AFTER ACTION REVIEW (AAR)… ECQC course by ShivWorks/SouthNarc
May 2-4, 2014
College Station, TX
I was first introduced to SouthNarc (Craig) at the Rangemaster’s annual Tactical Conference several years ago by my dear friend, the late Paul Gomez. Over the next few years I would hear of how awesome this course called “ECQC” was and how everyone that took it learned how much about gun fighting or self-defense they really did NOT know. These buds of mine are some pretty tough hombres and are probably some of the most talented defensive/competitive shooters on the planet. So after years of reading about it, months of my close friends (ECQC alumni) pleading with me to sign up for it, and SouthNarc personally giving me a big dose of reality during a private conversation last year; I decided to sign up and bite the bullet.
I’m not gonna waste your time telling you about what the class teaches you, go check out the Shivworks’ website for that info or better yet… go sign up for a class. I’m going to talk about what I learned during this 20+ hours of course work. Let me tell ya, I went into this course with the mindset of “I don’t know what I don’t know” and by the end of the first 4hr training day/block… I knew I knew even less. The class consisted of a couple of LEO’s, handful of PMC’s, and regular folks. Some had a few years of experience in some sort of martial arts or combatives training in either MMA, Brazilian Jiu jitsu, or Krav Maga. Then there were dudes like me with very little amount of training in any martial arts. Yes I had some in the Army, but when was the last time you saw an MMA fighter win by using a bayonet or a thumb-strike to the throat? I am what Craig refers to as a “gun-guy” or someone that believes a firearm will solve all their violent attacks/problems. Admittedly, I am a gun-guy. I’ve taken several pistol, carbine, shotgun, and precision rifle courses over the years. I’m more than confident using a firearm to defend myself or my loved ones in various environments/scenarios… so I thought.
Training day 1 is a four hour block called Managing Unknown Contacts (MUC) and a lot of other subjects. I’ve taken a condensed version of this several times in the past at the Rangemasters’ annual Tactical Conference and Paul-E-Palooza. Each time I would pick up more and more and it was always a great refresher. MUC teaches students how to keep bad guys at a distance when confronted. We learned how to pick up on “cues” or traits that bad guys use right before they pounce on their prey. One skill that I learned and will never forget is how to get a low center of gravity and that he who has the lowest hips wins. This was explained, demonstrated, and driven home quickly by practicing “mountain goat drills”. Which is nothing more than having two people place their foreheads together and with their hands down by their sides, try to move the other person. I’m a big dude, 6’2” and about 250lbs and a couple of folks half my size and weight were pushing me around like a rag doll simply because they got their hips lower than mine and faster. I learned quickly to correct this and started enjoying the results. This skills practice would produce our “training certificate” for the course… a bruised and raw forehead. But it began the foundation for stopping someone from trying to mow ya right on over.
Training Day 2 started on the range with a safety brief which really shocked me. Since 2003, I’ve been to several shooting competitions, firearms training courses for civilians/LEO/Military, range fun days, demo shoots, and conferences. Craig did the most thorough and most effective range safety briefing that I’ve ever even heard of let alone personally witnessed. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’… but I swear he stole it right out of our “Range Response” course and right out of our “LSM General Medical Site Survey” form; both we’ve been using since about 2010. I’m gonna email it to him and get his two cents.
We knew we were going to be close to the targets (cardboard IPSC), but I didn’t know we’d be THAT close to the targets. We were about two yards from the targets to start with, but quickly moved closer so that our foreheads stayed in constant contact of the cardboard. We were shooting from “position 2” of a 4-position draw stroke. Which from what I learned from Gomez’s RPM class; we called a high close compression position. This is obviously for a close contact shooting position. Craig says it is up to us to judge for ourselves how far to extend or not to extend to engage our target. But if they are up on us or we’re tangled up with someone trying to kill us; it works pretty darn well. The thing that surprised me the most about this position was how really compressed I could be with my pistol and still make good shots on my target. Granted I’m not hitting or aiming for the cardiovascular triangle (high center chest), but that was not the point. There are several pro’s to this position and why’s we shot low; but I’m not going to go into it here. That’s SouthNarc’s job… go take the class.
The afternoon was spent going over a lot more combative movements with our hands and arms; how to gain control of our opponent using various styles of wrestling and martial arts. Then we put on the FIST helmets, groin protectors (cups), eye pro, and mouth guards and the Simunitions guns came out too. Oh and literally BUCKETS of Simunition rounds. We broke up into groups of 3-5 and started one-on-one evolutions. And that is exactly what they were; evolutions. This was the first of several evolutions. And I got my ass handed to me each time. In fact, I didn’t even get to draw my gun on the first few because I was busy trying to gain a better position than my attacker. Needless to say, by about 16:00hrs I was on information overload; but in a good way. I had a lot to process and think about. I had to “think” while someone was smacking the side of my head, pinning me to the ground, trying to get MY gun out of MY holster, gaining better body position, locking my arms and hands up, and all while trying to just simply breathe. Yes, I forgot to breathe. The information given to me was still processing and was not being put to good use during the first few evolutions. I did manage to keep my hips low and even though I technically lost the evolutions, the wheels were turning in my head. Just not near quick enough. Which when you think about it; isn’t that how it is going to be in real life when the bad guys jump you in the parking lot? Nope, it will be faster, more violent, and you can end up a lot more banged up than five or six Sims rounds in your back and a few bruised arms.
