Student Review: Combat Team Tactics April 2015: Tom

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April_2015_CTT

 

AAR – Max Velocity Tactical Combat Team Tactics Class April 2015

This student review/AAR of the April 2015 Max Velocity Tactical (MVT) Combat Team Tactics (CTT) class has been difficult for me to write, since there are so many great things to say about this class and the experiences I’ve had training at MVT. This April 2015 class was my second time at CTT, which I attended for the first time in October (2014). I was extremely impressed with the entire MVT experience after that first class, and had been looking forward to repeating it ever since. I was not disappointed. The MVT CTT class offers important information and skills training, in a top-notch facility with excellent instruction.

The class is a three-day progression, beginning with square range fundamentals on the first day, and going to a set of tactical ranges for the last two days. The first day on the square range begins with zeroing or confirming zero of the students’ rifles, and then progresses to malfunction clearing and a set of team drills to test and confirm students’ mastery of diagnosing and clearing rifle malfunctions. By the end of the first day, students are performing basic react-to-contact drills. I would describe the first day favorably as being the better part of a defensive carbine class all on its own. The second and third days are spent on the really “good stuff”, though, small group tactics drills. Max conducts the training and the drills in a progression, building on previously learned material and skills, but almost always adding some new factor. By the end of the last day, basic concepts and drills have been learned and practiced at the individual level, then at buddy pair level, then team level, and finally beginning to get up to squad level. It’s a lot of information to process and to try to put into practice, but the training schedule really maximizes how far a student can come in just three days. The class is intense, especially if you’re taking it for the first time and haven’t had this kind of training before.

Several things with the CTT class and the MVT experience impress me enough that I want to describe them. One such thing is the incorporation of stress inoculation into the training, which is the concept that the more one experiences stress, the better one can learn to cope with it. In seeking this type of tactical, defensive training, one should accept that defending oneself and one’s family is going to be an extremely stressful thing if that time ever comes. The student gets stress inoculation while performing drills, what with the physical exertion of quickly and almost continuously dropping to prone or kneeling behind cover, jumping up for a 3-5 second dash to the next bit of cover when it’s your turn, and doing that over and over. There’s also stress in controlling the excitement and noise of center-fire rifles going off all around, keeping an eye on where all of your teammates are and where they are going, people shouting, keeping your rifle in a safe direction while you’re shooting, there’s a lot going on. Under enough physical and adrenaline-induced stress, it’s hard to think, and even simple actions such as operating your rifle and remembering which way you’re supposed to run are much more difficult to perform. It makes sense to come up on that learning curve in a controlled environment like a class, rather than trying to figure it out for the first time when your life may be on the line. Max controlled the stress and flow of each drill, ensuring that the experienced and inexperienced students both learned from the drill.

The MVT range facility is impressive for this type of training. The tactical ranges cover several draws, valleys, and hillsides, with electronically-controlled pop-up, reactive targets which drop when the plastic silhouette shape is hit. The hillsides are, well, they’re hillsides in the woods in West Virgina which have things that hillsides have, like trees, tree stumps, piles of leave, loose stones and twigs to trip on, depressions, lots of stuff. Targets don’t always come up where you can easily see them, which forces you to keep your eyes open and to pay attention to everything around you. Although the ranges show signs of being maintained and groomed a bit, the terrain all over the ranges is still realistic in providing obstacles, cover and concealment, and in some places requires more physical effort to get over, under, or through. The use of the electronic pop-up targets also really adds to the training experience, since they react to your shots when or if you hit them. You can’t just put a couple of rounds into one like you might a static IDPA-type target, you have to pay attention and react accordingly. When you run through a break contact drill in that setting, I don’t see how you can get much more realistic without people shooting at you. The result is a physical and intense experience, after which you get a better idea of yourself and if you can operate a rifle under stress as part of a team. Despite being tired after a couple of days doing all this, I saw a lot of smiles after the finale drill, a squad-level exercise. I wasn’t the only having a great time with the training.

Having previously attended CTT, I had a good idea of what to expect, and for the most part, the CTT class was the same as what I’d experienced the first time. Max has made some changes and improvements since the last time I was there, though. One of the ranges has been extended quite a bit, and now goes almost up to the top of the hill. This makes the range cover something like 200-300 yards in length, and that last 50 yards or so at the top is fairly steep. The hike alone will really gets the heart pumping, never mind being ambushed by green plastic pop-up Ivan targets. Some of the class content and drills have been slightly re-arranged, to improve the learning flow and to maximize the number of team drills that can be run on the tactical ranges. This time around, the first day on the square range was manipulated such that we got further through the curriculum by the end of the day, and were able to start the second day on the tactical ranges with more advanced drills.

All in all, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the training experiences I’ve had at MVT, and I can’t recommend this class enough to anyone who would like to be able to take a team tactics approach to protecting their families. There are many good firearms and individual-level tactical trainers available, but I know of almost no other trainers who are teaching this type of group- and team-level defensive tactics. The MVT CTT class combines excellent instruction with a superb range facility to make a unique training experience for the armed citizen.

Tom

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1 Comment

  1. shooter says:

    Great review! Couple of things that popped out at me:

    1) The stress inoculation thing. I guess I didn’t really realize that’s what was happening, but I did notice that as the course progressed my situational awareness seemed to grow – almost like my vision was expanding. VERY true that when your mind is focused on where to move, when to move, where your team mates are, etc, the simple things like shooting and reloading become more complicated. Gotta remember to shoot when you’re shooting, load when you’re loading, move when you’re moving, etc.

    2) I have to agree that Max is really good at methodically adding complexity to the drills, so you are constantly kept on that edge between “easy” and “oh shit, what am I supposed to do?”… I have been through quite a few square range classes with some really good big-name instructors, and the thing that makes them good is that ability to give students the baseline skills they need, and then push them right to the edge of where they CAN perform under stress, and continuously bumping that performance line farther forward. Max is right there with the best of them, AND he’s imparting skillsets that are way above and beyond what those big-name guys are sharing with us “mere civilians”.