A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to get in on some REALLY good training from one of the best instructors that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. When I head that Advantage Group Training was hosting a Craig Douglas/Shivworks class I knew from the get go that I was going to be there. When I found out it was his AMIS class I was really excited.
The purpose behind AMIS focuses on negotiating movement problems within structures with limited or no resources. Realizing that moving through a structure that contains armed hostiles, perhaps by one’s self, is probably the most dangerous task one can undertake, the best options for winning a confrontation are presented with the qualification that there is no safe way to do this.
Because I’ve been out of the Marine Corps for quite some time now, I figured I could use a refresher or at least a different view on how to negotiate clearing a house. What I did not expect was that I was going to walk away with a new found knowledge and a new set of tools on how to better accomplish what the Marine Corps taught me how to do. After 2 days and 22 hours of instruction, I was exhausted both mentally and physically.
Marines are all about team movements and violence of action. Craig teaches his AMIS class the complete opposite of what the standard Marine Corps doctrine of what I grew up calling MOUT is. AMIS is all about doing it alone. Seeing the threat and solving the problem before they see you. Silent and invisible hunting. My kind of game.
This class was a mix of a couple prior military guys (myself and another guy), a couple LE guys, and the majority being guys that are regular joe’s that just want to know what to do if something goes bump in the night.
Just to set the mood, the class was held on the site of an old state mental hospital that was abandoned after hurricane Katrina. Perfect setting for this type of training.
Day one began with introductions and a “why was I hear and what did I want to walk away with” speech. 15/20 minutes of power point gave way to practical application.
We divided up into 3 teams of 4, and split up using 3 sub-structures of the facility each of which had a totally different layout. We began clearing structures at first alone with no aggressors just so that we could get use to working our angles. Who know that this class was going to be a lessen in geometry. We used Glock training pistols. Some mounted with surefire x300’s some with 400’s. Each person in the 3-4 man group would clear through the structure while the other 2-3 followed him, asking why/what, and providing input and different viewpoints. We all learned something from each other at this point, with Craig, making rounds between the groups and showing us each how he would solve particular problems that our group was flustered by. There were times I would follow behind Craig and ask him “Ok, when you are here, what do you see”. He was more that willing to let me into his head and tell me what he was looking at and why. It was awesome to be able to get into his head.
After learning how to work angles, we added the bodies in. One guy would clear the route while the other group members would hide. The aggressors were stationary. This allowed us to practice working angles and seeing the threat before it saw you. While I’m hear I’ll add that this is one of those times that I really like having a laser on a pistol. There where times that I could catch an elbow but maybe not get a full presentation of the pistol without giving myself away. I’d it the laser and be on target.
After running each group member through a couple of times, we then broke out the sims. This added a stressor to the equation. Not only were you hunting a bad guy but he was waiting to pop you if you screwed up.
Next we added another level with having non aggressors going mobile. So now you have a shoot/don’t shoot situation. This was to simulate something like one of your kids moving around the house.
As it got later, we were introduced into using light while clearing and why a handheld light in combination of a weapons light was a good idea. Remember that light draws fire. Craig show us what he found were best practices for using light.
After dinner we returned (it was about 8:00) and had our final exercise of the day. It was a hunter vs hunted exercise. The bad guy would hide while the good guy cleared. The bad guy was allowed to hunt the good guy. Good times. Really drove home the point of situational awareness. That bad guy might stumble upon you while you are hunting him.
The pace of the course was excellent.In talking with different guys during the class, everyone was learning something and no one felt like Craig was instructing over their head.
Day two we learned how to escort someone out of the house if need be. Also learned how to deal with no shoot situations. For example a drunk guy thinking his house is yours.
The final exercise took us through a complete scenario. We were placed in a room and were told that we were awoken by a noise. The only other person we were aware of was a cousin that was in the house sleeping. Through the scenario we cleared our way to a dark hallway where we encountered our first “bad guy”. Halfway through dealing with him we would hear our cousin screaming for help. We would then have to make our way to him only to find that he was being held hostage by another “bad guy” with a pistol in the open.
I was surprised to see how many people tried to talk the guy with the hostage into dropping his weapon.
At the end of the training this is what I took away:
-My INFORCE handheld light was no good for using it to clear a house. I’m picking up a Klarus XT1A.
-Weapons lights are nice but a handheld is a must have.
-Violence of action without skill is useless.
-Pepper/OC spray is a handy tool. In the don’t shoot yet instances, it would be nice to have something besides lethal force that I can use at a distance. Flashlight with pepper/oc would be awesome to have in a single usable unit.
-Gun in sight automatically gets rounds on target.
-Light draws fire. Frame yourself. Use light as a flash. Take snapshots.
For anyone looking for realistic training on how to move through a structure while armed, The Shivworks AMIS class is a MUST. LE guys, if you ever have this class around you and you don’t jump on it……you’re stupid. This is the stuff that isn’t being taught that needs to be.
Thanks to Craig Douglas for taking the time to come out and lay some knowledge on us and for putting together such a comprehensive training session. Also thanks for Advantage Group Training for hosting the class. These guys continue to bring the best in the industry to our area.