Student Review: Texas Alumni Class 2023: Dave

Notes from Max:

This review is of the first alumni training week of the Texas annual class. This first week is mostly composed of ‘originals’, but not entirely. This is why the training has reached a relatively advanced level. Each training week has its own flavor, and the training is dynamically adapted to the level of competence of the student’s involved.

The Texas Alumni Class is an annual class. This was our 9th year training at the ranch. It is an alumni class so you must have at least completed HEAT 1 to attend.

For the Texas Alumni Class 2024, we have space available on the third week from Sunday 3 March – Saturday 9 March 2024.

Please email me ( to book any of these classes.

Student Review, Texas Alumni Class – Dave:


This is my review of the 2023 MVT Texas Hybrid class, held 2/19-2/25. I was not able to attend the Sunday TCCC class, so my training began on Monday morning. As always, we began with some simpler drills to knock the rust off returning students, and bring up to speed those students who had only attended HEAT 1. The morning drill was an assault on two positions about 200 yards apart, with the last position on the bank of the river below the lodge. Each four man fireteam approached the position in staggered column. When signaled by Max, another student not involved in the drill opened fire from the flank, to simulate the team coming into contact with the enemy position. The team immediately reacted to contact, got on line, and then engaged the targets with rapid fire to simulate suppressing the enemy position. The team then bounded forward, and assaulted through the position. Once the first position was cleared, the team moved by bounding overwatch until it made contact with the depth position, and then assaulted that position as it had the first. Each team went through the drill twice; the first time through we assaulted through the position using the American style assault-through drill, and the second time using the preferred fight-through drill.

After lunch, we moved to the wooded area near the river to practice the Rhodesian cover shoot react to contact drill. This drill simulates being attacked by an unseen enemy from the flank. Operating as six man teams, upon being engaged by the flank fire gunner, we immediately faced the threat, took cover, and engaged any possible piece of enemy cover until we had expended a full magazine. At this point, we fought through the enemy position, engaging dummies hidden throughout the area. The most impressive part of this drill for me has always been listening while the other team conducts the drill – the volume of outgoing fire is staggering, and I would hate to be on the receiving end of it.


Monday evening was the first part of the night training. We began with an individual drill to make sure all participants were up to speed with their night vision gear and weapons handling, a jungle walk. Each student walked down a road scanning for targets hidden in the brush, and then engaged the targets with an RTR drill. We then moved back to the area where we conducted that morning’s assault, and attacked the position again. Rather than deploying from column, we began in a skirmish line, suppressed the target, and then bounded forward. About 20 yards from the targets, we assaulted through the position on line. The assault through drill is easier to control in the dark.


The following day, we began with the usual break contact drill conducted in Cowbell Valley adjacent to the lodge. Once again, this drill was performed as fireteams. Each team patrolled down the L-shaped valley in staggered column, turned right, and then encountered the enemy position. Max added a refinement to the initial reaction to contact – rather than pushing up on line with the point man initially, the second man in the formation merely moved left far enough to open up a safety angle so he could fire, and waited for the point man to bound back. This pair then bounded back together, and the entire team began to break contact by bounding to the rear. After bounding back about 100 yards, the long leg of the L shaped valley opened up on the right, and the team peeled into cover. At this point, the team rallied part way down the valley, and set a hasty ambush for a pursuing enemy force, with targets visible across the valley to simulate the enemy. Once these targets “went live”, the team hit them with ambush weight of fire, and then began to break contact back down the valley once again. Each team got to run this drill twice.

In the afternoon, we moved to another training area further along Cowbell Creek, on the far side of Splinterville. The setup for this drill was similar to the river assault we did on Monday morning – an initial enemy position, and then a depth position supporting it. This time, however, all three fireteams were involved in the drill. The first team advanced along a road and made contact with the nearest enemy fighting position, then fought back under fire to a point where they could take cover and suppress the position. The two remaining teams moved around to the left flank. One fire team then attacked and cleared the first enemy position, with the support by fire team shifting fire and then ceasing fire when appropriate. Upon clearing the first position, the assaulting team came under fire from the depth position on the left, and immediately wheeled into line to suppress the position. This left the final fireteam to push around the left flank, and assault the last position. The purpose of the drill was to teach sequencing attacks and the assault cycle – using one team as support by fire and another to assault the position, with the final team in reserve, and then rotating the roles of the teams as dictated by the tactical situation. We ran the drill three times, so each team got a chance to play each role.


