Clarification on Training

Enemies Foreign and Domestic vs. Patriot Dawn
December 26, 2013
MVT Remote Training
December 30, 2013


There has been some recent chit chat about training: methods and purpose and all that. In various locations and in the comments on the Enemies Foreign and Domestic vs. Patriot Dawn post. Some would have you think it is a complicated matter. My intent today is to make it simple; it is a subject that mainly is just misunderstood, or lost in the BS.

Those of you that read this blog are doing so because you are concerned to improve your tactical readiness for any kind of SHTF situation, where you may be required to repel boarders, up to and including using firearms and lethal force. To be adequately prepared for this, you must master the basics of weapon training all the way up to team level small unit tactics. Regarding my discussion of the tyranny continuum, pre- and post-collapse and all that, it doesn’t really matter where you are sat on the sliding scale of boiling frog when IT goes down. It doesn’t matter if you are wearing camo or jeans and a t-shirt. That is just window dressing, style if you like. If you have to fight, you have to fight, and the basics of weapons proficiently at an individual level, and small unit tactics at a team level, come into play.

Some would have you think that this is complicated and that there are different schools of thought on training out there, and that you must choose one. For example this is sometimes termed as ‘Appleseeders’ vs. ‘Tacticoolers’ vs. ‘SUT guys’. All this is just a perversion of the training progression.

Let me explain: when training a soldier, which is what we are training when we train an individual to become proficient at team level SUT, we follow a training progression.  In summary, we can describe it like this, on the purely weapons training side (there are other strands, such as fieldcraft, that come together to create the finished product):

1. Marksmanship Fundamentals: i.e the basics of shooting

2. Grouping and Zeroing: training to create smaller shot groups and greater accuracy/consistency. Success at this level will permeate the more advanced levels as a solid foundation of competency.

3. Application of Fire:  the relationship between point of aim and point of impact at varying ranges and condition, such as cross winds. Applying accurate fire to targets. Simple example: seeing your rounds strike low, you can either aim up, or change your sight settings for the longer range, in order to bring the rounds onto the target. Progression to various firing positions.

4. Transition to Field Firing: The addition of basic movement, and more complex target arrays (incl. movers) at an individual and buddy pair level. Basic fire and movement, still on a flat square type range, using contrived cover (barriers and such). Increased dynamic weapon manipulation, mag changes etc.

5. Field Firing: full tactical movement and employment of the team and weapons systems to solve a tactical problem, such as a squad assault, break contact drills etc.

Two man drill

On my CRCD class, I expect that you will arrive with a basic level of competency at the first three levels. This means you have a zeroed battle rifle that you can competently manipulate. You can apply accurate fire to targets from static positions. With the training scheme that I have developed for CRCD, I will take you through step 4 and on to step 5. It always helps, but you are not required to have completed any tactical movement with your rifle prior to CRCD – I have taken exclusively bench shooters through the class successfully. The Combat Patrol class is set at level 5, and concentrates on patrolling and live firing SUT.

The confusion comes in with the conflation of these training/progression levels with a specific  end result due to agenda. This is for various reasons. Let me hazard a guess at what these may be:

1. The objective of the student. If the student sees no need for SUT, they will have no wish to progress to it.

2. Lack of facility. You cannot train live firing (Stage 5) SUT without a suitable facility. That is why I created one in West Virginia.

3. Lack of industry/trainer motivation.

So, ‘Appleseeders’ and long range shooter types are going as far as level 3. It’s a sport, and they are developing themselves as long range shooters. This does not make them snipers, and it does not include any ability to conduct SUT. The skill these marksman develop is excellent, at the sport of long range shooting. They are however branching out and specializing at level 3. This is where a lot of the problems concerning the ‘retreat sniper’ come in, the lone marksman on the hill, when it comes to applying these skills to an SHTF situation.

(Let me say that calling it ‘level 3’ implies no actual criticism of the sport they are engaged in, or the shooting skill they will develop).

The ‘tacticoolers’ are going as far as level 4 – so long as they master the previous levels and the shooting fundamentals and don’t just get on the berm range and blast away. If they just jump straight in at level 4, without the basics, then its just BS. For the tacticoolers, this is either a sport or a fan-boy ego thing, or a mix. For those for whom it is a sport, they may branch out into things like 3-gun. It’s still a sport, with limited tactical application. Yes, if I was accosted in an alleyway in a lethal force shoot scenario, I would prefer to be a competent ‘3 gunner’ than not. Granted, these guys can apply fire, but it is still not full SUT. They rarely move beyond an individual level. The other problem  is when you have trainers who either won’t or can’t take them beyond stage 4, and who have them doing all the silly things you see in the tacticool videos, such as walking around blue barrels, or  spinning in  slow circles, or simply misapplying CQB training drills to an outdoors environment – that is when the training leaves a useful progression continuum and just becomes a means to its own end.

