Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course Review and AAR’s, Nov. 2-3



This AAR was posted at Western Rifle Shooters Association here-

The Rural Buddy Team Tactics Course is designed to do one thing, give a novice the very basics skills needed to patrol a given area and deal with threats as they present themselves (post WROL). This is not a “Learn how to be a guerilla in a weekend” course, and it’s not presented as such. Students receive approximately 20 hours of instruction in Small Unit Tactics (SUT), using a crawl, walk, run approach. This includes Individual Movement Techniques ( factors in camouflaging the individual, low crawl, high crawl, the rush), Buddy Team movement and responsibilities, and Fire Team formations and movement, and the basics of TC3 protocols (I’m not a combat medic like Max V., so I don’t teach techniques, I stress the tourniquet, high and tight, that’s it, and I go over the MARCH protocols) We also talk about gear and weapons, and the advantages and disadvantages of different setups. Assault and Break Contact are the two drills that are practiced, and throughout the training, the Move, Shoot, Communicate mantra is reinforced. Simple things like “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” during a rush, and Distance, Direction, Description of the threat are constantly stressed and repeated, till it becomes habit. I use trails for the OPFOR contact exercises, not because it’s tactically sound (I stress to the students not to use trails in a real world event), but to 1) Show students how easy it is to get set up and ambushed if you follow a trail or line of drift, 2) to show students how to set up an ambush and what to look for, with a definitive model (Trail), to better “see” what I’m showing them, 3) I have control of the exact terrain the students are moving over or through (unnecessary injury during training, stunts the learning curve). We do day and night patrols with ambushes on each one. Patrols are conducted while wearing full kit ( minimum of 4 mags, water, rations, etc., but no ruck) and depending on the patrol, students might walk 1-2 miles, this gives them a chance to figure out if their gear needs adjusting or revision, and it also helps with the assessment of their PT regimen. One of the scenarios I include in my class,  is the “Don’t shoot” scenario. Just because you see a guy run across the trail with a rifle, post WROL, does not mean he is a threat to you (he might be just like you, your armed, right?), assessing the situation, and deciding what to do is a crucial, and this is what I stress again and again. Everyone in the class leads and follows, and has to make decisions. Another thing that I stress is “If In Doubt, Get The Hell Out!” (This isn’t Hamburger Hill) break contact, go to your last rally point (terrain feature away, preferably), set up security, assess the situation. Live fire is conducted as Buddy Teams on the jungle lane range, and I combine the Assault drill up to the objective (which has engaged them), I then have the students assess, decide it’s a bad idea, and perform a break contact drill (all the while students and safeties are keeping track of the muzzle direction, safety manipulation, and trigger finger awareness).  Students are taught how to assault and take the objective, but for live fire purposes, I combine both drills together.  AAR’s are conducted after each event (Patrols, and live fires) then a final AAR is conducted at the end of the class. A review of Night Vision and Thermal technology is also given before the night ambush, so they have a better understanding of the advantages of technology, but still understanding, they can do it with the MK1 eyeball. My Rural Team Tactics Course is four weekends, and it imparts ALL of the skills I believe are necessary in a WROL patrol setting. The Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course, is just that, the very bare bones essentials for patrolling your area, and hopefully coming back alive. Monetarily, and time wise, I understand most people have little or none of both, and this is why I started this one weekend course. Time is short! Getting people trained is crucial. The primary word I hear from my students after the class is “Overwhelmed”. This is good, because you have to know where you stand (training wise) , before you can practically assess and correct your shortcomings.


By the way, it’s not all about the money for me, if you have the opportunity, take a class from Max Velocity, or John Mosby (read their blogs as well). I helped JM with a class at EVTC in June, and he is an excellent instructor. I met with Max back in August, and all I can say is WOW!, Great Dude, great facility, and from what my students, that have taken his classes (I’ve never been) said, he’s a great instructor. None of us do this as a great money making scheme, I know Max and I usually put the money right back into the business, and this is what we like to do anyway. As I said earlier, time is short, people. By the way, if you’re going to take one of my tactical patrolling courses in the future, read Max’s book Patriot Dawn. This will give you specific, easily relatable, scenarios you can ask about during the class.  

A couple of the AAR’s are below, anything in bold parenthesis are my comments.  I’ll send the rest when they come in.

