It’s a rare thing in life to experience such a dramatic leap forward in knowledge that you’re almost left in awe when the dust settles. It’s similar to the bootcamp experience. You go in as a civilian and come out a Marine. The whole process is like drinking from a firehose as all of the knowledge is taught and digested at the rate of a machinegun on cyclic. At the end, when everything is done and you’re completely exhausted, it’s an impressive feeling to look back and realize what you’ve learned and accomplished. This is the best way I can describe my experience with Holistic Solutions Group (HSG).
In November, I had the privilege to attend a VCQB and CQB course put on by HSG in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Going in, I wanted to remain humble. I figured we’d be surrounded by all kinds of operator types and knew it would be important to absorb as much knowledge from them as possible. But I had done some CQB in the infantry and figured I at least had some skills to build on. Boy, was I wrong. Perhaps owing to the combination of mediocre training and a high level of confidence acquired during my time in the Marines, these courses came as a complete shock and I was totally surprised by the sheer amount of knowledge and skills we developed in only three days.
Who is HSG? In their own words, “Holistic Solutions Group (HSG) was founded in 2019 by full-time law enforcement and US military personnel with decades of tactical operations, counter-terror, fugitive apprehension, and patrol experience to bring critical lessons learned and industry best practices to larger audiences across the United States. HSG’s cadre have logged and continue to log thousands of operational hours across various agencies and task forces, and have spent considerable time maturing, developing, and training on industry-leading tactics and procedures at renowned schoolhouses such as the Direct Action Resource Center (DARC).”
We started Day 1 with Hi-REV (High Risk Engagements Around Vehicles), a one day live-fire course focused on vehicle CQB. From HSG, “This course is designed as a live-fire, flat range course to expose students to the geometrics, ballistics, and options of dangerous encounters which can occur around vehicles. Since this is an open enrollment course, we will be discussing civilian and law enforcement encounters and responses. We’ve seen numerous instances (especially in recent history) where civilians/ plainclothes officers have responded/ been in the middle of a violent encounter around vehicles.”
This was a really cool class because I had never done any training around civilian vehicles before. HSG provided a fantastic live-fire demo of cover and ballistics in civilian vehicles, and discussed multiple scenarios relevant to both civilians and law enforcement. The balance of civilian and LEO considerations really gave me an added level of appreciation for the challenges LEOs face. As the day progressed, we scaled up to live fire scenarios that culminated in some really cool low light drills. More than once, I had flashbacks to the final bank robbery scene in Heat when Robert DeNiro is shooting an M4 through the windshield of their getaway car. That was the note Day 1 ended on and it was pretty sweet.
Days 2 and 3 were reserved for CQB Nerd 101. From HSG, “101 is geared as an entry-level course that allows students to familiarize themselves with the basics of CQB and grow as a team. You do not have to have any prior knowledge of CQB at any level. This course and its environment is not the same as a static flat range.” Saying, “not the same as a static flat range,” is an understatement. This course is dynamic. We were immediately immersed in complex environments and given problems to solve, all while working as a team and maintaining safety around others in close quarters. As the course progressed, we were given ever more complex scenarios. I loved that they made a point to have fun with it. For example, in one scenario we were survivors in a zombie apocalypse and had to search a medical compound full of bad guys to find medicine for a sick person in our group. Little things like that gave the course an extra flavor and feeling of immersion into a potential real-world scenario.
The final day of this course culminated in a really cool demo of some of the high-speed gear they use in their day-to-day work. We got to see how DTNVS and PVS-31 white phosphor NVGs are used in conjunction with the IR capabilities of a MAWL to give a huge advantage in low-light and no-light environments.
What are my takeaways? To start, I’m not exaggerating when I say I learned more in the first 10 hours of CQB than I did in my entire 4 years in the infantry combined. Maybe that’s not a surprise to some, but the course content and immersion totally blew me away.
The instructors, “Cee” and “Jay,” were both technically and tactically proficient in the course material, obviously due to the decades of military, police, and SWAT experience between them. But they’re also self-aware and accommodating to the needs of the class. We were allowed to push if we wanted shorter breaks, or slow things down for an impromptu Q&A to pick their brains. They had no ego or God-complex. What most impressed me about the instructors themselves was their willingness to go above and beyond for the class. While we had a time when class was scheduled to conclude for the day, they repeatedly offered to stay later to answer questions or run reps if the students needed more.
Another great element of the class was the focus on the “why” of doing things. CQB was just as much of a laboratory for the instructors as it was for the students. After establishing some basic fundamentals, including safety, students were encouraged to use iterative decision making to solve problems based on diverse environmental conditions. If a student did something different, it was ok as long as they could articulate why they were doing it. I have to be honest; the level of mental engagement was intense. You couldn’t be running reps on autopilot. But I could see what they were doing. By encouraging students to think and adapt, it increases the overall likelihood for a positive outcome in a real-world scenario.
Finally, I liked that this course was so friendly to newcomers. Being an open enrollment course, we had everyone from former military and law enforcement to new guys with no prior training. No matter the background, we all came there to learn as students. The instructors even went so far as to encourage students to get to know each other and keep in contact after going home. There was big emphasis on building relationships and community, and that was really cool.
If there’s one thing to know before taking an HSG course, it’s that you’re gonna work. Hard. At times it’ll feel like drinking from a firehose, but at the end you’ll realize that they’ve catapulted your skills a lightyear ahead of where you were just a few days prior. The instructors are professionals that eat, sleep, and breathe the course material. And perhaps more importantly, they love what they do. In another world, I bet they’d do this for free if they could. That’s the kind of attitude that comes across in class. We all know that we need to get out and train. But it’s important to pick good people to train with. HSG is good people, and you’d be doing yourself a major disservice if you miss one of their courses in your town.
If you want to know more about HSG, you can sign up for classes at holisticsolutionsgroup.com and get all of their updates on IG at @holistic_solutions_group.
Full Disclosure: I attended this course as a guest of Lone Star Armory. Big thank you to Ian and LSA for having us out.
2 thoughts on “Holistic Solutions Group: Hi-REV and CQB Nerd 101 Courses”
Wow, what an amazing experience this must have been! As I read through it I can imagine being in your “boots” while you were there. It sounds like a must and I am adding it to the bucket list. Thanks Jake W for this phenomenal blog!!
Amazing. Great read