Room Entries and Occupation: Things to Know
By: Arthur Randolph, APCLLC Training Instructor/Consultant
The common denominators of any room entry is a point of entry to gain access, the other side of the entry point, (the room) which is really an unknown, and the officer(s) about to entering the room. The variables include what the type of assignment they are on. A planned event such as a warrant, or unplanned service, or emergency related.
Regardless of the reason for the entry, fundamentals apply:
- Once committed to entering a room clear the point of entry;
- It is harder to hit a moving object than a stationary one, and the same holds true with humans, move until the area is secure;
- As a standard two officers in to a room for crime in progress, or planned high risk details
- The initial reason to go into the room is not a reason to lower your level of alertness. Until the nature of the assignment is confirmed by on scene personnel, be mentally prepared for both extremes (absolute calm to deadly force).
Where to begin with room entry training can present difficulties when considering it relates to firearms training, defensive responses training, can be done alone as a specific block of instruction, or as part of a specific situation training program such as active shooter courses.
For this article I intend to stick to the basics. Getting the most out of the hours allotted to the instructor responsible is the primary goal. First and foremost keep it simple. It is easy to create a training session that overwhelms the participants. Convey to participants that repetition hones reflexes and the speed of processing information. Master the basics first.
What are the basics?
Start from the outside and I mean outside! Processing information is a continuous loop of observations and evaluation, which includes the approach to the targeted location. Critical to the actual room entry are what type of opening (doors open in or out), hinge location, risks around the opening such as other threat areas, and the space needed to get in position with a partner. All the details on entering a room are of no value if the room cannot be reached. The other threat areas can be simply an opposing door, or window. It could be the distance that must be covered to get to a room and the lack of way points to seek cover if a combatant were to emerge. Light or lack of lighting in the area or at the point of entry can have an effect as well. The bottom line with threat areas is they exist and have to be addressed.
Noise discipline throughout the training process needs to be stressed upon participants. A good approach to the point of entry allows for the participant to get into position while minimizing the possibility of alerting an occupant of the room to be entered. The noise discipline is not just a talking point but a practical exercise as well. Minimize down time for participants by putting those who are not going through the door in the room. They have to be silent and provide feedback on the noises they hear. Working participants in this way has the added benefit of getting them into the learning mindset long before they get to the door.
For an instructor, there are significant benefits of starting farther away from the door and noise discipline being included as part of the basic setup. Done correctly, each is a desirable skill in other training programs. The distance relates to movement drills on the range, while noise discipline falls in line with self control, environment awareness, and the element of surprise to gain advantage over a combatant. For the instructor, it is an opportunity to evaluate the knowledge and skill level possessed by the participant early in the training.
Finally at the door, there are key components for basic entry:
- Body position outside the door
- Who opens the door
- Who goes first
- Where to place the muzzle of a weapon
- Once on the other side of the opening who goes in what direction
- Communication between officers going in
- Getting out of the room without causing a friendly fire condition when personnel are outside the room/s
- Encountering people inside the room
- Linked rooms