I am tardy in posting this review from March 2015 training (Combat Team Tactics) but I hope some will still find it helpful. First, I want to thank Max for offering this (one of a) kind of training and making it available to the average person. I am a 5’3″, 48 year old female with slightly above average physical fitness. I consider myself to have intermediate weapons skills, which I will define as general knowledge of weapons manipulation, clearing malfunctions and zeroing; albeit I have had very limited opportunities to practice these skills. At the very good recommendation from a friend, I attended a basic carbine class prior to signing up for CTT. Max is a fantastic instructor and will work with your level of skill to successful completion of the drills but I would strongly recommend you have a close relationship with your weapon in order to get the most from the class. This is not a beginner course, not in terms of weapons skillset set nor physical fitness. I would read class reviews as there is a wealth of information from alumni to help you gauge appropriate preparation.
I was the only female in our group of 12. The entire training was professional and “fair” – I was expected to pull my weight and participate as all the other students, but not once was I uncomfortable or required to do a drill I was not prepared to execute (as long as I paid attention to the instructions). If you are a female interested in developing your tactical skills, please don’t overlook this type of class. Even though you may be the only female in a class, I can say from experience you will succeed as long as you have taken the proper steps to know your weapon. The skills taught by Max are neutral in terms of gender. Also, women tend to be easier to train and in many cases can a better shot than men. If you have only practiced on square ranges (or worse indoors with air conditioning), by comparison you will find the conditions rustic, the terrain challenging and the training demanding. However, there is absolutely no comparison to the type of tactical training you will get in Max’s courses. Your time and money will be well spent! Last but not least, I never felt as if this training was promoting violence or unnecessary aggression. I simply felt empowered with knowledge and experience of tactical response should I ever be in the position to defend myself and others. In his book and his training, Max comments on avoidance first.
Day 1 weapons manipulation on the square range was very instrumental in setting me up to complete the rest of course. Max was smart to add this day to practice malfunctions and sort out equipment glitches prior to introducing students to the range higher up the mountain. Don’t short change yourself on this day. Even if you find some of the drills remedial to your skill level, take advantage of this time and focus. Max is taking you through these drills for a reason and you will be most grateful during the following two days. And if you don’t pay attention, you will likely get the “that guy” label the very first day. You will learn quickly that while Max’s style of instruction leaves room for humor and sarcasm, he is very serious about safety and reinforcing the important things you need to complete the course. As simple as this sounds, just LISTEN.
During Day 2 and 3 I completed drills that I would not have thought possible. I attribute this to Max’s ability as an instructor. After all, he took a group of regular folks, most with minimal prior tactical training and had us working in battle buddy and four-man teams by the end of the weekend…very impressive in my book. My overall take was the practical application and how this is actually what you would need if ever faced with responding to a threat. Also, I thought Max was very thorough in drills to develop muscle memory. The drills build upon each other and each one has a purpose – so back to that just LISTEN comment because it will serve you well.
My lessons learned can be summarized by:
(1) Don’t try anything new on race day. I learned this gear tip training for a marathon and triathlon years ago. It simply means test your gear before race day and don’t try anything new. I think this is a good practice for tactical training. New items generally result in realizing (too late) that something does not work like you thought. You will have enough on your mind absorbing information about the drills and properly following instructions. Learning and using your gear in advance will condition your body and mean less blisters or other physical discomfort. Also, the more muscle memory you have for your gear the better for application under stress in the drills.
(2) As follow to (1) set up your battle belt before class. You will find this information in Max’s book Contact, Chapter 2 in a gear blog.
(3) Practice packing your gear a few times before class. And repack. And then repack again. You will be hauling this stuff up a mountain. Be mindful your gear will be transported in an ATV vehicle with other students. I found after Day 1, I eliminated about half the stuff I thought I would need. But don’t ditch your water supply, make sure you stay hydrated.
(4) Most people emphasize PT, and I do as well. I prepared for class with mostly cross-fit style exercise in addition to short distance running. Still, my physical abilities were tested.
In summary, Max provides a safe and effective opportunity to learn tactics that in my opinion are very practical. Max has an exceptional ability as an instructor to bring people with a variety of skill levels to combined success. As mentioned before, I encourage you to read reviews from my classmates and other alumni who give more thorough reviews about gear and day-to-day details on the CTT course.