Thanks again Pete,

                        J.C. Dodge Owner/Head Instructor-Mason Dixon Tactical

    American by BIRTH-Infidel by CHOICE 



I was happy to be invited to play OpFor for J.C. Dodge’s Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course at Echo Valley Training Center on November 2, 2013. Dodge did a terrific job explaining the basics of IMT and patrolling. What he said was spot on and he did a terrific job condensing it in to a 2 day course. Doing such is a tricky maneuver in such a short time but he pulled it off well. Although I wasn’t taking the class I did sit in on the majority of it and I found myself nodding in agreement most of the time.

If Dodge ever puts on a class in an area I’m not already trained in, I’d definitely be open to taking anything he teaches. He does an exceptional job, puts out the right information and ensures his students thoroughly understand the subject matter at hand. Combine that with his reinforcement of classroom lessons in the field and you just can’t go wrong!



The preparation for this weekend has taken me more than one month. I have shopped my local gun shop, Amazon, Ebay, and the local Army Surplus store and more to gear up. Prepping ain’t cheap. However, I now have the stuff and tested some of it last weekend. At this point and with cliché in hand; I would rather have it and not need it  than need it and not have it. And from my best buddy Jim K, his words of wisdom: Anticipation is greater than realization. In some context and scenarios, I would agree. However, this is the real deal. Real boots on the ground training by an expert.

I can speak candidly to all of you and say in sincere honesty that this training is necessary for me to bridge the gap of saying and doing. And to say part of me is not hesitant would be an untruth. Going into this knowing that will be using blank rounds in our AR’s during patrolling exercises has me curious but wary as well. This is also the first chance I have really had to get to know my AR. My 1st LT dad taught me about firearms and said “never point a weapon at someone unless you intend to kill them”. This will go against the old man’s teaching but this is training. The exception to the rule with a professional.

Through meandering dirt roads off of a secondary road, we entered to 300 acre compound that makes up EVTC. We met up with Millerized, Joe & Helen, Dan, Vixie, and JC on a ridge overlooking an open area and the view of the Appalachians to the East. Behind us and to the West were forest with many tops of trees strewn over the tundra from what appeared to be select cut tree harvesting and a rough vehicle trail leading toward the west into the forest. Hellos were exchanged and we began to set up our spots for the weekend and get our gear ready and outfitted ourselves for the training.

Under a canopy, JC rallied us and we signed the appropriate release forms. The classroom part of the event stated as JC explained the various approaches one would use upon enemy contact: the flat crawl, four point crawl, and bounding. We then practiced the maneuvers with an our rifles (unloaded,  of course). Let it be known that older folk do not move like tigers but move we did. Lesson learned: need more exercise.

After lunch, we waited for the ambush team to assemble, organize and set up at a location along the West trail. While waiting, discussions took place that varied on topics. On the training side, JC elaborated on the many aspects of patrolling and what made up a 2 man , 4 man and squad patrols and the different formations thereto. Also we were apprised of the communication necessary between your patrolling buddies in order to coordinate the movements needed to engage or break contact. We also were instructed in the ability to drop and find cover to return fire and assess the strength of the opposition. Our teams did a few dry runs as two  person patrols then we loaded and chambered our weapons with the blank rounds and proceeded to walk the trail. The ambush team was planted and off we went. The first team of Joe & Helen, having attended many tactical courses, strode down the lane and finally engaged the ambush team.. Our turn was next. Being point man, I was responsible for the 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock view (left side) and Miller the 2 to 8 o’clock view (right side). I came upon a decoy shemagh that was placed on a stump left of me and them all hell broke loose. We obviously had no idea how many “enemy” were on us but the muzzle flashes came from  from an approximate 60 degree area of engagement on both sides of the trail (L shaped ambush).  With the strength of the opposing force that I believed to be 6, we broke contact. Everyone then gathered to assess the drill. Lessons learned: How vulnerable a patrol is. How loud a firefight is. How difficult it can be identifying the opposition’s strength. How easily (or less than) the “pop up” targets presented themselves.

By the time we finished the assessment and walk back to camp, it was early evening and we set up out tents before twilight as Whitney got her camp stew that had been brewing all afternoon ready for the hungry tribe. After supper, we readied for the night patrol.

