Effective Tactical Training: Perceptions, Reality & The MVT Perspective
Max Velocity Tactical has been running training classes for four years now, and we have come a long way. What we do is fairly unique in the tactical training industry and I am going to take the opportunity to discuss that a little. MVT was never really an ‘intentional’ endeavor and we have grown it as the situation has developed. However, the journey as a training school has been very interesting and informative, and I have a developed an understanding of the ‘tactical training industry’ and wish to share some of that.
MVT grew out of the writing of ‘Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival.’ The manual itself was a result of my awakenings to our uncertain times, and an assessment that most of what I saw out there as ‘tactical’ was not very. There needed to be a better training resource. As part of publishing the manual, we started a website, and offered actual tactical training. At that time, it was just my wife and I involved with the business, and I was the face of the training side, and the whole thing was part time. Having offered training, we then ran into the problem of how to actually deliver real, effective, tactical training. Everything we saw was ‘flat range’ type training. How to deliver a progression of real combat tactical training? This led to the purchase of the Velocity Training Center, a parcel of land near to Romney, West Virginia. This in turn led to the investment of a lot of sweat equity into the training site.
We started running classes early in 2013. I had also just published ‘Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises.’ It was to take me another two years to publish the sequel, ‘Patriot Rising: The Unbroken.’ Mainly due to the time invested into the training site and running classes. At some point, I cannot recall the exact date, I took the leap and gave up my real job to do MVT full time.
The first class we offered was ‘Combat Rifle / Contact Drills’ (CRCD), which was the first evolution of the current Combat Team Tactics. Looking back, it was prehistoric. We did have the electronic Ivan pop-up targets, but even the tactical ranges were barely developed compared to where we are now. A lot of tree work, trail creation and digging went into that, simply to open those two main tactical range valleys up to where they are today.
I had a deal of prior experience training Para recruits, British soldiers, and also indigenous forces in various places. However, I had never trained the American civilian. The whole concept was to focus on the training of civilians in order to ‘keep the good folks alive’ as I originally loosely stated the mission. I had made a mistake; I initially believed the hype that everyone could ‘run their gun.’ They could not, and the original CRCD had to be fixed. This eventually evolved into the full 3 day Combat Team Tactics class, and then to the addition of the optional Rifle Skills day ahead of that 3 day package.
I think there was also a little bit of a perception problem in those early days. I think some thought that MVT was literally some sort of ‘tactical fantasy band-camp’ tied in to right-wing-nut secret-squirrel revolutionary efforts, or something similar. Not realizing that we offer nothing less than professional light infantry training – primarily for the solid citizen. We are not here for civil disorder or ‘revolution,’ but rather to teach the armed citizen the essentials of becoming tactically capable, as is rightly so.
MVT has always been a vision under development, and has been moving inexorably towards that – we don’t run government contracts, or have extraneous cash, so we grow by steady reinvestment into the training site, business, and equipment.
As I gained experience and time with MVT, I began to add classes, such as Combat Patrol. I continued to develop the site and the training capability. Getting good cadre has been hard; finding those who not only have a solid light infantry background, but who can also teach. Not all have lasted, for one reason or another, but the current cadre is quality. The important point is that the cadre have solid light infantry backgrounds, are grounded in both ‘old school’ and current combat proven TTPs, and can teach it to civilians.
Book writing ground to a halt, with the time invested in running the business and developing the training site. I am currently not even considering a sequel to Patriot Rising, and the planned Tactical Handbook has stalled, but I will get it done eventually.
In February 2015 I went down to Texas to run the first mobile class down there. I was invited to do so because of all the big name instructors that the ranch had hosted, none had agreed to take it beyond the flat range and do actual tactical training. ‘Actual tactical training’ is what MVT excels at.
We have now developed an extensive class list that represents a progression from flat range work up to squad level leadership training. The VTC has been extensively developed.
In order to bring another dimension to the tactical training, we became a UTM approved training facility and purchased UTM bolts and equipment. This has allowed us to finally move into Force on Force / CQB training, and do it right. We have now built a UTM scenario / training site at the VTC. Work remains in progress.
