The CQB Distance Myth

Posted on: August 29, 20171

I often encounter individuals or agencies that have misperceptions about what CQB distance is. Often it drives their equipment choices, training, and preparation. I have even heard other trainers or Internet personalities guffaw at the suggestion that CQB does exist past 25yds. I hear many justify their 10.5” barreled SBR due to the “fact” that they only use it at close range for CQB. 
First, I’d like to clarify a misconception: Close Quarters Battle (CQB) is the tactics and techniques of combat inside structures. The word “Close” in the term often artificially narrows the application of the TTP’s to many, because they get confused and associate it with Close Quarter’s Engagement/Marksmanship. CQE/M are the marksmanship techniques for quickly and efficiently engaging targets at close distance. 
Do we use CQE while conducting CQB? Absolutely. 
But, does CQB occur at distances where CQE techniques are inefficient? Same answer- Absolutely.
Confused? Think I’m full of crap? Let’s break down what we are talking about. 
Many myths about CQB are due to training limitations and the use of Simmunitions/UTM as a replacement for live fire training. If a person/unit/agency has a live fire shoot house facility, chances are it is fairly limited. Most rooms will be standard size and it might have a hallway that pushes 20-30 yards if they are lucky. Many LE agencies may only have a firing range that goes out to 50yds. So, if that is the world we train in- we begin to adapt to it. We see people setting up their zeros to the training environment, we see tactics geared towards success in that environment, and we see perceptions develop based on that environment. 
Now, what happens if we place this same methodology that I just laid out in a practical scenario? Let’s use a hypothetical SWAT team as an example. Keep in mind the distance they have shot at and the training environment they are used to. Our SWAT team gets called out to an active shooter situation at the local High School. They conduct an emergency assault and enter into the main entrance. For modern High Schools (which are massive), how does the entry foyer compare to the standard shoot-house room? What distances are involved here? Now, let’s say they enter the main corridor (hallway) to begin clearing classrooms. For central access corridors in the same large High Schools, what length are we talking about? What about a hotel hallway? Sports Stadium? Movie Theater? 
Getting the picture now? All of these distances can be well in excess of the 25-50yds that has become our comfort zone. “But that’s not CQB”, you say. You’re wrong and confused, it is CQB and we use the same techniques to address it. However, CQE techniques may not be appropriate for it. I’m not going to be able to pick up a low percentage shot, like a hostile holding a gun to someone’s head, on the move entering a 200yd corridor like I would entering a 10-15yd room. I may need to use techniques and/or positions that are generally accepted as only for open field, like the kneeling or even the prone. Yep, that’s right, I said prone and CQB in the same sentence. Now, don’t take that to the Nth degree- just use the right tool for the job. Remember, the decision-making process for as to what position we use is generally decided between the stability needed for the accuracy required and the time available for the shot. Do you feel comfortable taking a head shot, in a school, to rescue hostages, at 200yds while moving? If you said yes, I challenge you to go try it.
Now, let’s layer on a bit more to this soon-becoming-a-nightmare scenario and add the equipment used due to the belief in this 25yd CQB belief. The same SWAT team is using 10.5” short-barreled AR-15’s with Hornandy 62 grain TAP ammo. Far-fetched, right? That never happens… And let’s add a scenario- Operator #1 enters at the far end of a central access corridor that is over 200yds in length. He is immediately presented with an active shooter that immediately grabs a hostage as a shield. The active shooter then continues to shoot at people. Let’s assume Operator #1 does everything right- calls for the shot, adopts the position he needs, and applies the necessary fundamentals to take the head shot since that is all that is exposed. Does Operator #1 go home a hero? Nope. Operator #1 had his 10.5” SBR zeroed at 50yds because that’s the only distance they shoot at and/or some instructor told him that a 50/200yd zero is the bees knees because ~reasons~, completely disregarding the mathematic impossibility of a 62gr .224 round with a muzzle velocity of 2400fps having a trajectory that breaks the Point of Aim at 50 and 200yds. Operator #1 put a round squarely in the chest of the hostage because he didn’t know that his Point of Impact was actually 9.4” lower than his Point of Aim at 220 yards. To make things worse, the round failed to expand because it was only traveling about 1,680fps at that same 220yds- so it smoked right through the hostage, the active shooter, and another hostage behind him. 
Let’s summarize this diatribe here a bit:
1- CQB does not = short range.
2- Adapt your tactics, Training, and Equipment to meet your operational requirements, not to meet your training limitations or comfort zone.
3- SBR’s are not the best tool for CQB if you do not have optimized ammo.
4- Be equally capable of engaging at 250yds as you are 25yds.
5- Standardized zeros do not work in the civilian/LE industry due to non-standard barrel length/ammo combinations.

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