We spent Wednesday working variations on the satellite patrol drills from 2022. Max separated the fire teams widely enough that they were within sight, but able to maneuver independently, and we advanced down Cowbell Creek, approaching Splinterville from the west. The central team, moving along the north side of the creek, contacted an enemy position defending the west side of the village. This team immediately went prone and began to suppress the position, while the team on the south side of the creek moved into depth, hoping to find a good angle from which to assault the position. However, upon approaching the north-south road along the west side of the village, this team took fire from a second enemy position south of the first one, took cover, and began to suppress. The third team, on the far north flank, was able to move unseen through an area of heavy brush, and assault the first position from the left flank. With this position taken, that team shifted into support by fire role, and began to fire on the village, and notionally suppress the second position. Because they would have been firing uphill, there was no backstop, and it would have been unsafe to actually fire. With the second position notionally suppressed, the southern team assaulted and cleared it. Both teams focused their fire on Splinterville, allowing the first team to move all the way around the left flank, come on line, and assault the village. The point of the exercise was to practice the assault cycle, with each team acting as support by fire, maneuver, and reserve elements at various times in the drill. We ran through the drill several times, allowing each team a crack at each position. On the last run through, we added a new wrinkle: just as the final team took the village, they came in contact with an enemy QRF arriving from the east. This team had to break contact, bounding back out of the village by buddy pairs until the safety angle had opened up to allow the other two teams to open fire. Once this team was clear, the other two able to fight back out of view of the village, and bug out to a rally point further west up the creek. I was on the team that assaulted the village, and this was a particularly exhausting and ammo intensive drill. (Max adds: This was also the day we did the day raid.)


Thursday was ambush day. We used the same ambush site we have used for the past several years along Cowbell Creek upstream from Splinterville. We used the linear ambush formation, with a stop group on each flank and an assault group in the middle. Max had radio controlled lights on each group of targets to indicate when they had gone live. Once the targets went live, the assault group opened with ambush weight of fire until the targets went away, then went into “watch and shoot” mode, waiting for any survivors of the initial barrage to try to escape the kill zone. Stop groups got the chance to engage squirters, and then eventually the assault group moved through the kill zone engaging any survivors. The assault group then withdrew to the original position, and the squad leader collapsed the ambush. Part of the point of the ambush is to allow a student squad leader a greater degree of control and autonomy, and to encourage decision making under fire. Accordingly, after a couple of smooth runs, Max started to add in modifiers, in the form of casualties and counterattacks by an enemy QRF. This forced the squad leader to coordinate treatment and evacuation of casualties while controlling the withdrawal of three separate elements while under fire. The squad leader has a lot to do, but it is only possible to execute smoothly if individual squad members are able to think for themselves and perform battle drills on their own. This is where the value of repeat training really begins to show – we have done this drill for some years now, and in the past it has sometimes turned into a cluster. This is year it went well, despite complications. This is also where TCCC skills began to be tested – casualties were initially treated under fire and moved to the objective rally point, and then evacuated to the trucks, where the team members acting as medics performed a full MARCH assessment and treatment. On the final iteration of the day, the squad loaded up in the trucks and drove out, only to be counter ambushed on the way. Simulating that the road was blocked or all vehicles immobilized, the squad dismounted, got on line, and then fought through a large force of enemy scattered around the area. With the assault line close to 100 yards long, this is a difficult thing for the squad leader to coordinate, and again really shows the importance of a well trained squad. This is not something that a novice team would have been able to do well.


We did our night time ambush and raid training on Thursday, after having spent the day practicing the ambush. Night vision work being difficult enough, there were no monkey wrenches thrown at us on these iterations. With only five people doing night training, we did not have stop groups, and simply ran the ambush as two buddy pairs and a squad leader. Moving on to the raid, rather than having one team act as support by fire while another team assaulted the village, we used a single volunteer as notional support by fire, allowing the other five to run the assault twice. All went well except for one team member getting caught in a barbed wire entanglement (or was that a mesquite tree?)


