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Marksman Live: How to Build Your Team

In this session of Marksman Live, I brought on a panel of guests to dig into the topic of team structure and capability during Scenario X. For this one, I was happy to welcome back Brent0331, Doc Larsen of One Shepherd, and Les from Pegasus Tests.

Brent and Doc probably need no introduction. Les is another USMC veteran, and expert in logistics. Combined, I thought this brought a lot of perspective about organization, gear, and tactical thinking.

Key Takeaways

The conversation flowed in stages. We first started out with a working definition of Scenario X, and our rough approximation of a DEFCON system for defining readiness levels.

During this early part of the conversation, there was some confusion around what is or was not available. For example, one of the panel members was thinking that law enforcement was still available to handle most serious issues while another operated under the assumption that government services were shut down.

Once we got that cleared up, a few things seemed to be agreed upon:

  • If operating independently, the average “team” should be about 6 people (or 7 in Brent’s opinion)
  • A team operating alongside other teams in parallel could be a smaller 4-person size
  • Discretion is the better option at lower levels (i.e. DEFCON 5 and 4)

Weapon Configuration

The group agreed that while handguns as an instrument of the battlefield are relatively inconsequential, they play an important role in personal defense. At the earlier stages of Scenario-X, the best bet is concealed carry of a handgun, or maybe open carry if presenting a more “switched on” posture.

Long guns are situational, and you must make a judgement call about your posture regarding them.

Assuming things became more “kinetic,” then we discussed what a 6-person team should be equipped with. An interesting part of this discussion was less about the weapons themselves and more about the job behind it.

As an example, most of the group agreed that within a 6-person team, the mixture should look something like four AR-15s configured as fighting rifles, an “automatic” rifleman, and a designated marksman. Brent was clear about the automatic rifleman, saying that it’s less important that they have a very high rate of fire than it is they understand the role of the automatic rifleman with target selection.

Doc Larsen also put forward an argument for the classic 12 gauge shotgun in the hands of the team leader. His argument was that a shotgun was an effective tool up close, and also forced the team leader to focus more on guiding his team through the fight than engaging targets himself. As a bonus, the shotgun could be used for multiple things aside from fighting, such as launching flares.

5.56 vs 30 cal for the DMR?

We had a little bit of a side track regarding caliber selection. In short, the thinking is that a 5.56 DMR rifle could do just fine in the role from a fighting stand point. The person wielding the rifle, like the automatic rifleman, has more to do with things than the rifle itself. There are certainly benefits to ammunition commonality between the DMR and the rest of the team.

However, there is an argument for a full power cartridge like .308 or 6.5 CM when it comes to stopping vehicles or chewing up cover. The question of distance was not really important, as most of the group thought it was unrealistic to claim the range advantage of 6.5 CM was worth anything in an environment where you’re unlikely to see anyone beyond 300 yards anyway.

Doc also mentioned that bolt guns are nice, but the slow rate of fire could present a problem in such a role.

“Fighting Shape” and Mental Toughness

One of of the audience members brought up a point about 75% of today’s 17-18 year olds are “unfit” for military service. The group, who all have a lot of experience training civilians, pointed out that the military standards are about a lot more than physical fitness. They have all seen everyday people who would otherwise be seen as too old, too fat, too sick, or other issues perform well in training when given a job commensurate with their skills.

The difference, they saw, is a willingness to put up with the suck and challenge themselves. Ultimately, this is where we agreed it was more important to cultivate a tough winning mindset.

How do you do that? You have to go out and challenge yourself. That could be in the gym, grinding through difficult workouts. or it could be making yourself uncomfortable in training situations. Either way, you mentally grow through positive stress.

Other Capabilities

Another important topic that came up was surrounding the capabilities your survival group should have. Doc Larsen was adamant that you should be thinking in terms of early warning systems. Your best bet to survive and be ready is to know what is going on around you and give yourself time to respond.

What does that look like? It could be physical observation posts, drones, tripwire flares, field phones, or fishing line tied to cans full of rocks. The mechanism was less important than the capability.

Thank You to the Crew!

I want to give a thank you to Brent, Doc, and Les for joining me during this session. It was a fun conversation, and I’m looking forward to more over time.

Check out Brent’s YouTube Channel and Instagram page.

You can find Doc Larsen at his YouTube Channel or at One Shepherd Leadership Institute.

Les is available through his YouTube channel, Pegasus Tests.

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Matt is the primary author and owner of The Everyday Marksman. He's a former military officer turned professional tech sector trainer. He's a lifelong learner, passionate outdoorsman, and steadfast supporter of firearms culture.

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Stu F
Stu F

Matt, As always, I enjoy your blog posts – thank you. I would, however, also like to hear your thoughts on the ‘soft’ skills of dealing with a Scenario-X, like how to build consensus in the larger 35+ people group that the smaller team(s) would be operating from. Or how to deal with the neighbor who is on the ‘edge’ of the larger group who insists on flaunting any security protocols put in place. Regarding the tactical/security team(s), how to build consensus for action, select strategic and tactical objectives, and institute/maintain command authority. Leading volunteers in peacetime situations is a… Read more »

Stu F
Stu F
Replying to  Matt

Ok. I understand your response. Let me narrow my inquiries down a bit to:

1) How to define the “red line” that initiates group action, and
2) How to select strategic and tactical objectives for the group

I am very interested in this topic, as there’s lots of discussion out there about individual tactical and small group tactical skills, but not a lot about people skills or strategic skills.

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