[Review/AAR] Consolidated Training Group – Combative Vehicle and Force-on-Force

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Another kind of training following a 3-day handgun course with Travis Haley.

This past Saturday, I got to participate in a combative vehicle and force-on-force simunition class hosted by the Consolidated Training Group (CTG), a DFW based training group in defensive carry utilizing both live-fire training and force-on-force scenarios using Simunition FX man-marking ammo.

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Handguns and rifles converted to shoot Simunition FX

Overview

The day lasted from 9am-5pm, with a 50 minute lunch break. Live-fire in the morning and scenarios using fx rounds in the afternoon. Since it is a ‘vehicle’ class, both the live-fire in the morning and scenarios in the afternoon revolves around the use of firearm in AND around a vehicle (e.g., use of vehicle as cover/concealment).

What to bring to class:

  • Handgun and a few hundred rounds to shoot in the morning. Carbine if you have one. I don’t have…yet?
  • Eye and hearing protection
  • Gloves (since there will be shattered glass)
  • Holster, magazine carrier.
  • Cap, if you want one.

How the class was structured:

The day lasted from 9am-5pm, with a 50 minute lunch break. Live-fire in the morning and scenarios using fx rounds in the afternoon. Since it is a ‘vehicle’ class, both the live-fire in the morning and scenarios in the afternoon revolves around the use of firearm in AND around a vehicle (e.g., use of vehicle as cover/concealment).

Live firing in & around a vehicle: 

  1. Shooting through a windshield
    I’ve watched on videos on people shoot through glass on videos, but have never done so myself. Shooting through the windshield was fun, but as one instructor puts it, the point was to lift the mystery out of it.IMG_20141213_104208592

    • key points: If a target is between me and a piece of windshield or normal glass, the fastest way to shoot the target is to shoot through it. There are changes in bullet trajectory, but if something is far enough where that would matter, I should just dash out of that situation (stay fit!).
  2. Maneuvering inside a car
    What was actually difficult was maneuvering within a car. We started with gun holstered without a seat belt. At that point, the main thing to recognize is the amount of “things” inside a car, and the limited space one has. The instructor showed some tips on how to draw safely and create space for yourself while in the vehicle.
    Then add on the seat belt, and it made things even more difficult.
    Then add on passengers….so on and so forth.

    • key points: At this point of the class, I made a mental note to figure out a better way to mount a good holster for my handgun while in a vehicle. Drawing from the body with the seat belt was just not efficient.
  3. Using the car as a cover
    Then we did some drills where shots were made from inside the car through the windshield, then exiting the car and using the car as cover and continuing to fire at other targets. Throughout the drill, I could see how often we want to take our shots and move out of cover without realizing the consequences. The instructors followed each student during the drill to let them know when they moved out of cover.Most of these bad practices led to a heavy consequence during the force-on-force simunition in the afternoon, but most importantly, it could lead to a tragedy in real life.

    • key points: a car provides very little real cover (compare to concealment). The only parts of a normal car that offers cover are really the engine block and the rim of the wheels (compare that to a lot of the shooting scenes in movies/TV, where the “door” is most often used to offer some protection against…machine guns?). In order to visualize this concept, they placed a target inside the car, shot through the door from about 10 yards, and the target was still penetrated.

Force-on-Force Scenarios using Simunition FX rounds

  1. What is Force-on-Force?
    Force-on-Force training is reality-based scenarios being role-played while using non-lethal man-marking  ammo. Active military and law enforcement are the primary user of force-on-force training. Although there is a definite rise in civilian training groups that train with FoF.Each scenario was presented to the student with minimal information. Some scenarios had an ‘out’, where no firing was necessary if you are able to deescalate the situation. On the other hand, there are scenarios where no amount of talking will deter a weapon-wielding aggressor from hurting you. In some scenarios, there are also target discrimination involved, where civilians may be mixed in with the aggressors.
  2. FoF training reveals the amount of complexity in everyday situation
    After each scenario, the whole group discussed what was happening, what could have happened, and possible other actions. Was there good use of cover? Were there other opportunities to deescalate?Since each student goes through a scenario one by one, the afternoon was slower in pace. But although there were less “action” per minute compare to everybody shooting down range on their own target, it was still very engaging for me to watch other students go through scenarios when it wasn’t my turn.At the end of the day, the instructor asked how many times did we saw a ‘clear front sight’ during FoF. None. I shoot with clear front sight all morning during live-fire, but during FoF, I don’t remember seeing my front sight once. I’ve heard it time and again that it will happen under stress, and I finally experienced it. And this is in role-playing! Our eyes lock on to immediate threats, it is a natural defense mechanism. Honing in the idea that it is crucial to be able to shoot with a target-focused sight picture.

