Student Review: Idaho 8 Day Class May 2016: G
G attended an 8 day combination Combat Team Tactics (3 day) / Mobility (2 day) / Combat Patrol (3 day) class hosted in Idaho. Student Review follows:
I just wrapped up the 8 day Idaho class taught by Max and Chris. I have taken multiple classes from multiple instructors, some of which are highly touted among the prepper/III%/militia/whatever-title-you-want community and while they were all valuable, some much more than others, I can say unequivocally that this was the best class that provided the most value I have ever attended. I will just cut right to the chase. What I found the most valuable is that Max doesn’t spend time double checking many skills that you should be doing on your own, like having a fighting gun…..that is actually sighted in. Novel concept. He does have a class for that, but it is not what I was looking for. He works very quickly into actual concepts that can be applied in multiple scenarios. “Focus on the battle drill, not the scenario.” -Chris
Many of the other classes I’ve attended are drill centered, with hours and hours of shooting paper targets and reloads, which is something I can, should, and actually do on my own. There is no reason, other than larger profits, for an instructor to string out multiple days of square range drills in a class designed for team engagements. Square range is awesome for basics, checking gun handling, laying down ground rules…….and practicing for competitions held on square ranges. If the goal is to learn how to run a team, or with a team, in some kind of hairy scenario the square range quickly loses its value. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the classes, or a detailed timeline, but try to convey what I thought was valuable from the perspective of someone who practices regularly on his own and with family members, and has attended and hosted classes by other instructors.
CTT – Day one was square range stuff. Basic stuff about malfunctions, reloads, controlled pairs, hammer pairs, stream fire, etc. Head-body-weapon stuff. Really good stuff, but stuff that should be normal routine for someone who claims to be preparing for the apocalypse, home defense, or anything in between. Don’t get me wrong, shooting is always fun, but after day one I was wondering if I was going to be disappointed with the remaining 7 days of class. I could not have been more off base. Taking these classes one after the other demonstrated the fact that Max has put his curriculum together in such a way that it builds upon itself day after day. CTT was essential to how he was going to run the rest of the class, all the way through to an overnight patrol/ambush. Day two of CTT showed me how wrong I had been. I told Max I have never been in a class that ramped up so quickly. We went from basics like “look at your target before you shoot it” stuff to getting an entire team on line and assaulting an objective in two days. With live rounds. Amongst strangers. By day three we were going on squad patrols, with the lead team coming under fire and the secondary team (which I was on) going on a brisk walk on a flanking move to put the camp in a cross fire.
One side note on physical fitness. It is true that Max tailors the pace of the class, and even the individual drills, to the physical ability of the individual. However, reality is a bitch. We can all be in better shape, and the better shape you are in the more you will be able to focus on the task at hand instead of your next breath. We can kid all we want about what we will do when the hammer falls, but it is just that, a joke. The only thing stopping us from getting in better shape tomorrow than we are today is a lack of self control and motivation. In the above scenario, if my family is actually under attack in front of me, I hope I will be able to run like a gazelle of death to the flank of the enemy and earhole them with lead, which I won’t be able to do if I can’t run with my plates and loadout on a cool summer evening. I’m getting there.
Mobility – This…..class…..rocked. This was the watershed moment for me. I’ve taken team tactic classes before, Max’s was the best at the end of CTT, but when mobility started it was like I had strapped my face to the end of a fire hose and had it turned on full blast. All of the implications we all talk about all the freaking time came alive. The first part of the first day was predominantly lecture, but was incredibly fruitful. Max walked us through a discussion ranging through everything from packing considerations, how will you protect your kids in the back seat, what kind of profile do you want/need, how to address roadblocks, specific responsibilities of drivers vs shooters, what is the best option in every mobile attack scenario, trunk monkeys, comms considerations in vehicles, cross decking in limited cases, etc, etc. I came away from this class with 22 pages of notes, front and back. Then we got into drills. I would encourage anyone taking this class to let their imagination set the stage for each drill. What would you do if your wife and kids were stranded on the X, but your vehicle made it through, and they were screaming in the ditch beside the road under fire? And the vehicle that went in to save them got disabled as well? And one person got shot in the arm? And another through a lung? And you are sitting on a hill watching? We practiced that. Plus many other battle drills. And then when individuals in the class were given convoy leader responsibilities, decision were made in the heat of the moment that Max hadn’t orchestrated and added another level of complexity which only added to the value of the drills and class. There were no right or wrong calls by Max or Chris, only discussion about how things could have been done differently. My wife didn’t attend this class, but she will in the future. However, Max and Chris communicated all the concepts in such a way that each night I could go home and go over the details of the day with her. They were simply communicated, so I could simply pass them on. “The only thing that matters is brilliance in the basics.” -Max
Above: Mobility Scenario: Mother with baby (pillow) immobilized on the kill zone.
