Got the honor of a course review from the last Scout Course from an incredible student, fellow Patriot and Survivalist, WWES. I’ve got another Scout Course coming up in March. Train while you can and make it count. -NCS
Having attended NC Scout’s course last weekend, I wanted to offer up a writeup of some highlights from the course. Before I do that though, I want to start out by saying that this was my first training activity, other than attending a few Appleseed shoots in the past. I have been wanting to attend one of NC Scout’s classes for quite a while now, but have been dragging my feet for one reason or another. I sincerely wish I had dived in and taken one sooner, it was an amazing experience, and I definitely plan to be a return student. I feel very blessed to live relatively close to the training facility.
I went knowing that I am very green, and with the outlook that I wanted to absorb every last piece of knowledge and skill possible while I was there, even if it was something that I felt I was already familiar with. I believe that this is very important for anyone taking any kind of training. If you don’t bring a teachable attitude with you, you have already put out a huge roadblock to your own success.
The course started on Friday, December 11th at 9AM. We met up at part of NC Scout’s training center, started getting acquainted, and went over the plan for the next few days. After doing this, we all loaded up and moved to the actual training site. Our group had approximately 15 students, which I feel like was a very good size. We had enough to conduct training activities, but not so many as to be cumbersome. The age range was all the way from early teens to Social Security age. A good portion of the group was ex military, there was one person who is currently serving, and there were those of us who had no previous training. I feel like this was a benefit because we got to practice operating with individuals who had varying capabilities, experience, and skill, and we were able to learn from each other, as well as from NC Scout.
Once we reached the training site, since some of the group had fairly complex tents, we worked on making camp before going to the range, in order to avoid having to make camp in the dark. Once that goal was accomplished, we moved as a group down to the range, spent some time on a concise range safety briefing, and proceeded to go over the concepts behind zeroing, then worked to zero our weapons at the 25M line, and once that was done to everyone’s satisfaction we broke for a short lunch break. After lunch we moved out to a longer distance shooting position, finalized our zeroes, and spent some time learning new shooting positions and techniques, including buddy supported shooting. I have been shooting since childhood, but the buddy supported shooting was new to me. While I won’t say that it is pleasant to be the supporting buddy, it was an excellent learning tool, and I appreciate that it was part of the training, since it gets you out of your comfort zone and builds confidence. What good is training if you just practice things that you already know?
As a side note, I would like to add in that I do greatly appreciate the fact that NC Scout was very safety conscious, without being overbearing. Having worked a range with teenagers quite a few times, it is very easy to be so overbearing that you reduce the effectiveness of the instruction, and it is also easy to be way to casual. There was an excellent balance in this course- we stayed safe, but I didn’t feel like I had R. Lee Ermey standing over my back just waiting for an opportunity to jump my case.
Once we finished all of our shooting on paper we spent some time engaging steel out to 300m. Being my first experience doing this, it was very instructive, not to mention a heck of a lot of fun. Shooting targets that are painted to blend in, while lying in grass, shortly before dark, with the sun setting to the side, teaches you something about the capabilities and drawbacks of your weapon system. And by the way, the AK’s fared pretty doggone well even out to 300M.
At the end of range time, we moved back to camp, had a bite to eat around the campfire, finished setting up camp, and spent some “classroom” time learning several different principles of working as a cohesive team. We also got a chance to look through several different generations of night vision equipment, and a few different pairs of thermals. Having never used either, it definitely changed my thoughts on the value of this equipment. Once class time was over we spent the rest of the evening around the fire chatting, which, to be honest, could be considered class time as well based off of the things I learned from NC Scout and the other folks attending.
We got our start at 8AM, gathered around the remnants of the campfire, and spent some time on concepts of camouflage and concealment, where I believe every single person took quite a few notes. We got a chance to move out and conceal (or at least try to conceal) ourselves in the woods while part of the class tried to find us. We got some awesome lessons on what does and doesn’t work and why. We also had demonstrated to us the importance of having your weapon camouflaged (I’m now fully convinced to paint my “pretty” rifles)
After our camouflage and concealment lessons, we spent some time learning concepts behind stalking, crawling, situational awareness, team movement, patrolling, and ambushing. This time was mixed between time spent learning by doing, and time spent gathered up as a class, writing down what we were learning (at least quite a few of us were taking notes) in camp. Again, we got a chance to hydrate and eat some lunch, before moving back out and practicing what we were learning. I will say that practicing with your teammates really helps drive home the lessons that you are being taught, and makes everything stick, as well as giving you a very good view of exactly what does and does not work with your gear. I personally figured out quickly that I had way too much junk on my load carrier that was not needed, as well as discovering that I was wearing a pack that I needed almost nothing out of, although that would most likely change if we were talking about a multi-day patrol.
