This past weekend I joined thirteen others in taking a Close Quarters Tactics class at Southern Exposure Training in Lakeland with Randy Cain.

The class has two major focuses (foci?):

  1. Some hand to hand techniques to retain your firearm or disarm an opponent.
  2. Incorporating the hand to hand techniques into the overall firearm system.

Training Days

Each training day began and ended with live fire shooting with the hand to hand techniques taking the balance (and bulk) of the time. (The amount of shooting will depend on the level of the class. Classes with better shooters will tend to shoot more as Randy doesn’t have to spend as much time correcting errors.) The first day’s morning shooting was primarily a review of Randy’s Tactical Handgun 101* and Randy made adjustments to individual shooters as needed. As the days progressed we incorporated some of the hand to hand techniques into the shooting. Randy explained how things we learned in TH101 were now made important in light of the CQT techniques–in particular, step 2 of the draw stroke (retention). Randy stressed that hand to hand techniques must not only be effective but must fit into the overall system.

*TH101 or a similar class from someone Randy respects is a prerequisite for the CQT course.

The major hand to hand skills taught in the class include:

  1. Basic movement and positioning
  2. Buying time to draw a gun against a basic knife attack (not against a skilled knife fighter)
  3. Preventing someone from taking your gun out of the holster.
  4. Preventing someone who has a grip on your gun from taking it.
  5. Taking a gun from someone else.
  6. Preventing a gang banger from drawing on you.
  7. What to do when you run empty at CQT distance.
  8. Randy also demonstrates how these same techniques can be applied to long guns.
  9. Some “parlor tricks” (You’ll think twice about using Sul once you see how easy it is to disarm.)

You don’t need to have any martial arts training to be able to learn the techniques, although it would certainly be helpful. The techniques are very forgiving and will often work even if you don’t execute them quite right. The class is somewhat demanding physically, and everyone broke a sweat despite the perfect 70 degree weather. Expect to get a little banged up (you’ll be slamming your shoulder into someone’s arm A LOT), however, you do train at your own level, and if you follow Randy’s instructions and advice, you won’t get hurt. If you’re sedentary, I’d recommend being able to walk at least a mile without getting winded to get more out of the class.

Randy is a both a very patient and demanding instructor. He’ll take the time to help individual students fix shooting problems even though that’s not the focus of this class. Once he knows your level, he’ll push you to continue to improve.

Before you come to the class, I’d also recommend de-horning your practice (blue) gun. Take the sights off, round the sharp edges (including safety, slide lock, take down lever, hammer, and beavertail).

It was a fabulous class, incredibly eye opening, and highly recommended.