17th Mar2012

The Principles of CQB

by A.J.

Speed, Surprise, Violence of Action

Lately we have been taking a look at CQB to try to educate/review some of the basic premises for military operators and tactical athletes. We decided to make a post dedicated to the most basic parts of CQB so in future installments we could delve deeper and not have to catch guys up as we go. This post will seem pretty basic to some of the people out there but, I think a review can do everyone some good sometimes. To win at CQB there are three pillars or principles that should be adhered to. The three pillars of CQB are of course:

1. Speed

2. Surprise

3. Violence of Action

 

Why discuss the  Principals of CQB?

CQB

I am not really sure why a team would want to be this close. How easy do you think it is to "sneak" 8 guys up to a breach point in the day time. If they were moving fast they should have no time to get ducks in a row. What is the number one man waiting for? Plus the last man is covering where they came from instead of the threat corner.

There is some confusion about the three principles and to be honest There isn’t a lot of consensus about what is the exact best way to apply these pillars. Police  tend to have their own play book and the military guys another but, that being said there are definitely places where we meet in the middle. I am going to give you my take on it and as usual I am going to make the disclaimer that these are only the opinions of the TacticalAthleticPerformance.com advisory board and you have to make the determination for your team what is right for you.

Speed

Speed is probably the most misunderstood principal because it does not mean an operator must run from one point in the objective to the next. Speed is a nuanced idea that the team should waste no time and give the enemy as little time as possible to prepare for the assault team. Recently, I was training with a long time friend of mine whose tactical prowess I respect a great deal and when we were doing some training he said: “well let’s just start off real slow, and back it off from there.” The quote really stuck with me because it showed a great deal of insight into CQB training and execution. Often times we get so excited and adrenaline overloaded that we tend to move way too fast and get ahead of our headlights, which in the long run slows the operation.

 ”Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”

                                           -every tactical instructor on earth

CQC Thailand

A couple years ago I was training the Thai Special Forces, and when I said "speed" they heard "run." I remember this hit not going so well. LOL

The reality (or at least how we see it) is that slow can be smooth and smooth can be fast, but slow isn’t fast. I recently looked up whether slow was defined as fast and for some reason Mr. Webster didn’t think so. Speed is the end goal, not “FAST”, now this may be a semantic argument but, the principles aren’t: fast, surprise and violence of action; so my suggestion is to just get fast out of your vocabulary (fast happens all on its own). Speed on the other hand is a product of the economy of motion. By moving smoothly and deliberately you will be able to clear an objective much more quickly and efficiently than you could by running through the objective, blowing off threats and generally acting like a spaz (which is my personal pet peeve). A deliberate (not to be confused with deliberate technique) approach that has good economy of motion will maintain the initiative and give the enemy less opportunity to prepare for the assault team. So if you get anything out of this section it would be that your team needs to be methodical, masterful and economical; which will provide all the “speed” you need.

 

Surprise

I know we have all seen the movies where the SWAT team simultaneously breaches every window of a building by repelling off the roof and putting an officer in a circular perimeter around the inside of the room before the enemy knows what is going on. Aside from the fact that I am not a fan of the circular ambush, the principal of surprise is definitely a big part of the hollywood infil and for good reason. When you are able to surprise the opposition force you can get ahead of their internal decision-making process, which many people describe as the OODA loop. The OODA loop which was first described by Col. Boyd of the U.S. Air Force is the theoretical decision-making process that we all must use before we carry out an action. Observe, Orient, Decide and Act is a constantly moving process the enemy must make to engage your assault force and by surprising the op-4 (opposition force) you can short-circuit the process and gain great advantage. Once we agree that surprise is important we then need to develop a plan that gives us the ability to maintain surprise and though I am not including an exhaustive list we can hit some of the big stuff.

When your team gets to decide what time to attack be sure to use a time that gives you the biggest advantage (and is when the enemy is the least alert). If you know the lights in a target turn off at a certain time I would suggest hitting that target about 45-70 minutes later which gives your enemy an opportunity to not only get to sleep but, to enter the deepest most restful sleep from which he will be the most disoriented when woke up. One problem with night-time is that it generally makes it more difficult to approach the target without being heard ( I can barely walk around my room in the dark without knocking something over). On the other hand peak traffic time may provide the noise pollution your team needs to gain access undetected. Surprise can also be manufactured by the use of flash bangs that create a disorienting effect with percussion, or even an explosive breach can elicit the same response. The police often send a guy in a pizza delivery  outfit to get the door open and quickly make entry, this works because the op-4 has pizza on the brain and the next thing he sees badges and guns in his face totally short circuiting the OODA loop. To use surprise effectively you need to avoid patterns and constantly change your team’s techniques, if the bad guy is in the back room and he hears you bang every room and then make entry; he will be waiting for the bang before he starts firing at the fatal funnel. Change entry points, tempo and tools to keep an advantage. Never get into the mindset that what worked yesterday is going to work today, CQB is a thinking man’s game so get your team able to flex from one TTP to the next. Have multiple tactics that you use and change them depending on the METT-TC. Remember surprise can come from many different aspects of the assault including timing, distraction, misdirection, decoy or any number of other tools, your mind is the only limit so plan a few mock training iterations and make it a point to get your guys thinking outside of the box.

