I had the pleasure of taking a 4 day mancation hosted by TMTorn Adventures. It was wildly educational and intense fun in a relaxed and super safe atmosphere. I learned effective combat techniques, shot lots of guns, rode ATVs & dirt bikes and enjoyed great food and drinks during the all inclusive getaway at their camp.
Paul or Muggs McCoy will meet you right off of I-80 in an LTATV to lead you back to their 5,000 square foot facility. The first thing you might notice is that there are no power wires leading up to this place. Their whole facility is entirely off the grid but lacks nothing so far as technology is concerned. Protected by a digital video security system, connected with satellite broadband internet (no cell signal out here but there is Wifi!) and wired with an audio system embedded throughout the entire facility hooking us up with music throughout! It’s powered by solar and supported by a backup generator running on propane that automatically kicks in when the batteries get low. The whole facility is awesome from the vault to the kitchen and bunks to the bar.
Day 1 – Carbines
Upon arrival we unloaded our personal effects in to the barracks and guns in to the vault. We were immediately presented with a choice of activities. Jumping on the first opportunity we got to shoot guns we opted to go to the pistol range and shoot carbines and pistols! We started with a classroom education to cover safety and outline what we’re going to learn before quickly heading to the range. I learned more about shooting carbines in the first hour with Muggs McCoy than I can recall ever learning prior. Standard safety aside this education included great knowledge including understanding how (and why) to shoot at different distances. My biggest takeaway was actually just a small tip that really helped my accuracy with pistols and that was to say “could it be clearer, could it be clearer” while focusing on the clarity front reticle allowing me to press the trigger without anticipating the shot. As I write this it sounds like the tip wouldn’t be very useful and it’s result in slow shots but it hugely increased the accuracy of my failure drill shot.
After a couple hours on the short range we broke for lunch and then setup on the shooting deck which is a longer distance range having targets at varying distances (300 to 400 yards) with varying vertical differences as none of the targets were at a level horizontal plane with the shooting deck. Muggs taught us how to hit our distant targets fairly rapidly from a prone shooting position. I definitely leveled up my knowledge and consequently skill. I’m now able to comfortably hit targets at 350+ yards out with a really high rate of success on iron sites or red dot optics. It feels really good to pull the trigger, wait a moment and hear the “ting” as the bullet hits 10″x10″ metal target. I’m also now able to more effectively call my shot if I miss, a skill I definitely didn’t have before arriving.
After the sun moved west pulling light off the targets we put the guns back in the vault and transitioned to a little casual trail riding. TMTORN has multiple trainers for dirt bikes and side by side off-road insanity. After cruising around for a while I asked Muggs for a short ride in the vehicle he uses for the Vegas to Reno off-road race. I imagine he was keeping it tame for me but it was an awesome ride ripping around as a passenger in what is probably the fastest off-road vehicle I’ve ever been in.
As the sun started to relax against the hills to the west we all sat down for a great dinner prepared by Barb, the mind behind the kitchen. She planned and prepared all the meals while we were there and it was like we never left home. Everyone there was poking a little fun at me because I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed the food (read: I ate a whole lot). ^_^
After dinner we all reclined to the bar and hung out until our exhaustion lead us to the bunks. Since riding off-road was pretty dusty this is also the time people broke off to the showers to get fresh and comfy. Joe and I had cigars on the bar patio while relaxing in recliners and trying to identify the constellations. SkyView is a sweet app to help out with that endeavor.
Day 2 – Ropes Rescue
After everyone ate an awesome breakfast served up by Barb we all geared up for some off-road riding to where we would learn a lot about effectively using ropes for rescue purposes. This course was lead by Gary Presson who’s got a ton of history in rope rescue and land navigation. This of course was not without incident as I accidentally took on a tree while riding in what the guys called “spruce jousting”. I, of course, ended up falling off my dirt bike (it’s in the video). Fortunately these guys equip us all with full gear so the only thing that got scratched was my ego. ^_^
After being the victim of a tree assault I was volunteered to be the [injured] guy who was rescued on a gurney and towed up a massive hill by two rescue techs. We learned how to prepare the ropes using mechanical advantage so the rescue techs could be lowered down the hill to strap me in to the gurney and bring me back up to safety.
