack went through some supported positions that we could use at these distances. Some are adaptations of rifle shooting positions, like kneeling, sitting, squatting and prone. Others are unique to pistols, such as the Creedmore and Keith positions (or as well call it, the centerfold position). Some of these positions are not for everybody, we had some folks with bad knees and one fellow with his foot in a brace, and they sat out on some positions. We worked through these dry, then did some live fire.
With the fundamental skills in place, we started moving back to greater and greater distances. We started out with some 25 yard headshots. This was only a bit more challenging than some of the shooting we'd been doing earlier, but it helped get everyone dialed in. Jack had a J-frame and he took some shots with it at this distance. I popped off a couple as well, with a few hits. One fellow had a Kahr .380, which he was nice enough to let me fire. I managed a good hit, which would probably surprise some folks who don't think these sorts of keychain guns have that kind of range (it helped that the Kahr had better sights than a lot of these small .380s).
We stepped it back to about 60 yards and took some body shots. I shot offhand but at these distances some folks used some of the supported positions. Oddly enough, they usually got better results offhand than they did in the supported positions (probably because they have a lot more experience shooting offhand). More practice is clearly needed to really take advantage of some of these positions.
Finally we moved back to about 100 yards. At this distance, hitting a human sized target takes some skills. I managed 100% hits with my RMRed Glock. I pulled out my iron sighted gun and tried it as well, going 3 for 4. This is a lot better than I would have done before I got my RMRed Glock. As I've said before, an RMR really will make you a better shooter, even with an iron sighted gun. While it can be done with iron sights, you definitely have to work at it a lot more than with the RMR. The other folks in the class, most of whom had irons, all managed to get on target.
Jack broke out the J-frame again. He managed to ding the steel with his first shot. Not only is he a good shot, he also knows when to stop. He immediately offered it up for anyone else to try. I decided to take him up on the offer. At this distance, the J-frame's front sight appears considerably bigger than the target. There's some bullet drop involved too, so I held right at the bottom of the head. I held the gun as steady as I could, with the head poking up above the top of the front sight as I tried to roll that heavy double action trigger back as smoothly as possible. 'BANG! . . . ding!'. I decided to follow Jack's example and handed the gun off to the next shooter.
After everyone had a chance to shoot with their guns I passed around my RMRed Glock to anyone who was interested. Everyone who tried it got some hits and most seemed favorably impressed (I really wish I got a commission on these).
With that we wrapped up, packed up, and headed out for a good nights' sleep, because we'd be back at this bright and early tomorrow morning.
We reconvened on Sunday morning for another day of training. Once again, we started out with some lecture material. Jack talked a bit about the AK, including how to disable one if you have to. Basically you need to take or get rid of the bolt or bolt carrier, or to bend the barrel. I wouldn't have thought of the latter, but evidently it's doable if you have something solid to wedge it into and put some weight into it. Jack also talked about dealing with the police after an incident, which diverged into some of the moral aspects of intervening in these sorts of situations.
Moving on to the range, we did a drill comparing the time it takes to reload an AK to the time it takes for a shooter to draw and get on target. Essentially, what we're simulating is the bad guy running out of ammo, giving us the opportunity to pop up and hit him while he reloads. We had two shooters on the line, one with an AK and one with a pistol (in the holster, concealed). The AK shooter would fire a single shot at a steel target, then begin a reload. As soon as the AK shooter fires his first shot, the pistol shooter draws and engages a second steel target until the AK shooter finishes reloading and hits his target again.
To demo it, Jack took the role of the rifle shooter while I had the pistol. At 50 yards I was able to get nine shots into the target before he finished his AK reload. At this distance almost everyone was able to get a hit on the target before the AK shooter completed the reload.
We stepped it back a bit to 100 yards. The drill was considerably more challenging at this distance. While everyone had managed to get hits at this distance yesterday, doing so on demand, and under time pressure, was more difficult. About half the class got at least one hit before the AK shooter reloaded. This is where the RMR really makes things faster, since there's much less need to refine the sight picture than with iron sights.
In a active shooter situation, if you decide to intervene one potential problem is that while you're heading towards the sound of guns, everybody else is heading the other way. We need to be able to move through a group of people headed in the opposite direction with our weapon at the ready. The latter can be accomplished using Sul, but it needs to be rock solid with the gun in a vertical position to avoid muzzling others in the crowd. To move through the crowd Jack taught using the support hand to thread our way through the crowd and move people out of the way. He likened this to a salmon swimming upstream. We did this dry first, to make sure everyone had their Sul down pat, then shot it live.
After lunch we started on some knife work. Unfortunately some places are NPEs where we really can't carry a gun. In many of these areas, however, we can get away with carrying a knife (or two). Jack taught some methods for this related to military sentry elimination techniques. Most of the were built around the same base: sneak up on the guy, stomp his knee, jam your fingers into his face and wrench his head around using his eyesockets or mouth like the finger holes and a bowling ball. This is accompanied by driving your knife into one or more of several targets, depending on what's handy depending on how you approach the shooter and what sort of grip your knife is in. For knife targets we talked about the kidney, neck, behind the jawbone, clavicular notch, sciatic nerve, bicep of his gun arm, belly, and under his chin (or as Jack called it, 'apple on a stick'),
Of course, in some NPEs you might not even be able to have a knife with you. In these cases, you my have to acquire your weapons from the bad guy. We worked some basic pistol disarms. This wasn't as extensive as we do in 0-5, but it provided a quick overview of the basic concepts. Moving on to rifles, we practiced taking long guns away from people. Jack showed a couple of methods for doing this, but when he was using me as a demo dummy he had some trouble getting it away from a sasquatch sized guy like me. I was able to show him a technique I learned from Gabe where you drive the comb of the stock into the carotid artery. I don't care how big or strong he is, if you can jam the stock into his neck it's going to hurt.
