Southnarc: ECQC - Englewood, CO - 05/25-27/2012


On May 25 – 27 I attended the Shivworks ECQC class in Englewood/Elizabeth Colorado. The class was taught by “Southnarc” and hosted by Mike Erickson from DRT.

GEAR – I was wearing a JM Custom Kydex Holster for a G17 w/ X300 and a single magazine pouch on a Liger belt from Maxpedition. I was shooting a G19 w/ X300. Round count was about 300. For a few drills I also wore my armor and chest rig both from Mayflower RC. I didn’t have any gear issues in the course.

Class POI –

”Stay on your feet, stay conscious”

TD1 - The class began Friday night with a lecture. Southnarc’s outline of criminal modus operandi was clear (can be found on the front page of Shivworks’ website) and his rational for teaching the material he was teaching made sense for most applications. The hard and fast rules that he preached were Stay on your feet and stay conscious. There were a few points made that left me a little dubious when the lecture concluded. While most of the points made seemed well grounded and clearly thought out, others, like requesting/demanding as much space as the environment and the other party(s) will allow, use of a raised voice to halt an encroachment ran directly contrary to my desire to maintain a low profile in 99% of my daily life.

TD2 – Saturday morning we started out the live fire portion of the class. Since this class is focused on the 1 – 5 foot range of a fight most of the live fire dealt with shooting from a retention position or various levels of compression. We began with a quick diagnostic shoot from about 5 yds, both slow fire and shots from the holster. After the diagnostic Southnarc broke down the draw stroke and gave us his thoughts on the presentation of the pistol. The rest of the morning was spent with a crawl, walk, run approach to shooting from retention and compression. The emphasis was in getting comfortable with your retention position and knowing where those rounds are going to go. We were continually reminded to go to a known index (thumb to pectoral) so that the weapon’s muzzle can’t float off the target.

”A gun is not a solution to a position problem”

After lunch we rallied up in the gym for some hands on work as a class. We began with belt line checks to ensure there were no live weapons/blades on any of the students. The drills from Friday night were revisited and expanded upon. We were repeatedly reminded that fighting when there are gun(s)/knives in play is not rolling in your local BJJ gym. Some of the techniques that work fine in the gym might cut off access to your weapons or worse, give your opponent access to them. This presented a new dynamic for most of us and there were a few observed mental lapses where a student would lose track of his opponent’s hands and end up on the business end of his own gun.

Throughout the afternoon position was the focus. Southnarc’s mantra that our gun was not the solution to our position problem was heard during almost every students exercise. This was proven true again and again. A students ability to get their pistol out had very little to do with their success on the evolution. Timing, distance and position all played a bigger factor in success or failure than simply having a weapon presented.

TD3 – Sunday began with us back at the range. More shooting from retention was covered and the need to lock the gun into a retention position with a good index was revisited. This carried a little additional weight now that we had seen some students float the pistol out during the exercise the day before and get the pistol grabbed or shoot themselves/a bystander as they chased their opponent with their gun. In addition to the retention drills, we also shot a short drill to reinforce the need for a high presentation and a simple drill from a vehicle. These drills emphasized the need to maintain knowledge and control of where your weapon is pointed at any given time. Flagging yourself or a non-combatant can be a short road to disaster when things are happening fast (says the guy with a self-inflicted sim welt healing on his left forearm…).

After a short break for lunch we rallied back up in the gym to get in some more force on force work. We did some two on one, some fighting in a vehicle and one on one work with guns already in hand. Additionally, Southnarc covered weapons retention and weapon grabs. Like everything in the class, these techniques were designed to be effective when there is little to no space to work with.

Personal lessons learned –

This class has been on my short list for a while. I know enough solid guys that speak highly of it that I knew it would be time well spent. I wasn’t disappointed. Some of these are previous lessons learned that have been reinforced. Some of them were true “Ah Ha” moments.

Gun handling needs to change when you’re at bad breath distance. – Perhaps instead this should be, my gun handling needs to change to accommodate the reality that some(most?) gunfights with a handgun will occur at bad breath distance. A smooth draw to full presentation and a clear front sight isn’t guaranteed. Don’t count on it. Shots from retention while you’re trying your best to protect your head are just as likely so train for it.

Fights change when there are guns present – And the obvious award for obviousness goes to….

Fighting when there is/are gun(s) present changes things and requires the mental shift to accommodate that. This is not the time to put up your dukes and go fisticuffs Marques of Queensberry style. Stay on your feet, stay conscious. Protect your gear, control hands, make space and get to your tools.

When fighting in a car, there are a lot of surfaces to base off of. – This is another one that should be self-evident, but while I may have pushed off of the dash or door at one point or another in the course of a scrap, I never consciously tried to change my base from the floor/seats. There are a lot of other surfaces there. Use them.

”We learn more from an honest loss than we ever will from a dishonest win” – This is something Southnarc said at the end of TD2 and it struck me as one of those fundamental training Truths (with a capital T).

While scrapping with another student I failed to adequately control the muzzle of his pistol and took a sim round to the ribcage halfway through the exercise. Even though I was in a dominant position when Southnarc called an end, I know that things may have gone a very different way if it was a real round punching into my side.

Most of us tend to be pretty type A, alpha male personalities. We want to win everything we do. If something we’re doing doesn’t have a score we’re likely to make up a scoring system just so we can try to win. From time to time though a loss will occur. Those are the times for us to take a step back from our ego and analyze what went wrong. We get to take a cold hard look at what happened, find the weakness and seek out the solution. This process keeps us honest and hopefully, keeps our training moving forward and evolving.

At the end of the day I felt the class was well worth the time and money. I learned some things and came away from it with plenty of food for thought that I’m sure will yield more as I gnaw on it. This will be one of those classes that I try to hit annually to for a personal audit.

Thanks to Southnarc for coming out and Mike Erickson of Defensive Response Training in Denver for Hosting, we didn’t have the minimum number of students in the class so both of them took a hit to make this class happen. I for one am grateful.