In the world of Close Quarters Combat (CQB), mastering the art is a formidable challenge that demands time, energy, and skill. This year, I embarked on a journey to hone my CQB skills through Corevision’s Structural Assessment Course. Whether you’re a novice eager to establish a strong foundation or an experienced operator looking to reinforce your fundamentals, this course offers a vital entry point. Join me as we delve into the core elements of CQB, taking that crucial first step into this complex world.
Training & Tactics|Training & Assessment
By Drew Bryant
November 7th, 2023, theloadoutblog.com
Devil In The Details
Before I dive into my assessment and analysis of Corevision’s class, I have a few topics I want to discuss beforehand that give a better insight and more context into the CQB environment. I wanted to do my due diligence to provide a complete picture of the complex and dynamic skillset and the years of training it takes to become proficient in this environment. The devil is in the details, and we cannot miss that as students of warfare.
First, I aim to provide a concise introduction to the evolution of Close Quarters Battle (CQB) throughout the history of warfare. Secondly, I will delve into key considerations that prospective students should be aware of before enrolling in Corevision’s Structural Assessment Course. We’ll now proceed to dive deeper into both of these subjects.
The Evolution of CQB
Close-quarters battle/combat(CQB/CQC) has been a part of the warfighting lexicon since the beginning of warfare. At the beginning of war, we fashioned rocks and sticks into weaponry during the Stone Age. To the clashing of swords and shields of the bronze and iron ages. To the rapid modernization of weaponry from WWI and onward. Now, our battlefields are evolving into high-tech battlefields where man and machine collide. During human history, CQB has been an integral part of warfare. Over the last one hundred years, it has grown tremendously and transformed into what we recognize today.
The origins of modern-day close-quarters combat found its roots in the trenches of World War I, like the gruesome lessons taught in the trenches of Verdun. Over two decades later, the next evolution occurred in the urban environments of the European front during World War II. Conducting warfare in urban areas was a new dynamic in combat. War had never been conducted significantly in urban environments before this conflict. Significant battles for the heart of Europe were being fought in the streets of Paris and the bloody and cold streets of Stalingrad. In Vietnam, the birth or concept of modern CQB was born. In the Battle of Hue City, Marines fought against the Vietcong, battling from house to House and street to street, fighting to clear the city during the Tet Offensive. This was a bloody battle for control of the city that left hundreds killed or wounded. Finally, in the early 2000s, we have the War On Terror. From here on, our modern interpretations of CQB were formed and molded by the GWOT area of veterans. During this time, CQB witnessed exponential growth. That growth was paid for by the lives lost in the Battle Of Ramadi along with the long and bloody battles of Fallujah, officially known as Operation Vigilante Resolve and Phantom Fury.
The hard lessons taught by these conflicts and wars were paid with the price of blood of young men. These lessons were introduced to the next generation of Soldiers, Marines, and Special Operations to make us a more formidable fighting force and to save lives in these dynamic environments. As we move forward and combat evolves, so will the execution, principles, and methodology of CQB. Everything changes, and nothing remains the same in war.
The allure of CQB can be very enticing. From TV to movies to social media, we are provided with a stylized version of urban combat and CQB engagements. In truth, CQB is a challenging and daunting part of combat. It’s gritty, unforgiving, and visceral. You need to possess a very high combat IQ, extensive training, and be a master of your weaponry and gear.
First, this class is not for beginners. If you just bought your first rifle two months ago or pick up your rifle once in a blue moon, this class isn’t for you. Close-quarters environments are dynamic, and you must be rock solid in your safety and weapon handling. You are dealing with confined areas while moving with your team. Spatial awareness, muzzle awareness, and proper safety manipulation are paramount. In this environment, you cannot flag people with your rifle or running around with your safety off and your finger on the trigger. You have to understand these safety principles firmly. A new shooter or an occasional shooter will not have the mental awareness to work within this environment safely. So, I suggest investing in training, dry fire, and being fundamentally sound. Then, come back and take this class.
Second, I would suggest taking this class with a friend or a group of friends. This way, you can start and maintain skills learned in the course. For operators to be as smooth and efficient as they are in CQB environments takes time, the willingness to learn, repetition, and building a rapport with your team. Going with a friend provides you a person to collaborate with and continue to train these skills being taught in the course. Allowing you to push your skill sets and retain the knowledge. It will make you more prepared if the situation arises, and you’re not letting your skills and knowledge erode.