An analogy I have seen used is that of fighting – such as MMA being ‘just a sport’ and not ‘street fighting’. This has limited utility, but we can use it to illustrate a parallel: Are we saying that your MMA fighter (read tacticooler, non-poseur type) is simply going to get wiped out? No, he can fight really well, even though he is training for a sport. He can beat 99% of people out there hand to hand, even though his fights are constrained by rules. He is well trained and  can deliver serious damage. So, let me put this another way: put your MMA fighter (tacticooler) against a 4 man team (SUT trained) who are also MMA fighters (passed through the 5 stage training progression), but who moved beyond that to include tactics for use outside of (i.e. beyond) the individual ring sport . It’s a limited analogy/parallel, but I’m trying to push it to make a point. Not only will the advanced ‘SUT team’ apply tactics (surprise, terrain, accurate fire, sneaky, good drills), but they are working as a team.

So really we are seeing a problem of focus and objective. Whether it is because students don’t see the need for SUT, or they think that their brand of sharpshooting or berm shooting is sufficient to take care of any threats they may encounter, people are stopping at the various levels of training (or alternatively, they are entering at the wrong level and staying there: i.e. berm shooters). They end up specializing at their chosen level, in what is effectively just a sport, whether that be long range shooting or 3 gun, all of which have positive training attributes in their own right.

As an ‘SUT guy’ I do not disparage or demean the need for the good solid basics of the training progression. It is vital. I am simply critical of those who think that they are ‘tactically trained’ when they stop at level 3 or 4, and think “job done”. One thing that also needs to be considered is the vital holistic effect of team, which you will only really get into when you move onto SUT. Most of the stuff before that is individual or ‘easy pairs’ – just easy sequencing, without any real tactical decisions being required, or leadership/followership skills needing to be applied.

Return fire

I see stuff written about how ‘berm shooting’ has merits, such as weapon manipulation and all that. Well, OF COURSE IT DOES. Going to the 100 meter point on a gallery range and zeroing your rifle, then putting in some good practice shooting groups out to 300 0r 400 meters has a ton of value. Practicing RTR on your berm range has a ton of value. But note: I said ‘practicing RTR‘, which means reactive shooting where you return fire, take cover and then return fire as appropriate. If all you have access to is said berm range, then make sure you ‘take a knee’ at minimum to simulate taking cover. Don’t be ‘that guy’ who feels he can dominate that firefight against paper targets from a standing position. Work within the range restrictions – if you can put up mock cover, then do so. But don’t base your whole tactical training around what you do on the flat range.

But, you have to know that what you are doing is right. My advice: take a training class with a reputable military instructor (one who teaches SUT to civilians). One of my classes, or Mason Dixon Tactical, Mountain Guerrilla etc. Then on your return continue maintenance training, applying what you have been taught, working with whatever range facility you have available. There is an element of ‘train the trainer’ involved in this.  I mean, worst case, you can probably go on an indoor range, take the bench out, and move from standing to kneeling in the tight space. WORST CASE! It all has training value, however restricted. You might scare the staff and patrons though…;-)

The conclusion of this is to stress the need to not be waylaid by the hype, the BS. It is a training progression, with each of the levels suffering from distortion due to the agendas of a combination of the students and trainers involved. This leads to a branch out, creating specialisms at each level, from your long range shooters to your tacticoolers. If you want to get the best out of your tactical self defense training , you should follow a training route that takes you along the progression to SUT.

And let’s not be fooled. When we are training in the woods, we often wear camo, because it is appropriate to the environment. That in itself does not limit the utility of this SUT training to full-on post-SHTF situations in woods. A raid is a raid, whether you do it in the depths of the woods dressed in camo, or you get out of a van at an urban  or semi-urban ORP and roll into it. What is consistent throughout is the skills and training, the TTP’s, that make a raid a success or an abortion. If you only ever train as far as berm shooting, or 3-gun, then you will have a bunch of individuals with no cohesive team training, probably minimum rehearsals because they don’t know what they don’t know, going ‘Hollywood’ on an objective. Best case, this simply becomes an attack by fire and they may enjoy a modicum of success. Worst case, they try ad tacticool their way through the objective and get shot to pieces.

Let’s cut the BS: whatever you want to wear to the party, it doesn’t matter. If you need to pull off a raid due to a clear and present threat pre-full-SHTF (whatever that is), you need to get squared away on the good solid SUT basics, train and rehearse as a team.

