I’m not going to cover the actual steps taken and items MVT teaches. There are many other AAR’s which do that better than I can. I plan on discussing the “take-aways” as I like to call them.
Max and Lee, as others have stated, are very professional. When you get an ass chewing, you deserved it. When you did well they told you so. They then gave a “little polish tip” to make you even better. If you can’t take a correction when its needed then “grow a pair” and man-up.
Equipment: This is a rabbit hole each person must take on their own. After talking with others who’ve taken this course, every time results in an adjustment. Hell, look through the blog history and see the changes Max himself has gone through! Diz’s review gave a good account of what you really need for the class. I brought more and I’m glad I did. I wanted to train as realistically as possible. In other words I wanted all the equipment I had on my BB because that’s what I’ll need to sustain me for 12 – 18 hours… All of that being said. There will be adjustments I’m going to make. Each person must make that determination themselves.
Equipment: Mark all of your magazine with highly reflective tape so you can find them. That wonderful “earth” colored mags which are designed to blend in with the ground… Guess what? THEY BLEND IN WITH THE GROUND! I lost 4 mags over the weekend. 1 broke and 3 are out there right now sprouting into Pmag trees for the next generation.
Muscle Memory: The 5 main weapon malfunctions will be practiced every week. My rifle ran well the whole weekend with only 2 failure to battery. Other people had more issues but none horribly so. The Friday before the running ranges is all about weapon manipulation. These weapon stoppage drills lasted about 2-3 hours. They are AWESOME. Especially when your “buddy” induces the malfunction and you have to clear it. Excellent learning points there. If you have someone at home who can do this for you for 20 minutes each weekend it will make your malfunction clearance much better.
Muscle Memory: Practice speed reloads and tactical reloads. Speed reloading I was fine with. The tactical reloads were causing me issues. After receiving a few “polish tips” I’m nearly as fast at tactical reloads as speed reloads. Thanks to both Lee and Fred for those particular tips.
Team Building: Go to dinner every single night with the people training. Every night! The geographic diversity is surprising. Everyone there has the same basic mindset so the conversations are everything you are desperately looking for. (you know what I mean) Enjoy the time off together, besides, there really nothing else to do in Romney…
Team Building: You will have time “off” between drills. During that time practice the steps with your team mates. Practice, Practice, Practice. Diz made a good comment about bring 100 mags loaded so you don’t have to spend time doing that between drills. 30 will be more than enough – per day. Unless of course you’re “Machine Gun Ken”. J
PT: Everyone talks about this but until you’ve actually run up those hills, on a daily basis, you have no idea. I thought I was in good shape, and I was, until I pulled my hamstring damn near 1st thing Saturday morning. For the rest of the day I was half of the “old and busted” team. I literally limped through the rest of the day and didn’t even kneel down the rest of the day, much less going prone. The next day, after sufficient use of the “stick”, I was able to perform much better. Kneeling, prone, and even some light running. I am at one level glad I hurt myself. I was so focused on moving fast I was throwing my body around the woods. I was going so fast I literally, tripped on stumps, and almost flagged a team mate with my muzzle. Slowing down, through injury, forced me to focus on where I was going, what I was doing, so I would not injure myself further. In the end I gained a lot more from the training because of that.
Knowledge: Think of standing in front of firehose at full blast. There is that much coming at you. If you zone out for even 10 seconds you’ve missed something. I made a critical mistake in one exercise because I forgot one of the important steps in a fight back scenario. Too much information and in the heat of the moment I forgot. I almost got the “that guy” patch… 10 pull-ups later… This class needs to be taken at least twice if not three times. There is that much information coming at you, you simply cannot process all of it fast enough. The information needs to be acquired and turned into muscle memory so you’re NOT thinking about these basic activities. Besides the course changes all of the time. Apparently Saturday used to be easier than Sunday. They are now both equal in length and duration as far as I could tell.
Visual Acuity: I’m a city boy. I’ve spent time in the woods but only when hiking or camping. No real time as of late. Therefore I had issues acquiring the targets sometimes. Especially while firing and maneuvering on an existing threat. I did not get my eyes off the target enough to look around and make sure there were no other targets. I kept trying to put Ivan back in his hole that I didn’t see his buddy pop up! That seemed to be a continuing thread for everyone. 360 degree eyes are needed. The more comfortable you become with your scanning and rifle skills I think the better you’ll get. But you have to fight the tunnel vision. Also as the weekend progresses the target aren’t always going to pop up where Max says they will. Those devious little Ivan’s come out of the woodwork sometimes! Little Bastards! Other times they wouldn’t go down! At that point I would find myself focusing on putting them down and nothing else. Try and pull your head up out of the stream so you can see the “muscle memory monkey” sneaking up on your ass!
Real Experience: There is no square range substitute which can compare with this experience. What square range can you feel the pressure wave of every shot from your teammate roll up or down the length of your body? Where else, in a dynamic environment, can you feel his hot brass smacking you in the head while another team is maneuvering on the target? (Why are you that close to each other in the first place…) Can you stay focused on your job while this occurs? How about the shear noise level of a teammate putting rounds into a target, while still communicating? Where else can you feel the comradery of protecting a teammate, while he protects you? This is where the rubber meets the road folks. Do you have what it takes to perform at the level your teammates (i.e. family) deserve? Do they? Can you honestly expect a teammate to trust you that much? If you take this class and can’t finish even part of it because of lack of PT then the definite answer is NO!
I went with a team of guys and that was great. But all of the other guys there were singles, except for one pair. Everyone gelled together well. Friday was little slow on the uptake in team building. But those dinners each night really help to reinforce the bonding experience.
To all of my compatriots in that class, thank you. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone. I’m looking forward to more of this training in the future.
To Max and Lee, thank you as well. I never took any criticism personally. Everything was done at a professional level. The knowledge and experience gained is literally priceless. Thank you.