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An essential combat skill is firing from a barricaded position. Barricades can be broken down into two main categories: Cover and Concealment.
- Cover is an object that provides protection from bullets, fragments or anything else that could physically you harm.
- Concealment is anything that hides you from enemy observation, but does not protect you from enemy fire. Most interior walls and furniture are constructed from materials that routinely do not stop bullets. You are not protected from the enemy’s fire just because you are concealed.
The difference between cover and concealment is if it doesn't stop a bullet, then it is concealment, which only conceals your location. Cover is something that will not only conceal your location but also stop a bullet. In a combat scenario cover is always preferable to concealment. For the purpose of the rest of the discussion we will simply refer to them combined as barricades.
Barricades can be used in two ways.
- First, as a Defensive Fighting Position (DFP). In this technique you are staying behind the barricade.
- Second, as a staging area before entering another room or building. See Viper Weapons Training menu Shooting Tips and Drills page Room Clearing
Getting to the barricade: You can get to a barricade either by fleeing a shooting area to a more advantageous defensive position (you’re being shot at and your running for cover) or by approaching the barricade prior to the shooting (you hear a noise or see a video alerting you to enemy presence in the next room). In this last instance you want to have your weapon ready as the enemy may be approaching from the position you’re going to.
Barricades can be vertical (walls and doorways) or horizontal (windows and furniture). The techniques used for each are different but the requirement to minimize your exposure is paramount.
We will discuss the proper barricade position in all 3 dimensions.
- Horizontal: Barricades only work if you’re behind them, not positioned beside the barricade. It is a combat necessity to become as small a target as possible. The only portions of your body that should be exposed are your pistol and hands, and only enough of your face to clearly see the target and assess the situation. Done properly only a small percentage of your body is exposed. Changing shooting hands is not recommended and does not limit your exposure. If in practice changing hands does limit your exposure then you’re doing it wrong! For a vertical barricade you must stand completely behind the barricade and lean out only far enough to accomplish the task.
- Depth: Your pistol should not extend past the barricade. Doing so causes 3 problems. First, its easy to see the weapon from multiple angles in the area you are clearing. Second, the exposed weapon may be grabbed or disabled and third, it is more difficult to move away from your barricaded position if your weapon is extended. Therefore, you should be roughly more than arms reach away from the barricade you are using. You may want to use the barricade to brace your hand/weapon on, but remember 2 things. First, you have practiced your whole life on shooting stabilized and accurately without touching something and anything you touch will slow down your ability to move the pistol either to aim better or to secure the weapon. Sure, bracing your arms on a table or vehicle that your shooting over is smart and may help and certainly using something to stabilize a rifle for a long-range shot works, but we are talking about a dynamic high-speed self-defense pistol situation.
- Vertical: While standing you should be leaning enough that your lower body is not exposed at all. A technique to consider is a kneeling position behind the barricade. Kneeling will in most cases make you a smaller target and presents a picture to the enemy that is different from the norm. It can be a good position if you are mobile enough to quickly stand and move. But it is harder to lean out far enough while kneeling to keep your lower body unexposed. Certainly, if your barricade is low then a kneeling position is probably mandatory. Horizontal barricades will require you to adjust your height and may require you to kneel or even lay flat (shooting under a car).
It’s tougher than it looks and requires practice. Just standing behind a barricade seeing the target and shooting may not be that tough and really only requires leaning and minimizing exposure. But getting to the barricade and not knowing exactly where the target is, complicates things greatly. Here are some reasons we see students struggle the first time we teach barricade shooting.
1. Thinking of scenarios. We introduce barricade shooting in the Tactical courses and it requires thinking thru a scenario and picturing real life. This naturally increases the amount of stimulus your brain is processing.
2. Not initially pointing at the target. As you approach the barricade you are not pointing at the target but rather the opening. This requires a quick change in position and rotation that must be practiced.
3. Slicing the Pie. Standing behind a barricade, leaning and shooting are easy. Finding the target in the shoot zone while minimizing your body’s exposure is a life or death requirement. Clearing a small portion of the shoot zone at a time takes training, practice, patience and discipline.
4. Delayed target acquisition. Most shooting practice takes place where you see the target clearly even before you draw. With barricades you are leaning, presenting the pistol, finding the target, aiming and shooting all almost simultaneously.
5. Off balance shooting. This is probably the first time you have shot while leaning out and not having your weight properly over your feet. Even shooting while moving provides more balance. Most of your weight will be on one foot if leaning around a vertical barricade.
6. Moving. First, practice your barricade shooting static from behind the barricade seeing the target as your presenting the pistol. Second, practice standing upright and leaning out, presenting and acquiring your target at the same time and taking multiple shots. Then practice securing and moving to the barricade before stabilizing and starting the previous leaning, acquiring and shooting steps.
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