Recently there was a yeti sighting in Texas. Apparently the creature was shambling around cars and shooting through windshields while mumbling to a barely pubescent (and preternaturally ebullient) policeman. It occurred to us that a curmudgeon might make for an interesting addition to the mix – so we sent Chris down there straightaway. Mad Duo
PATROL VEHICLE CQB INSTRUCTOR COURSE
“Mad Duo Chris” Hernandez
First lesson of the Patrol Vehicle CQB Instructor course?
My entire life has been a lie.
I’ve been a cop for two decades. I spent most of my time on patrol, working nights in rough areas. Like every other patrol officer, I was always around cars; my car, traffic violator cars, suspect cars, wrecked cars, parked cars, and so on. I attended two police academies which indoctrinated rookies with conventional wisdom about cars and bullets: the only cover a car provides is from the wheels and engine block, slugs will blow straight through a passenger compartment, shooting through a windshield might affect bullets a little but not much. As far as I knew, there was really no reason to be concerned. Even though I had never fired into or out of a car in training, or watched a demonstration, or even saw an instructional video, I always thought I was ready for a shooting around a car.
When did I figure out I was wrong? Right around the time instructor Steve Fisher sat in a driver’s seat and put the first round through the windshield at a target right in front of the car. It should suffice to say, pretty much everything I thought I knew about shooting around vehicles was wrong.
The Patrol Vehicle CQB Instructor course was put on by the Texas Tactical Police Officers’ Association and taught by William Petty and Steve Fisher. They’re both dicks who hate everyone. I say that because they should have taught me this stuff about twenty years ago, when Petty was two and Fisher was sixty. But they didn’t, because they’re dicks.
Prior to this class, if I had been in a shooting and a suspect took cover behind an empty trunk, I would have thought “I got this. My rounds will go straight through.” Then I watched Steve fire 9mm rounds, a blast of 00 buck and a slug into one side of an empty trunk. And almost nothing came out the other side.
Now I know, sure, engine blocks are cover. Wheels aren’t bad either. But other spots on a car can be pretty damn good too.
Check that crap out. Out of eighteen 9mm and 12-guage projectiles fired into the trunk from only a few feet away, only seven 9mm rounds penetrated the far side. And they were so deformed they did almost no damage to a target set up beside the car. A suspect taking cover behind the trunk might have received a few superficial wounds, probably nothing serious. And don’t even get me started on shooting through a windshield. A windshield’s effect on a pistol round can be nothing short of catastrophic.
This is the kind of information rookie cops should know, instead of waiting until they’re decades in. I had plenty of close calls on the street, and had my trigger halfway pulled on suspects near my car many times. What if I had fired through my windshield at a suspect standing right at my bumper? My first round would likely have deflected so badly I would have missed. And even if it did hit it would be so deformed, and would have lost so much mass as it traveled through the windshield, it would probably have been completely ineffective. No shit.
Whatever you think you know about how bullets interact with cars, you’re probably wrong. And if you’re an armed good guy, you owe it to yourself to get some training and find out. Don’t just do research on the internet, or ask guys who you think should know. Get some actual training. Shoot into a car. Shoot out of a car. You’ll probably be as amazed as I was.
Second lesson of the course? Learning new positions is fun and exciting.
Back in 1989, the Marine Corps taught me the basic shooting positions: standing, kneeling, sitting and prone. And gosh darn it, there was no reason to learn more than that. In the police academies, I learned to fire a pistol standing, and…well…just standing. When I was taught the rollover prone position eight years ago, I was almost blown away; “You mean, there are other ways to shoot in combat, other than the boot-camp-level crap we’ve been spoon fed for years?” But I hadn’t learned anything new since then.
In this course, I was shown several new ways to shoot using cover. Petty and Fisher showed us new positions, explained the reasoning behind them, demonstrated them and made us practice them, over and over. They made us practice over and over because they’re dicks who hate everyone.
All the positions made sense. Only one of them gave me a momentary “That’s dumb, I’d never do that crap” reaction. I was wrong.
The “urban prone” position was totally new to me. It’s a little awkward initially, not because it’s hard to get into, but because it just feels weird. Almost everyone made the same mistakes when they dropped into it the first few times. But it’s a position you can assume within seconds, making almost maximum utilization of available cover, and fire accurately from. Learning to do it right is worth the effort.
One really cool thing about this position is that if you drop onto your weak side with a carbine, you can simply “shoulder bump” your weapon onto your weak side shoulder without changing hand positions. It’s quick, easy and it works. The only caveats here are that it’s not easy to line up iron sights from this position (red dots weren’t an issue), and that some students had trouble working the selector when they shoulder bumped.
The “Shrimp” position was the position I initially balked at. Why, I wondered, would anyone choose to lay on their back behind cover instead of staying on their feet? But then Petty and Fisher explained it; you may not have decided to lay on your back, you may have been kind of urged to get there (like maybe by, oh, getting shot in the face or something). If you wind up on your back, you can fight from that position. And you can engage quickly and easily to either side, or reload, or clear a malfunction. It was a good position to learn.
