Running around in camo facepaint, a bandana tied around your head and in full battle rattle can get you some strange looks, the cops called on you for “suspicious behavior” or pop up on someone’s radar for their Red Flag Laws. There are outdoor activities that can keep your battlefield skills honed that will draw no attention to yourself and some are easily disguised as family outdoor activities. I competed in my first Rogaine race this year and really liked it. A Rogaine race is a long distance Orienteering race and is also a timed event. The race I competed in was a 10 hour race and I traveled over 14 miles locating orienteering checkpoints along the way. The race activities began by issuing a topographical map an hour before the race by the race director. You as a solo racer or as part of a team are to study the map, determine your route to the plotted checkpoints. The only gear I used for navigating was a 1:24,000 topo map and thumb compass, no GPS was allowed. All participants were required to carry a list of gear for emergencies. Prior to the race date, I had brushed up on my land navigation skills and was glad I did since these are perishable skills. As I raced, I kept thinking this was very similar to the land navigation I did in the military. These events would be excellent training for interested in preparedness, as part of your bug out training and for your security team.
I have listed a few races and other activities to be considered that you, your family and your team can use as a part of your training cycle.
GEOCACHING is described as an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use GPS receivers or cell phone apps to find and hide “caches” or small containers in a high tech version of treasure hunting. Think like spies using dead drops for messages.
ORIENTEERING is described as a land navigation race using only a detailed map and compass. The difference between a Rogaine and orienteering is the map scale, smaller and better hidden checkpoints. In orienteering, you are required to check-in to the checkpoints in a certain order. No GPS allowed.
RADIO ORIENTEERING is similar to traditional orienteering but instead of following your compass, you’re following a radio signal. You are competing against other racers for time while traveling on foot.
ADVENTURE RACING is a combination of racing on foot, a bicycle and a kayak or some similar modes of transportation along a route you have determined on the way to the transition points where you switch a bicycle or kayak or other vehicle. You will still be searching for checkpoints during the entire race. Some races are as short as 5 hours or up to 24 hours or even measured in days. This is sometimes described as a triathlon navigation race.
ROGAINE RACING is a timed long distance land navigation race where you plot your route and compete against others. The checkpoints have point values and part of the planning is to decide which checkpoints will give you more points over other competitors. Some good racers and teams can clear the entire race by getting all of the checkpoints and arrive at the finish line before your time is expired. Points are removed if you go beyond the race time and there are hefty point penalties for every minute you’re late.
AMATEUR RADIO DIRECTION FINDING is popular with Amateur Radio Clubs and often over a very large geographic area. The teams will drive in their vehicles while using directional antennas to determine the direction to the transmitter. After checking the azimuth over different locations, the competitors will triangulate to a point on the map where the transmitter is located. The competitors will likely switch antenna types as the get closer to it.
This is certainly not an all inclusive list and I’m sure there are many other activities I’ve missed. A lot of these activities are family friendly and can possibly be used to start a conversation with someone regarding a preparedness mindset. Think about this, you’re training up team or family members in the same real world skills used by soldiers, spies and explorers around the world and they are just having good clean fun.