    • key point: No amount of imagery, reading, or video-watching is the same as having someone charging you with a weapon and gun, when you are trapped in a vehicle, and not sure what is going on.
      FoF won’t give you all the answers, but what it does is reveal the complexity of any aggressive situation. At the least it confirmed my belief that only practicing in a range is not enough.
  3. What is Simunition FX rounds?
    Simunition FX is a type of man-marking cartridges, it is basically non-lethal ammo that could be fired from a real firearm that has has a converted-barrel/components. The converted firearm will then only be able to fire non-lethal ammo, and unable to fire live-ammo. In short, paintball -that hurts a bit more- that can be fired from real firearms (the key is the conversion kit). Granted, paintballs are usually fired from a paintball gun propelling paintballs using air pressure, whereas sims rounds are propelled using primers or a combination of primers and powder (like real rounds!) (read this for more info on sim rounds.)One thing I noticed was that the FX round seems to clog up the gun over time (watch this video on a comparison of two brands of man-marking ammo), and the guns required quite a bit of cleaning throughout the whole afternoon. Simunition was one of the first company to R&D non-lethal man-marking-rounds, beginning in the 1980s. Competitors have created their own version of man-marking rounds, and based on most reviews online, could be more reliable (e.g., ATK Force-On-Force, UTM Man-Marker-Rounds). There is another DFW based training group (Patriot Protection) that does FoF scenarios but uses the UTM MMR rounds. I hope to see how it performs when I get a chance to try it.
  4.  Was sim round painful?
    IMG_20141213_151607795

    One of the role-player, padded up with some soft body armor and groin protection

    The manufacturer recommend a minimum distance in which a non-lethal round should be shot at. If you are closer than that, it could be quite painful, but nothing permanent if it hits muscles. As with all other kind of projectile-related sports, eye and neck protection is key (guys, groin protection is a good idea). The guys who were helping out to role-play the aggressors added soft body armor, which was definitely a good idea if you are anticipating high hit counts.

Overall:

I got a lot out of both the morning and afternoon session. It was novel for me to shoot through a windshield, but more importantly, I gained some first-hand knowledge on how to maneuver in AND around a vehicle while using a handgun. The Force-on-Force training was definitely eye-opening. There is still no replacing of a real situation, but this is probably as close as we could get during training.

By the end of the day, there was significant improvement  in the use of cover, maneuvering low to the ground, learning to back away from the cover in order to gain better angle (instead of moving out of cover). The FoF definitely helped ingrain in us the usage of angles instead of moving flat out of a cover to shoot (if you get shot, there is no denying that you got out of cover!).

Cost:

$225 all inclusive (except for the ammo you bring for live-fire), with Simunition ammo and converted firearm provided. Given that they had to actually acquire a ‘still drive-able’ car for certain scenarios, I felt that this price was more than fair if not a great deal! (Note: Some training group seems to be charging a flat price + how much sims ammo you shoot. In that case, this might be a even better deal than I thought).

They also offer a force-on-force only class for $125.

The car at the end of vehicle shooting and force-on-force (heavy hitting through the window and the roof) is till running and going 🙂 Good old Geo Prizm (basically a Corolla).

Lots of glass everywhere;  why we should wear gloves.

Lots of glass everywhere; why we should wear gloves.

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One thought on “[Review/AAR] Consolidated Training Group – Combative Vehicle and Force-on-Force

  1. Pingback: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Beginner Handgun Class? | Explore, Expose, and Experience

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