I was given the opportunity to review Vehicle CQB with William Petty – an on demand training video featuring instructor William Petty and produced by Firelance Media. The video seeks to give shooters tools that they can use in a conflict that takes place in or directly around a vehicle and, along the way, it slays more than a few sacred cows.
Video Training Done Right
Much of the video training content that is out there walks the fine line between entertainment and training. There is always some value in viewing training content but it will never be a replacement for in-person training with a skilled instructor. Video remains a powerful medium for conveying ideas but is more limited for conveying skills.
Vehicle CQB works so well as a video because it isn’t necessarily a shooting skill course. It is more of a problem-solving course. The handling of basic shooting positions is a great example of this. The video doesn’t teach you the basic shooting positions. It shows you how they might be used when fighting around a vehicle. That is an important distinction and one of the biggest reasons this video works so well.
This is very specific material that most people would never have access to outside of video. Most ranges don’t allow you to shoot vehicles and courses like this are hard to find for the civilian shooter. The material is presented with a depth that could never be accomplished in a shooting course. This type of depth can only be presented in a vehicle specific course or video.
Vehicle CQB is heavy on ideas rather than specific skills and it presents subject matter that would otherwise be inaccessible for most people. This video is what video training can and should be.
Quality Instructional Design
Vehicle CQB is very well executed from an instructional design standpoint. The format of the video and logical progression will feel familiar to you if you have ever attended a shooting course from a quality instructor. Objectives and context are given, the basics are built upon, new information is introduced, and then the students are expected to apply that new information in drills.
The video follows a group of students through a Vehicle CQB course as taught by William Petty. As with any good course, it starts in the classroom where objectives are set and context is given. This initial lecture phase sets the table for the instruction that follows on the range.
The range portion of the video takes place over three days with each serving as a subsequent block of instruction with a debrief at the end of each. The first block teaches the student how to use and tweak the shooting positions that they should already know to be more effective around a vehicle. These are not new shooting positions but rather refinements that are applicable for use around any cover, not just vehicles.
The second range block introduces the ballistic concepts that set this video apart. I don’t want to give away to much in this review but it was paradigm shifting for me. I have attended shooting courses before where the extent of the vehicle related instruction given was something to the effect of “Only the wheels and engine block are cover” or “Vehicles are bullet magnets and you should get away from them ASAP.” Petty systematically shows, caliber by caliber, that there are many more points of cover than that to be found on a vehicle. This is powerful content when you consider that we spend a significant time in vehicles on open road where cover is sparse. There may not be other cover to run to so it makes sense to know how to maximize the only cover you have rather than exposing yourself needlessly by leaving it.
The final range block finds us on the range with Petty and his students while they apply their new found knowledge. The drills are many and varied. They include students working along and in pairs to exit a vehicle while engaging cardboard targets, drills that are heavy on information processing, and some very illuminating force-on-force drills. There are plenty of ideas here that you can incorporate into your own training even if it just dry fire. The force-on-force content in particular is excellent in that you get a chance to see many of the concepts introduced earlier by Petty playing out exactly as he said they would in a dynamic way.
The debriefs that follow each range block do a good job of personalizing the training and driving home the main points. There are also interviews with Petty interspersed that gives us a window into his mind and these do a good job of delving deeper into the context of the course.
Context is Key
Petty does an excellent job of giving context in this video and that is something that is often sorely lacking from training videos. He sets the overall context early in the video in the classroom portion and then doesn’t deviate from the theme of armed conflict happening in and around the immediate area of a vehicle. Even the familiar aspects of this training like shooting positions are handled within the context of Vehicle CQB. This specific context and very limited scope is key to understanding what is being conveyed in this instruction.
He also gives rich depth of context to two specific techniques that, without context, are often regarded as cool guy stuff for internet operators – urban prone and temple index. I have never seen urban prone taught in such a complete way or, frankly, a way that makes so much sense. Petty shows graphically its utility for shooting under objects like vehicles and why more traditional prone positions fall short in this context.
Temple index has been particularly controversial as of late but that is largely due to it use out of context as some sort of default ready position. Petty shows the correct (as in safe) way to do it, why it is preferred to other positions in this context, and when it is applicable. As he says, “That shit is not hot sauce, you can’t put it on everything.”
William Petty as an Instructor
I’ll qualify this by saying that have not met William Petty in person. However, he comes across as very personable in the video (and all the various outtakes released by Firelance Media). He seems warm and humorous with a laid back style and a willingness to demo the concepts that he talks about. You’ll come away from this wanting to train in person with him.
His command of the subject matter really shines through. The second day is spent shooting vehicles with calibers ranging from 9mm to .308. During that entire day of filming, everything happens as he says it will which indicates that he has spent a lot of time shooting cars for research. On the third day, all of the concepts that he introduces are born out in the force-on-force scenarios in the exact way he presented them. All of this points to a man who has done his homework.
The overall quality of the presentation is excellent. It looks great. The camera is seemingly always in the right place to see exactly what Petty is demoing or the students are working through. The editing keeps the pace lively without glossing over important details. It feels very polished and complete. I highlights what needs to be highlighted and uses clever editing to emphasis important points. It feels like you are in the course, following the progression but also outside of it, picking the brain of the instructor.
The video is delivered via Vimeo. Accessing it was seamless and streaming it in HD was easy, even on my North Idaho DSL connection.
I realize that I have barely touched on the specifics of the content in this video and that is by design. It is always a challenge to write reviews like this without giving up too much of the content. Rest assured, the ballistic content alone is worth Vehicle CQB’s cost. It is even better when you consider how it is expertly woven into the overall presentation.
The content will change how you think about any vehicle and the context given will change how you think about various techniques. Seeing the concepts play out on video exactly as they are introduced by Petty will give you confidence that you can take his word. Vehicle CQB progresses logically and is easy to follow. It is an entirely appropriate and effective use of video as an instruction medium.
I highly recommend this video. Check out Vehicle CQB on Vimeo.
Disclosure: Access to this video was provided to me free of charge by Firelance Media.