Finally, temper your expectations of the course. You will not leave the class a CQB expert like your Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell. This is an entry-level class. The two-day course is designed to get your feet wet and provide a foundation for continuing education. The system is set up to teach you how to crawl then walk. You are not running at all during this course. It takes years of honing your skills and tactical IQ to thrive and operate on that level. Come in ready to learn and have questions. If you have this mindset in class, you will benefit most from the material covered.
Now, with the stage set, let’s dive into the Assessment of Corevision’s Introduction to Structural Assessment.
Corevision’s Structure Assessment Class
This assessment will cover the Structural Assessment course provided by Corevision Training. Head instructor and owner Kyle taught the class with his team. This class was a two-day course of eight hours per day for a total of sixteen hours.
In this class, we used our personal rifles and pistols. No ammunition was allowed within the training facility. Training aids used during the class were the Mantis Blackbeard and airsoft rifles with bbs. Force on Force training was also conducted at the course.
During this assessment, I will summarize the course, concepts taught, instruction, and the learning environment within the class. I aim not to give you a detailed account of the whole class. The assessment is to provide an outline of the material covered so you can make a competent decision on how you want to spend your money on training.
Over the two-day course, there was a lot of information presented that could make it overwhelming. The class structure was a free-flowing learning environment which is essential for this type of class. You need the ability to teach and discuss on the fly because of the dynamics of a CQB environment. Even though Kyle and his team covered a lot of material it never seemed overwhelming and was always building upon the previous concept.
Day one of the course laid the foundation of what needed to be understood by the students on a fundamental level to teach the ideas and concepts the instructors wished to share. The first day, we discussed understanding the structures of your home or office, how to pie a door or window, and how to enter a room correctly. We learned about priorities of work for a 1-man or 2-man entry, sectors of fire, spatial awareness, dead space, and verbal and nonverbal communications.
On Day Two, we took all these concepts learned on Day One, giving scenarios and objectives within the building that we needed to clear. This also leaned into the force-on-force dynamic to add stress and decision-making by the individuals and their teams.
Now that we’ve explored the overall course structure let’s delve into the information covered on the first day of training, where the foundation for this transformative experience was laid.
Center-Fed Rooms Vs Corner-Fed Rooms
A critical concept covered by the instructors was the difference between a center-fed room versus a corner-fed room. Understanding the basic layout of these rooms will allow you to create a basic idea of what you potentially expect when entering the room and how to clear those type of rooms effectively.
A center-fed room is one where the entrance is strategically positioned at or near the wall’s midpoint. It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily imply that both walls flanking the door must be of equal length. Instead, the defining characteristic is that the door typically swings inward, leading into the heart of the room.
A corner-fed room is one where the entrance is strategically positioned on the closest corner of the wall instead of the center.
Regarding what room structure we covered during the course, it was limited to the CQB house offered to us. We only had center-fed and corner-fed rooms available, so those are the ones the instructor covered and discussed with us. There are multiple different room structures that you can run into in an urban environment, such as a Linear rooms or an L-shaped rooms.
The instructors discussed the differences between a center-fed room and a corner-fed room, how you tactically approach them, and how it changes depending on the dynamics of the environment and the size of the element. Next, we moved into understanding how doors open and relate to your entry into the structure.
Complexities Of A CQB Environment
(Always, Sometimes, Never)
Close Quarters Battle is undoubtedly a highly dynamic environment, and many students often seek definitive answers for various situations and scenarios. At the beginning of the class, many students were asking for concrete solutions on how to approach specific strategies. Kyle’s response highlights the inherent uncertainty of CQB due to its ever-changing nature. He emphasizes that the standard operating procedures (SOP) and methods are forged through hard-earned lessons, often at the cost of lives. In navigating this complexity, he introduces “always, sometimes, and never” responses. Depending on the specific circumstances or the role within the team, the appropriate action may fall into one of these categories. For instance, an “always” principle might be the two-man moving opposite to the one-man, or the “never” principle of not backing out of a room once entry has been made; it’s a required commitment. This nuanced approach reflects the practical realities of CQB and underscores the importance of adaptability in the field.