Violence of Action

CQBVoA insures that the team maintains the initiative by kicking in doors and being generally aggressive. Keep both mental and physical momentum through action and combat mindset. Hesitation is the enemy of VoA so drill often to insure that all team members are “switched on” and ready to execute. It is amazing how often the first person to realize they are in a fight, wins the fight because acting first carries a huge prize for the carrier. Violence of Action also can demoralize the enemy and sometimes get them to surrender without the need for a shooter’s solution. VoA is maintained by refusing to let complicated CQB problems bog down the team, I have watched many teams (from the catwalk in training) literally stand in a room planning the way to hit the next room, by the time you are on the objective the planning phase has passed just get out there and execute. If your team has to discuss the correct way to cross a four-way intersection then obviously you need to take it back to the drawing board and et your SOPs squared away before you should spend any time in the shoot house. Remember an average plan well executed is better than a perfect plan, not executed.

 

Conclusion

Thanks for reading to the end, you are a rock star. I am going to give away a free tee shirt to one person who comments on this post and enters the drawing, here is how to enter:CQC

1. Read post (done). 25% complete

2. Post comment that says “issue me a free tee” (also go to the TAP Store and pick the one you want and include in comment)

3. Share this post on your social network of choice (like or plus or whatever).

4. When we have 50 comments (mine don’t count) I am going to pick one random person and send a Tee Shirt.

Thanks again, and be sure to subscribe by putting in your email in the “subscribe” section to the right so you don’t miss any new posts.

 

 

 

29th Feb2012

Combat Mindset and Peak Performance

by A.J.

You are the Master of Your MindsetCheck Your Headspace and Timing

I spent the day with some guys I have worked with over at Magis Group who are without a doubt the leading performance optimization training company for the military and specifically Special Operations. We got to talking about what are some of the differences between a good operator and a great operator. The owner of Magis is a man named Stephen Robinson and it is clear after talking to Steve that there is a lot more to the mental preparation than simply “thinking positively.” The tactical mindset is a deliberate mental state you create through the use of a disciplined mind. Hopefully with some of the info I put down here you can start to develop a methodical approach to increasing you capacity to perform in a tactical environment.

 

“there is a big difference between being a good shot and being a good shooter”

-me

 

After a few hours of talking I asked for one skill set I could use to improve how I perform, and I asked if I could share it with you guys and without missing a beat Steve gave me something pretty cool. He called it the “peak performance state.”

Developing a Peak Performance State

Or as I would say a “Peak Tactical Athletic Performance State.” So here it is sort of simplified but, enough to get us started.

1. Develop a ritual

When preparing for combat or just kitting up for training, do it the same way every time. I have a very specific order that I put on my gear, PCI my equipment and load my weapon systems (*ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, LOAD YOUR SECONDARY BEFORE YOUR PRIMARY) before I am ready to go. By doing it the same way you are using somatic (body movement) markers to train your mind and body to be ready. Just as certain body positions can trigger memories a ritual will prep your body for battle. As an added bonus if you do it the same way every time if you forget something it will feel wrong so you can correct the omission.

 

Tactical Mindset2. Eat for the Mission

Before a mission is no time to experiment with new foods or engage in gastronomical adventurism. The time to try new things is when there is nothing on the line and you aren’t required to perform. Bland food made of primarily complex carbos is probably going to be your best bet, avoid heavy protein and fats right before leaving the wire. Don’t worry the horrible chow hall food will be there when you get back.

 

3. Use a Mantra

A mantra is a few words that embody how you want to operate or what you expect from your self. The mantra doesn’t have to be a complex set of expectations but it should mean something to you and elicit a feeling state that is congruent with the mission. For what it is worth (probably not much) I always tell my self I am going to be “fast and accurate”, “I am going to engage targets fast and accurately”, “I am going to make decisions fast and accurately.” I know this may sound silly or useless for a few guys out there but I challenge you to try it and see if it works for you. Don’t make a huge scene with your team mates just quietly psych your self up.

 

4.Get in Character

There is nothing I hate more than when I am out training or on a mission and I know one of the guys I depend on is daydreaming or for some reason isn’t 100% focused on the task at hand. When you head out you are one thing and one thing only; you are a warrior on a mission who will stop at nothing to accomplish what is expected of you! You will have time later to worry about your bills, your spouse and whether you closed the garage door. If you can’t leave that stuff behind then you need to figure out who can replace you on the mission, it may sound harsh but in the real world when it gets ugly I don’t need fathers, brothers, or great husbands all I need are mission accomplishing machines who will stop at nothing to do the job and get the team back safe. Actors in Hollywood say they can get in “character” when they have to so I know the men and women who carry the banner of freedom should have no problem. Part of getting in character is your mental state; think about a time you performed at you best and recreate it in your mind, this should help stimulate your senses and get you motivated to go to work.