Combat Patrol – What a wonderful culmination this portion was. There is way too much to write down. I had to start making my writing smaller to make sure I would run out of pages. We were set up on a patch of ground hundreds of acres in size, traveled through well over 1,000 acres in the course of our patrols, and engaged targets from a few yards in front of us out to several hundred yards. Once again, PT and accuracy BS that gets slung around campfires and BBQs got laid to rest. Max’s reactive targets just sit there, until you hit them. Then he would lay them down as we bounded back, only to spring them up after we had put another 50 yards of distance on and elevated our heart rate even more. It rocked. We practiced essentially 5 different types of patrols, though there was some overlap. We crawled through sagebrush, pulled ticks off in the field, did recce patrols on live dudes (some with NODS and thermals), climbed in and out of small bowls, packed up our freaking bags, spent a night in the field pulling sentry duties, woke Max up 15 minutes early (MISTAKE), and shot the living hell out of a convoy at 5:40am. Then tried to keep up with Max to beat feet out of there…which we did because he had to slow down. PT again. We made it back to camp, got dry socks on, had breakfast, and headed out on a raid. One squad, two teams, one support by fire and one assault. When team one made it to the objective under cover fire from team two, they suddenly started taking fire from a secondary base we didn’t see on the recce from the night before. The initial support by fire then began a flanking assault on the secondary base. It…..didn’t…..go…..well.……….. We did not have the stamina to hump through the sagebrush to the initial position, then assault (downhill) over lava rock and more sagebrush, then across several yards of open terrain (but with plenty of cover….if you went prone). Also some ran out of ammo in both the assault and support group. We all died on that one. Our overwatch/support by fire group might have killed them all, and hopefully they did, because otherwise we are dead.
Once again this class was incredible from start to finish. Taking multiple classes in a row as I did really helped solidify the concepts in a manner which would have been impossible otherwise. The way one class smoothly flows into another makes remembering the concepts, which are the important parts, easier than I have ever experienced before. Max and Chris were able to take the subject in front of us at any particular time and distill the major concept into something that I can communicate to my 8 year old son. They were completely professional, absolutely safe, and incredibly helpful. When questions arose about the specific scenario in front of us, they had real life stories where the concept had been played out to solidify the need to be brilliant in the basics.
Here are my final thoughts on the class and what you should do to prepare for it. Have a quality gun. Other than one major stuck case when we were creating gun malfunctions, mine had no problem. Close to 3K rounds + lots of dust + lots of lube = lots of mud in the gun. Be able to pack lots of mags. This was a huge takeaway for me, and one point I discussed with Chris a little on the side. If you are rolling into a major fight, “Ammo is time.” – Max. More is better, and if you can’t pack that many now, welcome to my next point. Fitness. Everyone can be in better shape, myself included. However, if no effort is made to increase our level of fitness, how can we expect to bring the fight to anyone who is shooting back? Especially if we are assaulting their position? Wouldn’t you wear plates if you were doing that? Can you run around in your plates right now? Can you sleep in them? All of that gets tested. I wore my plates every damn day of the class, and yes, it sucked. I packed anywhere from 10 – 16 mags, depending on what we were doing, plus lots of water, and yes, it sucked. On day one, Chris challenged me to push myself and not bullshit around with “I’m on a knee, so this simulates cover” but to actually go prone in microcover whenever possible, which I tried to do, and was doing on day 8, and yes, it sucked. I remember on day 3 with the squad ambush actually yelling/groaning like a dying whale as I got up out of prone for the final bound on target, and it only got worse from there. All of this stuff sucks. Breathing talcum powder dust sucks. Not having enough air sucks. Stickers, cheat grass, ticks, dry noses, sweat filled eyes, cold nights, and climbing hills sucks. But it’s reality. Embrace the suck. This is as close as I’ve ever gotten to the real deal of working with a group of guys towards a common objective or objectives. What are we doing this for? I’m doing it to defend my family. I’m doing it so if and when the time comes, I will be better prepared to survive some contact with bad dudes. I’m doing it to pass knowledge and wisdom on to my kids so they will be better prepared as they grow older to do the same. Reality sucks, but it’s headed our way faster than we expect. Get in better shape. Get better equipment (I’m not a gear queer, so this depends on person and place and preference). Get your life on an upward trajectory of improvement. If you are doing that, and you are reading this, I cannot emphasize enough to take Max’s classes. I have spent cumulatively weeks in classes taught by others, some on other subjects, and it will be a hard sell for me to attend any other class after this. The bar has been set high, and I can’t wait to participate in more classes in the future.