Day three (technically) started back out on the range with more live fire drills from literally face-distances. We learned how not to look like Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights and what to do with our support hand/arm while shooting from position two. This was odd at first, because while using a horizontal spear/guard, you can’t see your firearm yet you learned from the day before it is all about feeling and really focusing on those details about position two.
The rest of the day was a mix of blue guns, FIST helmets, mouth guards, eye pro, and Sim-rounds. Which yes it was a butt whuppin’, however a lot of lessons were driven home pretty solid. If your defensive firearms training doesn’t include some sort of force-on-force scenarios, you’re BS’ing yourself. We started off with two on one scenarios where the initial attacker begins by interacting with you on their own. Then when Craig feels it is time, he introduces the second attacker. Now these scenarios are not scripted nor are students told what to do or how to act. The only directions given were to stay safe, stay within the training circle (a 10-15yd wide circle made up of observing students waiting their turn), and be interactive with each other. After your scenario, Craig picks your brain on what happened and why you did what you did… good or bad. My scenario; I shot an overzealous fan trying to get my autograph for a SWAT magazine article LSM was recently in. Long story short, I gave polite but firm verbal warnings and things escalated quickly. Things got worse for me when a “bystander” showed up to intervene. I almost shot him too. Moral of the story is don’t shoot your fans… I like fans… I don’t have that many… I shouldn’t shoot all seven that are out there. But seriously, I felt that the role player was getting too close, I gave several verbal warnings, performed finger flicks (don’t ask, take the course), and when we went to grappling and I felt in fear of my life I deployed my firearm and from position two…fired two or three rounds in the attacker’s belly and then one round to the high chest from position three. Let’s just say that it is going to be a hard sell to the jury that deadly force was justified. There was a lot more that I learned in that scenario, but I don’t have the time to list them all here right now.
The next evolution after learning to prevent gun grabs with more blue guns was a carjacking gone bad. Good guy (armed, concealed) and bad guy (armed, concealed) start off sitting up front in an old junk car. Story goes; bad guy is given a ride by good guy, bad guy pulls gun and robs good guy. Good guy must survive. Trust me folks, this sounds a lot more tame than what really happened. Again, my ass was handed to me, learning was obtained. Cool part was that no matter your environment you can still apply everything we learned over the past 2.5 days. For me the wheels were turning and I was starting to “think” my way through some of the problems (evolutions) by the end of the class.
My take home from this course:
- The gun doesn’t solve all your problems. Chances are I might not even have the opportunity to even draw it.
- AIWB (Appendix Inside the Waist Band) is the way to go for concealed carry.
- If a knife isn’t “fixed”, it’s broken. Meaning folders are a much more pain in the butt to deploy and use while all tangled up in a fight.
- I’m not in perfect shape, but I managed to maintain. But ya can’t “maintain” in a real fight. Cardiovascular endurance, strength, and speed survives and wins!
- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER get flat on your back! I learned how to rotate my hips from under an opponent that is on top of me in a mounted position both full and from the side.
- Learn position #2. Learn it very well.
- I had a lot of fun. I learned more about myself in 2.5 days than I have any other training except from my military training/service.
- I’m currently searching out BJJ and Krav Maga gyms locally with good reputations.
- There is still so much to learn…
Some of you may be asking what does this course have to do with field or tactical medicine. Well, if you can’t stop the bad guys from producing more injuries to yourself or others; then medicine is the least of your worries. Stop bullshitting yourself like I did and go take this course!
I’d like to thank my fellow classmates for being excellent training partners. Without you, I would have been lost in all the info. Thank you for being patient while I sorted things out. It was awesome having each student NOT pretend they were the instructor and let the actual instructor do the teaching. Big “Thanks” goes out to Cawthon Cartridge Club for hosting. Craig, thank you for calling me out last year and telling me what I didn’t want to hear, but needed to. Also thank you for calling me out this year and telling me what I didn’t want to hear, but needed to. You truly are a great instructor. You have my respect and it is an honor to call you “friend”. You will see me in more of your classes so that I can continue to learn and think.
You can find out more about ECQC and other courses that Shivworks has to offer at this website: http://shivworks.com/
Caleb Causey, Lone Star Medics