 

5. Be Present

Performance happens in the present, past performance doesn’t guarantee future success and the only easy day was yesterday. If you are in a surreal state of dissociation you can not perform at your peak. Studies have shown that Special Forces and SEAL candidates who try to mentally dissociate from selection have a much lower pass rate than those who just endure the moment and don’t save anything for later. Often times a mission can get out of hand fast, when the bullets are flying you can see it in the eyes of the new guy that he is just barely holding on to reality. One trick I use is I wiggle my toes in my boots and take a deep breath, it places me in the present and readies me to be an active participant in the mission. This can also be used to get other team members who have hit a limit get back online, grab a hold of him and ask him if he is ready to move to the next problem , tell him to take a deep breath because you are depending on him to do his job.

 

Conclusion

These are skills that many of you guys already do to some degree or another, I know that because I have out briefed hundreds of combat vets and they have told me as much. You may use some of these and not others but, I would ask you to try it out before you discount it off-hand. You should be using this stuff both in tactical situations and non tactical for example: When I get home from work I open my safe and put my guns away (ritual) I get out of my uniform or work cloths and change (get in character) I take a deep breath and release any unneeded mental residue from the day (being present) and I tell myself I am going to go upstairs and be the best husband I can be (mantra) then I say hello to the wife and grab a beer (eat for the mission). As I write this I can actually hear your eyes rolling in your head, but I challenge you to take this approach to anything you want to accomplish and I defy you to come back and tell me it hasn’t fundamentally changed that way you approach your job, relationships and life. I would like to thank you for reading this post and spending time on the site and I would also like to thank Stephen Robinson for his permission to use some of his basic skills to help out other operators. Please check out the “Affiliates Section” to the right and proceed to buy things you would anyway from great sites like Bodybuilding.com because half the proceeds go to awesome charities like the Special Operations Foundation. If you feel you got some value out of this post I would really appreciate any feedback you have to give (I try to respond to them all) and thank you for sharing on your social network of choice.

 

 

23rd Feb2012

Ten Mistakes That Will Get You Killed in CQB

by A.J.

Avoid These Mistakes and Survive Your Next Mission

I recently got back from a training iteration for work and I noticed that a lot of us kept making the same simple mistakes so I decided to make a list of ten of them so we can avoid them and strengthen the force. I decided to leave out the obvious stuff like “fatal funnels” and not digging corners but instead included some of the big stuff that doesn’t get as much attention.

disclaimer: I have no egoic investment in being the greatest CQB warrior on the planet. I know there are hundreds of guys out there who have forgotten more about CQB than I will ever know, but that being said, I think I am a pretty good teacher and I feel I have enough training, instruction experience, and combat experience to talk intelligently on the subject. Also I have taken great pains to exclude any classified information or non-open source intel so as to not give away any TTPs that you can not find on ‘Youtube’ or the like. Please take this as a guide and not doctrine and if you think something I put out violates common sense or is just plain wrong feel free to throw it out cause heaven knows I have no problem blowing off bad tactics myself. Also I am not talking about other people exclusively, I have made most if not all of these mistakes myself not only in training but, also in combat.

Close Quarters CombatWhat is CQB?

CQB for those who aren’t familiar with the term stands for Close-Quarters-Battle or Close-Quarters-Combat and in the grand scheme of things I think it falls somewhere between combat from street corner to street corner, to hand-to-hand fighting. I would say if you think you can engage accurately in combat using your pistol with a high degree of precision then you are in CQB range.

The following is a short (not exhaustive) list of mistakes I regularly see guys make in CQB with hopefully a few gems to improve combat skills and tactics.

10. Hesitation

The confused look you see in the eyes of your buddies when he decides whether to go or stay is an indicator that he has reached his mental or physical capacity to solve the CQB problem. At its root CQB is about angles, opportunity and percentages. Not every tactic works in every situation and often times you can do the exact right thing and take a round to the trauma plate anyway. The CQB skills are based on the most likely course of action you need to take to have the highest chance of survivability and it is not a 100% solution because nothing is. So the question becomes, can you mentally negotiate the problem at a speed that provides the highest success rate. Often times for guys who are new to the tactics the answer is, “no” and when this happens there is an introduction of hesitation that gives the opposition force advantage.

I feel the solution is multifaceted, but starts with repetition of SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) and making sure everyone is dancing to the same sheet of music. Having a well established and planned SOP before you get out to the training site is imperative, making sure everyone understands those SOP’s  intellectually will save hours in the glass house or shoot house. Secondly I think some mental rehearsal just prior to execution of an IMT (Individual Movement Technique) can greatly speed the learning process. If you are beyond the training environment you may simply have to move the offending team member to a location in the stack to where he is no longer in a position to slow the flow. This removal should be done in a non judgemental way and used as a training tool and not a means of ridicule or you will create an environment where failure is so feared that no one will have the courage to do anything.