Joe and Helen were outfitted with night optics however the rest of us did not. It was almost pitch black as the 5 person team hit the road with JC leading ( No moon, and I showed the value of “cat eyes” on you PC, but I also told them they are like a becon for NOD’s) . After walking about a quarter mile, there was a loud sound of what sounded like a wild boar to our right. As we walked a few meters further, the ambush occurred. My AR jammed and kept jamming (unlike the last patrol) with the blanks as JC was calling out the commands. Lessons learned: blanks are dirty and lube a must. In a fire fight, voice commands are next to impossible to hear. Confusion can rule the day. I am a casualty.

The next day we mustered for the live round patrol and jungle walk. Venturing deeper into the forest, we entered the jungle walk area. JC instructed us in weapons safety procedures for the drill and the need for communication between the team during the drill. Each two man team ran through the dry run drill twice before loading and chambering our weapons. Being the experienced team, Joe and Helen ran through the drill twice. They executed the contact with ease and broke contact as planned. Miller and I performed next and alternated lanes of approach towards the bunker on each drill. Lessons learned: Safety on-muzzle down when moving. Communications need to be screamed out and then it is difficult to hear. I need to exercise. Weapon performed flawless.

The walk back to base camp included a very steep up hill walk that taxed my legs but we all made it back safely but nevertheless tired. We ate lunch, packed up and said our good-byes. All in all the weather cooperated as well. The folks who met on that ridge, broke bread, walked the trails and engaged in some serious discussions as well as light hearted chat found out their strengths as well as their weaknesses. We tested our gear as well ourselves. We walked away as friends and compatriots. JC relates very well with people and instruction is geared to the civilian crowd. I found the training informative and real life. I have to get a book on military acronyms though. I expect to attend more classes.

Ultimately, life is full of experiences and from those come wisdom. I am a realist enough to know one that one tactical class will surely not make a soldier out of me, but for me this is the start. Whatever I gain, no matter how small, is to me invaluable. Alliances can only be formed by getting out and engaging with others who share the same concerns. Training in all areas be it tactical, long term food storage, or medical will be needed by anyone who believes that societal collapse is eminent. I intend to contribute what ever I can give if push comes to shove, so help me God and keep me steadfast.




AAR 2,3NOV2013 Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course

Sustain:  Emphasis on Rural Patrolling under threat of ambush.

This is not, nor should it become an course on basic weapon manipulation or marksmanship.  JC Dodge’s instruction in conjunction with the terrain of the Echo Valley Training Center provide the student with a fantastic environment to learn and execute the Rural Patrolling curriculum.  Special thanks to JC Dodge and “CR”, the owner of EVTC, for working together and having OPFOR personnel available for the ambushes as well as the constructive AAR post ambush.

Note to prospective students:  You are going to see muzzle flashes aimed at you!  The ambushes are executed using blanks with blank firing adapters mounted on the weapon flash hider.  We have tried to use our Sig 522s, .22lr, on two different occasions with blanks, with zero success.  Both times we ended up with debris from the .22lr blank cartridge crimps wedged in the barrel and a spent cartridge stuck in the chamber.  There were some issues with the 5.56 blanks, but not bad like ours.  7.62 blanks worked great, both in 39 and 51mm.  The tolerances, the dirty powder, the smaller chamber, the blank crimps make a .22lr rifle a real bad choice for using blank cartridges.  My advice, don’t.  We will not ever again.

Expand:  With the further development of the jungle walk, logs for cover, clearings, etc., (I’m workin’ on it Brother) the need to decide whether to low crawl, high crawl or rush to the next available cover.  We only executed rushes, I’m up-he sees me-I’m down.  In retrospect there were areas where a high or low crawl to the next cover would have been a better solution compared to an extended rush.

Sustain:  Risk free environment to ask stupid questions!

Thanks to JC Dodge, Vixie, DanD, CR(his brother and son Ryan), Jerrod, Doug and Jim for working with us!  We hope to see you all at Chris’s next course at EVTC.

Helen & Joe Fahy


What started out as a conversation over lunch ended up being an eye opener.

