Effective Partner and Small Team Tactics, by Officer Tackleberry

Please consider the following scenarios:

  • You are sitting at a table in a local restaurant with your family, significant other, and/or friend when a person enters the business and starts shooting.
  • You are shopping with your family at Christmas time and several subjects enter the mall and start shooting.
  • The “Crunch” has happened and it’s now full-blown TEOTWAWKI.   Looters are present and have forced their way into one of the buildings on your homestead.  The 911 system doesn’t work and the area police force is non-existent.   It’s up to you and one other person from your homestead to find the looters and remove them.

These scenarios, plus many others, are very probable.   Unfortunately, the first scenario has happened in the U.S. several times in the past few years and the second one has occurred hundreds of times in other countries.   Our responses need to be thought out and trained for, especially if you plan on having an armed response.

Some of the training necessary to prevail in these types of situations means being willing and even somewhat comfortable with shooting a target that’s next to or behind a loved one or another innocent person.  How prepared are you and your loved ones to do this?

Before I go any further with this article, I need to provide a disclaimer.  To many of you, this will be common sense but I still need to write this.
Training and using a firearm can be very dangerous, especially when it’s done carelessly and without proper supervision.  A person can be severely injured or killed with a firearm and they need to be respected at all times.
 Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded and always keep pointed in a safe direction.
Use proper safety equipment, such as eye and ear protection.
Please get quality firearms training from a reputable instructor/training center before doing these training drills live-fire.  If you do these drills live-fire on your own range, have a knowledgeable safety person present whose sole purpose is to watch those doing the drills and to stop the drills any time something unsafe occurs.
The #1 rule of firearms safety is that the gun will not fire unless pressure is put on the trigger.  So, keep your trigger finger away from the trigger and the trigger well until you are ready to fire the gun!

Tools and Props
Many of these drills can be performed dry-fire, with an inert training gun such as a “red” or “blue” gun and with airsoft guns on a regular basis.  Make sure that you and your training partners check each firearm used for dry-fire training to make sure they are not loaded.  Also, keep all magazines and ammunition away from the “training area”.
Other props that are useful for training in partner tactics are cones and/or barrels for movement drills and a table and at least 2 chairs.  Having a booth to train with would be nice since most restaurants have them but you can use a couch or a love seat and a small table to a least practice the concepts.

The First Drill
The first drill is often referred to as “warrior inoculation”.  This drill is used by our military, especially in Special Forces units, and SWAT teams on a regular basis.  Fortunately, it has also made its way to some patrol officers, including myself, and I feel I am better off for it.

You start this drill by having you and your partner about 15 feet away from the target.  Your partner is directly in front of the target and you are 2-3 feet to their left or right.  Now you walk forward 5-6 feet.  With your back towards your partner, your partner now fires 2-3 rounds into the target.  Your partner’s bullets should not come anywhere close to you (I mean as far as inches go.  The bullets should still be 2-3 feet from you.), but you will feel the concussion of the gun being fired.  On your partner’s cue, you turn to face your partner.  Once your partner is sure you haven’t inadvertently moved into his line of fire, then your partner verbalizes he’s ready to fire.  Unless you object for some safety purpose, your partner then fires 2-3 more shots into the target.   Once the line is safe and your partners has re-holstered, you and your partner switch places and repeat the drill. 

Now, you may ask, why in the world would I ever do such a drill?  I’ve heard this objection voiced by several officers as well and the answer is pretty simple.  Where is a gunfight most likely to happen, in a flat open area devoid of any other people like the practice range?  Or, is it most likely to occur where innocent people and/or your loved ones are present?  This drill helps you and your partner get used to shooting at targets near “friendlies” and also keeps you from freaking out when your partner shoots a target near you.

The Weave Drill
The 2nd drill involves using cones, barrels, or some other barrier that’s set up at 10-foot intervals from the target, so the 1st one is at 10 feet from the center of the center target, the 2nd at 20 feet and the 3rd at 30 feet.  There should be at least 3 targets for the 2 of you to shoot and use steel targets if you can since they give instant feedback while you are moving.  That “ping” of a hit on a steel target is always reassuring.
Before the drill starts, you are on left side of the barriers, about 10 feet back from the last barrier, and your partner is on the right side, about 10 feet back from the last barrier as well.  On your command of forward, you both draw your weapons and move forward while shooting the targets.  Your partner should be slightly in front of you as you are both moving forward and as soon as you clear the first cone, you yell cross.  As he crosses in front of you, he keeps shooting the targets as you dip your muzzle towards the ground.  Once he is clear, your gun is back up in the fight.  This process is repeated all the way past the cone closest to the targets.
Once you are past the first cone, you start moving backwards using the same commands and safety precautions, only now the roles are reversed.  Your partner should now yell cross.
If you do this drill correctly, you use several critical skills.  You must constantly use your peripheral vision, good movement since a moving target is harder to hit, vocalization under stress and magazine changes while moving.
A quick note on pointing the muzzle towards the ground when your partner crosses in front of you:  This is known as position “sul” but rather than your hands being pulled all the way back to your chest, it’s done with your arms extended.  There are several articles/videos posted about position “sul” so you can Google it.  A quick description is that you lay the barrel of you gun across the back of your support hand and point it towards the ground.  This position allows you to get your gun back in the fight as quickly as possible.

Moving From Seated Position
Many of us eat at restaurants on a somewhat regular basis.  How many of you have thought about, let alone practiced, accessing your concealed firearm while in the seated position and engage targets while seated and while trying to stand up?  I personally believe that this is a very critical OPSEC training task for you and your loved ones in today’s world if you conceal carry a firearm.

Many contributors to this blog talk about discussing possible scenarios with your loved ones and even playing the “what if” game.  I couldn’t agree more, especially when in a restaurant, which has limited movement area and people are crammed close together all the time. 

For this drill, start with at least two of you on the same side of the table.  The first several times you do any of the seated drills, do it dry-fire and/or using Airsoft and make sure that the designated safety person is watching that safety rule #1 is being followed.  Keep your finger off the trigger and away from the trigger well until pointed at the target!  Draw you firearm and engage the target from the seated position.  Once you have practiced this several times, then do it while standing and moving away from the table.  Consciously train yourself to move the chair with your leg as you stand.

This drill can be continued by having your partner move to the end of the table and eventually sitting on the other side of the table.  These parts of the drill become even more challenging for the person sitting at the end or on the other side because that person must turn towards the target and engage while moving.

Getting used to drawing your firearm from a seated position, engaging the target while standing and engaging while moving are key skills since there may be more than one attacker and/or you may want to draw the attacker’s focus away from your loved ones.

A booth would be great to get additional practice in but obviously most ranges don’t have them present.  This can be practiced in the home dry-fire and/or Airsoft using a couch or love seat and a table.  Also, think about how you would react to an attacker each and every time you are in a restaurant.

I know that there are many, many other drills that can be used to strengthen your partner tactics.  Many times, we are only limited by our imagination.  But please, in any and all training that you do, keep safety as the #1 priority of all involved.

I pray for God’s blessing on each and every one of you!