“This is not a marksmanship class. This is about fighting with the rifle.” So starts hour one, day one of EAG Tactical’s 3-day carbine course. EAG Tactical
is literally a one-man show, but when that one man is Pat Rogers, one man is more than enough.
Pat Rogers is a retired United States Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer who, after leaving his initial active duty stint in the Corps, continued to protect this country by serving as a New York City Police Officer where he ultimately retired as a sergeant. Besides his duties with the NYPD, which included time spent as a TARU Supervisor, he also found the time to work with several organizations that have counter terrorist responsibilities within our federal government.
Truly, this is a man who has experiences enough for several lifetimes. Pat Rogers has now gone on to form and run EAG Tactical, a training corporation that has as its mission teaching the good guys how to fight, survive, and win in a lethal confrontation.
Pat Rogers is not quiet and unassuming. Instead, he is opinionated and animated. He is also one of the best, most well rounded and learned instructors that are teaching the martial arts today. Col. Jeff Cooper who is widely recognized as the founder of modern combat firearms instruction recently described Rogers as “one of the fully qualified masters of the modern technique.”
EAG Tactical’s 3-day carbine course is not a coffee and donuts kind of school. This is a course where an officer will learn how to fight with a rifle. Total classroom time is about one hour with the remainder of the time spent sending rounds downrange.
The experience level and expertise that were present in the course was notable in its diversity…street cops, SWAT officers, and soldiers about to deploy to Iraq as well as officers from the tactical security services of some of our nations’ nuclear plants joining forces to make up one of Rogers’ very few yearly open enrollment courses. The majority of the focus for EAG Tactical is directed at clients from the Department of Defense, as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, which leaves little time for “open” enrollment courses.
While the students’ backgrounds were quite varied the equipment that made its way to the course was strikingly similar. All of the rifles on the line were AR15/M16 series weapons ranging from full size, AR-15s, and M16-A2s to 10.5-inch barreled CQBRs built by military armorers and everything in between. Optics included the EOTech, Aimpoint and other red dot sights with several of the new Schmitt and Bender Short Dot optics also present.
As this is a class about fighting rather than rifle marksmanship, each student was required to also be armed with a pistol. Pistols ranged from the ubiquitous Glock in various calibers to the Colt Model 1911 pattern .45 ACPs.
The course began with a short lecture by Rogers on the theory behind fighting and surviving, with the rifle. Rogers is a firm believer that the past is a good predictor of the future. As such there are a significant amount of “war-stories” spread equally throughout the 3-day class used to illustrate instructional points. Rogers has an awesome amount of experience to share with the class that is not done in a braggadocios style but instead done in a style that graphically illustrates what has worked, and what hasn’t worked, in a wide variety of situations in literally every environment.
Day one continues with many of the basics. A 50 yard zero is established with the 5.56mm carbine so that the operator will have a weapon that is functionally sighted for targets out to 200 yards. Once the zeros are verified, the class progresses into the various proper techniques for engaging a target. While it is stated repeatedly throughout the course that the 5.56mm is capable of putting a man down with hits in the torso, Rogers preaches aiming for a stopping zone that is roughly an 8 inch diameter circle high in the chest rather than the center of mass that is used on a standard B27 training silhouette. He also is emphatic that shots to the head are a needed and necessary tool that should be taught no matter what caliber weapon is involved. He explained that the ballistic power of a weapons system should be expended in areas where it can maximize the fight stopping ability of the round.
The heart, lungs, and other cardio-pulmonary systems are located in the upper center of the chest, the brain in the center of the head. It is these organs and systems that must be damaged to stop a fight; shooting someone in the stomach (which is the “X” ring of a B27 silhouette), while unquestionably painful and often times eventually lethal, is not the knock-out punch that is needed.
The class progresses through the day with topics such as loading the weapon in the correct manner using the push-pull technique as well as the immediate post firing care of the carbine. Rogers instructs that operators of the M16 series weapon should slightly roll the carbine so that the ejector port can be viewed and the dust cover closed after each string of fire. This is done to make sure that the weapon has not malfunctioned as well as closing up the carbine to protect the internal mechanism against invasive debris. Proper target engagement techniques such as controlled pairs, hammers and the non-standard response (NSR) are taught and used during the three days that are spent learning the rifle. For the uninitiated the topic of a controlled pair versus a hammer is sometimes difficult to master. The controlled pair is obtaining a sight picture for each round fired while a hammer is one sight picture for two, very quickly fired rounds.