9. Rabbiting/One-Man Room Clearing

Rabbiting is a situation where the number one man starts off so fast that no one has the time to catchup conversely a one-man room clear is when the number two-man just plan drops the ball and sends the number one man off into danger areas alone. The reaction time of a bad guy in a room is very fast and it should be within that time that number two-man is able to get in and provide support. If number one man runs into a danger area and doesn’t give two-man a chance to catch up it can be very bad and conversely if number two-man sort of gets behind the power curve  and allows number one man to go it alone there can be dire consequences.

“NEVER ENGAGE IN A FAIR FIGHT”

-ME

 

Number one man needs to recognize that the guys behind him have to react to his movement before they can go so moving at below normal combat speed can mitigate that break in contact. Number two-man has to be on the ball, he needs to have the situational awareness that number one man can’t get, number two-man needs to be ready to go and support his number one man.

Room Clearing Sometimes Involves Chemlights8. Chemlights Don’t Pull Security

Okay I know this sounds dumb, but I see it all the time. Often when an assault team clears a room they will mark the room with a Chemlight to let others know that friendlies have cleared it already, or so they know the status of that room. If for some reason you lose eyes on that “cleared” room and have to pass it again to get out of the structure or to conduct a secondary search you need to re clear that room. The Chemlight is glowing because it is full of Predator blood but what it is not doing is keeping that room safe. Any number of things can happen when your team leaves the room, so if you need to go by or reenter that room be sure to respect the threat.

7. Find a Hole Fill a Hole

Like I said earlier, CQB is a solution to a very complex problem, to include the angles, levels and shooter’s solutions; be flexible enough to fill in the blanks. If you see a team-mate drop a threat or blow off an important danger area do not stop the operation to argue about what he should have done, just do your part to fix the omission.  Many structures provide overwhelming threats and you arguing about who should do what will jeopardize your security and could cost you your life.  So if you find a hole in the team security posture or a hole in mission tasks just fill the hole. If you find yourself standing in the middle of a structure or threat area with nothing to do then, do it quick and go pull security.

6. Getting So Amped You Loose Your Mind

Combat is stressful and stress will cause an increase in your heart rate, an increased heart rate can cause tunnel vision and tunnel vision will kill you. If you are in a tough scrape and the world looks as if you are viewing it through a toilet paper roll then you need to calm down and get you situational awareness back on line. Take a deep breath do a 360 to make sure you aren’t standing in a window or silhouetting a danger area and take inventory of what is going on. Often when we get amped up we don’t even know it so be sure to monitor your buddies for this kind of behavior.

5. You Don’t Need To Turn Your Head To Talk

This one may not kill you, but it is definitely a pet peeve of mine so I am including it. I know we grew up in a society that really values eye contact and outside of the CQB environment go nuts creeping people out with an icy stare, but in a house if your job is to lock down a crack in the door that sees the hallway please don’t turn to me to tell me you think you see something. Here is an experiment: go to the kitchen with your wife, face away from her so you can’t see her and tell her you are thinking of calling your ex girlfriend to give her make-up tips, if you get hit in the head with a frying pan then you never have to take your eyes off your assigned threat again.

In Combat Training Don't be That Guy4. “Break the Wrist and Walk Away”

If you have spent more than five minutes in the profession you have most likely met this guy. This is the guy who for whatever reason is teaching you and your team about CQB or Shooting or Tactics in general that knows absolutely everything there is to know about armed conflict, just ask him. This guy will get you killed! He is so wrapped up in the idea that he is awesome that he will not answer any questions or explain why he does anything the way he does it. There are a ton of guys that are teaching skills they don’t understand and only teach them because someone told them it was a good technique. Of all the stuff and BS you have to deal with getting this guy out of your training cycle will work wonders for the team. I try very hard to be open-minded and you would be hard pressed to get me in a tactical school where I couldn’t walk away learning something. There are no Jedi knights and no one left their parents on Krypton, so if we all just ratchet it back a bit and ask “WHY do we do it that way?” maybe we can learn something. That being said if you have no idea what is going on just do as your told by someone you trust to lead you.

Aside: I was doing training with a guy for hand-to-hand and when asked why he likes the palm strike so much he said “because I learned all the martial arts in the world and I took out all the stuff that doesn’t work.” This is a guy who when I asked him to spar told me that he “trains to be lethal and doesn’t want to kill me.” My answer to guys like that is “really bro….” (confused look)

3. Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Here is one I know we have all heard and to my analytical mind I interpret it as Slow=Smooth, Smooth=Fast, therefore Slow=Fast. Well slow isn’t fast in fact “slow” is the opposite of “fast” I looked it up in the dictionary. This is a saying that has floated around for a while and some of the guys I consider legends, who I really respect, who I would pay hundreds of dollars to learn basic skills from say this all the time.