Friday morning dawned sharply colder, and we embarked on what was supposed to be the last live fire exercise of the class. This proved to be a more complex squad attack on the village. The targets were set up so that the village had a fighting position defending it on the east side along the creek bottom, and another one on the other side, just to the north across the creek. Once again moving in a satellite patrol formation, the squad approached the village from the east along the creek bed. The lead team contacted the first fighting position and opened fire. The second team moved up on the right flank, which placed it on the high creek bank with a good angle on the position, allowing it to suppress the position. The first team was then able to assault and clear it. Pushing further up the creek, the first team came within sight of the village, and opened fire. With the village suppressed, the third team went left flanking up onto a hill, and assaulted down the hill and through the village. As they cleared the village, this team came under fire from the second enemy position. They immediately got on line and began to fire on the position, while the second team moved along the north bank of the creek and assaulted down onto this final position.

We had planned to begin the Force on Force exercises Friday afternoon, but we soon discovered that the gas blowback Airsoft guns were freezing up in the cold temperatures, just like last year, so we went back to working the squad attack on the village. We used the same attack plan, but with teams in different roles and with additional modifiers. For instance, on one iteration, my team had assaulted the village and was suppressing the last enemy position so Tommy’s team could assault it. Tommy’s team was already a small three team, and took a casualty, so they did not have the numbers to clear the position. While my team continued to suppress, and Tommy’s team extracted their casualty, Max maneuvered the reserve team up to Tommy’s position. The reserve team opened fire on the position, suppressing it so my team could assault.

On another iteration, we took both positions and the village, but sustained two casualties. While our medics worked on the casualties and we waited for (notional) extraction vehicles, the enemy reinfiltrated the village and opened fire on our casualty collection point. Two teams got on line and began to return fire, while another team moved to a flank and once again assaulted the village. Everyone really enjoyed this scenario, and it was gratifying to realize that we had enough of a grounding in basic battle drills that we could adapt to changing conditions without having it turn into a goat rodeo.


After the success of the previous day’s training, for our final morning, Max decided to use the village for another complex squad attack, but this time with a vehicle mobility component. With all three teams mounted in trucks, we moved up the road on the west side of the village. As we crossed the dry creek bed, we came under fire from the village. With all vehicles immobilized, we dismounted, opened fire on the village and it’s supporting positions, and then conducted another sequenced attack. The lead truck’s team suppressed the fighting position on the north side of the village and the second truck suppressed the village, while the last team moved up the hill to a support by fire position. With the village suppressed, the second truck assaulted the village, and then wheeled to the left to put fire on the support position so the first truck could assault and clear it. Then the enemy QRF arrived and began to attack from the east side of the village. The team in the village opened fire and bounded back until the safety angle allowed the team to the south to take the village under fire, and then all three teams fought back to the trucks, mounted up, and moved out. We ran this one twice, and then ran out of time.


This was the ninth year of training in Texas, and my seventh year of classes. The majority of the people in the class had 5-9 years of training, but we did have three who had only previously attended HEAT 1. Having a critical mass of guys with years of classes was important – too many new guys and things would not have gone so smoothly. This year really showed the value of repeat training. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: only years of training allowed us to pull off the sequenced squad attacks, with casualties, enemy counterattacks, and various other surprises, without the whole thing turning into an unsafe disaster.

Since about 2020, the Texas class has evolved beyond the basic HEAT 2 format, as repeat attendees gain the skillset to do more complicated scenarios. If we were still just running the same HEAT 2 material that I first learned in 2018, I might have stopped coming back every year. Instead, Max continues to modify and improve the class so that returning students still get something new out of it. I really appreciate the work Max puts in to make that happen, and to come up with new training material on the fly when the weather intervenes. Every year is a great time, and every year I improve as a shooter and a tactician!

Notes from Max:

Classes for 2023 at this time:

HEAT 1: 20 – 23 April

HEAT 2: 4 – 7 May.

RECON: 18 – 21 May

CQB: 22-25 June.

HEAT 1: 13-16 July.

Squad Tactics: 21-24 September.

Night Ops: 27 – 29 Oct.

TEXAS 2024:

Texas 1: Sunday 18 February – Saturday 24 February 2024. Full.

Texas 2: Sunday 25 February – Saturday 2 March 2024. Full.

Texas 3: Sunday 3 March – Saturday 9 March 2024. Space available.

Booking classes: send me an email at to check for space on the class. Then send the deposit ($400) by check or money order to me at:

Max Velocity Tactical, 15191 Montanus Drive #127, Culpeper, VA 22701.

Classes are posted in the MVT FORUM under Training Opportunities in the MVT Training Club.


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