June 22/23 Training Weekend AAR # 4

June 22/23 Training Weekend AAR # 3 – Female Perspective
July 1, 2013
June 22/23 Training Weekend AAR # 5
July 2, 2013
Hi all, Helen & Joe here.
We have just taken Max Velocity’s Combat Rifle/Contact Drills course for the second time. Here are our observations, in a stream of consciousness format.
1. We focused less on weapon issues and more on communicating with one another(and weight of kit- see below). Including more wife/husband tiffs! ARRRGH!! DON”T PUSH ME!! There was a LOT more talking/shouting (to be heard, not anger) this time. We also knew the drills, so upon hearing support fire, we knew we could/should move. We felt more fluid.
2. Static paper targets for contact right/left, have been replaced with popup targets. Much-mo-better!
3. We predominantly used prone positions for cover which led to significant muscle soreness on Monday. More PT.
4. Weapon reloads:
This time we short loaded mags to force reloads during the drills. We had tac reloaded during our first course with Max to limit the variables, read minimize brain farts. Prone reloads are NOT executed the same as standing or kneeling. Practice prone reloads.
5. Weight of kit: 
Our battle belt (BB)with 8 rifle mags, 2 pistol mags, IFAK, dump, 9mm M&P/G17 pistol w/ Tlr-1s white light=== 19 lbs(5.56), 24 lbs(7.62S)
A plate carrier (PC)with 2 plates, 4 pistol mags, leatherman, folder knife, tourniquet, flashlight, ranging compact binocs, Motorola DT650 radio, Camelback 3L(CB)===29 lbs (w/lite plates) , 36 lbs (w full size plates)
Sig 556 w/ Eotech 552 & 3x magnifier, buis, IR & white light flashlight, full mag 5.56, sling === 13 lbs
Sig 556R w/Eotech 552 & 3x magnifie, buis, white light flashlight, full mag 7.62 Short, sling, DBAL IR/Vis === 14 lbs
Camelback 3l(CB)===8 lbs
So Sat am, Helen was carrying 19 + 29 + 13 = 61 lbs with no food, spares, sleeping kit, foul weather gear, extra clothes or extra ammo.
I am carrying 24 + 36 + 14 = 74 lbs again, no food, sleeping kit, foul weather gear, extra clothes or extra ammo.
We lasted through the morning… At lunch we ditched the PC and just ran the BB, CB and rifle. Helen carried 40 lbs, me 46 lbs. Ditching 21 and 28 lbs respectively. I am continually amazed by Helen’s pluck. She never bitched, just sucked it up and drove on. As a percentage of body weight she out carried me by 18 lbs. I really need to improve my conditioning so I don’t let her down.
A tarp/ poncho, poncho liner, extra socks, pants, shirt, food, extra ammo ~ 10- 20 lbs. depending on sleep comfort and duration.
So the big question: Can you be effective, by any metric, carrying an extra 80 to 100 lbs? Right now? When?
6. Assault on Bunker:
You GOTTA do this!!
The coordination of support team suppressive fire and flanking maneuvers Max taught will put your game up a significant level. Probably the same level of effectiveness improvement as you experienced with buddy team fire and movement coordination beyond the individual.
Smoke grenades for cover in a small unit context are game changers, probably life savers. Problems: How big, how many, how many pounds?
7. The notion of scalability of forces, individual to buddy team to pairs of buddy teams,..,vehicles,… really started to make sense. Fire and Movement.
8. TC3, Man down and Squad leader tactical command and control courses will come if more people return for training! We all need the training and Max is the man to guide us.
9. I am still crawling, but I have also had a few halting periods of walking. I am anxious to start walking easily with periods of running. To do that I need more of you guys to come back so we can develop a core competency that Max and we all are comfortable with.
10. You don’t rise to the occasion. You fall back to your last level of training.
11. The character of the people we have trained with these past two times is remarkable! Good people, salt of the earth people, trustworthy people, confident people, people who make a difference!
Helen & Joe AKA Wanna-be-West Virginians


  1. Anonymous says:

    61 LB!! good GOD that is almost as much as my rig with ammo! What is your basic load? (with ruck)100-110lb? My rig only go’s 76lb with 304 rd of 30.06- food and water! My “war belt” with .357 mag IFACK 155rds and combat knife +canteen is less than 25lb!—Ray

    • Anonymous says:

      I think we are right with you Ray. Those initial numbers included 9 loaded rifle mags, 7 loaded pistol mags and 2 AR500 steel plates, radios, multitools, flashlights.

