Student Review: Rifle Skills / Combat Team Tactics May 2016: Swamp Donkey
I recently attended Max’s Rifle Skills and Combat Team Tactics class and wanted to share a little bit about that experience. In the interest of full disclosure, my reasons for writing this review are completely selfish and are as follows: #1 To get new students to enroll with Max and First Sergeant, to ensure the continued success of MVT, so that I have a top notch facility to continue to train at well into retirement. And B: to get Max to post our freaking class photo.
I have never attended a firearms training class before, nor have I ever been to an actual range. I’ve been fortunate my whole life to live in areas where I could just shoot out the back door, so needless to say I was a little apprehensive about things like rules and etiquette and so forth. I’m happy to say that the rules and safety expectations could not have been laid out more clearly or simply. The first day (Rifle Skills) started with an in depth safety brief (he has a video on his website, check it out) followed by demonstrations and dry runs before moving on to live firing. This was to be a theme throughout the entire four days, and it was effective. I never witnessed a single incident of flagging or any other remotely unsafe act by anyone. Everyone was mature, professional and focused when handling a rifle. Muzzle awareness, trigger and safety discipline were impeccable, and Max and Scott were constantly vigilant.
As far as fitness goes, there was a large spread of age and physical ability in the class. From my perspective it seemed like everyone was doing a great job of only going as fast as they could do so safely (another constant theme) and fatigue didn’t hold anyone back until maybe the last couple iterations on the last day, which is understandable. Obviously it is in your best interest to be in the best shape possible, but if you aren’t quite where you need to be yet, you can still get through the class without being totally wrecked.
My own experience has prompted me to concentrate more on leg strength and endurance as well as some serious upper and lower back strengthening. Put all your gear on and stand on a square range in a firing position for 6 or 7 hours and you’ll see why, traps and spinal erectors get a lot of use. Overall I was happy with my fitness level, having only done some running, ring dips and pull-ups as a ramp-up for about 6 weeks before the class. However I think adding some time on the rowing machine to that would have some benefits.
Getting there presented it’s own small set of challenges, all of which turned out to be more of a mental block than a real impediment. I had to drive about 800 miles and passed through Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Maryland. All of my magazines were loaded and I only brought two rifles. I made the effort to lock them up separately and followed most of the traffic laws. Sorry Mr. Security Agent, it was the best I could do. Once I’d made up my mind to go, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like unregistered magazines stop me.
I wasn’t the only one, either. A few of the students came from New Jersey and some were from Ohio and Florida, so we all had a few tense miles to go, I’m sure.
The last thing I want to touch on, something I’ve seen on the forum here and there, is what Max dubbed “The Asshole Factor”. Wow. Really? So you want to learn how to defend your self, family and possibly your community, with deadly force, and all it takes to fold you up is for someone to hurt your feelings? Think about it. Yelling is the most effective way to communicate very important information in a very noisy environment, period. Also, a little shock to the ego is a very effective way to get you to remember to not do whatever half-assed maneuver you just tried to pull off (tactical pirouette, anyone?) that may just have endangered the lives of 11 other people. This isn’t airsoft. It ain’t paintball. This is serious shit, and big boy rules apply. Take a sip of water, swallow your pride, get your head right and get on with it. It’s not personal, Cupcake, and it’s not just about you.
To sum it up, I’d give Max Velocity Tactical a solid 4 and seven eighths stars. I can’t, in good conscience give it five, simply because of the lack of a decent coffee bar and no free wi-fi. He is however dumping every dime he can get his hands on into improving the ranges, putting up more buildings and getting the roads widened and improved. I’m sure when I get back there I won’t even recognize the place.
Again, this was my first bit of formal training, so take it for what it’s worth. Max and First Sargent are quality people and they run a quality school. They set the bar high, for themselves and for you, and they are continually improving the curriculum and facility. The training was comprehensive and serious, the down time was entertaining and informative, I had the time of my life down there. I always wondered where I’d find like-minded people, now I know.