Angular-Searches-Right-AngleA long time ago I had to go through basic tactics training and the instructor asked us to demonstrate how we’d clear a room. Enter a guy we labeled New York, a short and really cocky know-it-all of a guy. He said, “Let me show you how it’s done in New York!” And then he proceeded to hold the hammer of his pistol close to the tip of his nose. He looked left and pointed his gun right, looked right and pointed his gun left, looked all over while he pointed his gun down.

Upon getting to the doorway he turned on his heel, holstered his weapon, turned his back on the threat and proudly said, “That’s how we do it in New York!” “No, not really” the instructor said dryly, “You just showed us how NOT to do it in New York!” The class burst out in laughter and New York ashamed got back into the line of students.

For every clown, there should be a lot of great students who really want to learn. Always keep your mind open to being corrected and how you can do better.

Keep in mind there are a lot of ways to do tactics. This article is meant to educate people who have no experience with tactical movement. Reading this article will not give you the proper experience you need to handle an intruder in your home. If you don’t have tactical experience, it’s recommended that you call 911 as your first priority. If you decide to handle a situation on your own, please understand how to use your firearms, and decide your course of action before doing anything.

This article is a baseline for beginners and it is recommended to practice with flashlights, small hand-held lasers or just your outstretched arms in a safe environment such as your home. It is not recommended that you practice in public. Again, we recommend practicing without loaded firearms. This article is not meant to be the solution or panacea for every tactical problem and much has been written about it already.

Our guy is not crossing the apex until he has his weapons up. From his position it is likely he can see two of the bad guys on he right side, and possibly the third bad dude on the left. His partners are covering his blind sides.
Our guy is not crossing the apex until he has his weapons up. From his position it is likely he can see two of the bad guys on he right side, and possibly the third bad dude on the left. His partners are covering his blind sides.

Understanding how angles work, in regards to corner and intersections, will help you search out bad guys while keeping yourself protected to a greater degree.The unknown areas beyond the threshold of the imaginary lines from the apex of the wall and beyond can be cleared a section at a time by using a technique called angular searching. Moving sliver by sliver reduces the amount of body-part you expose over that imaginary line for the bad guy to see while simultaneously allowing you to track the bad guy. Traversing a corner is often referred to as slicing the pie.

Angular Search Lesson 1Picture 1

First, keep your weapon trained on the unknown (the area beyond the apex) while you are clearing your area. Your weapon serves you no good if you are looking away from danger or by pointing your weapon away from the danger area (such as downwards). Lean slightly toward the direction you are stepping to allow you to see around the corner and to see the target. Remember these three things; Eyes, Muzzle, Threat. Wherever your eyes are looking your weapon is pointed in the same direction, and this should be where the threat is located. Remember New York?

Second, try to be as far away from the corner and the wall as the terrain allows. Position yourself about an arm’s length from the wall. You may have a sofa, wall or other obstruction that will not allow this but do your best. Don’t bump objects or you will give away your location. Follow along the wall until you get near the apex of the corner. Distance gives you a better reactionary gap in case you encounter danger.

Third, now is the time to move incrementally. This means to move laterally section by section towards the apex of your corner while maintaining good balance. A shuffle step prevents you from dragging your feet. Move your lead foot first and then follow with your trailing foot. Stay balanced to give yourself the opportunity to respond in all directions. Don’t cross your feet because this is a very unstable platform and you won’t be able to turn or shoot mid-stride.

Do not cross the apex just yet. In Picture 1, our SWAT Guy moves laterally (steps 1,2,3, 4) while turning his body armor to the threat. (You may have to contort your body as reasonably as the terrain and your physiology allows). Adjust your form so that no more than your weapon and eye is visible.

Use the vertical method of scanning, rather than the side to side method, by focusing your eyes along a central longitudinal axis while continuing to search out target indicators. Use just your eyes to scan instead of pivoting your entire head.

Be very meticulous. Don’t proceed any further until you have done this thorough checking. Don’t make the error of assuming an area is clear. Bad guys have a knack for hiding in the most unlikely of places.

