Student Review: Idaho 8 Day Class May 2016: Mark U
Mark U attended an 8 day combination Combat Team Tactics (3 day) / Mobility (2 day) / Combat Patrol (3 day) class hosted in Idaho. Student Review follows:
MVT Student Review: 2016 Idaho 8 day CTT/Mobility/CP
After spending 8 days getting an immersive battle inoculation, I find myself having difficulty in finding the exact words to sum it up. Let me start by giving you my basic background. I would best describe myself as a prepper, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. I personally have neither military backround nor training. I shoot competition as a hobby when I have the time and own a few AR-15’s that I take to the range to plink with buddies. I have a strong medical background as an emergency physician, with years of immersive training and experience. After the last eight days, I would say my eyes have been opened on a whole new level! Since it was a solid 8 days, I will break my review down by CTT, Mobility, and then CP with overview/highlights at the end. I apologize for the length, but even then, it won’t do the course or its instructors justice.
Day 1 was a get to know your class, your rifle, and basic safety. Max and Christ are true professionals and their abundance of patience was impressive. As someone who has never operated in a small unit setting, this was an incredible experience. Basics, such as head-body-weapon, are now engrained into my every movement. The misfire drills were worth the whole 8 days alone. Tap-Rack-Bang or Unload-Rack-Rack-Rack-Reload-Rack-Bang are just fluid movements now after practicing nightly at home during the course. These came into play in the CP portion and practicing was everything! Its one thing to learn the skill, but it is perishable, so practicing reloading from your gear and the misfire drills are just as important as weapons maintenance.
Day 2 we moved into basic movement drills as buddy pairs and a team. What I found most impressive was the instructor’s ability to take a group of folks who have never done this before and mold them into a fighting unit. Shoot, move, and communicate are key. We had a very diverse class with varying degrees of shooting ability. This is NOT a shooting class. The key was effective communication and working as a team. Choosing an effective battle buddy is also paramount. If you’re a prepper looking to build a team, making sure folk’s personalities and ability to take orders and work together are going to have a huge impact on group dynamics. For class you may not have that choice, but for the SHTF scenario, it will be key. Checking egos at the door is highly recommended before showing up to class. You may have an extensive background in the military, or one of the best long range shooters, but on day 1…you’re on the same firing line as everyone else.
Day 3 we moved into larger movements, react to fire drills, etc. Again, the most impressive thing for me was the amount of progress made in only 3 days. Watching group dynamics evolve and teams working together under instruction were impressive and a key testament to Max and Chris. By the end of the CTT, I truly understood the old adage, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Day 4 was the first day of mobility training. This was just plain fun! I would highly recommend doing this class in conjunction with CTT as they flowed together and truly built upon each other. This class truly highlighted the importance of practicing the drill, NOT the scenario. We can all sit down and come up with an unlimited supply of SHTF scenarios, but the basic drills and movement exercises are key! As a prepper, with a likely bug out situation in a SHTF scenario, this class was high yield. Having a plan, routes, etc are key. I liked Max’s take on it, you want to live a BORING life. You don’t want to go looking for contact, so planning to avoid it is key. But also knowing how to react to it and support non-combatants (family members) is going to be huge.
Day 5 continued to build on the mobility scenarios. As a father and husband, scenarios working as a team to protect family members and move them off the X really hit home. We also added some casualty care scenarios to the drills since we had an abundance of medical professionals in the class. Several take aways from that. Know your gear, don’t let the first time you open your blow out kit be when you REALLY need it. In the ER, we run simulations all the time to make sure staff knows where gear is at and how to use it. Have a basic understanding of field first aid; you may not have 3 ER docs and an ER nurse in your class so if you can take a TC3 class, do it! Overall, mobility was an incredible learning experience! If you consider yourself a true prepper and are planning to bug out when the SHTF…this class is worth every single minute.
