Firearms Training: The 9-Hole Barricade

Firearms Training: The 9-Hole Barricade
In combat, or in any armed confrontation for that matter, you may find yourself unable to stand flat-­footed and launch rounds willy-­nilly as you have practiced at the range. Getting shot at will wake you up if you are lucky enough to survive the first volley.

The smart person seeks cover or concealment as fast as they can, but the fight isn’t over. You must get back into the fight, quickly. This is where the Viking Tactics (VTAC) Barricade comes in as a training tool.

The VTAC Barricade was designed to give shooters an easy, range-­worthy, training tool that can be used frequently to help develop the ability to return fire from awkward, nonstandard positions.

The barricades are made from wood, so accidently shooting a hole through it won’t be the end of the world, but failure to maintain muzzle awareness will be rewarded with a blast and a hole in the barricade.

All safety rules must be adhered to with reverence as you use these devices to enhance your survivability and combat effectiveness. These barricades are here to ingrain good practices and to help you learn and adapt to potential situations.

A quick history of the VTAC Barricade: I stole this idea from Bennie Cooley, a fellow shooting instructor and good buddy of mine. He had a great barricade design, but I didn’t think it was quite hard enough to shoot through. So, we added more holes that were more restrictive and at some crazy angles. So, there you have it; very simple. So, how can we use these barricades to enhance our abilities?

9-­Hole Drill

The 9-­Hole Drill is an easy exercise (ease is relative) that can be used to teach a few things to our shooters. You will take the VTAC barricade and fire one or two rounds through each hole in the barricade at a piece of steel positioned at 50 to 100 yards away.

For close-quarters-battle (CQB) distances out to 25 ­yards, paper targets work great if you want to score close-range engagements from cover. Normally, we use steel for quick feedback as well as ease of training. I prefer to have the steel at a minimum of 50 yards but 100 yards separates the best shooters from the pack.

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Using AR500 steel helps shooters get several repetitions in quickly on the barricade drill. The immediate feedback will get you moving in the right direction without the need to reset anything down range.

When used correctly, shooting steel is a great facilitator to speeding up the amount of time on the gun. Some would lead you to believe you don’t have to shoot a lot to become a good shooter. I disagree with this view. I believe repetition builds habits, good and bad. However, with live fire, shooters can see what works and what doesn’t. That ring of the steel (or the lack of) as well as the numbers on your timer tell the story. Neither will lie to you.

What are we trying to accomplish? 

First and foremost, we want to find the positions that work for you. I want students to experiment with different positions to see what works. You can also change the difficulty of the drill by adding support side shooting on the last low hole or shoot the entire drill from the support side.

Another goal with this drill is to get shooters to call their shots. With the act of calling shots comes speed in movement from hole to hole.

As we squeeze the trigger, we watch our sights. If the sights lift from an acceptable area of the target, which means you have a hit, quickly pull the firearm from the hole and get moving to the next position. I cannot emphasis the importance of this enough. Only those that can make this happen will get a good overall time on the drill.

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With steel at 50 yards, I want everyone to shoot this drill in under 60 seconds. More than likely, a shooter won’t make it on the first attempt. I have seen some students shoot one shot per hole (with good hits) and complete this drill in under 30 seconds. That is a smoking run.

I push shooters to move the firearm from hole to hole quickly. With a carbine, this translates into pulling it up over your shoulder, then driving the gun to the next target. If you leave the carbine on your shoulder and move your entire body to get to the next hole, it is going to be slower than driving the gun from port to port. This applies directly to movement inside of a vehicle, a confined space or around cover. Ensuring that your safety on the carbine is engaged before moving to the next hole. (Safety first.)

As you work your way around the barricade with the carbine, ensure that your barrel doesn’t touch the barricade. This will have serious accuracy and impact effects on even a stiff-barreled carbine. If you are shooting around the barricade with a pistol, use positions that don’t rest on the barricade. If you must get extra support to make a longer pistol shot, use your thumb or knuckles on the barricade for support. Do not use the dust cover or slide of the pistol.

The VTAC Barricade can also be used for simpler drills to increase speed and comfort shooting from the support side. Transitioning from strong to support side seems easy, but when you have to go back and forth from side to side, changing knees etc., it can become a workout. This is exactly why we practice. When you are feeling wore out, it is a good way to see how strong your position is. Smoothly moving from side to side is key.

Huffing & Puffing

Running from barricade to barricade during a scrambler is an eye opener. Once you are winded, you can stabilize your carbine or pistol to make that perfect shot by taking a deep cleansing breath as you come into the position and use body parts with the barricade for stability.

What I like to do on the front of the gun, is to make a simple “C-­clamp” effect with my hand. The rear of the carbine will be stabilized by keeping the my back knee up. This may be different than you have previously been instructed, but take the time and try it, you might just like it.

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If this seems all too easy, wait until Beginning Morning Nautical Twilight (BMNT), otherwise called “last light,” “sunset,” or “nighttime.” Now try the drill again.

You may have to use paper to see the targets since they will need to be a little closer for use with gun-mounted lights. If you are issued night vision goggles, the drill will teach you even more. With lights or infrared lasers, it isn’t only about the shooting, it is about how to activate these devices as you get into and out of positions, or how dust effects the ability to see with your devices. Learning how to deactivate the light or laser when you are moving from port to port could mean life or death in a real fight.

In the end, these drills build much needed combat confidence. Once you are comfortable with the VTAC 9-Hole Barricade drill, safely increase speed and difficulty. Try using the barricade as cover and stay behind it. Increasing the levels of difficulty is really the only way to get better. So, get out there and train!
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