On the first day of the course, our primary objective was establishing a robust foundation in Close Quarters Battle (CQB). This entailed comprehensively exploring our immediate environments, homes, or offices to appreciate their intricacies and how they intertwine with our individual experiences. Mastery of CQB hinges on our ability to intimately understand and move within spaces precisely and efficiently, a crucial aspect that underlines our path to success in this demanding domain.
Door Swing Direction
When assessing a structure inside your home or office, it is essential to understand the behavior of your doors, meaning knowing how the door swings when it is open. This concept builds upon structural assessment and lets you see how a door will behave when opening. The ability to intelligently navigate this critical moment will reduce your exposure and vulnerability to the enemy when opening that door. While also allowing you to visually clear as much as possible before you make entry into that danger area.
The instructors taught us the difference between the different styles of doors we could encounter in our homes or offices. Most doors within your home will be a single door setup with and be an out-swing or in-swing door.
Out-swinging Vs. In-swinging Doors
First, we have the out-swing door. An out-swinging door is a door that is pulled towards you and away from the interior of the room you are facing. The hinges are facing the outside of the room and are not visible from the inside when the door is closed.
Next is the in-swinging door. The in-swing door is a door that swings inward towards the room and its occupants. The door’s hinges face the inside of the room and are not visible from the other side when the door is closed.
The movement of the door is dictated by which side of the door the hinges are put on and the orientation of the entrance to the frame. When the hinges face the outside of the room and aren’t visible from the inside, this is an out-swing door. In contrast, the hinges face the outside of the room and are not visible when the door is closed. By observing these characteristics of the gate, we can determine the behavior of that door when you go to open it.
After Kyle and his colleague established the introductory study of structural assessment, we moved on to how to move and navigate within a structure.
How To Pie A Door
First, the element of movement we dissected was how to pie a door before entering a structure correctly. In A CQB environment, there are a lot of unknowns we must deal with, so we must build as much situational awareness (SA) as possible to enter a room. Before we enter that room, we want to be visually apparent and eliminate as much danger or the threat of it from that immediate room we seek to enter. Knowing how to pie a door properly is an essential skill needed in your CQB toolkit.
Angles Of Exposure & Slicing the Pie
Angles of exposure are critical considerations in close quarters battle (CQB) environments. They refer to the angles at which individuals expose themselves to potential threats or targets within confined spaces, such as buildings or rooms. Understanding and effectively managing angles of exposure is vital for the safety and success of military and law enforcement personnel in CQB situations. Improper exposure can lead to increased vulnerability, as exposing too much of one’s body can result in being an easy target for adversaries. Maintaining proper control of angles of exposure involves techniques like slicing the pie, where an operator systematically clears an area while minimizing exposure, or using cover and concealment to limit visibility to potential threats. The right use of angles of exposure enhances an operator’s ability to engage threats while minimizing their own risk, making it a fundamental concept in CQB tactics and training.
When you pie a door, it is essential to remember that it is a slow, controlled, and continuous process as you pie the door. You will lock yourself into the corner of the door’s apex and slowly take a small slice of the pie (or of the door) at a time. You are clearing a small room segment without putting yourself in danger.
Slicing The Pie
As you slice the pie, you will gather situational data on what is happening inside that immediate room. You focused on a potential visual stimulus of danger. You are taking all that information and processing it and continuing to pie the door until you are done.
Now, if there was a suspect in the room, you have to start processing to make a decision. You need to find out if this person is a friend or foe. Do they have a weapon? Are they acting suspiciously? Are they disobeying commands? All this is happening in real time, and processing this promptly is essential. Slicing the pie is an important skill and foundation of CQB because we minimize risk to ourselves and potentially our team. After this brief demonstration, we were told to partner up and conduct one-person and two-person slicing of the pie. When doing it as a one-person person, we were told to critique and relay valuable information to ensure we were more successful at pieing a door during practice.
Entering the Room & Fatal Funnel
After learning how to pie a door effectively, our instructors focused on entering the room and discussed the dangers of the fatal funnel.
