Hey guys, this is Myles with Tactical Hyve.
A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend Bill Rapier’s force-on-force class in Washington.
Bill is a retired Navy SEAL who spent 14 of his 20 years of services at Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He’s also the owner and lead instructor at Amtac Shooting.
His class was my introduction to force-on-force training, and it was a great, eye-opening experience that has me yearning for more.
With that said, let’s dive right into the review.
Signing up for Bill’s course, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that for the first time in my training, someone else would be shooting back at me!
Force-on-force training is the most advanced, realistic training you can get because, for many students, force-on-force is the only time they will be able to go head to head with an opponent or opponents with weapons.
Because of this, I think Bill’s force-on-force class is best for people who have a good grasp of the basics of pistol marksmanship and weapons manipulation. The course is also meant for people who carry concealed.
Equipment requirements were reasonable.
A pistol, ammo, concealed carry holster, and eye and ear protection were required for our live-fire training. Bill’s class description mentioned to bring 600 rounds of ammo, but I used around 200 to 250.
For our combatives and force-on-force training, we were required to bring an airsoft pistol that fit in our holsters, BBs, green gas/CO2, face masks, multiple layers of clothing, and gloves. Bill also had extra gas and face masks for all participants to use.
Day 1 (Morning)
The class was divided into 2 days. Each day incorporated live-fire in the morning and force-on-forcing (FoF) training in the afternoon.
On Day 1, after a brief explanation of what students can expect and why he put the class together, we dove into live fire pistol fundamentals.
He emphasized his combat shooting stance, which combines elements of a solid shooting stance and a traditional, hand-to-hand fighting stance. He also shared some details that other shooting instructors might disagree with, like shrugging one’s shoulders up to protect one’s chin from a punch. With my background in mixed martial arts, I liked his perspective.
Many shooting instructors will teach students to relax their shoulders, which seems to be the norm. But Bill has made adjustments to fit his needs, in this case, a stance that works for both shooting and combatives.
The first live-fire drill for the day was an untimed slow fire at a small target to determine where everyone was at in terms of accuracy.
We then moved on to a series of drills to give students the opportunity to work on mastering the basics.
For example, we spent some time on his combat shooting stance to get comfortable with it. One drill we did was to start from standing upright, then quickly move into our shooting stance while drawing our weapon and firing 2 to 3 shots.
Bill talked about trigger control and what part of the finger he likes to use for trigger placement, and he discussed his take on trigger reset.
He also talked about slide racking techniques, what he prefers, and why, along with the concept of being “Tip-On” and why it’s important.
Tip On refers to pointing your gun at your appointment when you manipulate your weapon, being ready to fire at any given moment.
Bill demonstrated various draw stroke methods, like the slow draw where one tries to disguise their draw. He also emphasized the importance of one-handed draws and how one should practice it often. Students were given ample time to drill their different draws.
With an emphasis on one-handed drawing, Bill explained various issues that may arise and how to overcome those issues, such as one-handed immediate action drills off of your belt or even the heel of your shoe.
He also taught his Strike Ready position—his take on the high-ready position and why he uses it. We then covered his scanning process from the Strike Ready position. He expected students to perform their scans the way shown after every live-fire drill.
Bill also taught his retention shooting process and the spear elbow application. He demonstrated everything live, and showed every student the application one by one to ensure everyone understood and properly executed the technique.
Throughout the entire morning, he demonstrated everything he taught and gave students a lot of time to practice. He continually watched each student to ensure they were doing things correctly.
Bill would jump in and demonstrate little details of a drill or technique as the need arose to correct any problems. Students then had the opportunity to do more reps of a drill to improve their technique.
Day 1 (Afternoon)
In the afternoon, we focused on FoF training with airsoft pistols. He discussed safety protocols that should be used each time a switch is made from live fire to dry fire training, which included buddy checks and inspections of all our gear.
Everyone got their airsoft pistols and gear ready, then Bill divided the students into two opposing groups, about 15-20 yards apart, to start some drills. They consisted of various starting positions so that the students would have a good foundation for our FoF scenarios.
We also did the “Get off the X Drill” where students move to the left or right while drawing and firing. Students were able to do a lot of repetitions to get comfortable with the concept.
This get of the X drill was different from what I’ve done in the past. Students purposefully took long strides to get off the X as we were taking fire, as opposed to a simple sidestep.
After drilling, our force on force scenarios started. Students took turns being bad guys and good guys, and each student was put through the same scenarios.
Bill explained each scenario to the students individually. They were told to close their eyes, and when the scenario started, Bill told students to open their eyes and it was on.
Being the first time I’ve done FoF, it was a little confusing and difficult to train my brain into reacting to the scenarios as if they were real and not airsoft.
I recall talking with some of our Subject Matter Experts, asking them for their advice on how to get the most out of FoF training, and many of them said the same thing—to treat these training exercises as if they were real.
After a few reps, it started to get easier.
We worked various scenarios, such as one where a bad guy was charging us with a machete from about 10 yards away. This required us to get off the X fast while drawing our pistol and opening fire.
I thought this was a valuable scenario because it revealed how effective lateral movement is while drawing and shooting and it allowed us to “really” get off the X. I’m talking about sprinting off the X while shooting.
Day 2 (Morning)
Day two started off with a talk about mindset. It revolved around the use of violence, diving into what being ready means and what is required of a person to be ready.
After his mindset talk, we geared up for a live-fire, cold bore drill. If you’re unfamiliar with what a cold bore drill refers to, it is executing a drill without any warm-up or prior repetitions.
Students took turns doing this drill. We were to imagine a loved one being held hostage by someone with a weapon about 25-30 yards away and work our way towards the target to land a single, lethal headshot to neutralize the threat.
The target was a credit card box sized rectangle, and we had one opportunity to nail it. A miss is something that we should seriously consider as a miss meant the loved one we imagined might have been killed due to the miss.
After the live fire cold-bore drill, Bill taught some integrated combatives techniques and emphasizing the concept of the reactionary gap. He taught upward and cross elbows and related entries to close the distance with these techniques.
We then incorporated some blade work using training blades, which when combined with spear elbow entries and other close-quarters techniques, allow for effective deployment of your pistol or any other weapon.
Day 2 (Afternoon)
During lunch, Bill talked about various tourniquets, bandages/gauze, hemostatics, and other life-saving medical items, and how he feels any responsible armed citizen should have and know how to use.
Not only is it important to know how to use your weapons systems, it's equally important to provide medical assistance to those in need.
After lunch, we started more FoF training with different scenarios. Students were much more comfortable with the entire process after running through everything the first day.
On the second day, we had a vehicle scenario that was eye-opening to me, as I have never really thought about what I’d do if I was a car-jacking victim. I appreciate how Bill placed students in real-world situations for civilians, and after each “repetition,” we would debrief where he would give his feedback.
Bill ended our FoF training by placing the students in a restaurant scenario to mimic situations that involve being inside a store as a robbery develops.
Bill's class served as a great introduction to FoF training, and I'm glad attended.
The quality of the material was top-notch, his instruction professional and organized, and he emphasized safety through the entire weekend.
What sets this class apart from others is placing emphasis on taking basic marksmanship skills to the next level, and applying them in real-world situations. Moreover, Bill's experience with combatives and edged weapons is a big advantage. He is able to combine all worlds into one, i.e. an integrated system.
In my opinion, if you've been shooting for a while and want to transition to the next level beyond marksmanship, you should take Bill's class. It's a great introduction to force-on-force training that will open your eyes. In addition, Bill is just a great guy who has served our country and continues to serve by teaching responsible citizens how to defend themselves and their loved ones.
The Final Verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED