Student Review: Virginia Combat Team Tactics July: Mike

CTT July Square Range


This was my 3rd class at MVT and my second Combat Team Tactics (CTT). I won’t go into great detail about what was taught by Max and First Sergeant. I will instead focus on the “take-aways” I learned.

Having only taken this course a few months ago, the class itself did not differ much but what I gained was icing on the cake. The first day, focusing on weapon manipulation, was a great refresher and confirmation on the many nights of practice since the last CTT. I spent several nights a week since the first CTT working on stoppage drills, mag changes, and equipment layout. The practice really paid off and aside from one “brain dead” moment I was able to fix all the stoppages quickly without issue. The mag changes were also smoother this time around. “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast” Actually works.

This class was taken in the dead heat of summer. The addition of the water bladder on my battle belt was essential. I burned through my 1 quart canteen and half of my bladder the first day. The second day I went through all 3 quarts on my kit and all but about 4 ounces of water in my cooler. The range day was hot under the direct sun but Max and First Sergeant insisted on at least 6 breaks throughout the day with 1st Sargent barking at all to “drink water!” “Get out of the Sun!” The next day was in the cover of the pavilion and the tree canopy but since we were running through the lanes a lot more sweat was worked up. Thankfully there was about 30 minutes of break, at least, between each run of the lanes. Although at one point, while running a lane, I had to stop shooting so I could drink water from my bladder. I had complete cotton mouth and couldn’t relay commands to the other team. Considering the “longest” lane run is approximately 15 minutes, that ought to tell you something about operating in the weather extremes… All that being said I want to take CTT again but in the winter so I can feel the two extremes…

Taking this class a second time around allowed me to really absorb another 10% I simply missed the first time around. Max and cadre throw so much information at you, it’s like trying to drink water from a firehose. You literally cannot take it all in. Your brain needs time to assimilate everything Max and his cadre tell you. One weekend is not enough time. The 1st time I took this class I made several mistakes, I DID NOT make them the second time around. A big point Max is trying to get across is that all the information he’s giving you needs to become second nature so you are not thinking what needs to happen at the point of contact. You simply react automatically.

This time I was able to spend less time in my rifle and more time looking around. I had a better feel for my teammates location and disposition. This time I could tell when the timing seemed to be off. For instance I didn’t hear a command to move. After what seemed like a long time I looked around to see a teammate telling me to move. He recognized I couldn’t hear him so he spent his time trying to get me to hear him between his shots. I was also able to look for my next position of cover between shots. That also helped a lot. I pulled my hamstring the 1st CTT class and was hobbled for the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t go prone or kneel that weekend. I hurt myself because I was throwing myself through the terrain without appreciating it. This time I went about 80% speed and 100% more vision and that made all of the difference.

People make a big deal about the level of PT you need to do this kind of training. As Max has said before there are 70 year old people taking this class. The class can be as easy or as hard as you choose it to be. The 1st time around I pulled my hamstring but had no residual muscle aches after the weekend. My legs were not sore, nor my arms. Why? Because my hamstring was pulled I literally could only walk the lanes, could not kneel, and definitely not go prone. As a result no muscle fatigue or soreness, except for the pulled hammy. Therefore you can literally walk through this course and be just fine. However, once you see the effort everyone else is putting forth it’s really hard not to pull together and not be part of the team and push yourself as hard as you can. Therefore EVERYONE walks away wishing they were in better shape. I believe the reason people say that is because they are honest with themselves knowing that they can always be in better shape.

Now let’s talk about teamwork. I ran with a team of guys I’ve trained with before. Our communication was really good and we worked well together. The last class we ran together as well and there were some mistakes. Two of the four of us had run the class previously and they were fine. However us two newbies made mistakes. The more experienced pair let the mistakes play out as a learning point. This time we worked well together. Please run this with your team, if you have one. Between lane runs you can work out what worked well the last time and what didn’t. Does one person not communicate well between teams? Does one person have weapon manipulation issues? Does one have a physical ailment? How will the team adapt to those issues and overcome.

Finally after training hours there are the dinners. Every dinner I’ve been to has been instrumental in forming the team for the next training day. You learn new things about the people you are with and almost everyone is of the same mindset. It is really a good time had by all. I highly recommend everyone attend the dinners every night there is one.

Major take-away points.

1) Summer – water intake as well as electrolytes.

2) Head out of the rifle – observe what your teammates are doing, and where they are.

3) Slow is smooth and smooth is fast – Don’t be afraid to do something slow until you get it right. Now is the time to do it right. Speed comes later

4) Teamwork – run with a team and adjust when necessary.

5) Practice – practice at home doing what you can, simple manipulation, reloading, and dry firing will make you so much better.