I met Mr. Dodge a few months ago at another East Coast training class. He was one of the assistant instructors during the class. His attitude was unassuming that you already knew what was going on. Some of us hadn’t done this for quite a while, and he took the time to explain either what we forgot or never learned in the first place. He seemed to really want folks to learn how the training we were involved in might be best adapted to your ability and AO.

Being away from any .mil related activities for nearly 20yrs, (read that as fat and out of shape) that weekend showed me how far behind I was and that a refresher was sorely needed. It was a good weekend, I learned much and told myself that if opportunities presented themselves again, I’d jump on them.

A while back, Mr. Dodge contacted me about having lunch in the near future. His AO is midpoint of the route to my bug-out location, and I was coming back from a weekend doing some seasonal change required maintenance. During lunch, he asked if I wanted to play OpFor Saturday during one of his upcoming classes. A skilled combat vet asking me if I wanted to lay in ambush and be part of the ‘other side’ of the coin took no thought process to consider. Oh, hell yeah!

Since my shopping list always includes ‘more stuff’, and the finances to purchase ‘more stuff’ are always light, I was pleased to find that I didn’t need a lot to attend the class. Everything you need to take his class, on either side of the coin, should already be on your gear to start with. A rifle, magazines, and a place to carry them. Only items I did not have were blanks and a blank adapter. You think finding ammo is hard these days? Try finding blanks IN STOCK 2 weeks before class. Amazon for the blank adapter, and for the 5.56 blanks. At least 2 of the folks attending found KeepShooting as a source for their blanks.

I showed up at his class site early Saturday morning with my basic stay out all day gear. Since I am not married to my cell phone, I did not get “the” message until I turned it on Saturday morning while waiting for everyone to show up. Sometime during the night, several of his other OpFor and FreeFor attendees cancelled out on him. His class size was now a bit less, and an odd number. I was now FreeFor. I was also ill-equipped to do an overnight with a +120F sleeping bag and a woobie. More on that in a bit.

Those in attendance were firmly in the ‘older, intelligent, experienced’ camp and nearly universal in their reasoning behind being there: Protection of ‘me and mine’ with an emphasis on local, local, local. (You probably won’t find many ‘children’ in this type of activity, and we will certainly pay for that in the years to come.) One couple are well advanced in their skill level, and at least one was just starting out experience wise. One gentleman I had met previously met at Brock Townsend’s PATCON a month earlier, and I got to be his partner for the weekend.

Class started at 8, with a full day of teaching, learning and practical exercise in the finer parts of operating in a combat environment. Crawl, walk, run, and most folks started out on the walk side. By the time we got to the ambush part of the class (my original ‘part’ of the class) everyone was well into walk/run. The owners of the range set up an ambush at an undisclosed point along a route. As we patrolled into the ambush, knowing that it was ‘out there, somewhere’, made for an interesting experience.  False signs along the trail had you looking to the left when you should have been looking to the right….where they were positioned and started attacking from. “CONTACT FRONT”!!! Won’t make that mistake again. Famous last words and all that jazz.

What was included in this class, that wasn’t included in my last one, was the intensity of simulated gunfire that added a whole new layer to the experience. I have been away from MILES gear for a long time, but the sounds of firearms being actively discharged in your general direction really changed your ability to do quite a few things. First, it becomes a lot more real than saying ‘pew, pew, bang, pew’. Second, stoppages with blanks….(which are guaranteed) are identical to stoppages with live rounds, and now to require action drills to get you back in the fight. Third, your ability to change mags under fire, your ability to communicate and move are much more involved with the extra noise and ‘excitement’ of things going ‘bang, bang, click’. What you think you are doing, usually you just plain forgot in the heat of the ‘battle’.

Those who had never done any of that activity under fire learned just how hard it is to retain basic functions, let alone advanced technique. That lack of ability under fire was even more pronounced in what we did later that evening.

After supper, a prepared meal of Dutch oven stew by Mr. Dodge’s personal master chef, administrative assistant, purchasing agent, loadmaster and full time girlfriend, forced us to question several things about his operation. Most of which were centered around her having a sister and if there were any more where he found her. Any woman who likes being outdoors, can put together a meal like that, and ‘deal’ with all the ‘stuff’ that revolved around that weekend….if you find one like that, keep ‘er! Add all that to her ability to let firearms and equipment purchases be made, and even INSTIGATE those purchases….yeah….she’s a keeper.

After the stomachs were filled, a short block of instruction was presented towards the night portion of the patrolling exercise. An eye-opening demonstration into FLIR technology was included, and we headed out. No moon, and only star light made it slow going. Because of the darkness, Mr. Dodge took point simply because he was the only person with ‘cat-eyes’ on his hat. As we followed those ever decreasing points of illumination, KNOWING we were all going to ‘die’ in the impending ambush, the unthinkable happened…..wild animals fighting right off the side of the trail. Awh, shit.

Talk about a pucker moment. Here we are….all of us fitted with blank adapters and blanks….and what sounded like wild boar fighting to the death not 10yards from the trail. Son of a bi……. “Mr. Dodge…I surely hope you are carrying something other than blanks in that Glock!!!!!” I whispered. Then it hit us….as the sound seemed to loop and ‘start over’. Remember the ‘famous last words’ from above? Yup….one more time. “Awh, fuh…”……and the firing started. “CONTACT FRONT!!!”

We had walked right in to the ambush, and had been distracted by a well-placed electronic recording of “raccoon” fighting. Raccoons my ass….full-fledged coonhogs are just off the trail as we were about to be disemboweled. Took a while to get those shorts loose enough to move.

Once the firing started, all manner of military bearing and training went out the window for us inexperienced operators. I have not been involved in a night ambush since basic training at Ft. Bliss in 1983. Having a hearing loss to start with, the firing of the fully auto M14, the other rifles in front and behind us, I could barely hear Mr. Dodge yelling out commands to GTFO of there and break contact. We bounded out by teams, or something that could have been viewed as disorganized chaos.  Night activities without any night vision optics are going to be unhappy activities in the coming free-for-all. If you can afford them, even the lower end ones, GET THEM NOW while you still can. You will always have your ability to fight at night. But night vision will give you the ability to WIN over someone who doesn’t have them or maybe not die as quick against someone who does. After an AAR, we headed back to the camp and prepared to sack out for the evening.

Remember back at the beginning when I mentioned I was supposed to be OpFor for one day? Harkening back to our summer class…’if you sleep in your vehicle you’re a pussy’….My evening was an experience without the right gear. My +120F sleeping bag, my woobie, and a tent that you were touching all 6 sides at the same time were no match for sub 40F temperatures and rain. Toss in a time change…Miserable, but manageable. Travel light, freeze at night. I didn’t even pack a sweater or polypro….mistake noted, packing list modified, regardless of which side of the fight I’m on. (Imagine that, the instructor had extra gear, but no one asked….good training, right?)

I started my day with 30 minutes in the front seat of my truck with the heater on max, snorting instant coffee and eating 2 energy bars….but I DIDN’T sleep in there…so I’m good. (Caffeine addicts….if you start out the day with a caffeine withdrawal headache, 2 packets of Starbucks Via directly into your mouth followed by water will take care of it in about 10 minutes. Tastes like ass, but it IS Starbucks.)

One of the others in the class poured me some real coffee, and we suited up for a few hours on the jungle range. We patrolled down to the range, overlooking and AAR’ing some of the summers earlier training areas. Once on the range, we dry ran a few of the contact drills, safety being paramount, then went hot when we were comfortable with our ability to not shoot each other in the back. Individual, then team exercises took us up through and back several times. We ran it enough times to get it right, communication being key to getting it right. Yelling over 2 or 3 people firing gets to be hard on the vocal cords. You get to ‘feel’ that when the other guy is shooting it’s your time to move. More times you so it, and it gets easier to figure it out.

Once done, we packed up and headed back to camp. We conducted our final AAR on the events of the day, and a critique on anything we felt would benefit the next class, or what we would have changed. The training day ended, we broke camp, expressed our thanks to our new friends and hosts (inquired about older sisters again) said our goodbye’s, and went our separate ways.

If you want a high speed, low drag training event local to the 4 state area (PA, WV, MD, VA), Contact Mr. Dodge. If you aren’t high speed, low drag or even remotely considering becoming high speed OR low drag…but still want to train, Contact Mr. Dodge. He can tailor a class that fills your needs, regardless of your skill level at the start. You WILL come away from it with knowledge you didn’t have.




American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE


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