Live Hard.

Die Free.


Admin point: if you have emailed me over the last week, and have not had a response, please email me again. It’s been Christmas, and I am currently down with a serious case of the ‘man-flu’. You all know how serious that gets, a minor case of a head cold, almost fatal for a guy, when there is nothing more to do than lay on the sofa and moan, hoping to generate enough sympathy that stuff will be brought to you. It’s not working for me right now…..;-)



  1. Tom S says:

    Excellent as usual.
    Practical shooting, facing unknown scenarios,creates problem solving and keeps one away from box thinking.
    What has been lacking account of range restrictions is team response. You are providing that.Tactics are used to adjust to each problem creating a solution that requires team effort/rehearsal to complete successfully.

    We are with you.

  2. Tater says:

    Oh no! Not the dreaded, sometimes near-fatal “man-flu”. Had a bad case of that the weekend after I was last up there. Crawled into bed in the spare bedroom for the weekend and slept it away. Wife and daughter showed absolutely no sympathy, as usual. The dogs were the only ones who seemed to care, they camped out at the doorway to keep an eye on me because if I go, there will be nobody left to sneak them “human food” treats. Hope you get well soon, or in any case, before January 18th. See you then.

    Tater, out.

  3. Mt Top Patriot says:

    I’d like to speak out in support for what Max is saying here.
    Using my own experience as an example, Max’s comment regarding I didn’t know what I didn’t know is a great positive in real terms.
    Once I began to grasp the concepts of the training in small unit tactics and apply them in actual live fire scenario’s as Max employ’s them in his CRCD class, (I would be very surprised if the other guys teaching did not train their students to SOP for SUT as the basic fundamentals are universal), it came as a wonderful revelation many aspects I previously possessed as experience and knowledge up to SUT, naturally complimented small unit infantry tactics. I can not exemplify adequately in words how valuable SUT is. And how I would not have known this previously to my training. Not learning the basics of SUT is akin to owning a rifle but no ammo.
    SUT training is quite simply the most important thing you can posses.
    I surely have much to learn in this regard, but now I know what I need to know and learn.

    If you put me in the bush with a knife, a pair of dry socks and a canteen, I could use SUT skills to live to fight another day because understanding the fundamentals of basic war tactics makes me a fighter who can fight to survive and win.

    I really dig that shit! I mean I’m not or could ever be Rambo, but by God I got a real fighting chance and the confidence born of some great knowledge about how successful combat works.
    An edge I believe is priceless.

    Take my advice in the sincere light given. You don’t know it if you haven’t gotten yourself SUT training that you need it if you plan on making your rifle and gear work to their potential.

    That’s the truth Jack.

  4. Diz says:

    But Max, if I can’t wear my AOR2 jammies I bought on ebay I can’t be expected to actually fight, right?

    • Hawkeye says:


      In response to point #1 that Max made above – “1. The objective of the student. If the student sees no need for SUT, they will have no wish to progress to it.”
      This seems to be a common theme out there. Folks just aren’t interested in SUT, Patrolling, etc…. They laugh at it, and ridicule not only those who teach it, but those who take the classes and take it seriously. See Max’s post about not playing well with others……. Seem’s all many of these folks want is gun games to go play, so they can then proceed to feel like they are an awesome gunfighter.

  5. I think we might be more on the same page here than it seems sometimes…. This whole post is the direction part 1 of what I wrote was aimed in.
    The “level 3/4/5” section is exactly what I was *trying* to say when I wrote about how “there needs to be a sense of progression” in training and how “it all works together”. And the last part about camo, plus Thomas’s comment from the previous post about the whole “SUT in jeans” thing is more like what I meant, but couldn’t quite articulate.
    Ah well- call it “the fog of internet” I suppose.

  6. F says:

    JaRG “Fog of the internet” I like it!

    Max: great piece as usual. Concise and makes sense.
    As much of a contrarian as I am (as I suspect most of our personalities are) I find it difficult to find fault with anything you write.
    On the square range I go to I try to duplicate as much shooting movements as we do at CRCD as possible.
    BTW am Training up another newbie shooter for your future training pleasure as we speak

  7. Bergmann says:

    I did some breaking contact drills today. I was alone so it was a bit gay but i did my best to kill Ivan or keep his head down till I egress-ed. The OPFOR was a hollowed log protruding from the snow. Most important aspect for me was changing mags in winter kit and not losing anything and dealing with snow on everything that later turned to water. It was a relatively warm day even at elevation.

