31 May 98, Sunday, 6:18PM
The 1998 NTI (National Tactical Invitational) at Harrisburg, PA, 26-30 May 98:
Vicki and I just completed the NTI. It was the best one thus far. As was the case last year, there was one A standard draw-and-shoot exercise, several Movement-and-Decision exercises, involving the latest iteration of the wonderful NTI rubber/mannequin targets. All live-fire targets were three-dimensional, had faces, and were all dressed. Finally, there was a town mock-up (ATSA Village) where all four participants in each squad simultaneously participated in Simmuniton exercises involving role players. All encounters were individual, that is there were no Ateam exercises. One ATSA Village stage involved a darkened, sleazy bar.
The top-scoring, five participants were named and recognized at the banquet on Saturday (I was not among them, nor should I have been), but there was otherwise no ranking of participants. However, each participant was individually critiqued immediately after each exercise, and that was extremely valuable. I made many notes!
I found the most worthwhile learning experiences were in the live-fire, Movement-and Decision exercises. They were exhausting and exceedingly adrenalin-intensive!
Vicki was precipitously appointed ADeputy Sheriff in ATSA Village and spent most of her time investigating village Acrimes, taking statements from Avictims, and defusing verbal confrontations. The emphasis in ATSA Village was Adisengage and withdraw. Withdrawing at the first sign of trouble was emphasized, and most of us did just that. But sometimes it took some innovative technique, particularly when a large, belligerent person was blocking the doorway. When domestic squabbles erupted in the interior of a building, most men abruptly and gingerly left the room (That is what I did!). Interestingly, many of the women, instead of leaving, tried to assist the female roll player being Aabused by a male role player, even when the act placed them in jeopardy.
The lessons which were most valuable to me were:
CONCENTRATION/OBSERVATION. One must remember to concentrate on the front sight when the decision to fire has been made, but, immediately after the target is neutralized, one must draw back from concentration and re-orient himself to the genuine perspective. When one fails to do this as a well-trained routine, plainly visible targets and other sources of danger will fail to be noticed. I failed to see several targets thus, and I’ve concluded that it is skill which I need to refine. In any tactical problem, there is so much that needs to be seen, failing to observe all around at every opportunity is fraught with hazards.
FAILURE TO FINISH THE DRILL. I shot all drills with a Kahr-40 and one extra magazine. That meant I had a total of thirteen rounds of ammunition. That was not enough to complete several of the exercises, and I suspected that would be true. However, that is what I ordinarily carry, and I didn’t want to do anything different than what I consider Anormal. So, as expected, I ran out of ammunition before the problem was over on several occasions. Unfortunately, when I did, I stopped and just looked at the Range Officer! What I should have done was continue the problem! I harp on this regularly in our classes, and there I was not taking my own advice. I did one of exercises over, since I was so unhappy with my performance the first time. This time, I used a Glock-30 in 40 Cor-Bon caliber. That gave me twenty-one rounds of ammunition (with one extra magazine). It was still not enough! However, when I ran out this time, I continued the exercise by attempting to outflank the last of the targets as I assaulted them with my knife! It felt much better. The lesson here is that tactical students cannot allow themselves to arbitrarily insert a Apause into any tactical exercise. Exercises must always be finished. To do otherwise is to merely train to get killed!
ARBITRARILY LIMITING THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM AREA. It is so easy to fail to see targets and other sources of danger when they lie outside of what you have arbitrarily decided is the furthest extent of the exercise. I thus failed to see several targets, simply because I never looked that far out. This is another example of casually and foolishly making assumptions you have no right to make. The trouble with making your own Arules about a particular tactical problem is that someone may forget to tell the bad guys!
LATERAL MOVEMENT WHILE DRAWING. Routinely moving laterally as one draws his gun is something which needs to be redundantly practiced. I did it when I thought about it, but, in ATSA Village, when confronted at close range by two armed-robbery suspects, I stood in one place, drew and fired. All three of us were hit. I am convinced that if I had moved laterally during my draw, I could have gotten both of them, escaped, and come out of it unscathed. Again, I need to practice more.
AUTOMATICALLY GRAVITATING TOWARD INSIDE CORNERS. In ATSA Village, I found myself automatically placing my back against a far corner of nearly every room I entered. This was all, of course, before any excitement started. The tactic prevents anyone from sneaking up behind you, but it also puts you some distance from the door, and you often find yourself Atrapped and unable to maneuver when belligerent people enter the room. In retrospect, it would probably have been better in many cases if I had tried to say close to the door, even if it put my back against a wall instead of a corner.
CROWDING COVER. Although I emphasize this very thing heavily during our training programs, I found myself so intensely concentrating on targets that I sometimes thrust the muzzle of my pistol too close to edges. One must always act with control and precision, no matter how exciting things get!
HOLSTERING A PISTOL WITHOUT FIRST PERFORMING A CHAMBER CHECK! Prior to entering the sleazy, darkened Abar in ATSA Village, one was required to Acheck his gun into a Alocker at the bar’s entrance. Upon exiting the bar, the vast majority of participants glibly re-holstered their Simmunition pistols without ever checking them. It’s an amateurish mistake, and many suffered because of it when they subsequently discovered that someone had unloaded their pistol without them knowing it. Everyone agreed that it is a pretty dumb way to die!
CONFRONTATION SKILLS. In ATSA Village, confrontations with belligerent, drunk, criminally-inclined individuals was common. Most confrontations did not involve gunplay, but were still all laden with the potential for injury. Lack of skill in this area was common. Many times, I did not do the best job:
>Demand space. When someone gets too close to you in a belligerent manner, you must create space by demanding it and/or pushing him away. You can say, AI need some space here. Nobody likes people getting that close in a clear but indignant way.
>Don’t argue with idiots. Prolonged conversational interchanges with irrationally angry people are seldom productive or of any benefit to you. You need to get space and then get away. I used the language, AI’m sorry, but I have to find a bathroom, then quickly pushed past the person.
>Get help when it is available. Many participants heavily immersed in belligerent confrontations failed to summon the police when officers were just steps away. Sometimes, after something is started, there is a great tendency to Afinish it oneself instead of Ahanding it off to the police. When police are there, they should be encouraged to assume their role.
>Use verbal commands. Many participants, after drawing their guns, pointed them at suspects and remained mute. Most of the time, the suspects just stood there as a result. Commands need to be clear but not yelled. Yelled commands tended to be unintelligible.
>Freely talking with police in the aftermath of a violent event. People involved in shootings should ask for their lawyer before talking with police. Most participants did not.