THE FATAL FUNNEL
The fatal funnel is a term widely used in close quarters battle (CQB) to describe choke points. Such spaces include doorways, stairwells, entryways, or any type of narrow area. The definition of the term is self-evident, but for sake of education, it means that if you enter into or fight from one of these spaces, it will often lead to your demise. Although we don’t agree with the term “fatal funnel”, which implies failure is inevitable, the dangers of entering these transitional areas can’t be overstated.
Tactical teams tirelessly train for this small yet critically important aspect of CQB, however, the average citizen does not have the time or ability to receive such training. To be truly proficient at the techniques necessary to mitigate the risk of entering into a transitional area takes hours upon hours of training. With that said, there are a few key principles that you should understand if you want to be a more capable protector of yourself and your family.
It is no secret that when you are standing outside on a sunny day and look inside the doorway of a dimly lit room, it is extremely difficult to see what is inside the room. That is because when our eyes are exposed to brightness, the cones and rods in our retinas take time to re-adapt to low light levels. This adaptation is known as “dark adaptation.”
Conversely, when you are standing inside a dimly lit room, it is very easy to see outside on a sunny day. With this knowledge, it becomes obvious that making entry through the door of a home on a sunny day poses the risk that your silhouette will be clearly visible to the occupants inside, but you will likely be unable to see them in return. You can’t defend against an attack from an assailant that you can’t see.
The same concept applies during nighttime operations, however, the source of exterior light is often your partner's flashlight or a patio light. The key principle to understand is that anytime you have a light source illuminating your back, your silhouette will become visible to a potential threat.
Assailants who are within the immediate vicinity of the doorway are known as immediate threats. In a team environment, the objective is to get as many muzzles in the room and as fast as possible. An entire team can’t make entry into a room if the number one man making entry can’t get through the threshold, because of an altercation in the doorway.
Whether you encounter an assailant, barricade, or any other situation that could delay your entry into the room, it should be addressed immediately.
TIME IN THRESHOLD
The speed at which you clear a structure is typically dependent on the situation. For example, if you are clearing towards a known threat where time can be the difference between life or death, you will likely move at a fast or “dynamic” pace. Conversely, if you are clearing a structure and no other lives are in danger, you will likely be moving at a slow or “deliberate” pace.
Regardless of the pace at which you are clearing, as soon as you break the threshold of the transitional area, the time spent moving through it should remain the same…fast.
TWO IS ONE AND ONE IS NONE
CQB is a widely debated and controversial topic. Different teams utilize different tactics and everyone thinks they have found the right way. As debated as the topic is, one thing is universally accepted, single man room clearing is dangerous and should be avoided if at all possible. Whether you are new to room clearing or a seasoned operator on a tactical team, you will always be at a disadvantage when taking an offensive posture. Why? Because we know criminals are ambush hunters and action is always faster than reaction.
All of these basic principles can be adopted for the everyday man. Whether you are clearing your way to your child’s bedroom during a home invasion or simply practicing in your pajamas, the fundamentals are what separate the good from the great.