      Helen’s equivalent belt is 9mm M&P, IFAK, 252rnds 5.56(9 mags), 51rnds 9mn(3 mags) is 19#, 3l water 8#. Total = 27# Her rifle is 13#. So for a day and a half she carried 40#. But no food, shelter, sleeping gear, extra clothing, extra ammo or steel plates.

      The steel plates were a large portion of the initial Sat morning loadout. 12 and 16 pounds respectively.


    • Anonymous says:

      I see! I don’t use radios ( radio- GPS-Cell phone and wireless router are all track-backs that make the user a target) I don’t carry steel plates, helmets, water backpack( its a fun idea till shrapnel or a bullet finds it-then you have no water) Mag’s (I carry a Garand and a S&W model 19)spare clothing other than “undies” and sox. In fact I carry damn little past “food- water- ammo- med’s kit- hygiene kit- sleep kit- poncho -weapons-E-tool+ wire cutters- IFACK- LOTS of spare ammo. + a stove (SVEA 123) to boil up +fuel , and a mess tin stuffed with “goodies”. That and my weapons cleaning kit. That’s my basic LRRP rig. Every thing else (face paint-survival kit- pogi bait- ECT is in my pockets.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good points on the comms. The DTRs are digital, frequency hoping units with text message ability making them more difficult to intercept and DF, but not impossible with sloppy usage or skilled and well equipped opfor.

      Point taken on the shrapnel vulnerability of the water bladder setups. I do carry two 2l foldable water bladders with water treatment tablets, space blanket and firesteel in my right pant pocket EDC pouch. I also carry a backup IFAK: tourniquet, IBD, Celox battle gauze in a pouch in the left pant pocket.

      A buddy of mine, JCD to those that know him, is using Datrex emergency ration bars. They are supposed to have a high % of high fructose corn syrup which is a nogo for me. Anyone know of compact high quality energy bar format emergency rations?

      What does ECT stand for? Emergency — —


    • Anonymous says:

      Joe My wife is an NP (nurse practitioner) in endocrinology. They have been using a glucose/soy protean bar for years that has no fructose in it. The down side is that long term use(more that a few times a week) of protean bars causes SEVERE gallbladder problems. She says she cannot count the number of people she has seen needing their gallbladder removed from long term Protean bar use. On the gear- LOL- yeh I’m VERY old school OG-107-LC-1 pack + cotton field gear(Modified 10 pocket Garand belt with M-1 pouches on the back belt) and I carry my BOK tied ww-2 style on my web braces.(My IFACK#1 (small) is dummy corded to an ammo pouch on the back of my belt) IFAK#2(large) is in the center outside pouch on my ruck and clearly marked. I’ll bet Max already said this but DUMMY CORD everything you wish to keep. ECT= Excetra P.S. The reason I use the 10 pocket war belt is so I don’t lose all my ammo the first time I take out a clip and move or lay down (M-1’s use CLIPS not Mags “open the pouch they all fall out”). Also since I don’t carry body armor I wanted to be able to low crawl.—- Ray

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey Joe:
    Look into Dyneema Level III plates.
    They stop 5.56 and 7.62×39, but they only weigh about 3 lbs a piece.
    They are a bit more bulky but they actually float so if you are involved in any type of maritime ops they are the way to go.
    Hope you are doing well with the farm.
    Things are progressing nicely up here on the farm in Maine.
    Just finished clearing 3 acres of pasture.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good to hear from you papaDoc!

      We are soaked down here. Between rain, broken farm equipment and training, the potatoes are not in yet.

      I will look into those plates. Both my equipment and I need to lose some weight!

      Had a thought about our efforts.
      Are our efforts towards self reliance only practicable when they are not necessary; when they are a want, not a need?

