After Action Report
CRCD Class 10/12-13/2013
Max Velocity Training
I attended the CRCD course at Max Velocity Training outside of Romney, West Virginia on 10/12-13. The preceding AARs filed about this session, as well as for all previous sessions, are excellent in their presentations and representations of what to expect should one decide to attend one of the upcoming classes. It was a uniquely personal experience I won’t soon forget.
At 59 years of age I may have been the oldest person in our group of 12. It was 40 years ago almost to the day that I became the property of the U.S. Army at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Back then the drill instructors had 16 weeks to mold me into a credible 11B (infantryman). Max had about 20 hours. I believe he delivered on all his promises; any shortcomings were my own. He is one hard working guy and a consummate professional. The lessons learned four decades ago, mostly forgotten with time, started coming back to me in dribs and drabs over the course of these two days.
Yeah, I know, pop-up targets don’t shoot back. But short of being in actual combat there is only so much a civilian like me can do to prepare for a SHTF scenario where firearms training plays a central role in the preparation. Unless you can afford to go to one of the top-shelf spec ops schools that are out there, MVT comes about as close as one can get to learning functional battle tactics that may just help you beat the averages in a world gone mad.
I enrolled in the course on June 29, after reading about it on the MVT blog. Over the next three months I assembled equipment I didn’t already have, acquired a left-handed AR-15 and stepped up my fitness program to get ready for the course.
I spent lots of time in the coming months pondering why someone my age would want to do something like this instead of just relaxing on the couch dreaming about retirement in a few years. The answer came, quite literally, the weekend before the class was scheduled to begin when I happened to catch an interview with a 90-something year old WWII veteran who pretty much told the Washington, D.C. park police where to go when they tried to stop him and his group from touring the war memorials that were closed to visitors because of the government shut-down. Ninety years old and still fighting the good fight! Why, I’m a mere youngster compared to him.
It is my personal opinion that even if you’re just the designated pencil sharpener in your unconventional warfare unit’s admin section, you should know how to do these drills. The numbers aren’t exactly on the side of the Freedom Forces after all, so it would probably be a good thing if each one of us could do the drills. With that said, the course will definitely be a challenge for the older individual in general but particularly for one who has health issues or hasn’t done so much as a push-up in years. The same can be said for anyone of any age for that matter. There is no faking it once you are on the range.
I am convinced there is not a single flat spot anywhere in the entire state of West Virginia. On either of the two ranges I was either running up a hill or down one while carrying an extra 30 to 40 pounds of gear, ammo and weapons on my body. Future attendees should expect to be walking, stopping, shooting, getting down, shooting some more, getting up, running (or walking if that’s all you can do), stopping, and on and on. This is the infantry after all. So if you are out of shape or in questionable health, think this part through carefully before signing up. Know, though, that there is a place for everyone in what Max calls the Resistance.
Personal fitness is always important all the time. I work out vigorously at least three times a week with a trainer who is a competitive world-class strength athlete, a pretty unique resource in my little hometown. Even if you don’t have access to a personal trainer there are plenty of resources available on-line to help you out. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Most of what you need to train with anyway is your own body and everyday items that can be found in and around the house.
In my case, three months prior to taking the class my trainer and I revamped my workout routine to mimic the type of movements I thought I would be performing at MVT. On Monday morning, after the class was over, my body told me we had been successful. There are those out there who advocate donning a too heavy ruck sack and pounding the hills and valleys for miles on end several times a week to get into proper fighting condition. Max addresses this issue in his blog and is something that is completely unnecessary for taking this course. Walking up and down multiple flights of stairs while wearing a light load of some sort would be more beneficial. I think the longest drill lasted maybe 15 or 20 minutes. My typical workout, from start to finish, lasts no more than 30 minutes and is always a heart pounder. If you are out of shape and decide to take the plunge, give yourself several months to get to where you need to be physically. It’s not going to happen for you overnight.
Equipment and weapons malfunctions, operator inexperience and Mom Nature all conspired to make it as real as real can get without actually having bullets flying in both directions. Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons to come out of the training for me was that I was able to see what works and what doesn’t work with respect to my abilities, my weapons and my gear. My fitness regimen is going to be tweaked some more, changes have already been made to my primary weapon and one of the items I was wearing on my battle belt may never see the light of day again. Waiting until SHTF is actually happening to find this stuff out would probably be fatal.