In 2016 the quality of training offered by MVT was spotted by Special Operations Forces and we were utilized as a training venue. We have more teams returning this year. I have no intent to move away from training civilians as the main focus of the training mission, but SOF are more than welcome.
We have also laid on extensive mobile classes across the country in 2017. In 2016, we added Idaho and will be going back in May. We also have Missouri, Georgia and Kentucky on the calendar. Running the patrol class last year in Texas forced me to develop steel shields to protect the pop-up targets, in order to let me take them mobile (not using target pits) and run an effective training scenario for ambush. On mobile classes we run a combination of stick-in Ivan targets and electronic pop-ups. This year, we added CITTAC ‘ground & pound’ steel behind the Ivan stick-ins for excellent feedback on hits. We keep getting better at what we offer both at the VTC, and on mobile classes.
The Training Industry
MVT is determined to offer combat proven tactical training to solid citizens. And we do. Many companies train Law Enforcement and Military almost exclusively, and some even refuse to train civilians, or perhaps only in a limited way; basic ‘dynamic entry’ CQB classes is an example. What has amazed me more than anything is the resistance to the type of holistic, progression based, realistic live fire and force on force training that MVT offers. I am not referring to students, although of course there is always some fanboy on the internet who truly ‘does not know what he does not know’ who will try and attack MVT at the mere sight of a video or something similar. No, I am referring to something on the actual industry side. Most of the industry is not a tactical thing in any way, simply designed for marketing to firearms hobbyists. They are, in general, selling a bad tactical philosophy via bad training, easy training for lazy instructors to run on flat ranges, but tactically unsound and not involving any sort of progression beyond square range drills. I will explain.
How do I know? Well, for example there are some trainers who will vocally tell you that they refuse to teach civilians anything beyond buddy pairs on a flat range, as if it is some sort of dangerous secret that must not get out, rather than essential warrior skills that should be known by any man of action. How do you think I ended up running classes in Texas? You only have to go on Instagram, which sadly I do because I am a business and have to attempt marketing, to see how retarded the industry is. And the thing is, we here at MVT have posted some truly amazing video of real combat training in progress. If anything is cool, that is cool, but it will not gain traction. I smell a rat. By any rights, MVT is the cool kid in town. What we do really is cool.
The civilian training industry out there is a nightmare. I have talked before about ego, and Dunning-Kruger, and all of that. I will not go into that in detail now, but merely make a few points. Most of what I see out there is not in any way tactical. You have big name guys who teach not much more than running a carbine on a flat range in a cool-guy manner, for which they have legions of fan-boys. When they do lay on a Small Unit Tactics (SUT) class the class description makes it plain that it is poorly designed and implemented. You have legions of fan-boys and hobbyists only interested in the gear / firearms, gun-bunnies, veteran coffee, and how to stand there and run a carbine really fast at 3 targets 7 yards away, and probably throw in some shot-timer transitions to handgun as well. Garbage.
Consider this. Most of you will be familiar with the concept of ‘Shoot, Move & Communicate.’ Let’s look at those in turn:
- This seems to falls into two camps: either weapon manipulation and handling is poor, or it is excellent but lacks a proper tactical frame of reference, and stops short of actual tactical knowledge – and in many cases becomes dangerous to the student, because poor or inappropriate techniques are taught, and training scars deeply embedded.
- When you have a culture that is firmly embedded on the flat range, instructors run out of things to teach. They often get into the realm of teaching ‘cool guy’ stuff or inappropriately teaching CQB techniques which are then misused in open tactical environments. Often, it is more about the cult of the instructor than the training itself.
- If you stop at weapon manipulation on the flat range, you are not following a tactical training progression. You have nowhere to go – not the student, not the instructor. In reality, we could all shoot better / faster or whatever – but most of you do not have infinite time to become a performer on the carbine. The truth is that you only need to be able to shoot GOOD ENOUGH to be effective in a tactical environment, so long as you have the knowledge and ability to pull off the move and communicate parts. And if course, preferably a team and the ability to operate with it – but if you don’t the correct tactical training will at least give you that advantage.