We spent some time eating supper and waiting for darkness to fall so that we could practice night movements. During this time, we also spent some more time in the “classroom”
Once we were into full blown darkness, we moved out and practiced some team movements, during which we learned fairly quickly what NOT to do, as well as being taught just how important comms are to small teams trying to coordinate movements. We started with a clear-cut plan, but once comms went down, so did our plan. We bumbled around for a while, and ended up in a situation where, had it been for real, we would have been taking out our own guys. NC Scout spent some time explaining very clearly to us what we did wrong, why it was wrong, the real-world consequences for doing it, and how to fix it. We started over, and did much better the next time around, although just like every other training iteration, we were given advice on how to tighten things up. Once we finished up we returned to camp at approximately 10:00 PM and spent some time around the fire together. Just like the previous night, the learning didn’t stop just because the official class time was over. There were people there from at least 5 different states, the fellowship was great, and quite a few of us had brought variations of local goodies to snack on and drink around the fire. Some good rye whiskey, a hot campfire on a cool night, and some good people, makes for a wonderful way to spend the evening.
We once again started at 8:00 AM. We started our day by spending a little more time talking about raids, and then proceeded to plan one. Once we had all of our planning squared away we moved out and conducted our raid against the OpFor. Once the raid was finished we worked on our exfil back to camp, going a different way than what we did on our infiltration. We ended up getting ambushed part way back to camp and had to “fight” our way back up a hill as a cohesive group. It was definitely more strenuous than what we had been doing, but it was exciting, and an adrenaline rush at the same time. Once we had completed pushing our way up the hill we went over a few more points before moving back to camp. At this point we broke camp, came together for an AAR, and much contact info was exchanged before we all headed back to our homes. Along with the skills that were learned, the networking with some amazing patriots from all over was an inspiring thing, and I feel that I was truly blessed to make the acquaintance during this training. It’s easy to get discouraged when you see all that is going on in our country, but I saw with my own eyes that there are still awesome patriots out there, from all age groups, who are doing more than just being keyboard warriors. It was an honor and a privilege to train with them, and I’d be more than happy to have any of them by my side or watching my back. And while I know we all have plenty to learn (and that applies to ALL of us, everywhere) I’m damn sure glad that my classmates aren’t on the other side. As for myself, I know that I did a lot wrong and have a lot left to learn, but I definitely picked up a lot of new skills, and did some sharpening on the few that I already had.
A few highlights that I took away from the course, and things that I learned about myself:
Comms are CRITICAL. Unsecured, they can be an enormous detriment. Comms are an area I need to work on ASAP.
NODS and Thermals are definitely a game changer when used properly. We all need to be working on acquiring them if at all possible, while that window of opportunity is open.
I don’t think anyone is going to mistake me for someone who lives in a gym in my free time, but I also don’t look like I live on a couch eating chips and pizza (or at least I don’t think I do). I need to focus on getting in better shape.
Confidence in your team is critical. One person can’t do it all, and you have to be able to trust your teammates.
Leadership is important. You have to have someone in charge, and you need an order of succession. If everyone does what they want, chaos ensues. At the same, time, your leader needs to be willing and able to listen to input from teammates, and be willing to act on that advice. They also have to be aware of how their team is doing.
The minimum amount of gear is best. Don’t carry a ton of crap you don’t need.
Wool socks and good boots are very important. I had decent boots, and they weren’t up to the task.
Choose clothing that matches your environment. Fall/winter in NC is not the best place to wear dark camo patterns. A pine or cedar forest probably wouldn’t be an appropriate place to wear desert camo.
If you’re crawling, drag your pack behind you, don’t wear it. You might blend in well, but that pack makes you look like a giant turtle. If any of my classmates are reading this you can definitely attest to this. My pack made me stick out like a sore thumb.
Camo painted rifles (and gear if it needs it) are great. Black, less so.
You aren’t ever going to be silent while moving, but it is fairly easy to move VERY quietly once you learn how.
Work and fight from a position of strength. Choose your time and place, don’t let the adversary do that.
I could list a LOT of other things I have in my notes from last weekend, but what would the fun be in that? Reach out to NC Scout and take his class. I can’t imagine that you will be disappointed. More likely you will be very satisfied. His course was very well put together, it moves at a very good pace, and it is thorough without being overwhelming. Also, he is an excellent teacher, and I say that as a high school teacher that has nearly a decade of experience teaching hands-on curriculum. I would do well to do as good of a job with my students as what was done in this class.