      In other words, only with the underlying support of BAU industrialized western civilization(BAUIWC) to keep the parasite classes at both ends of the economic spectrum pacified, can we securely pursue our endeavors, our wants. Without BAUIWC we won’t be able to satisfy our needs without requiring multiple shifts of fire support/security teams. Which I don’t have.

      And of course without BAUIWC, can we expect the poisons of IWC to remain safely sequestered?

      Catch 22?


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey Joe:
    Much rain in Maine too but I’ll take it over the Southwest drought any day!

    You ask the questions I think about all the time…
    My approach:
    Expand your connections into the farming community leadership.
    They are there, but often overlooked or invisible in the iPadded world.

    Ask a lot of questions and really listen to the answers.
    Listen 90%, speak 10%. Show them you are willing to work hard and get dirty.
    Most of the old timers and old farming families want to teach you if you approach them with an attitude of respect and humility. They may be using the modern technology and lots of diesel now because its cost effective for them but they remember the old ways and they know how to work harder and more efficiently than 99% of Americans can ever imagine.

    Let them know you have something to offer the community.
    Remember you and Helen have a lot to offer in the form of your engineering backgrounds which are adaptable and scalable to a variety of tech levels whether they be overhead structural load calculations for a bunker system, primitive hydrodynamics in an irrigation/water supply scheme or ventilation in a barn.

    When the time comes that the grid goes down you will have established a community and an infrastructure hardened against all types of catastrophe. When the inevitable unprepared individuals surge forth starving from their previously protected enclaves, you will provide leadership by example, and food from the farm, both of which will attract many good folks to provide for both expanding farm operations and fire teams!

    At heart most people are good but clueless. Anaesthetised by drugs, TV, MSM, and public schools, they took the easy path of least resistance, having no ability to think more than a few weeks into the future. Provide them with work and a positive outlook and motivation and they will form the nucleus of a new community around you.

    In a long term grid down scenario they will become panicked and desperate.
    If you can keep your wits about you they will look to you for answers.
    Be ready to provide them.
    They will follow.

    In the mean time relax, have fun, and enjoy the peace that being on the land brings!


  4. Anonymous says:

    PapaDoc, thank you for listening and investing in me the time and thought of your well reasoned recommendations. It is refreshing to throw an idea out and have a thoughtful response come back. It usually doesn’t occur. Thanks.

    With respect to moving forward, you identified an aspect of the “people” that is problematic; their predilection for the easy path. The path through the future will be anything but easy. Combine this path with seemingly insatiable human greed and I think we are in for a lot of mayhem.

    Helen & I are beginning sailing lessons with a couple of ASA schools. The first is coming up pretty soon here. So, your final suggestion is very prescient!

    We are planning to be back at Max’s later this Summer/Fall. How about you?

    Good Luck,
    Helen & Joe

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Joe:
      I understand the call of the Sea.
      Matt Bracken captures it nicely in his books
      I’ll be at the August training.
      Hope to see you there.

  5. A thought or two about gear- the reviewer (Joe?) has listed some gear on the PC he was running-
    “….A plate carrier (PC)with 2 plates, 4 pistol mags, leatherman, folder knife, tourniquet, flashlight, ranging compact binocs, Motorola DT650 radio, Camelback 3L(CB)…”

    First a question- I noticed you ran all your rifle mags on the BB, none on the PC- what was the reasoning behind this?
    Also, that seems like a lot of weight on the BB- how are you holding all that up? Do you run suspenders under the PC?
    Not slamming your layout, just curious.

    Second, a minor suggestion- you have a multi-tool AND a folding knife. Why not swap the folder out for a small fixed blade knife? Your multi-tool is technically already a folder, and a fixed blade has some advantages that a folder doesn’t. It doesn’t have to be huge or expensive- options from ESEE or Scrapyard (and a few others) are both high quality and reasonably priced, and come in any size that you may find useful.
    I don’t know your intended use, but maybe even ditching one or the other to save some weight would work too.
    Also, if you’re going to keep 2 knives, splitting them between your PC and BB may be a good option as well- that way if you have to/want to ditch one piece of gear or the other, you always have some sort of cutting tool on you. Put the redundancy to work for you.
    Again, I don’t know your intended use, and I’m not knocking your choices- just an observation/ suggestion.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey .J.A.R.G.,

    All the rifle mags are on the BB for three main reasons. We tried double rifle mag pouches on our PCs originally. We found that when we went prone it was like trying to balance on an exercise ball. So the first reason is that we just couldn’t get a stable rifle platform. Perhaps single mag pouches would work better, but then there is not as much ammo.

