• Paul Howe

UNKNOWN VS. KNOWN

The argument of going to the Unknown (which I teach) vs. the Known has be argued and I will try and lay out my reasoning with a recent case history. This was a win for going to the Unknown. The gist of the argument is that when doing dynamic entries, it is better to face your threat first, which I propose, rather than to be an “armored rabbit” and hope your #2 man picks him up while the suspect is trying to engage you. First, this is room distance and not running across a street or alley in which the technique of the armored rabbit can work. Remember, in alleys you are a at a greater distance from the threat than in a room and the #1 when crossing can move to hard cover and get out of the line of fire. Rooms are very short distance battlefield with generally no cover. Going to the Known only works 50% of the time in center fed rooms. Meaning that if the #1 guy goes away from the threat, the bad guy tracks him and shoots him in the back or the #2 walks into the bullet from the bad guy. Either way, both officers are in a tight engagement window. Action and seeing beats reaction in my books and this philosophy has worked for me. I focused on where threats could see and engage me and I was always looking at this and new areas as a point person. I always got the drop on them. Taking this rationale to a hand combat mode, I never turn away from a threat. I will either get choked or punched in the back of the head, spine, kidney, etc. I always face the “form” or bad guy so I deal with them. Arguments from a “National Training Group” who has trained thousands of instructors, recommends the “armored rabbit.” They have a PHD who works with them that endorses it. First, this PHD has never put on body armor, nor has done CQB or been in the field. They arrived at this tactic through sims training and scripted role players, gamers if you will. While I respect them and their mission, I believe they are teaching gamer tactics. As has been said, ball ammo will sort it out. Were I back in the arena, I would face the threat as a point person. This means I would turn to what can kill me and not “hope” my #2 man picks it up.

The #2 person can: • Be lagging or late • Fall Down • Quit • Go the wrong way • Walk into fire because the #1 man was seen by the suspect and engaged. The #2 walked into the line of fire of suspect. The #1 will have to move offline generally to engage the threat as the #2 is blocking his shot and this takes even more time to get into the fight. Both the #1 and #2 are in a very narrow window of fire.

There are too many negatives instead of positives in going to the known. I will continue to teach my system of going to the Unknown. The attached case study is only one, but it is good one and a compelling reason to go to the Unknown.


CENTRAL US: AAR GOING UNKNOWN (WIN) VS. KNOWN

I hope what I am explaining makes sense. We had a shooting and killed a guy that had a shotgun pointed at our #1 guy. #1 guy made the turn toward the biggest unknown instead of moving down the dead wall. Turned right into a shotgun leveled at him. We won that with no injury to our #1 guy. If he had moved down the “hinge side” wall, he would have been moving lateral to the bad guy that was standing in the corner and # 2 would have likely picked him up. Now it happened to be a fucked up rural shed with a door hinged into the middle of the room, but it was still a corner fed room and we could see the dead wall for principle of movement.

There was a bag of concrete on the floor prohibiting the door from opening any further. The bad guy was not visible through the crack in the door where the hinges are.

#1 moved the length of the door and then turned toward the unknown corner as I began to push past him down the dead wall hitting my corner (Visually). (Attached a diagram)















Suspect had just murdered one person and shot another 25 miles away. We didn’t know who he was or where he was. We were told there was no one on the property we were checking and we had no direct link to the unknown suspect being there. It was a suspicious incident call that a small element went to check while the other half of the team was handling some fortified doors at the murder scene. The homeowner was cooperative. Nothing seemed unusual at the property. Homeowner walked us to that shed knowing there was an ambush inside.



Initial Point Person visual. Initial Point Person visual right.



Initial Point Person visual left. Instead of getting sucked into the open area, he buttoned hooked left to what he could not see.


He (suspect) was standing back in the far corner behind the door. Pistol grip shotgun, holding it in a shoulder fire type of position. Handgun in a shoulder holster. Bad guy was in this dark back corner-the visually unknown. When engaging, the Point man did in fact move down and a little to the left when making the shot.









MY OBSERVATIONS:

POINT MADE THE CORRECT DECISION TO GO TO THE UNKNOWN.

HAD HE GONE STRAIGHT, HE WOULD HAVE TAKEN A BLAST TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD OR HIS NUMBER 2 WOULD HAVE TAKEN A ROUND TO THE FACE WHEN THE SUSPECT WAS ATTEMPTING TO ENGAGE THE POINT OFFICER.

I BELIEVE THAT ACTION BEATS REACTION THIS IS A WIN FOR GOING TO THE VISUALLY UNKNOWN FIRST AS THIS IS WHERE THE BAD GUY HAS TO BE.

AS A POINT WHEN ENGAGING THIS PERSON, YOU CAN SHIFT RIGHT, LEFT, OR DOWN TO GET OUT OF THE MUZZLE BLAST WHEN ENGAGING THIS TYPE OF CLOSE IN THREAT.

FINALLY, THIS IS WHY YOU NEED WORKING LIGHTS ON YOUR WEAPONS, EVEN FOR DAYTIME OPERATIONS.

Good luck on your future operations and I hope this article has helped determined which way your point will proceed.


Paul R. Howe is a 20-year veteran and former Special Operations soldier and instructor. He owns Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT), where he consults with, trains and evaluates law enforcement and government agencies in technical and tactical techniques throughout the special operations spectrum. 


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