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Close Contact Combat Glossary/Tactical Terminology and Definitions.


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This study guide is used to help our students remember some of the vocabulary that is used during our courses of instruction.


Click on any image for an enlarged version.


0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

50% Rule - A quote attributed to Ken Hackathorn where he states : Under the stress of a lethal encounter your skill sets will decrease and you will only be half as good on the street, as your best day on the range.(You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your most recent level of training.)


Ability - (As referred to in justification of the use of Deadly Force)
The ability of an attacker to do physical harm to you resulting in great bodily harm, or death.



Boyd’s OODA Loop - The concept was developed by military strategist and USAF Colonel John Boyd. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.


OODA_Loop.pngBody's OODA Loop



Castle Doctrine - (Castle Law or Defense of Habitation Law) - A law that designates a person’s home (or sometimes car, or anyplace they can legally be - hotel room, etc.) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances use force, up to and including deadly force to defend against an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution. As opposed to a Duty to Retreat law. Nevada is a Castle Law state.


Nevada Revised Statute: NRS 200.120 “Justifiable homicide” defined; no duty to retreat under certain circumstances.


1. Justifiable homicide is the killing of a human being in necessary self-defense, or in defense of habitation, property or person, against one who manifestly intends or endeavors, by violence or surprise, to commit a felony, or against any person or persons who manifestly intend and endeavor, in a violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner, to enter the habitation of another for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein.


2. A person is not required to retreat before using deadly force as provided in subsection 1 if the person:
(a) Is not the original aggressor;
(b) Has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used; and
(c) Is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used.
[1911 C&P § 129; RL § 6394; NCL § 10076]—(NRS A 1983, 518; 2011, 265)


Color Code of Mental Awareness – A description of the level of attention or awareness you may apply to any situation in your daily life. One should always strive to remain in condition Yellow.


White - Un-readiness, internal focus, unaware of your surroundings.
Yellow - Relaxed and aware, a state of general anticipation, where the sudden appearance of a dangerous situation does not catch us off-guard.
Orange - Specific Alert, being alert you identify a situation that could indicate a pre-assault indicator. Threat assessment, target identification, and consideration for the rules of engagement begin to take place.
Red - Specific threat, the fight is now imminent. Decision to engage is based on your personal mental trigger, or line in the sand.
Black - Immediate engagement, the fight is already on. (You may not know until you take the first round.


Combat Mindset - We here at ADAPT describe Combat Mindset with the following quote:
"Combat mindset is...The courage to fight. The desire to live. The strength to kill. The willingness to die."


Cranio-ocular Cavity- This area is defined by the eye sockets and nasal cavity, it is a four inch band that wraps all the way around the head under the skull cap that allows for penetration of a handgun round into the central vital area of the head.


Headbox_Target.JPG.jpgDefined by the "box" shape in the head on our target.


Deadly Force - The amount of force that which when applied will likely result in death or great bodily injury. The three factors that need to be present to justify the use of lethal force are: ability, opportunity, and intent. Once those factors exist, we must also judge the situation - asking, is it imminent (happening soon) or immediate (happening now)?


Defensive Posture - The standard defensive posture is a bladed body position with the firing side turned away from the aggressor. The hands are extended with palms open signaling a defensive warning to the attacker not to come any closer as well as offering a basic guarded position........




Failure to Stop - A threat that is not stopped by firing the standard response of a controlled pair to the COM. Instead, after the controlled pair, we assess the situation and find the threat still exists. In this situation, we follow up with a shot to the cranio-ocular cavity to stop the threat.


Firing Side - The side of the body with the firearm on it. This includes all associated parts such as the hand on the firing side is the firing side hand and the other is the support hand. (As opposed to other terminology such as strong hand and weak hand.)


Firing_Side.pngFiring Side: Classical Pistol Marksmanship Stance/Modified



Holster - (n.)A holder used for carrying a firearm. (v.) Holster or Holstering: The act of placing your firearm in its holder.
ADAPT is a big proponent of the "Serpa" holster as it has retention and encourages proper grip and trigger finger placement before the weapon is removed from the holster.


Holster_Serpa.jpgBlackhawk Serpa Holster


Visit our page on Recommended and Approved Holsters. Course Gear: Holsters



Isosceles Stance - This position is based on the body’s natural response to an unexpected threat - the untrained body will automatically react by crouching and pushing away from the threat. The body is squared off towards the target, assuming an aggressive athletic stance: weight on the balls of our feet and shoulders forward. Arms are extended towards the target so that the torso and two arms create an isosceles triangle



Jam - One of the three reasons a gun can stop firing. Different than a malfunction, a jam is a broken gun. See: Squib load









Malfunction - One of the three reasons a gun can stop firing. Different than a jam, a malfunction is a temporary problem that can be assessed and fixed fairly quickly to get the gun back in the fight.


There are 3 types:


Type 1, or Failure To Fire.
Sign and Signal: Click, no bang.
Solution: Tap, Rack, Flip. Re-assess the situation and determine if follow up shots are necessary.


Type 2, or Brass High, Failure to Eject, "Stovepipe".
Sign: A dead or inactive trigger.
Signal: While moving you look at the ejection port to assess and note there is Brass trapped high in the ejection port. "Stovepipe"
Solution: Tap, Rack, Flip. Re-assess the situation and determine if follow up shots are necessary.