We also worked on some empty hands versus knife drills. Going up against a knife armed adversary without any weapons is a pretty lousy situation, but there are things we can do that work better than curling up to die. Much like we do with knife versus knife disarms, we want to reduce the effectiveness of the adversary's knife arm. You do this by hitting it as you block, preferably in the soft spots where you can get muscles and tendons. Once the arm has been reduced then it's time to catch hold of it and get the knife loose. Jack showed several techniques for this, but given that I want to keep away from the blade if I can, I like the idea of yanking his knife arm to the ground and grinding it in.
Finally, we covered techniques for choking people out. Jack demonstrated the rear naked choke, as well as a variation that's slightly quicker to get into. We spent some time practicing these, *carefully*.
This finished up the technique training for the class. Jack capped things off with a series of scenarios. These scenarios represented a series of venues where active shooter or terrorist attacks might happen: a theater, bus, restaurant, mall, and parking lot. Jack picked one or two students to be the bad guys, and had them play through different possibilities: shooting randomly, kidnapping someone, taking hostages, etc. One or two students would be designated good guys who (unbeknownst to the bad guys) were armed. The rest of the class played sheep.
We ran these a bunch of times and I won't go though each of them in detail, but there were some interesting lessons. In one restaurant scenario, one of the good guys stood up while the other stayed seated. The good guy who stood up got shot quite a bit, the one who remained seated did not. Staying seated gives up some mobility, but it may also serve as a form of camouflage, at least for long enough to get some rounds on target.
One scenario involved an aggressive panhandler who pulled out a gun and started shooting people. The student who was dealing with the panhandler let him get far too close and didn't keep his eyes on him, so we talked a bit about how to handle the initial stages of this. I demonstrated some of Randy's PESTS material, putting up 'the fence', saying, "I can't help you," moving off-line. When I kicked it up a notch and went to, "BACK OFF! GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!" the student quailed visibly. Jack turned this into a quick bit of lecture on command voice.
For the very last scenario Jack picked two bad guys and (unbeknownst to them) made everybody else armed good guys. They really got shot to hell.
With the scenarios done another great weekend of training was over. Jack handed out the certificates and everyone got packed up.
This was really a great class. The material is top notch and Jack did a great job presenting it. Dan helped out ably and served as a demo dummy ('meat puppet, get over here') and I hope I contributed a bit as well. Much credit must also go to the students too. We had a very good group of folks for this class. Everyone was an experienced shooter with the shooting and gunhandling skills necessary for this class. It speaks well of Jack that he has such a dedicated, well trained student base to turn out for this class.
The curriculum was just fantastic. Gabe did a really great job laying this one out. It clearly distinguishes how and why active shooters and terrorist events are different from your average robbery and how these differences translate into different skills and different tactics. On Saturday we did a good job wringing out everybody's proactive, sighted-fire shooting skills. I think this shows that at S.I. we're not just radical point shooting people, it's all about the right technique for the context. Similarly the knife work we did on Sunday was somewhat different from the 'a guy pulls a blade on you on the street' sort of thing you get in an S.I. defensive knife class or an AMOK seminar. This is all about using a knife to ambush someone (or more frankly, assassinate them).
This is a class that really shows off the capability of the TSD RMRed Glocks. While it's possible to hit at 100 yards with iron sights (heck, Jack and I did it with a J-frame) the RMR makes it much easier. Importantly, it also makes it much faster, as the pistol vs. AK drill showed, since you don't have to spend time refining the iron sight picture. With the proper grasp of the fundamentals it's really possible to do some amazing things with these guns.
Jack Rumbaugh did an excellent job with this class. He had clearly mastered the material and could handle student questions and give more in-depth explanations of particular points with ease. He's got a great delivery and does a good job coaching students. This is the second class I've been involved in with him (after the TMCO class earlier this year) and I would not hesitate to take his classes or recommend them to anyone (and I'm not just saying that because he's my boss).
This is usually the part of the review where I tell everyone to take this class, but in this case I won't, because it's not really a class for everyone. If you really want to get the most out of this class (particularly the Saturday material) you need to have a real mastery of the fundamentals of pistol marksmanship. Hitting with pistols out to 100 yards is not some black art, all it requires is doing certain things in a certain order. The catch is you have to do those things nigh perfectly. Lots and lots of dry practice and a lot of live fire practice will help you refine these skills. If you can, come to one of our Advanced Combat Pistol Marksmanship classes, it would make excellent preparation for Terrorist/Active Shooter Interdiction (and Alex and Ihappen to be teaching one this Saturday. We had a very well prepared group of students in this class and I'd hope to see the same in future classes.
I would put Terrorist/Active Shooter Interdiction up there with other 'graduate' classes that S.I. teaches, along with the likes of Advanced Rifle Gunfighting, Advanced Point Shooting Progressions, AK Force on Force, and 0-5 feet. These are classes that really push the envelope. They take skilled students and give them the chance to exercise those skills at very high level. They're a reward for dedicated students (and great fun for the instructors). As with some of the other 'graduate' classes, this is not taught very often, so practice your marksmanship and be ready to jump on it next time it's offered.