Some observations before I get to the course review:
I do a lot of driving around the Midwest every weekend. I drive an average of 30 hrs a month outside of my AO for purposes other than driving to and from my primary employer. Two observations:
- Any time I am driving east or west from major metropolitan areas, I have noticed convoys – small, 2-3 vehicle in size – traveling from the coast that is behind them, or from an urban hellscape. Vehicles from the pacific coastal travelling into the Midwest, those fleeing from IL going either N or S (but happen to be in my E-W corridors), or new people from the Atlantic. I’ve seen lead vehicles from the Midwest tailed by pacific refugees more than once.
- More bobtails (link to trucker lingo for bobtailing) and empty flatbeds in ONE NIGHT than I have seen in the previous decade. From supply chain disruptions?
Now, on with the show.
Recently, I traveled outside of my state to do some training with NC Scout. It was an absolute pleasure to work with and train once again with him. I also want to acknowledge the cadre he had with – two of the very best men I have ever met. Salutations all!
Scout course overview
I arrived Thursday evening at the campsite where we were going to be training and caught some Z’s. The next morning, we did some basic overview of the day and headed straight to the range. Friday was simply a day to get zeros and field shooting positions. We went over prone in a few forms, standing, kneeling, and seated. Those who had them worked with bipods and supports, mostly backpacks. The skill levels went from the absolute greenest to highly accomplished shooters. By mid-afternoon we were all zeroed and ready to run buddy team jungle lanes.
I think my favorite part of the zeroing range was buddy supported. It was something I had personally never done, and I saw that it was highly effective. Taking muzzle blast to the face is something you can get over, and especially would if it is a two-way range and you aren’t just shooting paper targets.
Jungle lanes are an excellent exercise. This is severely underutilized and effective training that I would like to see much more often. Working with another shooter to conquer even a small amount of terrain, even if they are just against steel plates, gives a level of confidence and understanding that you can’t get on a square range. The other thing about a jungle lane is that the targets are tough to see. They were obscured depending on the angle, and even though they had frames, you really had to get close, or get to a good shooting position to see them, make positive I.D., and then hit.
Making positive IDs and hits on target was the extremely well pointed in this regard because following that was a portion of the course I was really into: concealment and personal concealment equipment. It was incredible how well one can blend into the terrain if concealment equipment is applied properly. We even had one member in our group that was literally INCHES from the observation crew and didn’t get spotted until we got the endex call!
I won’t go any farther than this on the way the course is laid out, but just this taste. If you want more, go to one of NC Scout’s classes. It’s worth every dollar.
In fact, it’s worth much, much more.
Being in the field for a few days was a much needed break. Working in the firearms industry, plus all the other things that life throws at you, including the current societal status really takes a toll. It was great to decompress a bit and just focus on where I was, and what I was doing. I felt fresh and clear when I was out there, and the days just flew by.
Some personal observations and thoughts that I had during and after the course about from my perspective about my gear, fitness level, and our current situation.
Things are probably going to Go Kinetic® folks. Getting training and knowing your limitations inside of that might be of more use than having 10,000 rounds of your favorite cartridge. Knowledge is more powerful than fully loaded magazines. Some of the greatest changes in history have been because of a single act by a knowing person or party.
Beyond knowledge, a level of physical fitness is required. In this particular class we had folks from 18-70+. You couldn’t tell. Everyone understood what they were there for, how important the training was, and not a single complaint was heard. We worked to the level of our physical ability, and did what needed to be done.
But, it was an eye opener for me, that’s for certain. While I was able to move comfortably, I did get tired. I wasn’t carrying that much gear, but it was more than others. I was soaked in sweat all day, and while I wasn’t breathing hard, my heart rate definitely got up there. We only went a few hundred yards. Going for miles? I’ll make it, but I definitely have some work to do. You probably do too.
What I’m trying to say is, if you think you can stalk around in the woods, you probably can’t.
If you have been doing it, and know you can, then good on you. At one point I knew I was in the suck, but I pushed through. We can’t afford not to have that mentality – quitting never crossed my mind.
My gear was up to snuff. I had a few commo issues, but figured that out and worked through it – field training is probably the second best test for your setup. The radio issue was the biggest hurdle for my equipment. I don’t like the camelbak, it makes wearing a pack difficult. I am still gaming out what a better set up for water is for me, and I need a lot of it. For now the camelbak might stay, but the field pack I had sucked to wear on top of it.
I thought about adding a pack that loops through the mollee webbing, but my issue on that is: in order to get to the stuff in the pack I have to take the whole harness off. I don’t want to get caught with it off on a mission – in fact I don’t want to take it off at all during a cycle out if I can help it, and getting a buddy to get to your stuff for you is more a pain. Plus, looking like a turtle when laying in a hide site is not ideal for concealment. Water, probably the most important. Something to ponder out.
I felt like the radio, mag pouch, and admin pouches were in good places. I could replace the admin pouch with another mag pouch for smoke grenades, etc, and find somewhere else to keep my SOI, OPORD, pencils, flashlights, and compass in there when I’m not using them. Plus, they have Velcro for cool patches. Extra points, right?
I went with an open front harness because I can open it and lay prone easily, though without opening it I was just fine as far as comfort. It’s big enough that if I have to put a plate carrier underneath I can, plus winter wear. I like the bowman headset and the PTT button on my non-firing shoulder. The TQ pouch just ended up there, but never was in the way. Even shooting left handed, works fine.
Things to do: flat out the gear. Even though it’s well used, it’s too shiny. Gotta get dirty.
I found that camping is one thing, and moving into a RP or a FOB is totally different. I had so much crap just go to a training class it filled half my truck. That being said, I know I would pack for the mission and have the rest at another location, but if I had to get up and go, I’d be sucking – either on having too much, or not what I want. Did I need all that junk? No, but it made life comfortable. Guess we gotta get used to being uncomfortable.
Two things I want to menton. 1. Get good boots. Get more than one pair. Your feet are going to get wet. Boots with a flexible sole are a must for stalking. 2. Get good socks – wool socks with merino blend. Your feet are going to get wet, and then get cold.)
Leadership/listen to your people
This class is a start point for people that have never lead troops in the field you may have to. You will be tasked to take care of your team. You need to watch them, check their body language, understand they may be having difficulty, their limitations, and strengths. You can only do that by working with them.
Some things are obvious, some things are not. Talk to your team. Especially if you have more experience and they are green. It goes a long way. One young man on our squad had excellent ideas not just once, and we should have listened. We would have kicked even more ass than we did!
Finally: Field Hygiene.
If you can’t shower, you need to make sure you have some wet wipes to keep away the acid buildup and dirt. Check yourself and your people for ticks. Brush your teeth, keep yourself clean. Your gear is gonna get dirty, but if you smell like a stink-pit and the enemy gets close, they will smell you. The deodorant you put on will wear off the excess after a few hours. The 5th S of concealment is smell. Also if you’re overweight, clean out your belly button. That’s totally gross. Medicated body powder is like lubricant for your feet, crotch, and armpits. Use it.
All of you out there that I went to class with – you were amazing. I hope I get to work with you again in the future for any reason. Thank you so much for blessing me with your time, knowledge, and friendship.
Good luck out there.