As I mentioned in the cqb/cls thread, the Kenosha Kid and I traveled from the SF Bay Area for this course and CQB/CLS. Again, I'd like to thank Joe and Mike for doing what they do and running such a fine facility. For this course, big thanks go to Joe and Chris for role playing for us and voluntarily getting shot with UTMs. Although I think they enjoyed shooting us so much they really didn't mind getting shot, lol.
Background: I am a high speed, low drag software engineer by day, otherwise known as a general earth person, but I've been training seriously for the past four years. I've trained with Pat previously when he came through LMS's facility in Fernley a couple years ago and I've trained with Chappy more times than I will admit, including cqb, fof, and shoothouse classes.
Gear: I ran my pws mk114 mod0 with T1 with a UTM bolt and extra BCM mod4 charging handle, along with a battle belt, a BFG LMAC plate carrier, and Crye airframe helmet. No gear issues at all, and I'll say that the LMAC is the most comfortable PC I've run yet, and the only one I can run without any shoulder strap pads at all. Love that thing. Again, this class ran smooth as butter from what I could see because just about everyone had their gear dialed in. One extra note - we ran some scenarios in an old heavy equipment machine warehouse which gave me extra appreciation for keeping a tight gear profile and not having crap hanging off my body everywhere. It was very easy to get hung up or snagged on that equipment as we cleared it - often with fogged up goggles and limited visibility.
Lessons: The cqb/cls course runs the four days prior and I highly recommend taking that as a prereq. After getting a solid tune-up on cqb fundamentals in 2 person teams, this class continues on with more complicated scenarios in 4, 6, and full 13 person teams. One thing about force-on-force, if not careful it can quickly devolve into a shooting gallery, but in these courses each run is a carefully planned scenario with role players with very explicit instructions. Chappy very carefully briefs the role players on every run as to the objectives of the run, where to target participants, how much/when to shoot, etc. This makes every run productive and educational. The nice thing about UTMs is if you don't get the lesson right, you get some pain inflicted. I don't do this for a living, but what a fantastic training tool to be able to learn and make mistakes, get some feedback to really make you remember the lesson, and all in a controlled environment.
Some specifics that were stressed:
- Communication is even more critical with larger teams, and we introduced the notion of Team Leaders and ATLs for this class.
- Find something that isn't being covered and cover it, and if you are covering it, don't stop covering it just because another team mate might be taking fire
- Look near and far and in between. The factory really forces you to scan and see, not just look around.
- Again, every step you take changes your angles, both what you can see, and what can see you. Our venue became much more difficult in this class using an old heavy equipment factory.
- Cover your team mates and trust your team mates to cover you
- Never process a Bad Guy by yourself
This class also makes extensive use of night time shooting and low-light engagements, this time complete with real adversaries. If you think static reaction targets are interesting in the dark, real people are even more interesting.
The highlight of the class was an explosive breach and clear on a seized house in Alliance with the full 13 person squad - at night. I got to be the #2 person through the door (or over it, because it was blown clean off its hinges) behind one of the APD team members and I think I'm still grinning from it.
Instructors: Again, Chappy, Pat, Doc Spears, and Steve Fisher all helped make this class incredible. Also, having dedicated role players that are briefed and carefully act in order to teach the proper lesson on each scenario really makes this FOF course something special.
Classmates: A good number of the APD swat team joined us for this class and I want to especially thank those guys for their professionalism and taking in regular earth people like myself and making us feel like members of the team. I learned a great deal by making runs with those guys and making the explosive breach on the house in Alliance was almost too much fun.
I think that about covers it. On the last day I managed to take a UTM to the face, just below my lower lip that made things interesting (through my balaclava). I didn't think much of it but the looks on everyone else's face were pretty awesome. I'm sure Pat will post a picture of the result.