- In short, sticking on the square range is a rabbit hole that can in fact be very detrimental.
- The purpose of MVT flat range training is to teach effective weapons manipulation / muscle memory / operational (real) safety / shooting techniques to allow students to effectively run the gun under pressure ‘out in the wild’ on the tactical ranges, and thus in combat. It is not an end in itself.
- You must be able to move tactically. Unless you are trained , you will have no idea. You must be able to move to cover, and then move appropriately by fire and maneuver.
- If you are not trained to move under fire, you will likely freeze in place, which could also involve you freezing in a standing position, if that is what you have been taught.
- Conducting an initial response – the RTR drill – will break the initial freeze, and hopefully get you out of the initial threat.
- Knowing drills to conduct under fire, whether that be assault or break contact, will help you break the second freeze that can occur in cover, and get you moving to a place of safety. Or victory.
- All of this is operant conditioning. Tied with the ability to manipulate and run your weapon under pressure, you are starting to get to the ability to break the freeze, keep your ‘head out of your weapon,’ and being able to survive those first few moments.
- But you cannot do any of these things without being able to locate the enemy, which means you have to scan, constantly. This means that you have to train to ‘get your head out of your weapon’ and get away from that tunnel vision on the flat range targets. You have to have your head on a swivel and be aware of your surroundings. Train to fight against tunnel vision.
- You cannot do any of the moving without being able to communicate.
- You cannot communicate effectively without being able to look and see where the enemy is, where your buddies are, and how that relates to the terrain.
- Newbies on the range can only shoot at Ivan, and move in a robotic manner, simply because they have been told to. They are ‘sucked into Ivan’ and find it very hard to ‘get their head out of their weapon.’ Tie that in with poor weapon manipulation under stress and now you have a cluster-fuck waiting to happen. No one is communicating, no one is moving, or at least not with effective suppression.
- You cannot move under fire without effective suppression of the enemy and coordination.
- Thus, at MVT we are not really teaching SUT TTPs. Oh yes, we do teach them, but that is not even the true value. Rather than absolutes however, we want you to take away the tactical principles that you can apply to your real life situations.
- The true thing we are teaching at MVT is awareness and decision making under stress.
- When students first hit the tactics ranges, it is a cluster. We know that. They get better. They get even better the more they train, and the more repeat and varied classes they do. But do you want that level of performance the first time you have a critical life or death self-defense situation? To literally be the muscle memory gorilla beating at your weapon with both hands because you cannot make it work and you are overloaded with the stress of the situation?
- Yes, you can introduce stress on the flat range. But that is not the whole story. You need to introduce stress and decision making with realistic live fire and force on force scenarios. Only then will the lessons be truly hoisted home.
- MVT is training and preparing you psychologically for combat. We encourage the physical fitness, we train the physical skills, but we are developing the psychology of battle inoculation, stress conditioning, awareness and decision making.
- Here are a couple of comments from a multiple-Alumni students on this post: ‘Roundup: Texas Report, Updates & Thoughts:’
When I write posts such as this, many take it as a ‘rant.’ It is not. MVT is doing very well after four years of being in operation. My point is to make observations on the general state of the firearms / training industry and the issues that I see. Given that I set myself the mission to provide training to ‘keep the good folks alive,’ I can of course not be happy with the poor state of affairs that I see out there.
I realize that many will not make the personal investment and sacrifice to provide the level of training that MVT offers. I would just hope that we can get the word out about what we do at MVT, in order to make more people aware, and thus drive the industry because people are demanding better.
I know, I know: what we teach at MVT are true warrior skills, and not mere games at the range. I know that this fact in itself puts many people out of the demographic. But I am aware of that, and I know that most people are not warriors, they are not true protectors. They are fearful and weak. The people I am interested in are those with the courage to step up, identify the need, and make the commitment to get some real tactical training.
You may find some interesting thoughts on this topic in this recent Guest Post: