Executing a jab with a folding knife
Kelly McCann (right) shows the author (center) the proper way to execute a jab with a folding knife. (Photos Dave Spaulding)
Combative Pistol is a combination of hand-to-hand combat and pistolcraft.
M-4 carbine with the ACOG sight taped over
The author uses an M-4 carbine with the ACOG sight taped over. The eyes can still use the illuminated reticle.
FEATURED IN TRAINING
Editor s Note: Crucible Training is about how to prevail in locations around the world where the conditions are definitely not in your favor. Forget judicious use of force that s not what this facility is about. It's extreme, ruthless and very violent, but also simple and quite effective in its application.
Crucible n. A severe test; a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development.
Conditioned adj. To impose a condition on; accustomed; to impose harsh change upon.
Many readers may have seen the Crucible videos sold by Paladin Press; I ve reviewed a few in this column. They also run a distinctive training facility in Virginia. I recently had the opportunity to attend training at Crucible, and I must say that it s nothing like I ve ever experienced before. Former Marine Special Missions Officer Kelly McCann founded Crucible in the early 1990s, and he was later joined by longtime friend and fellow Marine Jack Stradley in 2000. They've developed a reputation for conducting training in skill sets that aren t found at the more traditional shooting schools.
In reality, Crucible is not a shooting school, although they do teach these skills in their more extreme forms. Crucible teaches government agencies, the military, high-level security operations and Fortune 500 companies how to prevail in locations around the world where the conditions are definitelynotin your favor. Forget judicious use of force that s not what this facility is about. Crucible is about teaching skills for the individual or small group/team that work in places where they aren t welcome and may have to get out fast. It s extreme, ruthless and very violent, but also simple and quite effective in its application.
Note:They also teach more conventional courses to law enforcement SWAT and narcotics units. As a matter of fact, they ve trained more than 10,000 officers during the past 10 years for CivPol, a state department program for overseas police advisors.
Upon my arrival, I was met by McCann and Phil Motzer, Crucible's chief High Risk Environment (HRE) instructor. Like McCann, Motzer served in the Marines. His last assignment was at the High Risk Pistol Program. After a briefing on Crucible s history, we headed down to the large matted area in the main building to work on knife defense and hand-to-hand combat, or what they call combatives. If you look in the dictionary, combative is defined as ready and willing to fight, which is what you need to be when you walk in the Crucible door. When engaging in either skill at Crucible, you re going at 90%, so expect to get stabbed (with training knives), kicked, punched, thrown, twisted, bruised and bloodied. At my age, my goal was to simply keep up. At least I didn t embarrass myself, and I did learn a bunch about all-out fighting.
Not Timid Techniques
The skills taught at Crucible aren't fancy. They re not timid either. The techniques are brutal and will seriously hurt the person on the receiving end. Unlike law enforcement, people operating in hostile environments aren t looking for reasonable; they re looking to get out of a life-threatening situation in one piece. Example: The knife program is based on simple slashes and stabs and, once these are anchored, it s up to the student to use what s needed based on the unfolding scenario. The Combatives program is both simple and effective. Such strikes as a spearing elbow, face smash, hammer fist, finger jab, axe hand, shin kick and chin jab are drilled over and over again. McCann claims that if you work hard, You can get a good handle on our Combatives program in about two weeks. They require explosive movement and total commitment. Anything less and they will fail.
Once you start, there s no stopping. One technique leads to another as you blitz your opponent until they re overwhelmed. Don't hold back: Crucible inspires students to embrace violence in bad situations to immediately reverse the confrontational dynamic. The predator becomes prey. At 90% pace, I left this portion of the training beat up but with a great appreciation for the simplicity of the system.
The second day started in the Combatives Room, a large, fully padded room. Motzer took over and reviewed much of day one to ensure that I had a solid understanding of the content. We were moving into what Crucible calls Combative Pistol, which combines hand-to-hand skills with the semi-auto at double arm s length. As most readers know, statistics show that the majority of police shootings take place inside 10 feet, and armed confrontations within the intelligence community have mirrored this. Once the combative skills were refreshed, we moved to the range where I shot Crucible Pistol Skill Standards.
We then moved into some aggressive close-quarter shooting drills using 3-D foam targets that can take strikes as well as live fire. This type of shooting is far removed from traditional square range training and should be attempted only after much dry fire and only on a range that has 270 backstops because the movement involved requires nothing less. We moved through a series of drills that combined axe hands, pelvic strikes, face smashes, face rakes and other combative skills with the draw and multiple shots. Aggressive movement in all directions was also incorporated. This is the type of shooting on the move that needs to be incorporated into one s skill set not the antiseptic forward, side, back style of box shooting that seems to typify advanced skills.