When entering the room, they didn’t focus too much on footwork. Instead, they focused on the buttonhook and the cross methods for entering a room as a team. Also, which approach would be the best for solo clearing your home. Regarding two-person groups, the one man always decides(buttonhook or cross), and whatever the one man decides, the two-man goes opposite. Everything is predicated on the choice of the first man’s decision.
A question that did come up during our initial dry runs as two-person teams was footwork. Our instructors touched upon those concerns. Kyle advised students not to get wrapped up in footwork and to walk. He informed us that students get too wrapped up in having the proper footwork and forget how to enter the room or hesitate when doing so. They offered a short introduction to the heel-to-toe method to be quiet and smooth and to create a stable platform for you and your firearm. Yet, not to get wrapped up in foot twister but just to walk.
The fatal funnel is a tactical term to describe a narrow or confined space, such as a doorway, hallway, or corridor, where individuals or teams are particularly vulnerable to enemy fire or threats. It’s called a “fatal funnel” because anyone entering or exiting this constrained area is at a disadvantaged, making them easy targets. Tactics are often employed to minimize exposure when moving through a fatal funnel.
Regarding room clearing and navigating entry into a room, Kyle stressed not to get trapped in the doorway. Once you make a decision, you commit and enter the room, enter the room aggressively and with controlled violence. The longer we stay in that doorway, the longer we increase something going wrong. Your goal is to clear those danger points visually or through force (aka clapping a fool), continuing to earn your sector of fire and then gain dominance inside the room.
Sectors of Fire & Points of Dominance
Once our instructors believed we had a firm grasp on how to enter a room correctly, the discussion moved to sectors of fire and points of dominance.
When clearing a room as a one-person or two-person element, you will have a sector of fire. As a one-person element, your fire sector will be a boarder in an attempt to clear as much as possible safely. A two-person element will have Intersecting sectors of fire and two points of dominance in the room. In the class, Kyle discussed in more detail the sectors of fire and points of dominance in a room. To get that full rundown, take the course! Understanding the sector of fire and points of dominance is a dynamic component of entering and clearing a space. Having the knowledge and reps firsthand is critical.
Priorities Of Work
In A CQB environment, you must constantly decipher and find work to stay ahead of the game. Understanding the priorities of work is crucial no matter the size of the team. When discussing priorities of work, Kyle and his partner opened up an open discussion on what we thought were priorities of work were once we entered a room. We discussed this amongst ourselves and gave our instructors our insights.
We learned that some of our concepts were a part of the priorities of work just in the wrong order. Your priorities of work should be the room, living, then dead. Build immediate security. Ensure custody and safeguard the person in your custody. Double checking your team’s safety in the room and exiting. Also, during this time, a tactical pause by the element can take place. To ensure everyone is mentally prepared, mags topped off and a plan of attack for the next room. Taking the tactical pause allows us to regain and increase our control of the environment. Work priorities are taught to us as a part of our decision-making loop (aka OODA Loop) in a CQB environment.
Spatial Awareness & Dead Space
In our class, the instructors emphasized spatial awareness and understanding what dead space is important when clearing rooms. Learning how to navigate dead space and maintaining spatial awareness effectively is vital to ensuring the safety and success of our team during CQB situations. By understanding where we are and where our teammates are positioned, we can coordinate our efforts to deconflict our sectors of fire, create intersecting sectors of fire, and create a clear path for our priorities of work for the team. It’s essential to remain vigilant of our surroundings to avoid getting sucked into corners after clearing a room. Your goal is to secure a strategic point of dominance within that room. This point of dominance should enable us to cover each other effectively with intersecting fields of fire, striking a balance that doesn’t cut off our teammates by being too deep or shallow. Spatial awareness is a pivotal element in mastering the art of Close Quarters Battle (CQB).
Verbal and Non-verbal Communications
During the class, we delved into the crucial aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication in the context of Close Quarters Battle (CQB). Effective communication is essential for coordinating with your team and maintaining the element of surprise when moving through a building quietly. Regarding verbal communication, we were taught how to call out dead space within a room or any points of significance, as well as how to handle hostage situations and threats who have surrendered. Additionally, we learned the art of non-verbal communication, utilizing hand and arm signals, touches, and nods to convey information being passed to our teammates. The ability to seamlessly switch between both communication styles is vital in CQB scenarios, and this proficiency is achieved by establishing standard operating procedures (SOP) and doctrines that everyone can agree upon and comprehend, facilitating effective communication in dynamic environments.
