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As our last activity at the Crimson Trace Gunsite event, we pulled out the Simunitions and gamed out some scenarios involving shooting around cars. It was set up like a competition, with the winner of each round moving onto the next. RF loves this stuff and I was excited to get to try my hand at some real life force-on-force training, right up until the point someone nailed my trigger finger with a round that hurt like hell. Despite the pain (or maybe because of it) I learned a TON from this activity . . .

Round one (me on the right), what I learned the most was that my “headshots only” policy apparently applies to all living things and not just those that are delicious.

I saw my opponent get out of his car and sneak around the front, so I set up to try to ambush him through the gap between the windshield and the door. That didn’t exactly work, though, as I hit the windshield instead. This is kinda where Simunitions fall down. Earlier that day we had shot the crap out of some cars, and I have no doubt whatsoever that a 9mm round would have blazed through that glass and knocked him out of the fight. Instead, the round was stopped and the fight continued.

My next instinct was to quickly pop my head around the hood and try to get off a shot, which worked perfectly. My opponent wasn’t prepared for me to go that way (expecting me to try again through that slot) and I hit him square in the forehead.

Boom, headshot indeed.

Lesson learned: act before your target has time to react. Then they’re behind the OODA loop and don’t have enough time to respond or even hide before you make your move.

Since I won the first round, I was in the final championship round (two shooters capped each other in the dome simultaneously and the judges ruled it a draw). And this time, there was a little more moving and shooting involved.

As I popped out of my truck (me on the left this time) I saw my opponent moving to the back of his truck through the glass windows. So instead of doing anything fancy, I simply lined up my sights on the edge of his car and waited for him to pop around the side. As soon as his mug cleared the bumper, I pressed the trigger.

The first round was a hit on his arm. It would have definitely made an actual attacker think twice about continuing, but for our purposes we were going until life threatening injuries were sustained by either party.

The second time he popped out of cover, I nailed him in the chest. At almost the exact same moment, he nailed me in the trigger finger. Definitely a John Wayne moment for him there. At that point I’d won, but they let us keep going.

My big mistake, and the lesson learned here, was my ineffective use of cover. I was completely exposed, not even thinking to dip below the hood of the car or use something like rollover prone. The most my video game-addled mind could come up with when he started slinging some serious lead was to backpedal as fast as possible with the sights still on target, getting some distance between us.

Something interesting that happened, and the reason for the hyenas in the background, was that while I was in this situation I had the worst case of tunnel vision I ever had in my life. All of my focus was being used to pixel hunt that one section of car, not even caring about what was beyond the target. So when he popped out and we started exchanging some fire, the rounds that missed were peppering the peanut gallery behind him. If that had been a pack of innocent bystanders during a real DGU the situation might not have turned out well.

So, lessons learned:

  1. Act quickly and decisively before your opponent can react.
  2. Use cover effectively.
  3. Maintain situational awareness.

Off to the range to practice…

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  1. Great read, thanks for posting. I would love to see a crowd situation with an unknown attacker or a scenario with bystanders in close proximity. Scenario based training just seems more applicable/useful once your past learning to draw and operate.

  2. If it’s affordable for you, I highly recommend simunitions training for anyone serious about gun fighting. We are able to use weapons that are the same model as our duty weapons. Which means manipulation and aiming are the same (albeit with range limitations) and that translates into a big advantage over paintball style force on force training?
    Simunitions hurt. Like crazy if you are hit outside the chest protector and helmet. So you learn real quickly to take cover and move. Hands get hit a lot because when the gunfight begins, in the beginning, you focus on the threat, consciously, subconsciously or otherwise. So whether you realize it or not, you literally start shooting at the gun. It takes a few scenarios to start controlling the adrenaline and open up your field of view. Going to the range is one thing, getting shot at by another competent person, is another. Even if that other person happens to be your friend in a simunitions fight!

  3. That’s why simunitions training is so important…things happen that will never happen on a paper target range…like tunnel vision. It’s something that you CANNOT control…so it’s nice to be aware of it and how it affects you. Hearing occlusion is also something that happens that you’re not able to control, although not so much with simunitions training. All in all, the very best way to know what a gunfight is like without having to put your life in danger.

  4. A lesson learned from my time overseas:

    If you are shooting around a vehicle (or any cover, really) with an AR, remember your sights are an inch or more above the muzzle of the gun. You can have a good sight picture to the target, with your muzzle pointing at the vehicle in front of you. If it’s one of the vehicle’s hard parts (like a trailer hitch) that bullet might come back and hit you.

    I know of an instance where that is EXACTLY what happened to a unit “training up” in Kuwait. They were conducting a convoy LFX and one of the soldiers aimed down range, got a good sight picture and pulled the trigger. The round hit the trailer pintle in front of them, came back, and hit them in the face.

    To paraphrase the TV commercial:

    Don’t be hit in the face, make sure the muzzle is clear.

    • That’s a good point. We had an officer fire a round into the hood of a car and take out a spotlight for that same reason. Well, that and the fact that he was a horrible shot.

  5. Any type of Sim F O F training is highly valuable in the same way that Top Gun training is. Nothing comes closer to reality than a real foe.

  6. This makes me wonder how metal vs plastic guns hold up against being hit with direct or indirect bullets or shrapnel. Whenever someone does a glock torture test they rub it in dirt or shoot it a lot. I want to see what happens when they get hit hard compared to an m9 or something. It is pretty reasonable in a combat scenario to assume that your weapons are going to get hit.

  7. Great post. Thanks, Nick. When you figure a way to improve on some of those skills in a square range let us know. I don’t get to an open range enough, much less train with simunitions.


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