The second part of the course used the same ropes configuration to bring me and the big 450 dirt bike I was riding up the same extreme hill. Using just man-power and ropes you would think it would have been a lot more difficult than it really was to get me and my bike up the hill. Rope rescue is definitely something I’m interested in learning more about.
As a final demonstration, using an even simpler configuration of ropes and pulleys we learned how to lift a side by side (light atv) up so you could change the in the field without jacks. I don’t have rope gear at home but this demonstration and education has me about convinced that I should acquire a simple set of gear with a few key pieces to allow similar recovery operations. I spend a lot of time outdoors, camping and off-roading and can think of quite a few instances where I would have been able to put this knowledge to great use.
We headed back to base and spent some more time in the classroom before heading to the short range again for more exercises with pistols. We reinforced what we had learned the day prior and added some new skills. After a lot of shooting we were allowed to practice at our own pace and really set the actions we learned to memory under the watchful eye of Muggs.
As the day started to close we headed back to the classroom for a course on situational awareness. Most of us are pretty darn unaware of what’s going on around us and this class shed a lot of light on how to not only be more aware but also what to do with that information. I learned that we already have the skills to identify the anomalies that occur around us, we just have to be conscious enough to be aware of our surroundings and not hide in our own personal bubble. There’s no way you can be aware of your surroundings if you’re staring at your phone. My takeaway was that we should all be a little more present in our surroundings like when we’re driving a car. You’re always looking ahead and paying attention to what’s in front of you but you’re aware of most of the other vehicles within your proximity. You act on a problem when you identify it potentially exists. You don’t have to wait until a swerving car hits you to slow down and move out of the way. This analogy wasn’t taught to us, that’s just my takeaway. When you enter a restaurant and are scanning around looking for a table, it doesn’t take much extra effort to see the people in the building as well. It also doesn’t take much extra effort to intentionally sit in a safer position then with your back to the door or the general majority of activity. I took away a lot from this class and am actively practicing what I learned in attempt to always have some situational awareness.
Day 3 – Combatives & Off-Road Adventures
The combatives course was a lot of information to take in both physically practicing hand to hand combat and learning the mind set of the situation. The primary takeaway from this for me was that if you avoided a fight then you won it. The secondary takeaway was that if I can’t avoid being attacked then I should strike first and strike hard in such a way as to disable the attacker. If I learned anything from the situational awareness class it’s very likely I would be able to avoid physical violence entirely but if I’m playing Pokemon GO in an alley behind a bar capturing water Pokemon and an aggressive person attempts to start a fight, this education taught me how to best react. In short, you take a non aggressive posture with your hands up, palms out & elbows in which is also a sign of submission. If I can’t diffuse the situation, based on how large the attacker is in comparison to me I’ll use one of a small handful of attacks to seriously injure the attacker which should stop them long enough for me to get away.
Switching gears, everyone got geared up for a long ride. We loaded up the side by side’s and jumped on the dirt bikes to go for a long 5 hour ride through the trails around the TMTORN facility.
Before the last day came to an end Paul took the whole crew out to a near-by hot spring to relax and enjoy an amazing natural hot spring while watching eagles fly over a near by bluff. Everyone really enjoyed the hot spring, relaxing as we talked about how great a time we had there.
The whole experience at TMTORN was pretty surreal. I could not have imagined it without actually going there and experiencing it. It was definitely information overload and when it was time to go I realized that what I had learned was hardly the tip of the iceberg. I’m already working on scheduling a return visit, this time with my wife who I know will love to absorb everything as much as I do. Even though I reference this as a mancation and for the most part relate to the activities as ‘manly’ things, I’m excited to see how they tailor the education to women. I know it’ll be equally awesome, if not more so.
Check out the Cirriculum offered by TMTORN at www.weaponsandsurvival.com. If you know me or are interested in taking a 4 day all-inclusive excursion with me at TMTORN then contact me! I’m working on planning my next visit and I think it’d be awesome if I could get a group of 7+ people to go with Z and I!