Many years ago I watched a Discovery Channel special on the Diplomatic Security Service, and I was particularly fascinated by one segment where they showed what the DSS called a “Box Drill”.
|The drill was simplicity itself: An agent (with a pistol loaded with simunitions) stood in a designated spot in an indoor range, his vision blocked by an open-bottomed cardboard box that hung down from a pulley in the ceiling.|
|The box was quickly raised, and that was his cue to deal with the threats now in front of him. Sometimes it was a non-lethal threat of an attacker running at him, sometimes it was a shooter, sometimes it was just a bunch of angry protesters yelling and screaming who may or may not turn violent. Was it a threat to the agent’s life? Was it a threat to the VIP he is there to protect? What was the appropriate response? Agents were graded on their response: Blasting a rock-throwing protester with a pistol could flunk you out just as quickly as if you let a shooter take a shot at your principal.|
I thought this was a brilliant way to test reaction to varying threats, and surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone replicate the drill in the firearms community. We train and we practice stress-fire, we compete and practice discerning shoot from no-shoot targets, but what we don’t train is that “Oh S***!” moment when we have make a snap judgement call as to whether there is a threat to our lives, and if so, what is the best response to that threat?
Unfortunately, most indoor ranges won’t let you shoot simunitions or airsoft, and rigging up an overhead pulley system for outdoor use is beyond my engineering skills. There is an alternative, though, the tactical stage curtain.
|The setup is easy: A cheap but opaque window curtain, a sturdy frame, and a stand to hold the durn thing in place. At the signal, the RO pulls back the curtain, and on with the show!|
Are you ready?
Obviously, if this is a competition stage, the other members of the squad can’t be allowed to tape targets until after they’ve shot the stage, and ideally, they shouldn’t even be in the bay itself until it’s their time to shoot.
And if you REALLY want to get in to the spirit of things, even talking about what’s behind Curtain Number One should be a procedural/Failure To Do Right.
The First Rule of Tactical Stage Curtain is: You do not talk about tactical stage curtain.
Outside of competition, the sky’s the limit for this drill. Instead of curtains, a big piece of cardboard or foamcore might work or even a low-tech solution like a blindfold or a welder’s mask.
Either way, the point is to introduce a totally new scenario with no clues as to what or where (or if) a threat might materialize, and help teach shooters the best way to react RIGHT NOW to what’s in front of them.
All illustrations for this post were made with Google Sketchup and the USPSA prop pack.