As I am wont to do, I woke up and was reading the news of the day and one of the sources on which I rely is SOFREP. SOFREP is a news and information site ran and operated by former Special Operators of all branches of service turned journalists and investigative reporters; you will find information and news there you’ll get nowhere else. As any of you that know me have probably heard until you’re sick of it, my son is now an active duty infantryman with 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY. He has ambitions of one day going through the process to get to 75th Ranger Regiment. While reading SOFREP an article titled “3rd Ranger Battalion and The Big Four” ( ) caught my eye. During my 13-year U.S. Army career I never spent time with or around any Ranger battalions and had never heard of “The Big Four” so I was interested.

To sum up the article it is explaining the necessity of the Big Four and why there are now Five and marksmanship should be #1, but it got me thinking.

Anyone that has ever taken any of my defensive handgun courses knows that I emphasize that we civilians are not military, and we are not law enforcement. We can’t legally do what they do, therefore our decisions will be different. Because our decisions are different our equipment will more than likely also be different and therefore, as I explain ad nauseum (Latin term for argument or other discussion that has continued ‘to [the point of] nausea) in class, there is very little overlap between us as civilians and law enforcement and military. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from military and law enforcement.

The Big Four, Now Five, as expressed in the Article are:


Battle Drills




One of the things I appreciate from the perspective of the author and the major point of his article is the importance of marksmanship and how good marksmanship mitigates the pressures on all the other Four essentials. If you hit what you’re aiming at more often you’ll use less ammunition, a reduction in the need for more ammunition reduces the need for mobility to get it. If you hit the bad guy more often and with more effectiveness the bad guy is less likely to injure you or a teammate thus requiring less medical skills, etc. As it is expressed in the article it makes total sense.

How do these same lessons and logic apply to us as civilians was my next train of thought. Given that our goal is, and can only be defensive in nature in accordance with our laws and our opinion as a society, I propose to you the CivTac 5 in order of precedence.

CivTac 5



Defensive Action


Trauma Care

The CivTac 5

1: Tactics – In the civilian sense I don’t only mean tactical movement but I mean decision-making. For instance: Let’s say I’m in a major chain restaurant with my family and someone comes in yelling he going to kill everybody and is carrying an AK-47 and has a pistol on his side. Now let’s say you see and hear all of that in less than 2 seconds. You may not have more than 3-4 seconds to make a decision and act decisively. What will you do? Stay put and wait for an opening, rush the attacker, pull out your defensive firearm and shoot, attempt escape? This is the biggest part of what I mean by tactics. For instance, your decisions will probably be different if you are alone than they would be if you were with your family. In this context tactics are decision-making skills. Its #1 because all else flows from the decision-making process.

2. Mobility – Mobility is about movement in a tactical context. As civilians there will rarely be a case where we are assuming the hunting role as is required by our military and law enforcement, therefore we should not study or put much time into learning ‘dynamic entry’ methods. Dynamic Entry is what we see when military and law enforcement bust down a door and enter with overwhelming force and firepower and take total control of a situation. That is not how you or I will be using tactical movement. We will need to learn to move in a way that allows us to get away from danger and to ‘clear’ our homes of intruders with the goal of simply getting to safety, and that is a different method. Mobility in this context also includes understanding your abilities or those who rely on you for protection. Considerations: can you run, jump or climb to safety? Are there fitness issues that can be addressed or are they health issues that will never change or get better? What about those likely to be with you at the time, spouse and/or children? What about any others that may rely on you for protection? In this context mobility is about your ability to achieve the movement requirements of your tactics or taking the lack of mobility into account while choosing your tactics. Its #2 because you must be able to move to perform everything after the tactics are decided, or understand the limits of your mobility.

3. Defensive Action – I was tempted to call this one ‘defensive shooting’ but I realized that as civilians we cannot escalate the ‘use of force’ without becoming the criminal. If you are unfamiliar with this concept I suggest you research “Use of Force Continuum,” as well as “escalation of force,” and “disparity of force.” As part of the CivTac 5, Defensive Action refers to employing the chosen appropriate tactics effectively. For instance, if you’ve decided that use of your defensive firearm is the appropriate tactical response then we are indeed talking about defensive shooting and marksmanship. On the other hand, if you’ve decided in the situation that simply using less-than-lethal means or hand-to-hand skills are appropriate then we are talking about knowing how to use those means effectively and we’re not talking about firearms at all. The Use of Force Continuum in order:

Awareness & Avoidance


Empty Hand Skills


Lethal Force

We are legally, morally and ethically required to use the least of these as would be effective. Its #3 because it must occur after 1 and 2 and if 1 and 2 are used ineffectively then defensive action will be of less importance.

4. Health/Fitness – In this context I’m referring to our ability to survive the incident, escape the aftermath, or render appropriate trauma care to ourselves or other survivors. Can your body and mind handle the adrenaline dump you will experience, or can you get yourself and other survivors to where they need to go? Will you be able physically to render effective first aid and trauma care or to assist those that do? In this instance health/fitness refers to your physical characteristics, not what you know but simply will you be able to function physically in a self-defense situation? However, I don’t want anyone reading this to dismiss their responsibilities due to physical inabilities no matter what the source or reason of those inabilities. On the contrary I want those of you that are thinking of limitations to think about what you CAN do within your health/fitness realities. Your responsibility is to do all that you CAN do and not to become a hindrance to yourself or others because of what you can’t do. Its #4 because in this context adrenaline will more that likely get you to this point, but will you be able to perform effectively after the adrenaline.

5. Trauma Care – Since 9/11 America has experienced 16+ years of constant combat. During those years we’ve also had a rise in data collection. This has occurred because of the prevalence of cameras on phones, drones, bodycams, GoPros, surveillance and security cameras as well as a plethora of other means not visual in nature. We know more now than we ever have about what occurs in combat, whether it is military, law enforcement or civilians experiencing violence and its aftermath. One of the most beneficial changes in my view is the understanding of how many deaths we can prevent on the battlefield. It wasn’t long ago the military was still telling servicemembers in training that they should only use a tourniquet as a last-ditch effort. Now they teach when in doubt apply a tourniquet. That’s one quick example. Some of you may be aware they’ve changed CPR techniques relatively recently as well. The changes as I know them seem to have one thing in common, keep them from bleeding out first and foremost because that’s how the oxygen gets to the brain. As a soldier and as a civilian I hated first aid classes because I could never remember all the myriad of steps to perform a necessary task, it simply wasn’t the kind of brain God blessed me with. However, when I attended my first TC3 class (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) I was blown away by modern teaching regarding these skills. The core sentiment is this, “Just keep them alive long enough for the professionals to get there.” As civilian self-defenders that’s truly all we need in an ordinary sense. This isn’t survival medicine where we won’t have professionals responding in a timely manner, on the contrary this is everyday-in-America type stuff. Just about everywhere in America we are relatively close to a good trauma center and that’s where the professionals get much of the work done that saves lives. In between the incident and there is what we are concerned with. Here’s how I reference this in my classes: Let’s say you are out with loved ones and something devastating and unpredictable happens and a family member is shot by a criminal. Let’s also say you defend yourself and your family effectively and the threat has been eliminated but your loved one is still shot. Let’s say they die. Did you win? Of course not, none of us would think that is a ‘win.’ We all like to think when we decide to take responsibility for our own defense that we’ll get a gun and a concealed carry permit and that’s it, we’re good now. I hope you see now that is a miniscule amount of preparation. You must also have a basic knowledge of immediate trauma medical skills and have the equipment on you or the knowledge to improvise it on the spot. My trauma gear I carry daily is roughly the size of an average wallet. Your goal is to keep you or another alive long enough for the pros to show up. Its #5 because chronologically its last as well as it’s the last thing we hope to need, however if its needed it will quickly become #1.

The CivTac 5

We aren’t Army Rangers, we aren’t federal or state or local police; we’re just civilians. Because of that our goals are different which makes our equipment and our decision-making and therefore our actions

different. The CivTac 5 are designed to help you focus on acquiring basic training on all the vital portions of self-defense that civilian self-defenders should have. Don’t quit with the gun and a piece of plastic.

Sapere Aude – dare to know.

Tom Hall/Bare Arms Training Director

Tom Hall