Almost all of my equipment was new to me, with most of it having been purchased for the purpose of taking the CRCD class. I wore a Condor battle belt and “H” harness loaded with seven full magazine pouches, an I.F.A.K. and a dump pouch. In addition to my left-handed Stage Arms AR-15, loaded with an eighth 30-round magazine, I carried an M&P Vtac 40 in a drop-leg holster and three full magazines for it. Not once did I feel the weight or experience any discomfort from the load. Read Max’s articles on the battle belt. It will be worth your time.
In my opinion, knee pads are a must-use item whether or not you have knee problems. I have problems in both knees but experienced no pain whatsoever despite all of the up-and-down movement I did. The pads definitely made a difference.
Wearing proper clothing is a must as well. You are not going to be able to perform in jeans and tennies. Because of the rain I wore a lightweight rain jacket overtop an Under Armour tee shirt both days. I’m still scrubbing the mud out of the combat pants. Also, be selective about your footwear. I wore a pair of Blackhawk something-or-other combat boots with gel heel stabilizer inserts and arch supports and experienced no foot issues whatsoever. Prior to the class I wore the boots everyday for at least two months to make sure they would do the job without destroying my feet.
An assault pack containing food, water, extra ammo and other items was carried in but then detached from the belt and harness upon arrival at the training site. My food supply consisted of beef sticks, protein bars and dried fruit and nut bars that I was able to snack on throughout the day to keep my body properly fueled. I had a Camelbak filled with fresh water for drinking plus a bottle filled with a mixture of water, Gatorade mix and BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) for sipping during breaks. I knew I wouldn’t be burning thousands of calories during each day of training so eating light was in order. Dinner at Mario’s after training was a different matter altogether.
My weapon is zeroed for 200 meters so hitting “Ivan” at 75 meters or less wasn’t a problem. Up until that Saturday I had only put about 600 rounds through it and then another 400-plus rounds over the weekend. Several stoppages were experienced on both days, some because of the weapon’s newness and others because of the operator. It’s a little embarrassing to have your magazine drop to the ground when you pull the trigger during a simulated firefight. It could be a fatal error in a real one. Some brushing up on clearing stoppages and overcoming nasty surprises is now on the agenda.
I used an EOTech XPS2 holographic sight on the AR. In my opinion, a red dot sight or illuminated scope is probably a good idea for those shooters with old, tired eyes that can’t focus like they used to. It is especially necessary for me because I am a left-handed shooter who is right-eye dominant. The problem pretty much went out the window when I first started using this sight. I intend on adding an EOTech G33 3X magnifier to further improve my sighting/aiming capabilities.
I wore a new pair of bifocal shooting glasses designed specifically for what I expected to encounter in the course. They were purchased from Chris at Safevision.com, and they fit the application beautifully. Pairing these glasses with the EOTech sight proved to be a real winner for me.
Perhaps my biggest limitation was my hearing. In early August I suffered an accident that took part of my hearing in both ears. I wore electronic earmuffs during the course, which helped, but with all the noise going on around me it was still difficult to hear commands clearly. The recommendations made by others in their AAR about overcoming this problem are exactly right. Anyone with a hearing problem needs to give it some consideration.
I was teamed with a battle buddy who was eight years my junior. He made it through probably 98 percent of the course before succumbing to his arthritis and taking a seat for the rest of the drills. I would take him as my “BB” any day of the week over all the armchair patriots in the world, though, because he got off his duff and showed up for the party. The two of us ended up on the fire team with the daughter-dad duo. What a pleasure it was for me to be able to meet and work with these three fine people as well as the rest of the group, Max and his assistant instructors. Thank you all.
For those making the trip to Romney to train with Max, be advised of a few things. Hwy 50 east out of Clarksburg is one curvy, hilly, two-lane road. Driving it in the rain and fog wasn’t much fun. Also be aware of the firearm laws of the states you will be traveling through to get to MVT. A nasty surprise could await you if you get stopped in the wrong place.
Finally, I want to recommend the Koolwink Motel located on Hwy 50 on the east side of Romney. It’s clean, comfortable and has 1960s décor in the rooms. I felt right at home. Another plus is you can park right outside your room, making it convenient for transferring baggage and other items between the room and your vehicle.
As if to drive home the point of why even older folks should consider taking this course, while our group was training in the hills of West Virginia with an eminently qualified Brit-turned-American who has dedicated his life to preparing his adopted countrymen for SHTF, veterans groups, including those pesky WWII vets, were facing off against federal police in our nation’s capital at about the same time the food stamp system in Louisiana and other places went silent. Think about what might be happening right now if the pushing and the shoving had escalated out of control or the food cards didn’t start working again.