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Fighting in Structures – Part 1: Why learn CQB skills?

May 2, 2011

To some, Close Quarters Battle (CQB) seems like a very high speed-low drag skillset. Something more suited to SWAT teams and the military than the common citizen interested in self-defense. This could not be further from the truth. One of the biggest reasons people buy firearms is for home defense. Knowing how to fight in this environment and to use your home’s ‘terrain’ to your advantage is vital.

Consider the following scenarios:

You are awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of breaking glass, followed by the alarm going off. You grab a long gun, take a covered position with the muzzle pointing at the door, and call 911. The intruder will either leave, be apprehended by the police, or walk right into your ambush. This sort of thing is what many firearms trainers advise, and it really is the best case scenario when it comes to home defense. Unfortunately it’s not always possible. If we change just one small detail, the whole scenario changes dramatically. . . .

You are awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of breaking glass, followed by the alarm going off and screaming from your child’s room. In this case, bunkering up in your bedroom really isn’t an option. I don’t know of any parent who would leave their children to the tender mercies of an intruder until the police arrive. You’re going to go out there and protect them. However, you don’t just want to blindly charge in there. Dying a valiant but foolish death is not going to help. This is where CQB skills come in: the ability to move through your house quickly, while exposing yourself to as little risk as possible along the way.

Let’s consider another possibility: you are awakened by a crash from your living room. No alarm, no other sounds of an intruder, just the sound of something falling down. Did the dog knock something over? Did the hook holding up a picture frame give way? Or is there someone in your house? Some firearms instructors would advise the same sort of response as the first scenario: bunker up and call the cops. But are you really going to call 911 on such ambiguous evidence? Even if you’re willing to do so, call enough times to report a possible intruder and your 911 response times will start going up (just ask the little old lady who reports prowlers every month). So, if you’re not going to call 911 without more evidence, what will you do? Simply rolling over and going back to sleep could be disastrous if this really is an intruder. On the other hand, if you bunker up and wait you may be in for a long, sleepless night. The best (or the least worst) option in this situation is to go out and gather some more information. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go get in a gunfight with the intruder. As soon as you find a tangible sign that there’s an intruder, whether it’s the door he kicked in to gain entry or the intruder himself, you can always withdraw to a position of strength and call the cops. Even so, when you go investigate a bump in the night, you have to be ready for a violent confrontation. With the proper CQB building clearing skills, you can look for signs of an intruder while lessening your risk.

Not all CQB scenarios start in the middle of the night with you asleep in bed, of course. Perhaps the most common situation is coming home and finding the door sitting wide open. Sometimes, the signs of trouble will be unambiguous; the door has been kicked in, or a window broken. In those cases, it’s probably best to back off and call the police. In other cases, the signs of an intruder may not be so clear. Did someone enter your house or did you just fail to close the door completely when you left this morning? Much like the bump in the night example above, this is a gray zone. Not enough evidence of an intruder to call the police, but too much to just relax. Again, the proper CQB skillset can help you clear your house as safely as possible.

While I’ve mostly concentrated on the home, it’s not the only place where CQB skills are important. You may be somewhere else: at the mall when an active shooter starts gunning people down or at a hotel when a Mumbai style attack occurs. You want to get your family away from the threat and out of the building as quickly as possible, but joining the panicked crowd and blundering into the attackers field of fire would be very dangerous. Solid CQB skills can help you move quickly out of the danger zone while minimizing the risk to you and your family.

If you intend to use a firearm for self-defense, particularly home defense, CQB is a critical part of your skill set.

Coming up next in Part 2 of this series, we’ll talk about what CQB skills you need for home defense.

Sign up for a Suarez Interational’s CQB class.

Discuss why you should learn CQB skills on Warriortalk.

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