The majority of the rest of day one progresses with the students expending several hundred rounds in a variety of drills designed to build the confidence of the student in obtaining a proper sight picture and engaging the target at a variety of ranges from 50 yards to near contact distance.
Day two begins with a quick review of some of the drills of day one and rapidly progresses into other, more advanced skills including shooting on the move, failure drills, and ultimately long gun to pistol transition and malfunction clearance exercises. As stated Rogers believes in teaching a student to fight and survive, which does not necessarily mean only shooting the rifle or handgun. His desire is to build mind set at the same time he builds martial skills.
“Stay in the fight” is a mantra that is repeated throughout the class. Rogers believes that the only way for an individual to do this is to be the master of his weapons systems and his thought processes. One cannot call time-out during a fire-fight to clear a malfunction. There are no mulligans when there is incoming fire.
It is during day two that a number of weapons and other equipment begin to fail. Many officers who think that their weapons and other equipment such as optics are solid quickly find out that there are problems that need to be addressed. Such is the benefit of a high round count, realistic training course.
Weapons and associated equipment that are not absolutely top shelf will begin to succumb to the stress and need repair or replacement. While some would see this as abuse, it is important to remember that the function of a weapon or any piece of related equipment is to assure end user survival. A weapon that fails under the heat of training is not one that should be trusted when lives are on the line.
Students begin to make significant use of the “non-standard response” during this course. The non-standard response, which is abbreviated and known as the NSR, is defined as a string of fire that is more than three rounds and less than a complete magazine. Usually this entails a series of very quick shots that number in total between two and nine rounds.
The reason for the NSR is simple. There are people on the planet that do not fall down when shot as Hollywood would have us believe. Various techniques have been developed to deal with these individuals as they are capable of continuing to fight and kill even after they have been grievously wounded.
Rogers teaches that the NSR as well as the standard failure drill of two shots to the body and one to the head are valuable tools that should be included in every officer’s skill set. While it may seem excessive to some police administrators that an instructor would advocate firing this many rounds into a suspect, EAG Tactical preaches that officer survival is paramount and the court defensible NSR is but one way of assuring such.
Many who come to the EAG Tactical course and initially think of themselves as well rounded shooters quickly learn that there is much more to the art of fighting with a rifle than simply firing the weapon. Unconventional firing positions such as the California kneeling, SBU (Special Boat Unit) prone, and a variety of situationally effective techniques help to complement any shooter’s education.
During day two and day three of the course, Rogers continues to develop shooter skill and emphasize hits from a variety of different positions and distances. It is by this time in the course that some shooters will begin to realize that they are being taught a variety of basic skills at a very high degree of refinement. Rogers teaches that the basics done with a great amount of practiced skill are the tried and true methods for success.
Some of the students in the course had particular needs and paid particular attention as this was much more than an academic pursuit for them. There were police officers and soldiers who were in the course to assure their survival in a gunfight. Quickly it became apparent to them that the actual act of squeezing the trigger was only part of the overall survival process.
Techniques that Rogers lumps into the category of the “hand-jive” were taught and practiced repeatedly to the point that they became ingrained. Some of these techniques were skills such as loading and reloading on an administrative, tactical, and emergency basis as well as body and gear placement, all of which are designed to assure the capability of the student to stay in the fight and get hits on a target.
Students spent hundreds of rounds and many hours learning and perfecting these techniques and honing any rough edges in their skill set to emerge as much better fighters than when they had arrived three days and 1200-1500 rounds hence.
Administrators of law enforcement agencies have often rightly been accused of being overly frugal with funds and as a result of that ammunition for training. While it may seem that the high round count of the course is somewhat beyond the norm, it is the high round count of the course that makes it a true bargain in the training world.
This course not only exposes problems with weapons and equipment but also makes an officer much more fluid with his weapons system than when he arrived. It would be a true waste of funds to attend a lesser course that would not highlight the problems and their solutions that only a course such as this can bring to light.
Students will leave the EAG Tactical Carbine Course with a better understanding not only of their weapons capabilities and limitations, but also with a better understanding of their own. Couple all of this with Rogers’ unique way of helping to reinforce the needed mindset, and you have a course that is more than worth the money.
Overall, the EAG Tactical Carbine Course is a training program that all of those who must face danger with a rifle in hand should attend without question so that they might be better prepared for when they are called upon to defend themselves and their communities.Scott Oldham is a Supervisory Sergeant with the Bloomington Indiana Police Department where he serves in the Operations Division as well as being one of the Team Leaders for the departments Tactical Unit. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.