Aside: I don’t think there is a such thing as basic skills and advanced skills I think there are basic skills done well and basic skills done poorly.

Doing skills slowly can provide a smoothness that being a spazz won’t allow, and yes when you see a masterful practitioner do a skill fast it also looks super smooth. I would say that “slow is smooth and speed is a product of the economy of motion.” So to sum it up: don’t be a spazz, do practice your skills, and when you have mastered those skills you should be able to move smoothly and quickly.

2. Speed is Your Only Security

Speed, is one of the basic principles of Close Quarters Combat: Speed, Surprise, and Violence of Action. That being said speed is not the only principle and if you are so worried about going fast that you lose security you are going to have a real problem. Never outrun your headlights, do not think that speed can compensate for poor security. Speed is an enhancer like sugar in your coffee, but you still need the beans and water to make it work. I see guys charge head long into complex scenarios that they have no chance of getting out of. I have made this mistake a ton due to frustration, or fear, or plain stupidity. You can regain the initiative with explosives, gas, distraction or misdirection etc. You do not need to be a team of guys running around like your hair is on fire unless you are trained to be incredibly fast (read this as Tier 1 operator with huge budgets, training apparatus, raw skill, advanced selection and support to execute huge amounts of training in which case you don’t need or want my advice on CQB anyway) So be deliberate, methodical, calculated and competent. If you master the skills speed will happen as a natural byproduct.

1.Playing Pic a Boo With Bad Guys

Great guys get killed because for some reason they decide to engage in a fair fight with the bad guys. Often we will gain entry into the breach point and get a foot hold in a structure, at the same time the bad guys get out of bed and decide to engage us. If we are in the first room let’s say and he is in the far room and he shoots we will go  to a position that provides cover and return fire. If there is a linear danger area separating these two places (read this as hallway, stairwell, etc) we will sit on one side and he will sit on the other and we will play pic a boo together until someone gets hit. This game is deadly, it will kill 50% of the people who play it and it is totally unnecessary. If he is there and you are here do not engage in a fair fight. If you are overseas throw your damn frags at him, use an AT-4, get out the m-203, have someone place a charge on an exterior wall to the room he is in, if ROE allows break contact and kinetically reduce the structure, please do not play this game. If you are in the US in a law enforcement capacity you can yell changing magazines (when you have ammo) drop elevation out of the gun line and get him when he shows himself, use Gas, have snipers take a shot, fill the house with bees for all I care just don’t attempt to fight fair in a gun fight it is dumb and can make your wife a widow.

Chinese Special Forces

Tactical Urban Rover Detachment or T.U.R.D. for short

Conclusion

First off thanks for reading to the end, your awesome. While writing this at first I made a list of ten things that I have seen cause problems in training and overseas, it was actually hard not to include everything, but I know it is tough to get guys to read more than ten things so I cut it short there are probably 125 or so. It is my hope that you will find this useful; I wish someone had given me this list ten years ago it would have saved me a lot of trouble. I have been working pretty hard to get the word out to guys like you and if you think there was something useful here I would really appreciate it if you left a comment or at least shared it on your social network of choice so I can get more feed back from guys. Thanks again for stopping by De Oppreso Liber.

 

12th Feb2012

Top Sites You Need To Visit

by A.J.

Military Fitness sitesI am always looking for new places to get info for our profession. Becuase it is such a small niche it is sometimes difficult to find good accurate info. The last couple of weeks I have been in a course for shooting, CQB and Urban Combat (which is why the post have slowed down for two weeks). While here I have been talking to my buddies about some lessons learned, TTPs and where to go for more info, so in the interest of getting that info out to the dedicated few who make a living carrying a firearm and wearing body armor I have put together a short list of some of my favorite places to go. Feel free to bookmark this post for future reference and if it turns out to be a post you enjoy share it with your buddies on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Leave a comment about your experience.

#1. Stew Smith, The Daily PT

Stew is a great buddy of mine and he is an absolute encyclopedia of military fitness techniques. I placed Stew at number one because I wanted to start out of the gate pretty strong. One of the unbelievable things about Stew is he answers all his non spam emails and I have seen him take time out and personally train guys that are getting ready for the military and advanced selection courses. You may never meet such a genuinely nice guy with the SEAL credentials he brings to the table.

#2. Kyle Lamb, Viking Tactics

Kyle Lamb is a former Delta Operator and Seargent Major in the Special Operations community, now Kyle is arguably the best tactical carbine instructor in the world. Besides being a great instructor he is a great guy who takes the time to answer questions and train interested parties in the military and the civilian sector but, be warned he is generally booked out many months in advance. His book “Green Eyes and Black Rifles: Warriors Guide to the Combat Carbine” is an absolute must ready for anyone in our profession.

