You come home late at night, and realize your back door is slightly open. You look at your shattered door frame and draw your pistol. You’re about to enter the fatal funnel.
This is assuming you know what the fatal funnel is.
I’m also assuming you know why you should know what the fatal funnel is.
Tactics for Average Joe – Why Bother?
No one has to be sold on the fact that armed professionals need to understand the basics of close quarters combat.
Most people DO have to be sold on the fact that Average Joe has a bigger need to understand the basics of close quarter combat.
Professional door kickers are on a whole different level than the average guy. They have training and experience that the everyman never will.
It’s also unlikely that there will be professional door kickers (the good kind) around when the average guy is the victim of violent crime.
“I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.” – Clint Smith
Bottom Line – When the chips are down, you’re all you’ve got.
To make up for the lack of specialized training, I recommend Average Joe does something to take up the slack.
Some guys pay for commando training that has zero application in their life. That can be fun, but it isn’t likely to pay dividends.
I would rather these people get basic firearms training in safety and handling, get their permit, and continue their education as autodidacts.
Everyone has different circumstances because everyone has different lives. The program for you isn’t going to be the same as it is for me. We will need to address the same problems differently.
With that said, we’re facing the same problems. This is why I’ve been covering some basic tactical concepts that you can apply to your own personal situation.
Side Note – Business and Bullets and Training
I’m never going to offer training courses. I’m no paramilitary tacti-cool badass, I’m just a guy who likes to take every advantage he can get.
Why would I try to sell you something I’m already giving away for free? It wouldn’t make sense.
Now, on to the next reason the average guy needs to understand close quarters combat basics.
Fight or Flight VS FREEZE
Everyone knows about the fight or flight response. What most people don’t realize is that untrained average Joe isn’t a hardened war fighter and he isn’t likely to fight or fly.
He’s most likely to freeze.
Think of the proverbial deer in the headlights. Deer are very fast, why don’t they just jump out of the road? They simply freeze.
As I’ve said before, I’m no masterful elite. Several years ago, I experienced the freeze response first hand. Not when I was robbed at work, but in a different situation.
The Day I Froze
A friend and I were walking in a parking lot when I saw a man strike a woman. This was in broad daylight, but in a remote place and the four of us were the only people present.
I was about to suggest we jot down their license plate number and inform the authorities when my friend yelled at the man and approached him.
My friend was unarmed, I was not. We never learned if the other man was armed, but he was obviously intoxicated and aggressive.
My friend (a small woman) was giving him hell verbally, and he was “bucking up” physically. In other words, she was getting me into a fight. Well, I sure as hell wasn’t going to let her fight him.
I kept my game face on, but as he was yelling in my face my mind went blank.
Being the cowardly degenerate he was, the man shrank away and began crying when he realized my friend was calling the police. It was night and day – the guy was obviously trashed on something.
“Oh, no, I can’t go back to jail! I got kids, lady! I’m on parole, I’m gettin my life right…” – Every piece of human filth ever.
I was shaking from the experience, but not out of fear. I was upset with myself for not reacting “the way I should have.” I had trained marksmanship, I had trained weapons handling, but I hadn’t trained mindset.
Mindset is the most difficult part of the combat triad to train, because it’s the hardest to evaluate without entering combat. My mindset was tested and found lacking.
The Fatal Freeze
The freeze response doesn’t just happen from fear or lack of awareness. The freeze response can happen to people who live in condition yellow.
I was perfectly aware of the danger of the world we live in. I was armed and situationally aware and I still froze.
Have you ever been looking for something for so long, when you actually see it you almost don’t recognize it? You’re not surprised it exists, you’re surprised that THIS is the moment where you find it.
It’s like finally driving the car you’ve been restoring with your granddad all summer. You knew the moment would eventually come, but that doesn’t change how it makes you feel.
I froze, not because I might have had to kill this man to keep him from killing the three of us, but because I was actually in that moment at that specific time. The moment I had been physically preparing myself for.
“It’s happening.” was the only thing I could think. My OODA loop short circuited itself with no additional effort on the degenerate’s part.
I hadn’t mentally prepared myself. Don’t make my mistake. You’re a sitting duck when you freeze.
I got lucky.
The Fatal Funnel
The textbook definition of the fatal funnel (according to the Close Quarters Combat page on Wikipedia) is as follows:
“The “fatal funnel” is the cone-shaped path leading from the entry where the assaulter is most vulnerable to defenders inside the room.”
This is what we deer hunters call a “choke point”. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “A room with only one door is called ‘a trap'” then you get the idea.
This is the same kind of thing a deer hunter looks for when hunting deep woods, for similar reasons. There’s only so many places where your opposition can come from. There are only so many avenues of approach.
If you’re the bad guy who broke into some poor bastard’s house, you’re going to be watching these avenues of approach because the poor bastard might come home with an ugly shotgun.
When Johnny Homeowner walks in the door, the bad guy is going to fight, fly, or freeze.
If he chooses to fight, then the fatal funnel is his best chance to take johnny homeowner out. If he chooses to fly, the situation resolves itself.
But if he freezes, it’s johnny homeowner’s chance to clear the fatal funnel before he gets ventilated.
Would you survive this scenario?
It really comes down to who freezes first because chances are you both lack training and experience. Most burglars haven’t been in gunfights. Most homeowners have never repelled home invaders.
You’re probably both violence virgins. Someone is going to freeze, and the guy that freezes is probably going to lose.
It should be very clear what your course of action should be anytime you have to clear the fatal funnel. Whenever you cross a choke point, you shouldn’t walk through the fatal funnel.
