Review: 5 Day Idaho Combat Team / Convoy Tactics: Dmitriy

Student Review: Combat Team Tactics/Mobility, Idaho, May 17-21, 2017: Dmitriy

The People

About me

I am a 45-y.o. software developer. No military or LE background/training. I took a CRS (Combat Rifle Skills) class at MVT West in November 2016.

The Instructor

Max has a unique teaching style.

Not only is he a real expert in what he teaches, but he has a perfect method of delivering his knowledge to a diverse group of people who have varying backgrounds, skillsets and PT levels.

Most of the time, he is all-business: explaining the theory and its practical applications, drawing schemas on the whiteboard and explaining in detail all the important do’s and don’t’s, so that few if any questions remain. Just at the right moments, he inserts jokes to keep the class both focused and relaxed as needed. After each exercise, he does an AAR for the team which performed the exercise and for the rest of the group. And if someone makes a mistake, he certainly knows how to make sure that the mistake is properly noticed, analyzed, and not repeated again: ask me how I know… ;-)

As Max said: We take a 45-year old computer programmer, and in 3 days we teach him combat team tactics; how cool is that?!..

Yes, Max, this is insanely cool. Why do you think so many of us keep coming back for more of your classes?.. [Note to the reader: almost half of all students in this class were MVT alumni.]

The Students

People who attended this class are absolutely amazing!

I would be honored to be close friends with any of them. It’s a shame we live so far apart… This was the best group I was ever a member of, and I do not say this lightly.

Special thanks to C. and D. (a father-son team) and S. (another team’s leader) who shared their knowledge, tips and advice and helped me get through this training course. I greatly appreciate your help.

The Training

Day 1: Combat Rifle Skills

This was a (normally, 2-day) course condensed into 1 day.

As an MVT alumni, I could have skipped this day. I am glad that I did not. The exercises that we performed on Day 1 logically flowed into – and became the basis of – the exercises of the following days.

I would describe this MVT course simply like this: when my wife and I came to an equivalent (2-day) CRS course last November, it was the first time my wife had ever fired a rifle. When we were leaving, she already had the basic react-to-contact skills, and she could quickly identify and fix the common rifle malfunctions.

Days 2 & 3: Combat Team Tactics

I would very strongly recommend that everyone who is serious about prepping/survival, reads about Dunning-Kruger Effect (you can start with a Wikipedia article). In a nutshell: you don’t know what you don’t know.

Having been a frequent visitor to local shooting ranges for a number of years, I met a lot of people who are absolutely, 100% sure that they are perfectly squared away in terms of self-defense skills…

… and they couldn’t be more wrong.

Imagine this example scenario: after a societal collapse (it does not matter what caused it), you are moving on foot with your family to a safer location. Maybe, you live in a city or suburbs, and you are bugging out to a country house. If you are lucky, you might have a relative who lives a hundred miles away, and the damn big city traffic is terrible even on a good day, so after the collapse the stalled vehicles block the roads, and the only way for you to get to your destination is to walk there. You are walking, and suddenly you are getting shot at from somewhere on the left. Your wife starts screaming in horror and does not respond to any verbal commands (that is, if you know what commands to yell…), your son rushes forward, and your daughter runs like hell in the opposite direction. You are frantically trying to figure out what the f*** you should do, aaaand… you’re all dead.

Ain’t that grand that you went on that very desirable ocean vacation and bragged about it to your friends, instead of taking a combat team tactics class?!..

Oh, and by the way: your daughter has survived. The gang that wiped out the rest of your family really appreciates her.

I hope you take this story for what it really is: I am NOT trying to sound holier-than-thou. In fact, I myself have just started to learn how I can really defend my family, beyond learning and perfecting the square range fundamentals. My point is still the same: we don’t know what we don’t know. Until and unless you attend one of these classes, you never will learn what you need to know. For your loved ones’ sake, please start learning tactical skills from experts. [Hint: 99.999% of “experts” on the Internet are anything but.]

Days 4 & 5: mobility

  • This 5-days course was designed as a perfect progression from simple elements and drills to more complex combinations of those elements, to (Day 5) complex scenarios to be solved by the class. Some drills which purpose was a bit hazy to me at the beginning of the course, started making perfect sense in the context of more realistic exercises and scenarios.
  • By the way: when some keyboard commandos watch MVT videos on YouTube and criticize the tactics, they truly don’t know what they don’t know. Every tactical exercise that we did makes perfect sense in its own context. Also, safety considerations, available terrain specifics, and numerous other factors have to be taken into account. [When armchair commandos try to criticize what they have not practiced themselves, and have no understanding of, it makes them sound as pathetic losers.]
  • Not only Max himself, but another student in our class as well, have had an extensive practical experience with mobile convoys in Iraq, as well as executive protection. The fraction of their knowledge that I learned in this training course may help my family live through potential bugout scenarios.

Lessons Learned: Equipment

Just like this entire AAR, the following list represents my personal opinions.