Type 3, or Brass Low, Double Feed, Feed-way Stoppage, Failure to Extract
Sign: A dead or inactive trigger.
Signal: While moving you look at the ejection port to assess and note there is Brass trapped low in the ejection port, or a double feed in the chamber.
Solution: Move, Identify, Clear (Lock slide, strip magazine out, rack, rack, rack, insert magazine, rack), Reload with Retention and Speed Reloading. Re-assess the situation and determine if follow up shots are necessary.


Muzzle - The opening at the end of the barrel of the firearm where the projectile leaves once fired.


Muzzle Consciousness / Muzzle Discipline - Awareness and control of the direction of your muzzle, attempting to ensure it is pointed in a safe direction at all times such as: (towards the ground/Sul, downrange, or upward, etc.)


Muzzling - A firearm safely violation, whereby the armed individual is inadvertently pointing the muzzle of a firearm at someone/something that they do not intend to destroy.



Negligent Discharge - The unintentional firing of a weapon caused by the carelessness and or lack of training/discipline of the shooter.






Presentation from the holster / Draw Stroke - A five count process by which the weapon is safely and efficiently presented from the holster to the target or a ready position. This is also sometimes referred to as the "draw stroke" or drawing the weapon.


Presentation_Cycle.gifPresentation and re-holstering cycle.


Printing - When the outline of your weapon shows through a concealment garment. Wearing an appropriately fitting garment, a dark color or busy pattern also helps to break up this profile.



Quick Check - Performed during the Survival sequence to ensure that there are no additional adversaries at in your immediate area.



Red Gun - Industry terminology for an injection molded plastic replica of a firearm with no moving parts, used for safety while training. (Comes in a variety of colors.)


Red_Gun.pngASP "Glock" Style Redgun


Revolver - A handgun with revolving chambers that, when the trigger is pulled, or the hammer is cocked back the cylinder rotates and aligns the chamber with the barrel. When the trigger is pressed completely to the rear the hammer falls and strikes the firing pin, firing the weapon.


Revolver_Vocabulary.pngRevolver Diagram



Semi-automatic - One round is fired with each trigger press. When the the weapon is loaded and fired the slide cycles back ejecting the spent casing, the magazine lifts a new round into position and as the slide returns forward it chambers a new round in preparation to fire again.


Semi_Automatic_Vocabulary.pngSemi-automatic Diagram


Sights - Devices used for aiming a firearm. Most handguns have a front sight post and a rear sight notch that must be aligned.


Slide - The part of the weapon on a majority of semi-automatic pistols that moves during the operating cycle and generally houses the firing pin or striker and the extractor, and serves as the bolt. It is spring-loaded so that once it has moved to its rearmost position in the firing cycle, spring tension brings it back to the starting position chambering a fresh cartridge during the motion provided that the magazine is not empty. See also:Semi-automatic Diagram above.


Snap Caps/Dummy rounds - Non firing cartridges. Some have the addition of spring-loaded "primers" used to test the mechanical functioning of a firearm or for dry practice.


Snap_caps_image.pngSome examples of Snap caps available for most modern firearms.


Support Side - The side of the body opposite to the firearm.


Survival Sequence - The sequence of motions we practice to train our bodies to continue the fight until the end while maintaining situational awareness. Failure to perform some sort of survival sequence can result in death. FINISH THE FIGHT!!!

The steps are:

1. Recognize the threat
2. Move and engage appropriately (Stop the threat, even if only for the moment)
3. Continue Moving to Cover or Concealment
4. Come to a Ready (Environment dependent, Finger goes straight)
5. Check your weapon (fingertip scan battery)
6. Check your 6 (quick check your back)
7. Confirm (Adversary has stopped the attack, failure to stop if needed)
8. Scan and Breathe (Stepping & twist, Circular scan adversary in foreground)
9. Press Check, Tactical Reload, Recover, Reset your safeties
10. Check your gear (Ammunition management, Push forward)
11. Check yourself (Physical inventory, touch all your extremities for signs of blood)
12. Triage
13. Communication- (Family, Witnesses, Law Enforcement, Remaining adversaries



Tactics - We here at ADAPT like to define tactics with the following statement "The ability to observe, reason, and decide to move or act in a manner that decreases the likelihood of sustaining injury to yourself or others while maximizing the degree of success in defeating threats and surviving the encounter. To sum up, tactics is the art of staying alive."


Thoracic Cavity - Describes the portion of a person’s torso from the top of the rib cage down to the diaphragm. We shoot to the COM because it is a large target area and therefore can be addressed quickly. This area houses a large number of vital organs including the lungs, heart, and major blood vessels. This area is also called the COM. A sudden loss of air or blood pressure here usually results in shock and hopefully stops the threat.









Weaver Stance - This stance was created by Southern California Deputy Sheriff Jack Weaver in the late 1950's. A bladed body position stance most commonly used by athletes and fighters. The firing side hand pushes the firearm forward, and the support hand pulls rearward developing isometric tension to help reduce the effects of muzzle flip and recoil. For additional reference you can research "Modern Technique of the Pistol" developed by Jeff Cooper.











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