You shouldn’t even run. You should explode through the doorway and clear the fatal funnel as fast as possible.
“If you’re not shootin’, you should be loadin’. If you’re not loadin, you should be movin’, if you’re not movin’, someone’s gonna cut your head off and put it on a stick.” – Clint Smith
How to Properly Handle The Fatal Funnel
Maintain situational awareness.
You won’t realize that your boring old back door is now a fatal funnel if you aren’t paying attention. You didn’t notice the movement in your living room window because you were checking Twitter in your driveway.
If you aren’t being present, you’ll just plod up the walkway and “unlock” your already unlocked door. You’ll have a confused expression when you step through the door and see someone’s silhouette.
You’ll be even more confused when the startled burglar drives his knife into your liver. Many burglars don’t carry guns (they’re not expecting a fight) but almost all carry knives. They’re more useful to their chosen crime.
You have to pay attention if you expect to survive the fatal funnel and get to cover or concealment.
You also have to be able to tell the difference between a violent criminal and a drunk neighbor who thought they were breaking into their own house.
If you’re not aware, you’re going to make one of these fatal mistakes when you navigate the fatal funnel.
Act explosively to short circuiting the crook’s OODA Loop.
As I’ve said before, you can take advantage of your opponent’s lack of training and experience by leveraging the OODA Loop.
You have the disadvantage of having to mount an assault on your own house, likely for the first time ever.
The bad guy has the disadvantage of defending his position, likely for the first time ever.
If you explode through the doorway, clear the fatal funnel, and bellow a rebel yell your burglar is going to freeze. He’s got to orient himself to this new information and decide to fight or fly.
If you pinpoint his location and advance on him, he’s going to have to make up his mind pretty quick. If he chooses to fight, you’ve got the upper hand. He’s reacting to your last action, not the action you’re currently taking.
You’ve left the fatal funnel by the time he arms himself. You’ve already eliminated several of his tactical advantages.
Stay in the fight!
Of all the ways to short circuit a threat’s OODA Loop, filling the air with lead is among the best. Gunfire is absolutely deafening indoors.
If you carry ear plugs, you can avoid this problem. There are ear plugs with filters that will reduce loud noises like gunfire, while still allowing you to hear soft noises like a crook pissing himself. They’re also handy at the firing range.
These are the ones I use. (Affiliate Link)
The second problem with filling the air with lead in the direction of a goblin who wants to turn you into swiss cheese is running the gun empty. You weren’t expecting a fight, so your tactical race-gun is in the safe.
You have to be able to shoot, move, and reload at the same time. Practice that groucho walk and timed reloads.
You are carrying spare ammo, right? You don’t want to run empty while clearing the fatal funnel and have to beat your attacker into submission with your empty gun.
That would be embarrassing.
Act explosively – slice the pie, don’t peek!
Explosive action and fast twitch muscle fibers are extremely important in clearing choke points. Not just your doorway – I’m talking about every corner in your home.
Friends of mine who’ve spent their fair share of time clearing rooms at work tell me CQB is a lot like geometry. You’re trying to find the correct angle when approaching every corner in the house.
The edge of walls, doorways, the opening of hallways, anywhere you have to move around a 90 degree angle.
Instead of huddling up against a wall (which doesn’t stop a bullet – walls are concealment, not cover) and playing peek-a-boo with the bad guy, you should slice the pie.
With your weapon at the ready, you side-step these corners in the same fashion you’d slice a pie. If the bad guy pops out like a gun toting whack-a-mole, you’re ready to fire on him. If he’s standing at bad-breath distance, you’re in a good position to use your pistol as a club.
You should slice the pie explosively to keep the threat’s OODA Loop at the observe-orient phase as much as possible. This is as much for you as it is for him – the more explosively you act, the less likely you are to freeze in mid-fight.
Act explosively – Take corners after clearing the fatal funnel
When you bust through the door like the kool-aid man, you shouldn’t just blindly run through the center of the room.
On the off chance that the goblin actually has experience, he’ll know to avoid the center of the room as well.
You don’t want to go charging in only to get hit in the back of the head with your own lamp. You need to take corners.
If your door opens to the left, you’ll want to move along the right wall once you get inside. If your door opens to the right, go along the left wall.
The Fatal Funnel is a cone – moving sideways along the wall means you’re in the choke point for less time. You also remove the possibility of letting the threat slip up behind you.
If you were part of a small unit, each man would take a corner. You’re alone, so you don’t have this option.
Take one corner, observing and orienting yourself to the situation as you do. Then move to the next corner along the adjoining wall. This should take moments, not minutes.
Once you’ve cleared the fatal funnel, you’re trying to pinpoint the threat. The worst thing that can happen by taking corners is looking ridiculous if there is no threat.
If he didn’t flee and is still a threat, you’re ready to advance on him and resolve the situation. Until that happens, take corners until you’ve cleared the entire house, then work your way back to the door. That’s the real dangerous part.
Theory in practice – clearing your own house
If the first time you clear your house is the same time you’re facing the fatal funnel, your odds aren’t that great.
Do a dry run with an unloaded gun. This is free training – all it takes is your time.
That time you spent running drills could save your life.
Use it or Lose it
If you DON’T run drills or at least form a plan, then reading this was just mental masturbation. Hopefully, you at least see the value of CQB basics even if you don’t kick down doors for a living.
This applies to everything I write about. You can read until your eyes glaze over but if you aren’t applying it, you’re not learning it. You’re just reading it.