#3. Ben Greenfield, Get Fit Guy

Ben Greenfield was NSCA’s Personal Trainer of the Year 2008, which is a great distinction. I personally do not know Ben but I have followed his blog and podcast for some time. Ben brings things down to a very basic level and anytime you spend on his site is well spent.

#4. Pistol-Training.com

Pistol-Training.com is a great resource when you are looking to add some variety to your training. This site has a huge library of drills, targets and information. Be sure to stop by and check out the original F.A.S.T. drill.

#5. R.E. Factor Tactical

R.E. Factor Tactical is a site dedicated to the needs and wants of operators and military members alike. R.E. Factor is owned by a Special Forces Master Breacher who I have worked with on a few operations and he specializes in creating special purpose items for breaching and other tactical needs. If you have a question about the tactical application of explosives there is no one out there I would rather ask.

#6. BodyBuilding.com

Body Building.com has a huge selection of supplements and shipping second to none. They provide free shipping to APO addresses which comes in super handy when deployed overseas. They also have a great tool to help develop supplementation regimens as well as workout programs. One thing I like to do is buy stuff while over seas so I have a constant influx of carepackages I send myself and besides, without some supplements you are forced to limit your fuel intake to stuff you find in the chow hall. “There is no point in treating your body like a temple in the gym if you treat it like a dumpster in the chow hall.” I would suggest getting over there and checking out all the new features they are adding all the time. In the interest of full disclosure the above is an affiliate link and I will get a small commission on anything you buy, but the prices are the same for you so thank you for using my link and helping to support this site.

 

#7. The Sniper’s Hide

As a military sniper it is often very very very difficult to get reliable info that you can use plus with everything else you gotta do staying up on the latest info and tactics is also hard, that is where The Sniper’s Hide comes in. The Sniper’s Hide has great info and if you are a sniper that wants to stay on the cutting edge or just a professional warrior who understands that marksmanship solves a huge number of tactical problems then this is the place to go.

 

#8. Matt Hathcock CrossFit Unbroken

I know there a ton of Crossfit fanatics out there and this site is the one I really like. Matt and his guys do a great job be sure to check them out. Based out of the Denver Metro area working out at Unbroken you not only have to contend with super human workouts but, also the altitude.

#9. Brownell’s

Brownell’s has been outfitting soldiers and police officers for over 70 years.  They have a great selection and if you are as interested in shooting as I am there is no one out there that can get you a better price so you can shoot more often. Get over there and get the best new optics for your pistol or rifle and just watch your performance improve. Like the Bodybuilding.com link this one is also an affiliate link so I thank you if you use it the next time you need to plus up your zombie apocalypse cache at better than Walmart prices.

#10. Andy Holmes, Complete Nutrition

Andy doesn’t have a super web site but, I think I would be remiss if I left him out. At one of my former ODAs we hired Andy to come in and get all the guys on the team squared away with what supplements we should be using for different phases of training. Andy is a two sport Olympic Athlete and well as a 4 Sport athlete in college. Andy specializes in military athletes and if you send him an email and mention that you got his info from T.A.P. he will waive his $125.00 consultation fee and provide phenomenal no obligation recommendations just tell him your MOS and what your goals are. You can contact him at Email Andy

#10.Tactical Athletic Performance

Of course you knew I was going to have this site in the list. I started this site to fill a void I found because you can probably find 100 sites on how to play some superhero video game but, there is literally no one stop shop for all the stuff that keeps us alive on the battlefield or get us some tips to share the best way to close with and destroy the enemy. T.A.P. was built as my attempt to help push the ball down the field but, it can’t work unless we get feedback from other guys who have been there and actually fired their weapons in combat so please whenever you find something relevant or maybe even off target give us your perspective. Thanks for reading to the end talk to you all soon. Be Safe.

05th Feb2012

10 Tips to Improve Your Training for the Military

by A.J.

Training for MilitaryWhether you are getting ready to join the military or you are just ready to push your performance to the next level there are definitely a few tips that should help. As a Special Operator there are two aspects of the military that I think are by far the most important, they are going to war and training. This article is intended to help you get the most out of your training for the military. Before I get a few of you saying I have made this post already I would say yes to a degree you are right, but not only is this a different take on the original it is also such an important topic that it is okay to reiterate some of the points to those of you who never read the first one here is the original “Improve Combat Training

 

10. Don’t Let Your Ego Slow You Down

Personally I have had difficulty with this aspect of military training. It is hard to give up your ideas and assumptions and take a listen to what others have to offer. If you go into training thinking you know it all I promise you will not get the most out of the training.

9. Strike a Balance Between Your Strength Training and Endurance Development

We tend to do the things we are good at and ignore the stuff we have a little more difficulty with. If you work on your weaknesses you will respond well to the training because, it is so much easier to improve at things you are bad at and in the long run you will find all your training events are easier.