We also learned a new way to hold a pistol during movement. This method will induce an automatic heart stoppage in just about every police firearms instructor. It’s called the “temple index”. Petty and Fisher demonstrated that if you’re seated in a car and engaging, there really isn’t a good way to exit the vehicle with a weapon in your hand without muzzling the crap out of yourself, innocent bystanders, the neighbor’s dog, random hippies, everyone. That is, unless you exit the car with your weapon pointed straight upward and pressed against your temple. The instructors themselves were leery when they first saw the technique, until they decided it works. And they’re right, it does work. It looks funny, it feels funny, but it makes sense.
We practiced the temple index during a really chaotic drill where we had to engage through a windshield, bail out, take cover, then engage multiple targets around a vehicle using our pistols and carbines. Part of the drill consisted of clearing constant carbine malfunctions. The malfunctions were caused by William Petty using a stick to block our ejection ports. He did that because he’s a dick and hates everyone.
Third lesson of the course: under stress, even trained and experienced guys fuck up.
No, that’s not a surprise. We’ve all been there. But we always expect ourselves to not do it. I knew I was rusty, but during this course I discovered my pistol skills had deteriorated. Badly. I also made a rookie mistake and failed to get my pistol out of the holster while falling into urban prone, which meant I had to struggle to draw while lying on my gun side, which led to me muzzling my own arm. Fortunately for my ego, I wasn’t the only student to mess up.
During a drill one student emptied his carbine, reloaded but failed to seat the mag, fired one round and didn’t realize his mag fell out. His carbine made a loud and thunderous “click”. When he tried to perform SPORTS he reached for the mag, but it wasn’t there; he slapped the empty mag well, charged the bolt and tried to fire. Another officer with a lot of combat experience overseas managed to completely miss a draw while standing; while I was shooting I heard him say “Aaawwww,” which meant he knew he had messed up. Steve Fisher then yelled “What do you mean, ‘Aww’? You can’t just say ‘Aww’, draw your weapon and shoot!”
Steve said that because he’s a dick and hates everyone.
I’m sure all of us made mistakes (I know I made a lot). Anyone who thinks they’re so well trained they never need more training is an idiot. Skills deteriorate; we all know that, but it’s still a shock to see how much you lose in a relatively short amount of time. In past lives I was a combat soldier and night shift street cop who spent a lot of my own time and money on training. Now I’m a FAG (Former Action Guy) who hasn’t faced an armed suspect or heard enemy gunfire in years. And shockingly enough, if you spend years out of the game you can expect your skills to kinda suck when you start shooting under stress again. So invest the time and money, and do some real training. Shooting static targets on a square range won’t cut it.
Fourth lesson of the course: beware of small gay Asian males.
Part of the course consisted of force-on-force scenarios using sim guns. Officers would face multiple armed suspects on simulated traffic stops. Backup officers would arrive. The cops would have to throw together a plan for dealing with the bad guys, while being shot at, while returning fire, and while communicating with the “dispatcher” (another student standing to the side).
When it was my turn, and I was engaging Petty and a second bad guy, the simulated dispatcher asked for suspect info. I was hot, tired, and pissed off. Petty was shooting at me because he’s a dick and hates everyone. I think he hates everyone because he’s small and part Asian. And I suspect he was intentionally trying to lower my self esteem. I wanted revenge. So I yelled at the dispatcher, “First suspect is a heavyset white male! Second suspect is a thin Asian male! I think he’s gay!”
The dispatcher responded with the most memorable line from the class: “I copy, suspect is a small gay Asian male.”
No, Petty isn’t really gay, and I wouldn’t care if he was. Although I did catch him checking me out a lot, which nobody can blame him for, ‘cause I’m fabulous. But he’s a real street cop, teaching important stuff to a group of guys who have all risked their lives as cops, soldiers or both. He and Fisher could jack with us, and we could jack with them, and everyone would laugh it off because we’re grown men who don’t take little stuff too seriously. That’s the kind of atmosphere that helps people learn.
At the end of three days of training I had learned a hell of a lot, and had a good time learning it. Because of this training I’ve got numerous new tools in the kit, plus important knowledge that might save my life someday. Petty and Fisher are dicks who hate everyone, but gosh darn it, they’re dicks with hearts of gold, and they know a LOT. If you’re a cop or in the military, train with these dicks. You’ll be glad you did.
If you’re interested, here’s a trailer from an upcoming Sentinel Concepts video. This was filmed at a class similar to the LLVCQB Instructor course I attended.
Mad Duo Chris
Chris Hernandez Mad Duo Chris, seen here on patrol in Afghanistan) may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LIGHT writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of nearly two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley and Proof of Our Resolve. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog, Iron Mike Magazine, Kit Up! and Under the Radar. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.