Advanced Tactical Training – Death Walks Into A Convenience Store Part 2

Advanced Tactical Training – Death Walks Into A Convenience Store Part 2
By Philip Van Cleave

Virginia Citizens Defense League
Virginia Citizens Defense League

Covington VA – -( This is part two of a five part series on some lessons learned in an advanced tactical training force-on-force class I took at PFT in West Virginia back in May.

Force-on-force uses Airsoft guns, paintball guns, or simulations to make the training scenarios as real as possible.

In part one I was in a set up like a doctor’s office waiting room and I knocked away the bad guy’s handgun which he had pushed into my chest and drew my own concealed gun and shot him three times for a retention position (the butt of the handgun anchored to my right hip with my body twisted slightly right so the bad guy couldn’t reach my handgun, but I could shoot him without the need to aim).

In part two we were in a simulated convenience store.

Room layout: There was one door into the room by a corner. I’ll call that the front of the room. There was a table with a cash register between the door and the opposite wall at the front of the room. The “store clerk” was standing by the cash register. In the back of the room were three-levels of shelving that contained a sampling of products (a large package of toilet tissue, a case of beer, cleaners, and some other items and boxes). There were some closets on the side of the room where the door was, extending from the front of the room to the back of the room. That was about it.

In this scenario two “good guys” were armed: VCDL Board member Dennis O’Connor and I. There were about 8 other people in the room and we were all told to simply go about our business, looking at goods, talking to the clerk or to each other, whatever.

After milling about for a few minutes, I was in the back of the room and had my back to the door when I heard a person yell something to the effect of “This is a hold up!”

Practical Firearms Training
Practical Firearms Training

I froze and then slowly turned around to see someone standing about ten feet inside the door and about twenty feet from me brandishing a handgun in the general direction of the clerk. The room got as silent as a tomb. If that was all he was going to say and he was going to simply clean out the register and leave, I was not planning to take any action other than to stand still. That being said, I WAS moving my hand slowly toward my concealed firearm just in case.

Next, the bad guy yelled for everyone to lay down on the floor. THAT changed everything for me.

I had decided that I wasn’t about to get into a position of complete helplessness, such as laying face down on the floor. That position is one that lends itself to the person on the floor being executed, which I had seen for real when I had watched the surveillance video of the Golden Market in Richmond being held up a couple of years ago. In that case the bad guy pointed his gun TWICE at a helpless, prostrated customer and was going to pull the trigger when a gun owner at the front of the convenience store fired at the bad guy and distracted him.

For me the question was when I would open fire. There was no where to hide, no real cover. For now the bad guy hadn’t really been paying attention to me with all the other people in the store. As I feigned going down to a kneeling position, I noticed that almost everyone else was down on the floor.

I had a clean shot, with the other customers between me and the bad guy being out of my line of fire. Of course, the bad guy had a clean shot at me and his gun wasn’t concealed in a holster. I was vulnerable – there was simply no practical cover or concealment available to me. If I tried to move, the chance of me tripping over a customer lying on the floor was just too high. I was frozen in place and in extreme danger.

I knew I had to make up my mind quickly, as I was one of the only customers not on the ground and was sticking out now. Once I opened fire, I knew that all hell would tear loose. I had to get that gun out of concealment and firing in a fast, smooth, and accurate manner before the bad guy knew what was happening. If I screwed this up, I would have a hail of bullets coming at me.

As I was getting ready to draw, I heard a series of rapid shots from my left! My peripheral vision was greatly reduced under the stress and my focus on the bad guy was so complete, I didn’t see any movement from my left and didn’t know anything was happening until I heard the shots.

I turned my head towards the sound. It was Dennis, who was off slightly to one side and behind the clerk. He had decided that he, too, was not going to lay on the ground, made up his mind faster than I did, and opened fire. He drew and had started firing while he was also feigning compliance.

Realizing that the bad guy might now open fire to retaliate, I turned my head back toward the bad guy, I drew like lightening and REALLY OPENED UP ON HIM, firing to slide-lock. I simply could not take the chance of the bad guy returning fire at all. He MUST be stopped.

Having received multiple lethal hits in a fast sequence from Dennis and me, the bad guy dropped to the floor without being able to get a single shot off. Someone ran up and kicked the bad guy’s gun away from him.

I decided that this might be a good time to breath.

The total elapsed time from “This is a hold up!” to my breathing again, was probably less than 15 seconds.

Dennis and I had both survived the second shooting scenario unscathed.

THAT was about to change in a big way.

Next: Part 3: Danger on Steroids – clearing a room

Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right. Visit:

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