    The second reason is that we felt like we were way up in the air, we couldn’t get low enough going prone.

    We ended up using a set of suspenders with the BB with the buckle in the rear instead of up front. Basically we put the BB on backwards. This gave us ~8″ of additional molle that we could access up front. This allows us to place 4 double rifle Taco mag pouches up front and centered on the BB. To the right are 2 single pistol tacos mag pouches and then our pistols. To the left of the rifle tacos is a dump pouch and an IFAC.

    The third reason for the rifle mags on the BB is that we want the option to not run the PC, just run light with max rifle ammo with a couple of pistol mags.

    Good observation on the blades. The blades on the Leatherman are a bit anemic, thin in cross section and height. The folder is a tanto style blade that can stand up to use with a baton in a bushcraft application. I tried a fixed blade but it ended up too big with no good place to store it. The folder fits into the same size pouch as the leatherman, so it all kind of lines up and makes sense to me. All these gadgets are zinged to the PC so when I go prone in the dark and have to low crawl I don’t lose them. You know, ask me how I know.

    I also carry a folder in my pants pocket. It is has a fid as the second element to help with rope/knot work. It is also on a lanyard attached to my pants rigger belt.

    I am currently weighing each individual item to try to pare down weight. For instance, I carry a Vortex 8×24 mil dot reticle bino as well as a 7x Leupold laser range finder. When the laser works it is fast and doesn’t require any calculations to determine range. But it can get fooled beyond 500m, enter the mildot bino as a check. Total weight for those two is 2.2#. Newcom has a laser range finder (with speed estimation, way cool!) built into their 7×40 binos at 2.1#. But its a nogo. Laser range finder do a great job until they don’t. Which reading reviews seems pretty often. So with my setup, I have two independent means of estimating range and it weighs only 2oz more and this includes the pouches.

    I think the area I really need to look at for weight reduction, is my waist.

    As always, we are not a rational bunch, but rather a rationalizing bunch.


    • I see- that makes more sense now.

      Thanks for the rundown.

    • I forgot about the anemic blades on most multi-tools. It’s been a while since I’ve owned one.

      I had the same issue trying to find a solution to mounting my fixed blade to my gear. Finally gave up and made up a drop-leg rig with some other minor equipment. Now I can be super couch commando, but it seems to work so far.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hey PapaDoc,

    The 3.4AUG2013 dates have been dedicated to visiting family in Hamburg, New York I have been just informed. Sorry man.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Guys a note on steel plate armor. If you run plates(steel) the Drones will see you. They use the same ground search radar as the ground(truck mount) search teams. The more mettle you carry the further away they can see you. A good operator can see a patrol using steel plates at the same range they can see a moving truck– 10 -20 KLICKS!! This is the primary reason the military went to ceramics. Ceramics are NOT better than steel-but ground search radar can’t see them. FLIR may not see you under the forest canopy, but radar will.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hey all,

    Part of the fallout of the June’s flanking exercise was: what the heck do you do with your rifle when you really, right now, need your hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders to help you climb up a loose footing relatively shallow but steep dry stream bank. We had never had to do this before. And neither our existing training nor our equipment were up to the task. Note that securing your rifle under fire may not be a great idea, you might need it RIGHT now. But if you HAVE to climb and you need both hands to close the distance, you do have your secondary weapon, right?

    To address this: how do you safely get your rifle on your back and cinch it down to allow you to go “arms free”, Youtube is your friend. I found MissionSpec.com with their IAS and M2P slings. We bought two of each to try on our carbines and our heavier bolt guns. They are not a quick adjust to make the sling work, they think that you should have the sling length worked out before you are in a life altering event. Their cinching is just about securing the rifle so that it is not a liability.