  • Although kneepads are listed as “optional” pre-requisites to this class, I firmly believe that they should be mandatory: given the specific terrain features, I can only imagine how many injured were avoided simply because everyone in the class used kneepads.
  • I found out that for me personally, the best pants are the ones with built-in kneepads: when doing a lot of kneeling, by the end of the first day the back of my knees hurt from Velcro fasteners pushing through fabric. This stopped when I switched to wearing pants with built-in kneepads.
  • I am prone to getting really bad sunburns. A shemagh proved to be far more useful for protecting my neck than sunscreen.


  • Bring either the 2nd rifle or at least spare parts for the primary rifle.
  • Murphy (of the Murphy’s Law) was strong with me and my teammates… Expect – and prepare for – the following:
    1. Everything that is loose and can unscrew, will unscrew and get lost in tall grass.
    2. Not only unmarked magazines, but also the magazines marked with bright red or yellow or orange tape, will not be seen in the grass and be lost. Next time, my mags will be neon-red, and because a 2-inch wide stripe was not always sufficient, I will have my mags painted or taped all over their surface.
  • A single-point sling is not suitable for this class, at least not for me: it is barely usable when carrying a casualty, and it is entirely useless when I myself am a casualty. I am going to buy, install and practice with a 2-point sling.


  • What works well for a several hours-long trip to a shooting place in a nearby National Forest, will not necessarily work for a 5-day, full-day long, course. It turned out that after a while, my load-bearing vest started hurting my neck. Luckily, a shemagh was used successfully to protect my neck not only from the sun, but also from the vest’s rough edges.
  • On my load-bearing vest, I had 8 magazines inside 4 double mag pouches, but I did not have anything on the back as a counterweight. This was exactly the opposite of the type of load that I am used to in my PT training (which is a backpack) and created some minor pain in the lower back. I need to rethink and adjust my load bearing equipment.


  • Bring a tourniquet. Even though the entire class was extremely safe, and we never needed one for real, we used tourniquets on pretend “casualties” who were evacuated from the field. [In the video you can hear me screaming in Russian how “it f***ing hurts!!!” I am not an actor, but I did my best. :-) ]
  • In addition to a BOK (Blow-Out Kit), have a reasonably useful BBK (Boo-Boo-Kit). I used a band-aid on a scraped finger, and I used triple-antibiotics cream on my sunburnt nose, which brings me to…
  • … make sure you have sunscreen.
  • There are some ticks in the grass. Use an anti-tick clothing treatment that actually works.
  • Bring whatever medication you regularly use (if any).
  • You might need moleskin or sports tape or something like that, in case you get blisters.

PT (Physical Training)

  • Max repeatedly advises in his books, articles, forum posts, and in person, to work on PT, which you can never have too much of. I had a chance to learn from my own experience that this advice should be taken very seriously. If your PT level sucks, you will still be able to finish the course, but you will have gained less than 100% from it, and you will feel bad about being not the oldest, yet the least fit guy in the class. [Again: ask me how I know…]
  • , who is a medical professional, shared his advice: he and his team work out on a StairMaster while wearing a weight vest which is a perfectly socially-acceptable item in any gym, unlike a camo plate carrier with mag pouches.
  • I prepared for the class using one of Max’ PT programs. I am even more committed now to finish the level that I started with and continue to the next one. I know I need it.
  • After this class, I decided that I am going to do a lot more dry-fire with my rifle, if only for the sole purpose of getting used to its weight. Believe me: there is a world of a difference between leisurely handling your rifle for a couple of hours at a range and carrying and shooting it for 8 hours straight for 5 days. My deltoids and back muscles were not sufficiently prepared. For extra weight, I will fill one of my rifle magazines with pennies. [Needless to say, there should be no loaded mags anywhere nearby when you do dry-fire exercises.]
  • I hate running. I suck at running. I must be able to run like a pro. Max’ training program emphasizes it, but I kind of… minimized it… I regret it now. No more “cutting corners” in my training. ‘Nuff said.
  • Kneeling and going prone. If you follow one of Max’ training programs, you will be OK with going down to and getting up from kneeling and prone. I was OK.
  • One exercise enhancement that I am going to add to my training program: I will practice going prone and standing back up WITH A RIFLE (unloaded for safety, of course).


Believe me: I had all kinds of excuses for why I should not attend this class. When you live in a bubble, surrounded by people with all kinds of wrong ideas and false preconceptions, you can (and probably, are) mistaken in your analysis of not only all things tactical, but – on a much more basic level – in your analysis of what you are capable of.

The only “cure” to these kinds of issues is to realize that you are… that you MAY BE… wrong, and just get out there and be trained by those who actually know what they are doing and what they are talking about.

I realize that it’s just a start. But all things are relative. You should have seen the faces of my coworkers when I showed them the video that Max made. “Did you do that WITH REAL GUNS!!!???” Oh, the shock… Priceless!.. ;-)


I don’t think it’s worth mentioning that the kind of training that you get in these classes can one day save your loved ones’ lives. It’s a given.


As I hinted above: I could have joined my family for an ocean resort vacation, or I could have come to a Combat Team Tactics & Mobility class…



What a choice…


No, I am not reconsidering my options. I am just pausing for a dramatic effect… :-)


For a middle-aged, suburban-dwelling, work-at-my-boring-job, soccer-dad type family guy such as myself: this was…





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