When I’m in dynamic CQB environments I’m constantly watching my teammates, almost as much as the actual/potential threat. It’s commonplace for me to see someone about to round a corner haphazardly, and I’ll grab their shoulder (or vest drag handle) and tug them back to safety, followed by a quick, loud “here’s what almost happened to you; trust me, try this” explanation.
This article is aimed primarily at the younger/newer players out there, or those with minimal real-steel LE/military/self defense experience. These techniques will cater mostly to CQB, whether you’re moving room-to-room indoors or clearing a cluster of huts in an outdoor village. However, the underlying idea of minimal exposure to enemy view/fire can be applied to any type of environment.
The Army’s MP Leaders’ Handbook (FM 3-19.4) states:
The muzzle of the clearing team’s weapons should always be pointing wherever that soldier is looking.
This doesn’t mean keep your cheek pinned to your rifle’s stock, eye down the sights for 20min straight once it’s GAME ON. Rather, it means: if you intend on placing eyes on the enemy, it better be down the sights of your weapon. There is a high likelihood that an opponent is somewhere nearby, already observing your general area. Be aware of what movements you might make, corner(s) you might go around, and what different places you’re exposing yourself to with each step you take. Basically, keep your head on a swivel.
But, even ^with that^ being said, change up your position if possible. Especially if you know the enemy saw you, and definitely if they were shooting at you. Can you cover the same area from another window or doorway? Go there, and hopefully you can get a look at the enemy, who is still staring at the place you used to be.
HOW SHOULD I HOLD MY RIFLE? To put it simply, “Keep those chicken wings down!” Take your rifle to a mirror, and take aim directly at yourself in a standing position. Are your elbows pointed out to the sides? If so, tuck them down to your sides, while maintaining a level & steady hold, and observing your sights. Sometimes a vest with pouches on the sides can limit how low you can tuck your elbows in.
Wear your sling in a manner that drops the gun down to your non-dominant side if you use a holstered sidearm. Practice transitioning from your long gun to your pistol. Assuming you practice and are quick on the draw, it’s faster than reloading your rifle. This is especially true in airsoft, since many of us don’t want to drop our mags on the ground and prefer to drop them safely in our dump pouches. However, in the winter you may leave your GBBs home, so practice those combat reloads too!
When you are behind cover, whether it’s a doorway, corner, barricade, car hood, or 50 gallon drum, be careful not to go over or past that cover to aim or shoot. A subtle peek out with your weapon will make your reaction time faster. What if you get shot at? Just lean back a couple inches and hopefully you’ve dodged some BBs.
Taken from the AFSF Shoot-Move-Communicate course, here’s some good visuals to show how to maintain good cover while engaging your opponent.
At a corner, shooting strong side
And what should your opponent see?
Of course, if the other guy is standing or moving, it’s likely that he’s also scanning at the same level, so peeking around at a lower height can give you that split-second advantage.
I often crouch-walk (it’s not just for video games!) through buildings and outdoor brush, providing the fast option to either sprint all-out or hit the ground prone, all dependent on whether there’s cover available. However it’s quite a stress on the achilles, calves, and hip flexors if you don’t stretch.
Depending on comfort, flexibility, amount & placement of gear, or how long you’ll be there, you may want to kneel like this or sit on your heels:
I encourage using a one-point sling and practice switching to your non-dominant firing hand; not too necessary for pistols, but definitely for long guns. It’s awkward at first, but the benefits are worth the effort. However, if you prefer to keep your rifle on your strong side, here’s how you can round corners on your weak side:
(Notice that the lean is much farther, but necessary to avoid giving too much of a target.)
These movement techniques can be practiced any time, anywhere that it’s ok to handle your airsoft guns. It’s easier to get it right when no one is shooting at you, so hone these skills now, and be better prepared for the next game!