Day 6 we moved to a separate site for our patrol portion. By now fatigue, aches and pains were setting in for the majority of our crew. This highlighted the importance of PT. The instructors were accommodating to everyone’s level of fitness, but you will get more out of the training if you show up ready to MOVE. Patrol just continued to build on the basic concepts. I have to say this was my favorite portion of the class. We planned and executed a night recon on large open terrain which I have to say was an awesome experience. Our team dynamic by now was pretty solid as I continued to operate with the same guys with one addition since day 1.
Day 7 we prepared for the overnight camp with morning ambush. There was a lot of walkthrough and it only reiterated the importance of effective planning and communication. Once we were fully prepped and briefed, we packed up and headed out. Once we set up for the overnight base, we started sentry duty. Check your weather reports before taking the course and make sure you have the right gear! Living in Idaho, I know the desert nights get cold-40 degrees or so. So having the right gear and knowing your environment are going to have a huge impact on your experience. Sentry duty further highlighted the importance of communication! Waking up the whole camp and having them packed up too early will not win you points with the squad.
Day 8 (Memorial Day) we broke camp at 0400 and moved into the ambush site. Despite being cold, exhausted and sore as hell, the team executed the ambush without any incident (early fire, etc.) We humped it back to HQ and debriefed and prepared for the raid. The raid was AWESOME!!! This was the position our team had recced on Day 6, so it was great to tie that all together. Several key points from this iteration: have enough ammo on you! We were down to maybe 20 or so rounds by the end of the raid as a team. PT is huge!!! I can’t stress this point enough. Effective communication was definitely the take away from this whole experience. Effective communication will be paramount in a SHTF scenario.
By the end of 8 days of immersive training, I learned a lot about myself and the take homes were worth every bit of time and money spent. Here are my key points about specific topics, I have no doubt I missed a few:
Gear– You have to find what will work for you and your abilities. Don’t let the first day of class be your measuring stick. Before you show up, get out there and practice your reloading from the belt, vest, etc. Looking tacticool is not necessarily practical. Have a basic understanding of your rifle. If you’re not comfortable or have never operated an AR-15, take the basic rifle skills class. I watched more basic rifle issues that sometimes held up the rest of the class. Having a basic mil-spec rifle that works is far superior to having a built in your mom’s basement rifle that continuously fails. Know where you’re going to train. Gear should reflect the environmental conditions, etc. A fleece sleeping bag is going to suck when it gets cold. Knee pads and elbow pads are going to save you a lot of wear and tear. Find what works for you, but again, don’t let day 1 of class be the first time you put your stuff on.
PT-I trained for this class hiking in the foothills of Idaho with a pack. I also did weight training and cardio as well as burpies in full kit. I have to say, I was still sore as hell and gassed by the end of the 8 days. There’s no easy way around it, you have to train to your level. I will be changing my routine a bit to reflect more strength training, especially legs.
Battle Buddy-you may not have a choice in this, but I ran this class with my sister-in-law. She’s a badass. We worked really well together and I can’t wait to read her student review. Having effective communication and team dynamic are paramount!!! Leave the ego at home before showing up, I guarantee you will be humbled by this experience.
Practice the battle drill, NOT the scenario-way too often the class found itself over thinking the drill or scenario. STICK to the basics and run the drill based on the objective. This couldn’t be stressed any more. It was easy to over think and complicate things adding to the random factor. Max and Chris were great about keeping us on task.
Instructors: We were fortunate to have both Max and Chris for the full 8 days. I won’t blow smoke up your ass, these guys are professionals and great at what they do. Show up for this class ready to learn. Shut up, listen, and process. When they offer feedback or correction, it’s always beneficial. I always felt safe during live fire drills and everything they had to offer only improved upon the overall experience. I can’t thank them enough.
I again apologize for the length, but I had the full 8 day experience and still feel I short changed it and left out a lot of stuff. I would highly recommend this class and plan on taking it again as well as some other offerings MVT has. As a prepper, this was an unbelievable and invaluable experience and I highly recommend you get as many of your group through it. Being able to effectively shoot, move and communicate as a team only works if you all speak the same language. Max and Chris, thanks again for everything.