Student Review: Combat Team Tactics May 2016: JM

The training offered by Max Velocity Tactical at Combat Team Tactics (CTT) is something I was seeking for quite some time. There are many instructors out there that can teach you how to run a rifle, in fact, I’ve taken some of them and so had a good base to start from. But I needed to expand my skill set to move beyond just running a gun and into the tactics required to win a fight. Ladies and gentleman, if your experience thus far is on a square range, this is your wake-up call: You are probably not prepared for a gun fight! Heck, I just took this course and realize I am only a tiny bit further along the path towards tactical proficiency. If you want to stand even a small chance in any kind of force on force situation, you need to attend this class.

For anyone debating signing up for the Rifle Skills day leading into CTT, I would highly recommend it. I’ve taken previous courses, and although I would have been fine going into CTT without it, it was an invaluable “tune up”. For those of you who are not very comfortable with your rifle, don’t worry, this day will get you up to speed. The day started off with a safety brief. What I liked about the safety brief was that Max was going into specific detail of how the safety fundamentals translate to real life and the upcoming training. He was showing us what right looked like before we even touched a rifle, which ultimately made us more successful. This approach was used throughout training with great success. My favorite part of Rifle Skills day was hearing Max’s unique (British) version of the fundamentals of marksmanship. It was more eloquent and useful than any other marksmanship briefing I’ve received and I can honestly say I think it’s made me a better shooter. Beyond marksmanship we covered zeroing, malfunctions, transitions to support side and shooting support side. Then we moved into the fun stuff. I say fun stuff because I could tell we were starting to get a tiny taste of the following day. We practiced facing drills and the fundamentals of the RTR drill. We finished with some basic movement/facing drills.

The next day was similar to Rifle Skills and on the square range but without zeroing, at a faster pace, and going in depth with RTR and malfunction drills. The malfunction clearance drills were superb. We partnered up and set up an unknown malfunction that the other person had to diagnose, fix and then get off a shot. This drove home the training like no other malfunction drills I’ve done. Excellent. It was also my first experience with the bolt override malfunction, which is often skipped over in training classes. A lot of time was spent on RTR drills and getting used to executing them in a different direction. As you do the RTR drills you will be instructed to scan. Listen to Max when he says to take scanning super seriously, it will pay dividends in the subsequent days. By the end of CTT Day 1, I was more or less running my rifle without even thinking about it. Now not everyone will get to that point by the end of the day, but if you can, it’s going to make everything else SOO much easier.

Day 2 progressed from individual RTR drills, to buddy team RTR drills and ending with 4 person team RTR drills. Day 3 progressed into more 4 person team drills. Things are taken very slow to ensure everyone is tracking before moving on. Give Max your undivided attention, there is nothing said that is superfluous- mouth closed, eyes forward, active listening. When you have a question, try not to fixate on your question, remain focused on what’s being taught. At times your mind may wander to other things, but you have to stay on task to be successful. Screwing up is not taken lightly. I’ve heard people in other classes have gotten upset about “getting yelled at” which I can’t even understand to be honest. The responses to screw ups that I saw during class by the cadre were commensurate with the severity of the screw up. Let’s not forget this is live fire training and people could die. If you are not ok with getting corrected when you screw up then A) this training isn’t for you and B) how do you expect to learn anything? With that said, my fellow students took the training seriously and I never for a second felt unsafe. Both Max and First Sergeant are always open to questions. You might have to take a bit of grief from Max depending on the question, but always ask if you are unsure of something, you’ll always get an answer. The student to cadre ratio is great. Day 2 and 3 drills are performed by one buddy team or fire team at a time. This is great for two reasons, it maximizes supervision (everyone is watched) and it often allows the other students watch others and learn from their mistakes. We also did rehearsals for any team drill. These were fantastic and allowed everyone to get a feel for the drill and ask questions before going live.

The pop up targets are an outstanding training aid and really improve the experience. I’m so glad Max has them, it makes the facility world class in my opinion. Max is continuing to make improvements to his facility, we heard his “minions” at work on one of the days. He shows that he is committed to his business and takes his job of imparting knowledge and ability to his students seriously.

Some tips that you might not get elsewhere:

– Travel from the Kool Wink to the training site is about 10-15 minutes

-For rifle skills day you will not need to carry all your stuff, but you will probably have to transition to another student’s vehicle (crossload) so have your stuff together in a bag or two. Bring a camp chair to sit on.

-Bring as many mags as possible, (loaded except for 2). I had 19 mags and it meant very little reloading during class times. I was able to relax, refuel and listen, instead of loading mags. Don’t forget a penny.

-Tape your mags with neon duct tape, it helps tremendously in finding them in the woods. Don’t get upset if you lose one either way.