    If anyone else has a preferred sling that really allows a secure hands free carry, let us know.


    Helen & Joe (AKA Wanna-Be-West Virginians)

    • I see you’ve made your purchase already, but similar items to look into would be Blue Force Gear’s VCAS sling, Viking Tactics sling (like a VCAS) and the Magpul MS2 or MS3.

      I’m going to rain on your parade a little bit- their M2P sling does absolutely nothing I can’t do with my VCAS (seriously- I just tried it) or a MS2/3 in 2-pt. mode- it seems MS is making a big deal out of a problem that has already been solved by just about every other 2-point sling worth buying on the market to sell a rather convoluted product.

      AS far as the IAP goes, if you’re a big fan of 1-point slings, I think it is actually a good option SOLELY for the purpose of making the rifle sling like a 2-pt.(as we all know, 1-pt. slings suck when left dangling). That being said, the MS2/3 would solve this issue anyway by converting to 2-pt.mode- AND you could actually still shoot with the MS2/3 once converted, unlike this IAP.
      Also, if the buffer tube attachment point rotates up during use with the MASH hook attached, could interfere with running your charging handle.

      That being said, if it floats your boat, go ‘fer it.
      But please tell me you’re not actually considering using the convoluted “adaptive” portion of that sling for “RTFN” transitions to your sidearm- dude, that’s like 6 seconds under NO stress. Gonna get you killed.

      Amyway, just my $.02

    • As it is annotated in the video nobody would or should ever go to 2-Point mode with the IAS if they were in a panic situation to retrieve their sidearm. It is obvious that you would simply drop your rifle to a hang and retrieve your sidearm. 2-Point mode for the IAS is a secure transport mode designed to give you a cinched down hands free option to render aid, climb, or go hands on with a suspect. You would only do this if the gunfight was over or you had sufficient friendly forces around you to provide security.

      If anyone has any questions please feel free to use the Contact Form on our website. http://www.MissionSpec.com

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hey J.A.R.G.

    Thanks man, good info.

    Slings; there are no perfect slings, just a different sets of compromises!

    A couple of years ago I tried some fancy Magpul 1 pt sling. It had some slick as goose shit connector that I could never get comfortable with. It’s upstairs in a bin with a ton of other stuff I have tried and ditched. I have not looked at Magpul seriously for slings since.

    I just, ~3 hrs ago came across VTAC’s sling. My YouTube-Fu must be weak over the last couple of days. It does look like the same idea as the M2P. Well if we both show up at Max’s we can do a side-by-side. I don’t care which is better, just that I can accept the limitations and get a work around for them that doesn’t cause me to bumble fuck it when I can least afford it. If I can’t, my upstairs bin has a new resident and I am on the ‘net ordering!

    That MASH hook is going and I am going to substitute a pushbutton QD swivels. AIl my rifles and shotguns have pushbutton QD swivels. I generally use a rail mounted 45 degree canted QD cup just in front of my rear buis, I like the balance that that gives. The front QD for 2 pt is either built into the foreend or I go with another rail mounted QD cup.

    I do like the IAS concept of never removing a point of connection when going from 1 to 2 pt or vice versa. The 1 pt connection stays static and you ADD a second point of connection. You stay connected unless you bail from the rig using the release buckle.

    As for carbine/shotgun transitions to pistol, just drop ’em, let ’em hang. At that point the carbine/shotgun is just a metal club.

    Good talking with you. Any chance you will get to Max’s?


    • Roger that- honestly I hate slings. I wish they would just come out with some sort of magnet you could mount in your PC to attach the rifle to already. haha

      Check out the VCAS too (yeah, I’m biased because I own one)- it’s a lot like the Vtac, but they both kind of have their own pros and cons- minor stuff, but still…

      Anyway- I am crossing my fingers super hard right now, so maybe if I’m really lucky and the current job holds out, and I can get squared away enough to not pass out 5 minutes into the festivities I may make it up sometime by the end of the year- although I’m frankly chomping at the bit here to get up there already- wish I could have jumped on the current summer deal.
      And now that I’ve said that I’m sure I’ll pay for it…. haha