Scenario Drills


clip_image002From the foxhole of Captain HeadHunter01

Immediate Action Drills

It’s July, 29 degrees Celsius, humid. You’re leading the point element of your team as you work your way deep into Bad guy Country.  Suddenly your point man stops and looks quickly back as if to say something when all hell breaks loose! Immediately!

This is the great question isn’t it? Most, if not all of us have been in large games where we have seen Teams come under fire only to disintegrate into a rabble of individuals, half of them painted and half of them separated and confused.The “Team” has ceased to exist.  We have probably all also seen a Team come under fire while advancing and immediately each member reacts and begins what looks like a smooth response.Watching these kind of players either overcome their ambushers or successfully disengage, to me, is a source of pleasure. The Team which has practiced, is the team that knows how and when to react using what the military calls Immediate Action Drills, ( I am bilingual so in Canadian it is “Battle Drills”)

This article will hopefully give an overview of Immediate Action Drills, their uses, strengths and weaknesses.It is hoped the reader will leave with a decent foundation and understanding upon which to build.

So now there are two questions; What are Battle Drills? And Why do I need them in paintball?

What is an Immediate Action Drill?

A Battle Drill is a pre-drilled, pre-rehearsed reaction to contact or anticipated contact with enemy forces.  They are most often used by fire teams and squad size elements.

Why are they Important?

The OPFOR always seeks contact under favorable conditions.That’s favorable to them! Examples of this are ambushes.These encounters are likely to be sudden, violent, and over quickly.You either react, or have laundry to do because you are painted more than a Picasso.These encounters are frequently at close range, especially in woods, forests, or heavy brush.Practice of Immediate Action Drills will better your chances at a minimum and most likely allow you to punish the OPFOR for underestimating you.

Why would I need these in Paintball?

Finally a fairly easy question, we play scenario/woodsball.  Most often in large games with a good mix of “teams” and walk-ons. Most paintball “Teams” are no more than a bunch of friends who like to play paintball once in a while.  Remember, everyone wants to be on a “team”.  “Military”  style tactics work exceedingly well in this environment.  Regardless of a teams “organization”, I will bet dollars to doughnuts that very few practice these drills.

These tactics and drills we will discuss are real world and served me well in a former life.They can make the difference between a good fight and a really bad day.One of the keys is that each member of your squad/team must have a working knowledge and have practiced together.

Immediate Action Drill

Contact while On Patrol (Assault)
Three members are moving down either side of a trail on patrol during a long game.

You are moving slowly and quietly.You have staggered your men and each member knows where the others are and can see them. They pay attention to their assigned sectors. Your point man suddenly holds up his arm signaling “Freeze” (refer to Communications/hand signals).” He indicates he has seen the enemy. Your next move depends on whether they have seen you or not. For this drill we will assume they have seen you.

Your team immediately goes into it’s pre-drilled routine.There are options and the best choice depends on the circumstances. (Refer to decision making)For this exercise, we will choose the assault.

The point man makes contact and yells (while taking cover and opening fire) CONTACT FRONT!! The other members echo this information and rush forward.This is done quickly (remember Immediate Action?). The second man rushes past the first while yelling COMING THROUGH!! This informs number one someone is coming past and helps avoid a blue on blue incident. He rushes past about 5-10 feet, preferably on the opposite side of the trail, and takes cover while he opens fire.

The third man mimics this move, preferably moving up on the other side of the point man.

This process is repeated with the point man, now in the rear, moving forward. Important: if it becomes necessary to reload, the trooper yells “Reloading” so his teammates know they will be without cover fire. When done he yells “UP!!”

It is important to note that “laying down paint” in this instance refers to suppressive fire, that is fire that is intended to keep the OPFOR’s heads down and not necessarily hit them, that type of fire is called effective fire. This continues until one of two things occurs: 1) the team overwhelms and eliminates the OPFOR or, 2) they realize they have bitten off more than they can chew and need to unass the area ASAP. This is the point most of ask “Now What?”

Immediate Action Drill

Breaking Contact
(for those times when you absolutely have to get out of Dodge!)