8. Don’t Waste Your Workouts

After you train you have about 45 minutes to get some fuel in the machine or you have essentially wasted your time in the gym. In a recent study they had three groups of strength trainers those who ate within 45 minutes of working out, those who ate at normal meal times and those who waited three hours after training to eat and the results most likely won’t blow your skirt up. The group who waited three hours after training actually got weaker from training, the guys who just eat at normal meal times had a slight gain and those who ate within 45 minutes of training had significant increases in performance. The moral of the story is have a fueling plan for after you train and be sure to get do it or you just wasted your time, effort and motivation.

7. Have Fun

If you don’t at least a little bit enjoy the outdoors, physical training and adventure maybe being a military athlete isn’t for you. There is no shame in not wanting to be a tactical athlete just understand that it isn’t for you. If you do have the aptitude to be a light-fighter and warrior don’t let it become a drag have fun with it. Do your ruck marching in places where you get to enjoy nature and be in the wild. Join teams and train in groups. In my most recent shooting school we would spend about 12 hours a day at the range and after all that time in gear we were getting pretty tired, but as soon as the steel target tree came out and it was a competition everyone was revitalized to train just because a little friendly competition really makes training more fun.

6. Have a Rest Plan

Recovery is a huge part of training. The military is notorious for making the military personnel work on low sleep, so sleep when you can. Even if you are training everyday be sure to have a few days where you are engaging in recovery exercises like a moderate swim or a slow jog. Have a plan to recover and get better everyday.

5. Have a Plan

Decide some performance markers you want to achieve and move toward that goal. When someone tells me they are going to get in shape I say “great what is your plan,” often I get a weird look, but I think your plan is one of the largest indicators of whether you will be successful. Write it out even if it is a rough draft like “go to the gym 5 days a week and run 10 miles on Saturday and Sunday” the more detailed the better but be sure to at least have an idea of how you are going to proceed.

4. Get a partner

No matter how motivated you are a partner will help you stay more consistent. Having a partner will also give you an indication of your progress verses someone else’s. With a partner comes accountability and the responsibility that someone is depending on you and all that should help you stick to it.

3. Watch Your Nutrition

Don’t fall into the trap of treating your body like a temple in the gym and a dumpster in the chow hall. As a military athlete nutrition becomes especially important because the department of defense only gives lips service to the idea of high quality nutrition. I am a huge advocate of supplements for all tactical athletes simply because I see a terrible effect on my performance that the military diet tends to have. Just like your mom always said “eat you vegetables.” Be sure to get a variety of veggies, lean protein sources and try to keep your saturated fats to below 8 grams per day.

2. Don’t Forget About Your Movement Skills

Recently the Special Operations community has been really interested in what separates the candidates that pass selection and training events and those that do not pass. Candidates that fail to pass are generally separated into three distinct groups and they are as follows; Persons who quit training voluntarily or “VW” (voluntary withdrawal), persons who fail to meet the standard, and persons who for some medical reason cannot continue to train. A recent study showed that 87% of candidate who failed to get above a 14 on a functional movement screening failed to complete Officer Candidate School due to injuries. The functional movement screening is a specific battery of movement skills that display your overall functional movement prowess. To help develop your movement techniques focus on lower impact training like yoga which I personally believe to be a totally indispensible part of military fitness for any operator who wants to achieve a higher level of performance.

1. Get Leaner

Gravity is a sonofagun. As a ground trooper we talk about how much our ruck weights and how heavy our equipment is. The military will weight you down with a hundred pounds of ultra-light-weight equipment even though we can’t always choose what we carry we can choose not to carry around the extra weight of body fat. Anything over 10% body fat is a uneeded excess. I put together a little article for fat burning that may help get you on the right track.

 

Get a head start

I decided to include a video I made last year that I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from military member who just want a place to start.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, be sure to leave a comment, share with your battle buddies on Facebook and bookmark for future reference.

28th Jan2012

Optimum Fat Burning For Military Fitness

by A.J.

Lower Your Intensity, Increase Your Performance

Fat BurningWhat is the best way to burn fat, lean up and overall increase my ability on the battle field? This is a question I get hit with quite often. The fact of the matter is you can’t flex fat so besides a small amount of fuel you need to carry on your body, excess fat just slows you down, increases the work you have to do to get the job done and doesn’t seem to do much to improve your appearance in a uniform. Conventional wisdom says you burn more calories from fat when your output is low and you burn more calories from carbs when you put out at high intensity. Unfortunately it isn’t as easy as just dropping your intensity to burn more fat, because when you drop intensity you also drop total calorie output. The question becomes what is the optimum intensity output to burn the most fat while not getting too far into the carbohydrate and muscle burning zone. One pound of fat provides about 3600 calories of energy which is why your body depends on it when your are resting or not putting out much effort, the average person carries less that 2000 calories from carbohydrates on the entire body and even a lean fit athlete carries over 25,000 calories of energy as stored fat.

