A Trip to Kelly McCann's Crucible

On the 31st May 2010 I flew to Washington Reagan airport in the US where I was met by Peder Lund, who is the head man for Paladin Press - the leading Action library production company for all Combative related books and DVD's. Peder travelled with his two associates, Dave and Brad, from Boulder in Colorado to meet me and travel to Fredericksburg Virginia. This is home to the 300 acre training facility known as the "Crucible".


This superb High Risk Environment training facility houses several shooting ranges, a ballistic shooting house, 2500 square feet of fully matted and kitted Combatives area, a fully padded Combatives scenario room, as well as several off-road driving areas, a tactical driving circuit, and several task-specific urban and rural training areas.


The Crucible

The Crucible

Founded in 1993, the Crucible is the most respected and sought out HRE training company in the world, complete with a highly trained team of instructors all of which are real world Operatives. Everyone here can fight, shoot and drive, under the worst possible conditions - and with deployment to over 30 countries world-wide, including some of the most volatile hot-spots, their credentials don't come much better.


The purpose of my visit here was two-fold. First, to finally meet Kelly McCann (who for me personally, is and always has been the most influential individual Combatives person in this business). For years I have wanted to meet and train with Kelly, and after seven months of contact via the phone and email we finally hooked up.


What's ironic is that after all the years of trying to get this opportunity - which, incidentally, is very difficult for a civilian - it was Kelly that actually contacted me. He was searching the internet one day scouting for some Combative talent for Paladin Press. In short, he came across me on YouTube, researched my website, then called me up one day. Fast forward seven months of contact and planning and here I was. This top man invited me to the Crucible after arranging not one but two DVD projects with the most respected action library in the business, Paladin Press, which of course was my next main reason for being here.


Kelly McCann

The main man of Combatives: Kelly McCann

Peder Lund, Dave and Brad treated me like an absolute VIP, taking care of all my travel, accommodation and sundry requirements. They are true professionals and gentlemen to boot.


Of course a huge thank you goes out to Kelly and his team for not only allowing us exclusive access to every available resource at the Crucible, but also for Kelly's great hospitality by welcoming us to his beautiful lake house for a fantastic time - bumping shoulders with his tight circle of friends, some of which were ex-Marines, all Operational guys together drinking beer, eating steaks and telling war stories, not to mention speed-boating and wake-boarding on the lake; great fun.


Peder Lund

Outside the Crucible with Peder Lund, the head of Paladin Press

Over the next two days it was time for me to give something back, with each day scheduling a video shoot for each of the Paladin projects. My goal was to deliver each to the absolute best of my ability - both as a Combatives practitioner, and as a professional instructor. I knew all the resources that we needed to make this great were in place, and the standard needed to reflect Kelly’s recommendation of me to Peder, who has seen anyone who's anyone in this business, had to be fucking tip top! As I write this, my torn-up shoulders and worn-out body are telling me at least that I gave it my all.


Dave and Brad

Here was our great camera crew - Dave and Brad


Crucible flags

Some of the flags representing some of the countries the Crucible have been Operational


Crucible badges

Some of the Law Enforcement badges showing departments the Crucible have trained

Filming for each video went like clockwork with no cuts or extra takes required. The combination of working with professional people and my own preparation allowed the whole thing to flow from beginning to end. At this point I would like to thank the two US Marines employed as "meat puppets", namely Andrew and Shoran, who gave me excellent energy during all teaching modules and dynamic scenarios without any complaints. These guys really helped make both of these forthcoming DVD's the success I know they will be.


Inside Crucible


Here are some pictures from inside the indoor 2500 square feet of Combatives training area, and some of the training KIT employed in their Combative Conditioning programs:


Grappling Dummy

Grappling Dummy for stand up and ground striking


Heavy bag and tractor tyre

Pear shaped heavy bag and tractor tyre


Makeshift sled

Makeshift sled for weight pulling and PAP training


Weights area

Kettle-bells and weights area

Within this field I am thankfully known for presenting quality content within all of my previous UC productions, but of course less than ideal or limiting resources are a factor. Not so here, though, as the combination of Crucible resources and Paladin's experience promise to take UC to a new level.


Day one we filmed a full day of UC Concepts relating to counter-knife, with classroom module presentation taken into the application of full-on, non-compliant street scenarios. Day two looked at our second project, UC Concepts relating to counter-grappling from a street perspective. Here, we followed the same format of classroom presentation into street scenario application. Without giving too much away, commonality is shared with UC's previous look at these two subjects - namely On the Sharp Edge and The Last Resort. But shown from this new perspective and improvement in overall production, both projects will be taken to a new level.


Resources 1

Excellent training weapons and KIT along with realistic film set props were all on hand as resources


Resources 2

More training weapons and KIT


Company sign

One of Kelly's earlier company signs


Knives 1

A few trinkets from Kelly's office


Knives 2

More of the collection

After the final shoot we spent the night at Kelly's lake house, where it was time to chill out and get to know each other. On arrival at this beautiful home we were shown fantastic hospitality, starting with a toast of a single shot of tequila and a presentation that Kelly made to me. Here I was honoured with a limited edition set of Kelly's black hawk crucible designed fixed blade and tactical folder, a small fixed blade for belt carry, an original copy of the 1937 addition of Drexel Biddle's Do or Die along with a couple of other collectible items. Needless to say, I was blown away by Kelly's wonderful gesture.


House 1


The evening continued with Mexican beer, fantastic steaks and a blast around the lake, speed-boating and wake-boarding.


House 2



House 3

Just chillin with Kelly


Boat 1

Jack wake-boarding


Boat 2

Evan wake-boarding


Boat 3

Us on Jack's boat


Boat 4

Us on Jack's boat

The next day I had breakfast with Kelly and his son, Evan, who incidentally is a great kid and an excellent wake boarder :-) From here we made the drive back to the Crucible where Kelly hooked me up with two of his team instructors for some flight time pistol shooting on one of the ranges - great fun! After a shower, I prepared for my return to the airport via a limo no less, said my farewells and made my way home, richer for this experience.


Black Hawk knives

The Black Hawk knives set designed by Kelly, similar to the ones he presented me with

Once again I would like to thank everybody from both Paladin and The Crucible, along with a big shout out to Kelly for scouting my talent and giving me this much-needed introduction across the Pond. Watch this space for further developments.


LM June 2010 Peace...


Lee 1



Lee 2