Sometimes the best plans go sideways and a new one is needed ASAP. At these times, even a bad plan is good. All services use this and practice it in one form or another.

Let’s pick up where we were, your team is assaulting the OPFOR when the volume of incoming paint increases noticeably. It begins coming from new directions and you realize either 1) OPFOR reinforcements have arrived or 2) you kicked a fresh turd on a hot day. The first to realize this yells “BREAK CONTACT!!”

To do this and still inflict casualties while protecting your troops, your Squad must stay organized and focused.  Whomever is in the lead at this point starts by peeling back. Instead of turning and running, the rest of the team faces front and begins laying down covering fire while the Number 1 man moves back through the lines until he reaches the rear. Here, he turns and begins laying cover fire towards the front, the second man, (now in front) repeats the process. This continues until either the OPFOR is eliminated or reduced enough for you to now continue your initial assault, or you and your teammates swap exciting stories on your way to the dead zone.

These drills are used by US Rangers, Seals, SF, Canadian JTF, SAS etc. They do work but each team member must practice together and be at the level of “unconscious competent” meaning they react without having to think first. Do this and you will carry the day.

Charlie Mike
Submitted by Mike Breslin
Canadian Scenario Paintball Organization

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  5 Responses to “Scenario Drills”

  1. Good Stuff. BTW…we Infantrymen in the U.S. Army call them Battle Drills as well. The two terms are somewhat interchangable.

  2. we have practiced this a little not a whole lot but a little and it does work

  3. Most defentily a good idea to do these with your team, for our team Belleau Wood Bruisers. We are be sure to set up different privite skirmish matches to test everyone on the team. Everything from 5 to 2 and crazy uneven odds. We even have a stealth course were the sniper must get through a wooded lane and sneak past the other players.

    and FYI the army is wrong we in the USMC call them Immediate Action Drills.

  4. Great article. Ask any one of my current Team members or Recruit and they will tell you, we are on of those rare teams who do practice battle drill not just with paint but air as well. Always plan for the expected and unexpected. We started training battle drill to our paintball Team back in the late 80’s, looked at like a band of nutz then and still today…though from what i have seen more teams are starting to come onboard with this method.

    Congrats, nice to hear others think the same.

    Mike Nelson
    Manager/Team Captain
    Crimson Sabres Woodsball Team
    Calgary Alberta

  5. I have always considered drills to be more about learning your teammates and developing a trust and dynamic with them than anything else. And immediate action to be simply “always have your next move already in mind” so all you have to do is let your body go into it at the first sign of trouble rather than waiting until you are in the thick of things to figure out where you’re going to go.

    Maneuvers are neat and all, and I’ve seen my share of CSPO Organized Fall Back drills in action over the years but if you don’t have enough bodies surviving the initial engagement because they were dawdling about confused as to where they should dive for cover until it’s already too late you won’t have anyone to fall back WITH.

    Make sure you practice your fundamentals along with your maneuvers, it’s a pitfall I’ve seen many scenario players fall into out here. They think pseudo-military squad maneuvers will make up for a lack of basic skills, individual tactics, chemistry, and communication. I’ve taken a ridge being guarded by 15 CSPO players effectively by myself (I’m assuming they were mostly rookies as I didn’t recognize any of them) simply by limiting their angles, effective movement, snap shooting, picking my engagements and THEIR failure to communicate or coordinate suppression and posting against me. They had their fall back routine down pat though!!! It was in fact the only time they coordinated effectively against me, if they’d been able to coordinate half that well in the actual engagement I probably wouldn’t have survived to eliminate more than a few of them.

    Organized maneuvers can be a thing of beauty but are a little like the icing on a cake. They can make a tasty cake into a thing of beauty, but make sure you’ve got a cake worth serving first before you worry about the icing and pretty flower designs. If you don’t you’re going to wind up being force fed your own horrible tasting cake all day instead of people applauding your baking expertise as they head off the field.

    Doer of Stupid Things
    Island Militia / Island United
    Vancouver Island, BC

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