-It was spring weather and I’m 28 yrs old, 5’11” and 170lbs. I drank between 2-2.75L of water during class times. The warmer the day and the more activity we did, the more I drank. Plan to bring water, but also know there is a water pump in the parking lot (which could be a bit of a walk). I didn’t find it necessary to carry water on my person throughout the 4 days.

-Keep an eye on your round count, you don’t want to burn through too much the first day. I would bring 1600-2000 rounds for all 4 days.

-Know how to adjust your optic and what each “click” means (1/4MOA, 1/2MOA, etc). If you have a backup sight, make sure it’s also zeroed. You just might need it-my optic took on water day 1. CTT day 1 and 2 I ran with my back up irons.

-If you are running  a standard trigger guard I recommend putting a band aid on the middle finger of your primary hand as a preventative measure.

-Spray yourself with bug spray in the morning. I used OFF Deep Woods and it got me through the day and is one less thing to carry.

-Dickies work shirts worked well for me and a classmate. They’re cheap and tough. LA police gear operator pants served me well, and are also pretty cheap.

– A rain jacket is a must (no ponchos please) “If it ain’t rainin, we ain’t trainin!” I was happy with my Marmot Precip.

-Bring clothing for weather hotter/cooler than anticipated. It was cooler than many of us anticipated

-I would suggest bringing the food you normally eat from home. The Kool Wink has a minifridge and microwave. There were a few classmates that had stomach issues eating local food and I’m sure it impacted their training.

-Set yourself up for success for the next day of training by cleaning your rifle and loading mags right after class ends for the day. You want to minimize loading of mags during class time.

-A drop of oil into the two holes on the bolt carrier at lunch are a good idea.

-If you are running low on ammo, the gun and pawn shop mentioned in Max’s directions sells some for a bit of a markup.

-Bring a backup, zeroed rifle to class if you can. You never know what could happen. We saw a few issues that led to students going to their backup rifle. For your classmates’ sake, don’t use a muzzle brake. You’ll want a sling for CCT days 2 and 3.

-I highly recommend goretex hiking boots, we had rainy weather and I was often walking through water/mud. I’ve been very happy with Lowa Zephyr’s. Make sure your footwear is broken in.

-My feet were happy with cabela’s medium weight wool blend socks. I brought foot powder and spare socks but didn’t need them.

-Bring tinted and clear eye pro, there can be a big difference in lighting throughout the days.

-I found wearing my knee pads tight prevented slipping but caused chafing behind the knee. Wearing them looser prevented chafing but meant I had to pull them up every so often. I found it better to just wear them slightly looser and put up with them slipping.

-Make sure you can be athletic in whatever gear you plan to run. Before I attended class, as a test, I did 10 minutes of burpees with full kit (rifle unloaded). It will give you a chance to make sure your gear isn’t too screwed up and will let you know what you’re going to feel like during buddy/team drills. Everyone harps on fitness in reviews, and you absolutely need to be capable of moving quickly under light load, but if you can get through the test I mentioned above in your kit without quitting, you’ll probably be alright. Be prepared for super steep terrain. Short of injuries or medical conditions, you can get through this course. By the end of training there were a few guys that were hurting, but everyone made it through ok. I had actually stepped up my training in preparation for CTT and while it didn’t hurt, I found the physical demands I was walking into were less than I anticipated. With that said I can guarantee you that you’ll will be tired (and maybe sore) every night. Each night I made sure to stretch and in the morning I tried to warm up and perform some dynamic stretching, and I think it helped me during the course. During CTT there are relatively frequent breaks allowing everyone to recharge between drills so anticipate bouts of heavy activity off and on throughout the day.

– Do everything you can to be helpful and friendly to other classmates, it will help with team building and chances are, the other people in your class are good guys (or gals). I would suggest making plans for after class to clean rifles and load mags together in someone’s room- or grab food somewhere together. It will make your experience even better and give you a chance to reflect on the day’s lessons together.

-Make time each night to download all your lessons learned from the day by writing them down in a notebook. I did it most nights and I regret the days I didn’t do it. You are given so much information so quickly and learn so many lessons about your strengths and weaknesses that you have to write them down while they are fresh in your mind.

-During team drills make sure you get your head out of your rifle and yell loudly at teammates. This will be the most difficult thing for you to do all weekend. First Sergeant has just written an article on this.

I could go on and on and what I have shared with you is only a small percentage of everything I learned, but I hope I have given you an overview of training and some helpful information. In summary, the training I received from Max Velocity was the best I have ever received and at a very affordable price. Max’s facility and course are top notch and he is teaching VITAL (Max loves that word) things that no one else is teaching east of the Mississippi. Your ability will increase exponentially by attending and I will promise you will want to return for additional training.

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