    I only had 5 rounds in each mag. Ammo up here costs a lot and i dont have a lot of it. On my side my vast knowledge of the my area, C&C and a good reverse direction plan i thought of as i went forward that offered a safe route out.

    The snow was junk deep to chest deep. I moved till i puked. It was sobering.

    Plus i made some field-made snow shoes..

    PT PT PT PT..without physical conditioning you have NOTHING..


    • Bergmann says:

      Will there be an AAR section on the new forum?


    • Thomas says:

      You are hard, Bergmann. Hard.

    • SP says:

      Bergman: Good idea you had there. Only loading limited rounds into numerous mags is a good way to practice magazine changes/weapon stoppage drills (it all comes under the Immediate Action drills at the end of the day), whilst also keeping costs down. Just goes to show that even with limited funds/resources, good quality training can still be achieved.

      What you could also try using that same format, is loading up your mags with uneven amounts of ammunition.

      Mag 1 – 5 rounds.
      Mag 2 – 8 rounds.
      Mag 3 – 6 rounds.
      Mag 4 – 7 rounds.

      And so on. That way you never know which mag has what.

    • F says:

      Thanks for the pics! Looks Awesome!

      As for the forum question , I hope Max doesnt mind if I address it here (delete this post if you wish Max):

      When it comes to forums there is a certain balance you want to achieve between having enough forums to cover every niche to having too many subforums for your amount of traffic and losing synergy as a result.
      There is a science to building a viable forum structure.

      Having said all that a AAR subforum will make the cut.
      AAR’s are a big part of training presentation, inoculating newbies with what others have seen and also for all of us to learn and discuss.

      Cheers, F

  8. Thomas says:


    I think a part of the problem is that students arrive at training as individuals. They are not put into teams at any time during their class. As you said, they arrive as individuals, and, they depart as individuals. There is no teaming. When students leave a class, they depart with an incomplete knowledge set and false sense of capability. They can run their gun on a square range in a limited circumstance.

    Unfortunately, they maintain a “pick up” mind set that causes them to think that they will be able to form a team when they need one. The image that comes to mind is that of team sports on the play ground. Because they have never been required to think through the problem, they have never thought about the need to practice as a team and the complex nature of small unit actions.

    You mentioned they dreaded “R” word – rehearsal. Rehearsal is the key to SUT once the team is formed. Failure to rehearse has life and death consequence in combat. There is so much that goes into SUT that it is difficult to tag only one or two points as the keys to success. If I were limited to picking two key points, I would take Rehearsal of the team and Reconnaissance. Neither really fits into the individual mind set.

  9. SP says:

    Youtube is awash with those bollocks tacticool training videos using those stupid bloody blue barrels. Every time I see those bloody things I want to smash it across their skulls! Instructors telling their students to “step to the side” to simulate cover only serves to instill bad training doctrine and muscle memory.

    Just the mere mention of these channels is likely cause the world to implode from the wrath of all the fanboys…..

    ….fuck it, I’m gonna say it.

    The following channels are full of utter bollocks by people who simply should not be teaching stuff they know sweet fook all about:

    NutnFancy. Makes himself out to be some kind of super shit hot Black Ops operator. What a tool. Anyone who has seen his Run and Gun videos will know exactly what I’m on about. And by God does he like to talk, especially when he’s doing his reviews.

    Range Time with Cory and Erica. These two are all about the look. All piss and no vinegar. People only watch their videos coz they want to see Erica’s arse. Watching people suing that straight arm C grip really bugs the shit out of me. There’s a reason why you don’t see soldiers using that technique in a firefight. And lets not mention the fella’s wannabe operator look…..

    Tactical Response. Too much about the “look”. Nuff said.

    • Max Velocity says:

      Go on SP! Have at it!

    • F says:

      SP: Totally agree!!!!!!

      Watching the current crop of “mainstream” “tactical” training threw up so many red flags in my mind (even as a non infantryman I still like to be an informed consumer of tactical training) that I was looking for something like Max’s tng for months

      Someone on another forum mentioned him and i was glad I caught that post and came here.

    • SP says:

      Tactical Response isn’t too bad per se, however a constant theme I have picked up is that there is too much focus on how SWAT (TWATS and NIMTs) and cool looking techniques. Even with a couple of their instructors being ex Marines (which as far as I’m concerned means jack shit unless it was infantry or some form of teeth arms role), I have yet to find/see any videos where they teach proper RTR/advance to contact drills. Instead it’s all just fancy bollocks. Blokes running around in t-shirts and tacticool raybans. Their other videos though, concerning correct use of firearms ect and how to pick/us firearms are rather informative. It’s just the other bits I have a problem with.

