There is no shortage of firearms enthusiasts or people who enjoy showcasing their shooting skills. And, increasingly, that means tactical firearms training. Not just accuracy in target shooting, but combining speed, movement, and weapons handling in a combat scenario. 

A recent viral video posted by a Twitter account going by Ghostinthereal shows a man moving through a complex of barriers, engaging targets with an MP5 submachine gun in some sort of basic close-quarters combat scenario. Like just about everything else on the internet, the video received plenty of feedback, much of it negative, and much of it focused on the fact that it was captioned “as a material to learn shooting and tactics.” 

And, indeed, in the context of an actual combat scenario, there were plenty of miscues and errors. 

The video begins with the shooter entering the course and quickly engaging a target. He then buttonhooks around a corner and engages two more targets, one to his front and one to his right. 

“He probably would have been killed there almost immediately,” said Benjamin Bunn, a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who served from 2000 to 2016 and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, breaking down the video. “There’s two people who can triangulate his position, unless they were completely dumbfounded.”

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As the shooter reloads for the first time, he is “completely out in the open, standing upright,” said Bunn, adding, “I’d probably immediately take a knee, reload, and keep fighting.”

The shooter then moves to his left, engaging another target. 

“Continuing along, he’s sidestepping. I wouldn’t recommend that because you’ll just trip over your own feet,” said Bunn. “In a tactical environment, I’d just move forward and keep shooting.”

As the shooter completes another reload and approaches a corner, “he very quickly pies around the corner and looks at a target about 10-15 meters away,” said Bunn. “You can tell he’s done this before. 

The shooter then engages the target with a full magazine, spraying the target up and down. “There’s nothing really tactical about that,” said Bunn. “Unless you want to fuck up a vehicle. You want to keep it in the bowling pin, in the torso.”

“That’s just kind of him being wacky,” added Bunn. 

And, yes, there is an element of wackiness to the demonstration. The original video is partly an advertisement for a Black Friday sale at T.Rex Arms, and references the Call of Duty video games. The company sells all manner of gear and firearms accessories, from holsters to body armor, and the shooter is Lucas Botkin, the company’s founder.

Botkin is a prolific poster of firearms content, with almost 450,000 followers on Instagram. The page is filled with photos and videos of Botkin handling all manner of weapons, with an emphasis on firing quickly and accurately. Of course, given all the gear – plate carriers, night vision devices – movement techniques, or his company curating products for “a modern day Minuteman,” it all blurs the lines between what is shooting firearms as a hobby and what is legitimate, realistic tactical training. 

“He’s great at competition shooting, he can fire quickly and accurately,” said Bunn. “But this is more of an exhibition or a product demonstration. Nothing in the video represents a realistic tactical clearing of an objective.”

As for what that would look like, “In reality, with an objective that size, you’d want a raid with at least a platoon-sized element,” said Bunn. 

“You’d want to be covering linear danger areas, and ideally a squad-sized element assault through the objective.”

Of course, not everything in the video is entirely unrealistic. This demonstration of hostage rescue training with the Army’s Combat Applications Group shows just how quickly the most elite operators move and shoot. 

As for the Botkin video, it shows how blurred the lines can get when it comes to the world of tactical training. 

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