This is a follow up report of the Brushbeater Scout Course, as attended by myself.
I do apologize for the delay in posting this, but it’s been a long, busy and hectic few weeks
since I attended the aforementioned course.
The course was held in Washington state, in a wilderness area in relative close proximity to
Mount Rainier, the US Army’s Yakima Firing Range and Joint Base Lewis-McCord. As a side
note, helicopters were frequently sighted near the assembly area and over our training
grounds, to include a formation of six Apache attack helicopters.
NC Scout/Brushbeater, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan and a former Sergeant was the
instructor, who incorporated his experiences and training as a member of one of the Army’s
Long Range Surveillance units, into the course.
Approximately 20 people attended, and ran the gamut from novice to well experienced
shooters, most of whom were from the region, and were an interesting mix of demographics
and ages, and consisted of mostly men with several women in attendance. The weapons used
were a mix of factory, mil-spec varieties, home brew weapons, and the state of the art, most if
not all in the AR-15 pattern in 5.56mm NATO caliber. The same could also be said for
magazines and other accessories, and optics and mounts, though at least one or two students
had sound suppressors. That was also the case wrt the students’ clothing, footwear and field
gear choices, including NODs and thermal viewers.
The weather was warm and sunny during daylight hours, with increasing winds and cold during
the evening and night time hours. The environment was also dusty and rocky, with hills,
mountains and canyons, sage brush and scrub, as well as of old growth pine forests with large
specimens of trees/Ponderosas. Several herds of elk were frequently observed, as well as scat
left behind by bear and other wildlife. In addition, ticks were a recurring problem, though I
personally did not have any issues in that regard.
The course took place over a period of three days, and was broken down into the following
- Day 1 — AM assembly, meet and greet; movement to the encampment, setup of bivouac site,
safety briefing; movement to the range area, with sighting in of rifles and verification of zeroes
for all students at 25, 50, and 100 yards; instruction and practice of shooting from the prone,
kneeling, and partner assisted positions; engagement of small and large steel plate targets at
400 yards, both individually and in two man teams; movement to the bivouac area for debrief
and dinner. The evening’s activities focused on discussions of politics and current SITREP at
large, followed by a familiarization activity with thermal devices and NODs.
- Day 2 — breakfast and hygiene, followed by morning briefing; movement to forested areas on
site, and familiarization with color patterns as found in nature, as well as practical application of
camouflage to gear, weapons and personal clothing to blend in with same; and demonstration
of individual stalking movement techniques, followed by practical exercises with students
organized into two teams. Movement back to bivouac followed by demonstrations of hand
signals, and basic fire team and squad movement techniques and formations, as well as types
of ambush techniques, followed by a practical exercise with the aforementioned two teams, in
the field. Return to bivouac again, with safety briefing wrt night time movements, and use of
blank ammunition and blank firing adapters (BFAs), both of which were issued to students.
Dinner, followed by another discussion of politics and SITREP occurred, after which a return to
the field under darkness for night time patrolling/ambush exercises, in which both teams
practiced movement techniques under darkness with and without use of thermal devices and
NODs. Following the exercise, a return to the bivouac and lights out.
- Day 3 — breakfast and hygiene, followed by a detailed discussion wrt weapons maintenance,
and needed spare parts for use in the field. Following that, both teams prepared Operations
Orders for a given scenario, after which, both teams were transported to the field to engage
each other in patrol/ambush operations. Following debrief in the the field, the teams returned
to the bivouac where NCS engaged the students in an After Action Review of the course,
including a sustain/improve feedback of his instruction. Afterwards, the course concluded, the
students were awarded patches for participation and proceeded to break down camp and
return to the assembly area.
Here follows, in no particular order, my own personal reflections and observations, as well as
my takeaways from lesson materials, for both myself and other students’ consideration:
- Keep your rifle, it’s parts and related equipment mil-spec from stem to stern, and
master both it and marksmanship fundamentals in that format, especially when starting
out. Make upgrades and modifications based on environmental and tactical conditions,
and personal needs, as time goes on. Avoid “bling” and fanciness, and focus on quality,
simplicity, robustness and practicality, with an emphasis on RELIABILITY and
ACCURACY at all times.
- You must have good quality, well made, rugged, supportive footwear in this and related
endeavors. My high top Oboz only went so far, and did not provide adequate support,
and gave me heel blisters by day two. I switched over to my well-worn, low cut Oboz
and did fine for the remainder of the course. Still, what I would have given for a good
pair of Danner, Saloman, Scarpa, Lowa or even Altama basic issue boots at the time! If
your feet give out, YOU’RE DONE FOR.
- Physical fitness and stamina, weight loss, adequate rest and mental clarity and
discipline are my new endeavors following this course. That, and a positive mental
attitude. I was pretty stiff and sore for about a week or so following the course. As well,
I was not adequately prepared in those regards for this course, namely due to fatigue
and frustration from my current work, circumstances and physical status. Also, allow
plenty of time for mental and physical preparation for this (or any other) training course.
You will not “rise to the occasion” as you think you will, without any of that.
- Related to the above, do not hesitate to seize upon leadership opportunities as they
arise and give it your 110% best efforts. Make a decision, and stick with it, without
second guessing or self doubt, for those show under duress, with potentially negative
- Lighten your load as much as possible for both the encampment and while out in the
field. This will greatly reduce fatigue, frustration and physical strain, especially as
operations drag on for days. MINIMALISM!
- ADEQUATE HYDRATION AT ALL TIMES, regardless of weather or atmospheric
conditions. Don’t let Mother Nature give you nasty surprises that slowly sneak up on
you. The same goes for sunscreen, head coverings and clothing.
- As taught in class, obtain a complete spare bolt carrier group from a quality
manufacturer that is headspaced to your weapon by a professional gunsmith, to carry
into the field with you. That, and spare springs and small parts. “Two is one, one is
- Learn and master other essential, fundamental skills: radio use, compass use and land
navigation, reading and use of topographic maps and relating that information to actual
terrain features in the field, knife sharpening, first aid and BLS, individual stalking
movement techniques to maximize stealth and minimize detection, and basic outdoor/
woodsman and wilderness survival skills.
- The heavier grain weight, match grade ammunition I brought to the course did
exceedingly well, and I will focus on additional procurement of same going forward.
With that said, I would love to try this again with standard M193 and M855 ammunition
for comparison, and to prepare for the possibility of a “bare bones/down to the wire”
scenario wrt ammunition availability.
- Do consider a revamp of your personal gear/LBE, from the first all the way through the
third line. You could really use some streamlining and increased efficiency in how and
what you carry in the field.
- Paint that weapon!
- Get to work on your ghillie cover!
- Do not let your frustrations with yourself get the better of you. Be patient, and
remember, you’re here to learn, especially from your mistakes. Better now, than later
when it’s too late. And also, HAVE FUN WHILE DOING THIS.
Many thanks to Brushbeater for the excellent block of instruction, as always. And for your
service. And for keeping it fun, while challenging.
And many thanks to my fellow students for the fellowship, and for making it a great experience