    • Thomas says:

      “Range time with Cory and Erica” put me into shock. I had no idea. Does this really pass for training?

    • Bergmann says:

      My theory is that if everyone is doing it, there’s a problem, so its avoided. I never follow the herd in my survival training and survival planning. I can honesty say I have never watched a gun demo video of any sort just for that reason. I dont even watch peoples “survival” videos very often at all.

      I did watch a “Bug out”/E&E video of one of the personalities you mention. It was so wrong and misinforming they may as well have filmed themselves eating popcorn and called it E&E. Total garbage for their minions to gobble up and all they did was talk about kit. The kit they had sitting all over the place as if being displayed and it was all in the latest fashion camo and trending super expensive forms.

      I will add there is nothing wrong with wanting to look at attractive woman but one must never mix business with pleasure..


      • SP says:

        There is one youtube channel that I think you would find interesting, called Wilderness Outdoors.

        • “…all about the look..”

          Actually I think it’s called “lifestyle”… lol 😛

          Seriously though- that’s bang on what a lot of folks in the tactical community are like- it’s like watching airsofters obsess over getting their “impressions” *just so* only with real guns…

          • And as a side note- as much as these folks might make you gag…. there is worse out there. MUCH worse- I have seen it with my own eyes, and it makes the folks dancing around the barrels look like ultra-skilled badasses.

            How much worse? Well there was a video of one supposed training school that had a buddy team put one member next to a target (granted w/ soft vest) while the other shot it to “build trust” or some BS. Same school also had participants practicing hand to hand weapon retention/fending off an assailant with live guns.
            And then there was another video of some folks training, and the asstard that was supposed to be watching rear pulled a pair of knives like it was mortal kombat or something…
            And don’t even get me started on Cold Steel’s owner’s shooting techniques- “ripping”? WTF?
            I’m not even kidding. If I remembered where the videos were I would post links.

      • See, that’s what bugs me too (har har), especially being on the low end of the skill tree with all this- especially the outdoor/e&e stuff. It would be great to watch videos on how to do stuff, but there’s so many of the ones you mention it’s like, ‘ok…great… so I just wasted 10 minutes of my life watching you sit in a pile of gear and blab”. I mean, I can find my own gear- there’s enough of it out there for goodness sake, and I was under the impression that “mission drives gear” anyway- how the hell am I supposed to know what gear I need, if you haven’t explained the mission!? All you did was sit there in your pile of expensive gear and tell me how much I need it.
        How about instead, teach/show some actual skills, and I’ll find the associated gear myself!
        Or at the very END of the video, just to avoid the usual questions take a second to list make/model of the stuff used in the video- because that sort of gear info is actually helpful.
        Good grief…

  10. Edheler says:

    As an Appleseed instructor I agree with you, Max. I have mentioned it to you before that Appleseed is really a part of the beginning of the pipeline that leads towards you and others. The basics and marksmanship are somewhat of a lost art in the general public today. Appleseed is meant to address that issue and also instill a civics lesson that schools today fail to deliver.

    Most of the attendees at an Appleseed aren’t ready for one of your classes. Not everyone who attends an Appleseed has the persistence to follow through. I will be promoting your class via word of mouth to the people who might be ready to take those next few steps.

    I still believe that Appleseed fills a very important role that is worthy of my time and effort. Everyone becomes aware of the problems in our world at their own pace. Once they do awaken it’s tough to take those first tentative steps into the unknown. I understand this well since the first time I ever shot a firearm was in my late 30’s.

    If the balloon went up or the brown matter hit the rotational element tomorrow we’re going to need everyone who sympathizes with our goals. This includes the one-time Appleseed attendees and the overly tacticool. They might not want to entirely face what is happening today but many of them will come around after the fact. I wish that everyone could take a class with you but if all you do is teach people who then teach others portions of your lessons you will have done an irreplaceable and invaluable job.

    I am sure you don’t hear it enough: thank you for what you do!

  11. Aaron Mills says:

    Love what your preaching here. If I can get myself into some kind of physical shape I will have to come take one of your courses. More people need to think like this.

  12. SP said, “Watching people using that straight arm C grip really bugs the shit out of me.” Max, that sounds like a conversation you and I already had, huh?

  13. A Freeman says:

    I just stumbled onto the following consolidated collection of 32 Basic Instructional Videos. Your mileage may vary.

  14. […] wrote this post back in December: ‘Clarification on Training.’ Here are some quotes from […]

  15. […] I talk about this in detail in my December 2013 post: ‘Clarification on Training‘. […]