Angular Search Lesson 2Picture 2

Because you have placed yourself at a distance from the corner you might have a better chance of seeing the bad guy. At some point of time in your search you will see the bad guy and he might see you. Decide what you are going to do. Challenge, Withdraw, or make aggressive contact. Keep in mind that stealth and surprise are your friends. Being tactical doesn’t always require speed.

Don’t expose any of your body parts such as a foot, shoulder or elbow or you risk showing a target indicator. If you are carrying a shoulder fired weapon at close quarters, transition to an underarm position to avoid crowding the corner. Make your adjustments. If you haven’t made contact yet, continue to move laterally towards the apex. Left-handed and right-handed shooters approach the apex differently. Practice along both sides of your corners.

Be patient. Continue to use your senses. The bad guy can hide anywhere; inside a small, bathroom sink-cabinet, behind a skinny bookcase, crouched on top of a television armoire or laying at the top of the stairs. If you unintentionally made a sound, stop, step behind close cover and wait a few moments, listen…do you hear anything? If you have made a sound you have possibly given away your position. Be patient, keep looking and if you see nothing, proceed. Remember that stealth and surprise are tools to use.

Angular Search Lesson 3Picture 3

Look deep into the threat areas but don’t make the assumption he is there. Is he far from the corner or close? Stepping further away from the corner will give you a widened view of the area beyond the apex. He could be hiding under a pile of laundry 2 feet from you and it’s just around the apex. Be meticulous and patient.

Angular Search Lesson 4Picture 5

Be careful about crossing over the imaginary line (yellow line). If you are going to cross then cross the line. Don’t be indecisive.  If you cross over the line you just might have a fuller view of your area. It could be a hallway or a very large room. If it is your intention to cross the threshold, don’t be meek, be aggressive and take your step over the line with the weapon pointed down-range. Hold the weapon straight down whatever area you are  looking down.

Slowly, plodding around the apex or taking a quick peek will offer little advantage for gaining a huge field of view. And poking your head around means you might be seen by him. If he has a shot on you at least you have a shot on him.

This can end up being a zero sum game. Make it so you win. Clearing spaces by yourself is never easy so you must have a plan of what you want to do. If you can find a better position then do so. If you believe someone is around the corner then make a decision; Withdraw, Advance or Challenge.

Angular Search Lesson 5

Picture 6

Crowding the corners potentially will let him see you but it means he could have a view of you too. He just needs to see a portion of your body, hear your equipment scrape the wall or smell your odor. He may shoot through the walls and if he is patient, he will set you up by letting you expose yourself by letting you go deeper across the apex, and go for a better shot. Keep your head, shoulders, elbows and feet tucked until you’re ready to move!

Below are a few different views about angular searching. Our Good Guy doesn’t expose himself unnecessarily to danger. He bends a bit at the torso allows only his eye to peak around the corner while keeping his weapon pointed to the threat. He uses distance as an asset. If he must step behind cover or concealment he has the second wall just behind his right shoulder.

Now put it to work. Here is Eliran showing you one method of angular searching. Do you see how he controls the real estate?

Cornering View (1)

I outlined the basics in understanding how to do an angular search. You must first learn how to do it slowly and deliberately before you can do it dynamically. There are so many variables that will change how you approach the corner. Is there furniture in your pathway, are there two suspects in the house, do you hear footsteps behind you and breathing in front of you?

A good way to learn is to practice with a friend. Kids love to play hide and seek. Use your son and have him remain very still in a hiding spot, while you see if your angular searching technique detects him. Change the locations in your home and try to add doors, hallways and windows. Practicing with different vantage points allows you to see the bigger picture of doing angular searching. Inexpensive laser pointers and flashlights are great tools for practicing. Stepping side to side just one inch can open up a field of view that may allow you to see your Bad Guy. Once you build up your skills and confidence you will be more ready if the real thing ever occurs.Cornering View (2)

Cornering View (3)

Spotter Up will assume “no” responsibility for any use or misuse of information from this article. This article alone will not make the reader an expert in tactics or in firearms nor can it be used as a substitute for PROFESSIONAL TACTICAL TRAINING or WEAPONS TRAINING. Spotter Up advises you to visit our site for training courses with a certified instructor On ALL weapon platforms.


By Michael Kurcina

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for an agency within the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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