First let me start by saying thank you to Max, 1st Sergeant, Fred, and the Minions. Without Max most of us would never had even heard of each other or be able to call each other friends. Without 1stSergeant, Max would still be trying to unf**k everyone. Without Fred none of us would even think about using steel cased ammo (unless you own an AK) J. Without the Minions we couldn’t have done this challenge at all. Thank you again.
I like to look at each class, or challenge, or test I perform to identify the takeaways from each. As others have provided the schedule of events for each day I will not go into them. Rather I will speak about my thoughts and lessons learned from each event.
I’ve spent the last 9 months getting into better shape. In that time I’ve dropped 20 pounds and greatly increased my strength, endurance, and stamina. I credit that mainly with the training program I purchased and FOLLOWED through MVT. I cannot say enough good things about the training programs. It is well worth the $99 dollars to purchase a plan and follow it. If you cannot follow a simple plan (assuming you are not injured) how can you possibly expect to function should SHTF?
The two miler is what everyone is scared and nervous about. I took 9 months to get into the shape I am now. My battle buddy hadn’t done cardio work in over 9 weeks before the event and he did better on the 2-miler than myself. I had the wind to do better but my leg strength was too low for my liking. I still made the Rifleman time but missed the Vanguard time by 2 minutes or so. Therefore I need to maintain my wind and increase my leg strength.
The shooting portion went well. Your magazines need to be ready and loaded before you even hit West Virginia. Make sure your rifle is already sighted in with your scope, red dot, or irons before you show up. There is no verification time. I suggest practicing once or twice the week before the event. The shoot is not really that difficult. I missed more with the handgun than the rifle. So now I need to go take a handgun class and get better there.
The TCCC portion is really a class instruction with a run through on the test lane. I’ve never taken a TCCC class before and learned a lot. The practical test of applying a tourniquet, dragging your buddy out of the way, and then running through the MARCH protocols is an eye opener. Not difficult but something you need to be receptive to. I took a lot of notes, went back to the Koolwink that night, and ordered some more items and a different tourniquet.
The land navigation portion has no instruction period. You must know how to perform this before you show up. Once you calculate your headings and distances, go back and recalculate them to verify they were right to begin with. Make sure your compass is not near any piece of metal such as your pistol, magazines, rifle, or sitting overtop of a screw holding the table together. This also goes for using the compass in the field. Make sure the compass isn’t near your mags while you are pacing. Make sure you understand terrain association. Can you look at the map, intellectually understand what the map is telling you, and then convert the 2D map into 3D reality? Can you see the saddle on the map, look around yourself and verify that you are on that saddle? If you end up where you think the marker is and a 360 degree look doesn’t show it, then change your perspective. Take a knee and then look around again. I found one of my markers that way. Before leaving each marker I pointed myself in the general direction I should go, based upon my map and terrain association. I then adjusted the compass and finalized the heading. After finding my 3rd marker I started adjusting my heading for my 4th marker and realized I had inverted the azimuth. I subtracted (or added – doesn’t matter) 180 degrees and off I went. Well I did the math in my head I made a booboo and was off. By terrain association I knew I was in the right general area but had to adjust about 70 yards and finally found the 4th marker. I sweated more during the 1.5 hours I was hitting the markers than I did the entire day before. I was literally dripping sweat from the front end of my hat. If I had been out there much longer my 2 liters of water would not have been sufficient. Practice, practice, practice.
The contact under fire and break contact drills are straight from the Combat Team Tactics (CTT) class. This is why CTT is a pre-requisite. If you’ve taken this class then you know what you need to know. Fire, maneuver, communicate. When advancing when in contact I like to pick my next piece of cover between shots. When performing this drill with teammates you know and practice alongside really shows. My personal favorite part of the MVT experience.
The stretcher run is approximately 1 mile through the wonderful hills of West By God Virginia. The 1sthalf is uphill and then its downhill from there. I didn’t find it that difficult because you’re constantly switching out teammates. The longest distance carrying the litter was only 100 meters. There was probably 60-90 seconds of downtime before you get switched back in. The teamwork shown in this test really impressed me. Good legs and good wind will get you through this test.
The weapon manipulation is straight out of CTT. Practice of those skill at home is a must. Don’t do what I did and clear the malfunction, reseat the mag, charge the weapon, pull the trigger, and have the mag drop out because you didn’t really seat the mag. You will get yelled at. You will feel like a boob, and rightly so. Practice, practice, practice.
CQB is very interesting. This is not your SWAT team, tacticool style of room clearing. This is battlefield tested military style clearing. You will not have your fire team sleeping in the same room with you when something goes bump in the night. You will, at best, have you and your spouse. Or conversely in SHTF you probably won’t have a 6-12 man team with you to clear every single room in a house or small structure. Therefore flooding a room will your entire team doesn’t make a lot of sense especially if the bad guy gets half a dozen shots off. Half of your team or more may go down. This portion is really just an introduction into this style of combat. Luckily MVT has the Citizen Close Combat (C3) class which focuses on this specific subject. (can you say teaser?) I will take that class at some point in the future. This is a much closer style of fighting. You are much closer to your partner and the bad guys. Brass will hit you in the face. Get over it. There is a definite mentality switch before going into this portion. But a fun way to finish off the weekend nevertheless.
When, not if but when, you get to the point you want to stop or slow down find your “rage switch”. What will keep you moving forward. For me it was picture of my young children bleeding out. (I know that sounds stupid but it’s what works for me) What will scare you the most? Every one of us knows what that is. Find it, admit it, prepare against it, and use it!
Every day starts with getting you winded, hot, sweaty, tired for a reason. MVT wants to try and give you a taste of the hardships you may encounter. The age range was upper 20’s to 63. The 63 received a Rifleman tab. This course can be completed. You can do this. As long as you are willing to put the time and effort into preparing before the class you can do this! Is the course difficult – yes. But would you really feel proud of the Rifleman patch if any SOB off the street could complete it?
I went into this challenge with the attitude knowing I could complete each task. The land nav made me nervous but I knew I could do the rest. Don’t get wrapped up about competing against the other students. The only person you need to compete against is yourself. Did you give it everything you’ve got? If you did and you failed then come back the next time (for free by the way), learn from your mistakes, and get it done! I’m my own harshest critic. I took one day off for rest and went right back into my exercise regime (focusing more on leg strength). J
Another fun weekend at MVT. I’m looking forward to seeing you guys on the next class.