State-of-the-Art Tactical Training
In the near distance the majestic snow-covered Ruby Mountains of Elko County, Nevada, awaken to the morning sun. It is 5 AM and some of us are up and moving around readying ourselves for a day of state-of-the-art tactical training. We are at Team Torn in Wells, Nevada (http://www.teamtorn.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/torntactical/)
Scenic Training Environment
Team Torn’s training facility is located on 643 beautiful, wooded acres, surrounded with access to more than a thousand miles of roads, trails, and off-road terrain. The indoor classroom accommodates up to 20 people to ensure small class size for personalized instruction.
The drive up the mountain to Team Torn’s base-camp follows a miles-long dirt road that is sometimes scared by gullies but the magnificent views offer a beautiful distraction from the bumpy ride up the hill. As we arrived at the top the first thing we saw was the training building and a line-up of yellow and black side-by-sides and orange and while dirt bikes.
The training building was designed to accommodate a 12-man Special Forces A-Team. The bunk area has six bunk beds and one single bed. A gun safe stores all the weapons we brought. Outside the bunk room there is a deck with grilling equipment which we used to grill steaks, burgers, and bratwurst. Inside, on the first floor there is a full-service kitchen, a weight room, a full-service lavatory and a large garage area where the off-road equipment is stored.
From the outside first-floor deck, we walked up a flight of stairs to a deck offering a view of Nevada’s majestic Ruby Mountains. Walking inside, there is a lounge with a well-stocked bar, including beer crafted by a neighbor of our hosts. Next to the lounge and bar there is a comfortable classroom.
Our hosts, Curt and Catherine (husband and wife), welcomed us and started to serve up beverages to our thirsty group of 11 eager students. Both Curt and Catherine are Marine Corps veterans. Curt was in Marine Special Operations and then in special unit comprised of warriors from different military branches. Catherine held the rank of Major and specialized in Civil Affairs and had some very “interesting” and dangerous assignments when she was also attached to the same special unit as Curt.
Off-Road Tactical Driving
Our training began the day after we arrived. Our first training day was on off-road dirt bikes and side-by-side four-wheelers. On the first morning, our 11-man group was split with half learning to ride the dirt bikes and the other half riding the side-by-sides. Then, the groups switched roles in the afternoon. Everyone had a chance to experience the bikes and the side-by-sides. At the end of the day each of us had the choice of riding the dirt bikes or the side-by-sides to participate in a 20 mile ride through some of the roughest terrain many of us had ever seen…and the word rough is an understatement.
The dirt bike instruction was provided by an instructor named Gary, a retired Army 5th Special Forces 1st Sergeant (we think that was his rank because we heard Curt refer to him as “Top” which is the nickname for a 1st Sergeant) who was a recipient of the Army’s Silver Star, the nation’s second highest award for heroism and valor. He also was assigned to a special military unit composed of warriors from different military branches and units. He is an expert dirt biker and his instruction helped those of us without dirt bike experience to get those vehicles moving (smile).
“Unknown Distance” Shooting
On the morning of day 2 we zeroed our carbines in preparation for “unknown distance” shooting and engaging the “Giffy Challenge.” The unknown distance shooting was done with our carbines from wooden decks that were positioned in different locations on the Team Torn 643 acres. We used range finders to identify the unknown distances and then used our carbines to shoot at the metal targets, some of which were more than 400 yards in the distance.
The Giffy Challenge
The Giffy Challenge was something altogether different. The challenge was named in honor of Marine Special Operations Gunnery Sergeant Jonathan Gifford a Navy Cross recipient who was killed in action while attempting to rescue wounded Marines and coalition troops(http://www.iraqwarheroes.org/2012/giffordjw.htm). Team Torn is located at a 7000 foot elevation. The challenge course runs uphill for several hundred meters from the base camp at a about a 30 degree angle.
There are several shooting stations along the course set apart at 50 to 100 meter distances. At each station we would stop, locate the target at an unknown distance using range finders, aim our carbines, and take a shot. Some of us hit the targets with our first shot, others with second or third shots. We knew we hit the metal targets when we heard the auditory feedback of the round hitting the metal. The targets we engaged were at the following distances.
Station 1–227 meters distance
Station 2–178 meters distance
Station 3–327 meters distance
Station 4–245 meters distance
Station 5–330 meters distance
The first time on the Giffy Challenge we walked the course. The second assault on that course saw only a handful of us actually running the course.
On day 3, we learned land navigation from Gary (the dirt bike expert). Gary is also a well-known, highly respected, and highly skilled land navigation expert. He taught us about how topographic maps are designed, how to read the features on the maps, how to pinpoint specific locations on the maps, how to plot a course on the maps, and how to enter map coordinates into our handheld GPS devices.
The test of our land navigation abilities happened after the classroom portion of the instruction. While in the classroom using our maps and grids, we mapped out a course that would lead us to four locations on the maps. We were organized into smaller teams. With our maps, compasses, and GPS devices in hand we followed our azimuths to each location and found our way back to home-base (the team of Duffy, Duffy, Hammond, and Wah completed the course first–way ahead of the others <smile>)
Handgun Skill Training
Our next training session saw us using our handguns. Joe and Curt were our instructors for the pistol portion of the training. Joe was a Marine Special Operations sniper. We engaged in several hours of shooting our pistols at targets set at varying distances.
The Last Day
Our last day of training, which was pistol shooting, ended around 8 PM. By the end of the last day we were physically exhausted but emotionally pumped up. We had great instruction, interesting training activities, superb trainers, and a welcoming and warm “after-training” environment provided by our hosts, Curt and Catherine and our other instructors, Gary and Joe.
Driving down the mountain we came upon our host, Gary, driving a very large bulldozer up to his base camp. He won the bulldozer betting on the McGregor vs. Mayweather fight <smile>. He was driving the bulldozer to his shooting range with the intent of enlarging the range. We stopped to visit with him and to thank him for days we spent with him, his wife, Gary, and Joe.
The 2.5 hour drive back to Salt Lake City was made easier by our memories of three days of state-of-the-art tactical training.