Day1 & Day 2 Scenario Training
Scenarios & Force-on-Force
Day one of the course laid the essential groundwork for the skills, thought processes, and mindset required to excel in a Close Quarters Battle (CQB) environment. We started by conducting dry runs to familiarize ourselves with the initial concepts introduced in the course. These dry runs involved learning how to properly “pie” a door as both a one-man and a two-person team, mastering dynamic room entry techniques for one-person and two-person elements, and gaining a comprehensive understanding of sectors of fire and points of dominance. The day was dedicated to managing and navigating hallways, confined entries, and tight spaces within rooms, addressing critical aspects like dead space, handling non-combatants, and confronting threats quickly and precisely.
On day two, we took the knowledge from day one and applied it to more complex scenarios. Kyle and his colleague introduced curveballs into the scenarios, imposed time constraints for reaching non-combatants and neutralizing threats, and placed us in situations where we were purposefully disadvantaged. Additionally, we encountered scenarios that required us to enter tactically blind and gather situational awareness as we progressed through the building. The second day’s objective was to develop our foundational skills further and challenge us to think critically about the diverse scenarios that one-person or two-person teams might encounter while clearing their home or office during an home invasion or active shooter.
The class atmosphere was characterized by individuals eager to learn and absorb as much knowledge as possible. Even before the class officially began, everyone exuded excitement about learning and making the most of the course. From the start, Kyle and his team set clear expectations – that we wouldn’t emerge as CQB experts by the course’s end. Still, we would acquire a solid foundational skill set, a springboard for continuous growth, and we could expand our knowledge and skills through further training. Kyle emphasized the importance of learning and having fun in the process. The class flowed smoothly, and the door was always open for questions, whether we were confused or needed to reinforce certain concepts. This engaging and encouraging environment has motivated me to enroll in Corevision’s follow-on CQB class, as well as exploring the other offerings this company provides.
The instruction delivered by Kyle and his colleague was nothing short of exceptional. Their communication of information was both lucid and insightful, making the complexities of CQB more relatable to students. Given the inherently dynamic nature of CQB, it’s common for students to have numerous questions and to create hypothetical scenarios. Throughout the course, the team not only welcomed these questions but also provided valuable feedback on how to approach and potentially resolve these scenarios. This feedback was firmly grounded in the core concepts they had instilled in us, creating a seamless connection between the training and practical application. This ongoing interaction between students and instructors fostered a higher level of engagement and facilitated more profound learning. Kyle and his team didn’t just offer answers; they challenged us with questions about potential mistakes and diverse situational outcomes, compelling us to analyze and anticipate each situation. This approach, in turn, prepared us to become more tactically proficient in subsequent training iterations.
Kyle and his team’s commitment to student development went beyond the classroom. They encouraged students to explore different aspects of CQB beyond the standard curriculum. They introduced us to valuable resources and recommended further reading, ensuring that our learning didn’t end when the course did. This comprehensive approach not only make us better-equipped CQB practitioners but also instilled a sense of continuous improvement that will undoubtedly serve us well in the ever-evolving world of CQB.
Corevision’s Structural Assessment class was truly remarkable. Over two days, I not only acquired valuable knowledge but also managed to dust off some of the CQB skills I had gained during my military service. Recognizing the significant foundational and tactical changes in CQB, I approached the course with eagerness, and it didn’t disappoint. While it’s essential to have realistic expectations, understanding that it won’t turn you into a CQB master, this course provides an opportunity to establish a strong foundation. Every piece of knowledge imparted results from years of experience and ongoing engagement in these environments.
I wholeheartedly recommend this class, owing to the wealth of information covered, the expertise of the instructors, and the practical skills you’ll acquire. While it might seem like a lot to absorb in just 16 hours, it’s astonishing how much you can take away from the course. If the opportunity arises for you to enroll in this class, I strongly encourage you to seize it. If you’re searching for a company that can teach you sound and proven tactics for a CQB environment, Corevision has got you covered. To find out more about Corevision’s Structural Assessment Courses and other courses available, click here.