Using the Tactical Combat Fighting Stance
Officers practice the Tactical Combat Fighting Stance. (Photo: APC)
By: Arthur Randolph, APCLLC Training Consultant
What is the best stance for officers in the field to work from that gives the most options in the most situations they may face while on duty? Debated and discussed often and especially during firearms training, it comes down to what they were taught and its compatibility to basic body functions under stress. Deciding what to present to students can be a challenge as well. Long standing training standards have focused on score based, distance specific courses. The courses lend themselves to stances that accomplish high score but are not readily transferable to the actual environment officers work in once they leave the range. While most range operations focus on a down range only target area, the street demands the 360 mindset. The tactics and techniques we as instructors teach our personnel need to be in line with the street, not the range.
At the range, I watch what the officers do on the line related to stances, how well they perform tasks and what is the overall outcome. Were they able to shoot accurately? Did they remain aware of the surrounding areas, move smoothly between positions or points of cover, and how fast did they get tired when covering threats for an extended period of time. Although the isosceles stance is an easy platform to shoot from, I would not want to hold a rifle or shotgun from the stance after 10 minutes.
The APCLLC staff use the, Tactical Combat Fighting Stance™ (TCFS™). The goal has been working a stance that can apply to firearms or less lethal force options, and uses natural body motions. The stance focuses on 4 elements:
1. Tactical: A well thought out plan. Going out on the streets with a “wing it” mindset gives the advantage to an adversary in a confrontation.
2. Combat: Armed confrontations are a reality of law enforcement that can occur in any community at any time.
3. Fighting: Force options to overcome resistance or repel a physical assault.
4. Stance: A body posture as a platform to apply tactics and techniques.
The stance is structured with the operator’s strong side foot half a step back from the support side foot. The knees are bent slightly to lower the body’s center of gravity, the upper body is bent forward at the hips which balances the upper body and improves long arm or side arm presentation, or empty hand movement. The end result is a stance that is stable 360 degrees. There are several advantages with the stance. The officer is facing the primary threat area but retains mobility to change direction rapidly. The stance is transferable in that it is applicable to long arm, side arm, or empty hand tactics. A lowered center of gravity helps absorb the recoil from a weapon being fired. There is greater stability if someone were to bump or shove the officer from a side or from behind, and the ability to maintain position for longer periods of time with less fatigue.
Teaching the stance like anything else can be a challenge and especially when introducing a new technique to officers who have done something the same way for a long time. We recognize that this is a way but not the only way. Presenting to officers from this point of view removes a perception of arrogance or being a “know it all” type instructor. Encourage them to test and compare this stance to what has been used in the past. Have an instructor or a participant take other stances. Push from different directions to test overall stability. With arms extended push down or back on the hands to simulate the recoil of a weapon. During each demonstration, watch for how much movement there is. How easily can the participant drop to a low position while staying focused on a target? At the end of the day take out on the road what works best for each.
For many of us, seeing is believing. At a recent course for firearms instructors, I found just explaining the stance and talking participants through it wasn’t connecting with all of them. I asked one of the participants to help to demonstrate the stance with me. I had him face me, and stand off center. He placed his support side forearm across my chest and was asked to adjust his posture to counter my weight as I leaned into his arm. In a few seconds he had moved into the TCFS™ without further instruction. The stance now made sense and he could compare it to what he had been doing in the past.
Further proof that the stance was workable in a wide range of situations came with the courses of fire that where conducted. Since they were not static but included various challenges from shooting on the move to multiple positions, each participant had substantial time to evaluate for themselves. The end result was a better prepared officer.
As I stated in the beginning, this is a way not the only way. It is a fluid stance that works in many situations and conditions. From empty hand to long arms the stance is a solid platform to work from.