Get In The Fat Burning Zone

 

For most people your peak fat burning zone is between 45% and 65% of your maximum heart rate. The way most people find the max heart rate simply take 220 and subtract their age to find their max heart rate, but unfortunately this can be very inaccurate and in the military athlete this inaccuracy can be even more stated. So here is how you can find that zone the way they do in a lab for professional athletes.

Finding Your Optimum Fat Burning Zone

Step 1: Warm up on a treadmill or bike for 10 minutes.

Military FitnessStep 2: Peddle on a stationary bike for 20 minutes at your maximum sustainable rate. You should feel a developing burn in the legs, but not so much intensity that your muscels cramp up or force you to stop. (this level of output is right at your lactic acid threshold, where you muscles are creating lactic acid at about the same rate your body is able to process that acid out.)

Step 3: Record your heart rate every minute for the twenty minutes and find the average. From that number subtract 20 beats from that.

Step 4: That number is your Optimun Fat burning rate stay within 3 beats of that number above and below. This is where for your time and effort you will burn the most fat for your individual body.

Example: If your average heart rate during the 20 minutes is 165 then subtract 20 to get 145 and therefor you optimum fat burning zone is 142-148 beats per minute.

My Recommendations

 

I have included my recommendations, and in the interest of full disclosure if you buy any of theses products through my links below I will be compensated for your purchase but whether you buy them through me or else where I truly appreciate you stopping by and reading my post. Please leave a comment and bookmark for future reference.

Remember that the fat burning zone will not develop your overall endurance and cardio vascular fitness as well as other training methods so spend time in the fat burning zone but do not neglect the rest of your fitness requirements.

You are going to need a decent heart moniter do not depend on the monitor on your basic cardio equipment. The polar FT2 is a no frills monitor I use regularly the price is right and mine has lasted me a long time.

 

Once you have found the zone you need to be training in to burn fat I recommend a few helpful fat burning aids. As you have seen here before I am a huge believer in fish oils for overall health as well as a few other supplements like:


Dymatize Dyma-Burn Xtreme – 120 Capsules

10th Jan2012

The Best Nutritional Supplement You Aren’t Taking

by A.J.

Few other supplements can give you the bang for the buck that fish oils provide

Fish Oils, Omega -3, EPA and DHA are considered essential fatty acids your body can not build on its own. While talking to the Special Operations performance nutritionist  at Fort Bragg I asked her what, if any supplement should a high performance tactical athlete be taking. She told me that hands down the supplement she would suggest is an Omega-3 fish oil nutritional supplement. As military members we are generally pretty good at getting our protein in for the day and fairly good at taking a multivitamin but, we are terrible at getting our Omega-3s especially when we are over seas eating crap MREs. The question remains though; why do we need Omega-3s and fish oils in the first place? And what are Fish Oils anyway?

Fish Oils is a sort of generic term for a conglomeration of essential fatty acids. Fish oils consist of Omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are precursors to certain compounds that are known to reduce inflammation in the body (hint: the reason you take 800 mg motrin everyday is because of pain caused by inflammation).

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09th Jan2012

Are You Training All Your Energy Systems?

by A.J.

Military Fitness

Tactical Dead Sled

(Exercise video at the bottom)

Recently I sat down with the Strength and Conditioning Director of the Special Operations THOR 3 Program and I asked him about where some of the weaknesses in the average Special Operations Soldier were and what he had to say really surprised me. Often times SOF troopers completely ignore whole energy pathways you need to complete a mission at critical times. When you are in a fist fight you may need power to survive, or when chasing an insurgent your aerobic endurance may be the difference between capturing a HVT (High Value Target) or letting him get away. After these examples, he started talking about three distinct energy systems your body uses to do work, and according to him they were as follows. The following is fairly technical but I tried to keep it as simple as possible.

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09th Jan2012

Tactical Combat Casualty Care

by A.J.

Well I just recently returned from the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Course and School to re-certify and get some of the latest info on any changes and where we are at in the field. Obviously to be a tactical athlete it is allot more than training for triathlons and carrying and M-4 and the real difference is the tactics. Medical skill is a huge combat multiplier and when it really hits the fan it is nice to have some basic skills to save some lives. I did not intend this to be an exhaustive medical training guide but instead a very basic review that can be used with additional more detailed installments included later. This is definitely a work in progress and with feed back and questions I would like to create a great discussion to help the guys who don’t have training otherwise. So please leave any comments and questions I think this could turn into something really helpful.

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02nd Jan2012

The Best Pre-Workout Supplement?

by A.J.

Military Fitness Supplement

Well the new year is upon us and it is time to start making good on some of our resolutions. I get asked all the time what is the best pre workout supplement for the tactical athlete who is concerned with military fitness. Obviously the answer will change from person to person and from situation to situation but, I think I have a few ideas that should be considered and if pressed for an absolute product recommendation this would be the one I chose and I will explain why.

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