t always makes me happy when I can cross-off one of the items on my bucket list. Attending training by Project Gecko has been one of those items on the list. After seeing their collaboration videos with UF Pro I was convinced I need to learn more about their approach.
Fortunately Tactical Academy Finland (I've embed some photos and video in this post from their Instagram feed so apologies for the Finnish captions) a non-profit founded in 2020 to bring international quality training to Finland announced that they are bringing Project Gecko in-country at the end of 2020. I signed up at that moment and I'm glad to say it was worth every penny.
This post will focus on a general review of the training event as I want to respect Project Gecko's request not to disclose any specifics of their methodology publicly. I also would not want to create any potential misunderstandings about the tactics or methods they teach, it's best that you join one of their training events so you'll have all the details and right context.
So how was it?
Before the event Tactical Academy of Finland supplied us with a preliminary schedule and a packing list. On a high-level the equipment needed was full combat gear that one uses in their job / milsim events, airsoft weapons for FoF validation and snacks for long days. Those who didn't have their own airsoft guns were able to rent them for the weekend. Following the packing list and schedule it was easy to prepare for the weekend.
As I arrived to the training location on Saturday I was greeted by Tactical Academy Finland staff and other participants. We were told to gather in a class room for the theory part and Eli from Project Gecko would arrive soon. Once he got on site we did an introduction round and it was interesting to note the different types of people present. We were a mix of milsimmers, police, active duty military and reservists plus some security professionals specialised in protecting critical infrastructure. Many had been Project Gecko's followers for years. At this point it was already evident that as an instructor Project Gecko's Eli is extremely open and he seemed to treat everybody with equal respect and interest.
Once we had completed the introduction round Eli started with the theory part.
During the class room part Eli introduced us to the following things:
- differences between dynamic & sliced-based entries
- introduction to Project Gecko's methods based on actual metrics and experience
- search speeds
- room types
- corner types
- dividing the room by degrees 45, 90 etc.
- priorities in a room
Eli's teaching style is down-to-earth and humble, the man is professional. What I really liked is his emphasis on human's natural reactions and how we should think about CQB from that perspective. Eli gave great examples of several world-class law enforcement and military teams and how all of them slow down to search speed once natural reactions in face of danger set in.
After the theory part and lunch we geared up and headed outside. First practical part of the training was making sure that everyone knew how to manipulate their weapon in different ready-positions such as low, high ready, and compressed ready. We also went over pre-fire and after-fire actions after which we moved to movement drills focused on friendly fire prevention.
Once adequate level had been achieved in weapon flows and friendly fire prevention we moved indoors and began working on 1-man room clearing techniques.
Eli always made sure to demonstrate each evolution in a lot of detail and answered every question no matter how basic or complex they were.
The first step in 1-man room clearing was to train the foot work for good slicing, how to position yourself in regards to the apex of the corner or door to expose as little as possible. To me the way PG teaches movement around the door felt quite natural, especially I liked the techniques to gain a small surprise over your opponent. Practicing this kind of slicing really made me think about CQB and room clearing in a new way and I learnt that I have a lot to practice in actually always processing everything that comes to my visual field with each step as the slicing proceeds.
When we had practiced enough basic movement around the door we covered actions in the room and how to exit the room. The details that were covered on how to prioritise problems, how to move in the room etc made a lot of sense and I feel that alone made the training worth the visit. Good stuff I hadn't picked up on PG's videos.
All steps from movement around the door to actions in the room we first dry-practiced and then validated with Force-on-Force training using airsoft guns. FoF practice concluded day 1 of the training weekend. It had been a long but very interesting day from 8am to 8pm.
The next day I got back to the training location at 8.30am, we geared up at 9am and moved straight in-doors where we began another friendly fire prevention evolution. This time in 4-man teams with 4 targets in a box around us. Eli would call out a target by number or letter and we'd engage but adhere to FF-prevention rules: "on-line" and "muzzle before flesh". Another round of this same exercise was ran where we also had to first command the target before being cleared to engage. All of this was great training for weapon handling, movement and making sure that ones thought process and checks before and after firing are well in place.
Again, once we had enough practice we moved in to the main topic of the day which was 2-man room clearing.
What's nice about PG's system is that all the principles build upon each other so switching from 1-man to 2-man basically the stuff the 1st man does doesn't change at all, you just add a few details that are mostly about communication and team work.
First we went over how to enter a room in pairs, basically 2nd man was just added as a wingman to cover the long and moving close to the first man in the corridor before entering the room. Next we were taught 2-man actions in the room and how to exit the room conducting equipment checks and how to communicate all of these steps easily with a buddy. Some of these details were exactly what I was looking from the course but unfortunately can't share the details in this post, you'll just have to enroll on a course to get all that specific training that you don't see on YouTube.
After dry-practice we validated the learning with FoF evolutions and Eli created longer training evolutions for us where we'd clear multiple rooms, move between floors and open spaces in pairs. We also learned how to bound indoors which is especially handy in tight spaces like small corridors or staircases.
The only minus I can really attribute to the weekend is that at times I would've liked to have a little more runs to practice everything. Unfortunately Eli was running the show by himself without a co-instructor which meant we got a little less runs in the dry-practice / FoF evolutions. On the other hand we as students had really great dialogue with Eli all the time and we got answers to all questions we came up with and often it resulted in interesting discussions for the whole group.
The training was kind of eye-opening to me. I haven't had a lot of CQB training and its been a few years since my last one. In earlier training events I've attended, I felt that we were mostly just doing what we were told and there was quite little reasoning from instructors why things were did the way they were taught, and I at least didn't have the experience to question anything back then.
Project Gecko's training was completely different than what I've experienced before.
I felt I started to think and see CQB in a completely new way. It's definitely not just running into rooms...rather one of the most important things is to learn how you read the room, making sure that as you slice you're really processing what you're seeing. To accomplish that you have to have your weapon handling on point so you really see as much as possible and one of the things that affects this a lot is choosing the right speed for the right situation depending on your skill and threat level. For example having your weapon readied too high when slicing may prevent you from seeing something crucial such a small slice of a persons shoulder which could enable you to have the advantage. Remember to have your eye above your optics to enable your thinking! Once you know what you're shooting at make sure that your volume of fire suppresses the enemy completely, forget double taps.
When you can see, you'll be thinking and you'll be able to prioritise problems. The methods to prioritise problems in CQB were also a key learning from the training, at least for a less CQB experienced person like myself.
All in all, I would definitely recommend ITCQB 1 from Project Gecko, that said I already signed-up for ITCQB 2 which'll run later this year.
Check out their websites to sign-up for training: https://www.projectgecko.info/ and https://tacticalacademyfinland.com/.
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