I never made it past Webelos so my early development was lacking. I was recently reminded of this when I traveled to the far east (Culpeper VA) for a training conference and my piss poor planning resulted in a piss poor performance. The Mid Atlantic TacCon is a conglomeration of like-minded instructors brought together by ShivWorks’ Craig Douglas and truly the most exciting learning environment I’ve been apart of in my 25 years in this vocation.
My unpreparedness. When I read the training schedule I initially picked all the classes that make me the most unsettled. I picked all the “mat area” classes because I’m the most uncomfortable with the hands-on stuff. I’m a gun guy so there isn’t much that stresses me out when it comes to shooting card board targets that don’t shoot back. The conference was held on a fairly rustic piece of property noted by the use of Porta-Johns and hand washing stations described in the email informational updates. The lectures were being held in two large tents powered by a generator and vendors were on site stocked to sell us lunch. With all this upfront info you’d think I would question “mat area #1 and mat area #2”, but I didn’t. I totally assumed that there was going to be a flat, clean, soft and dry matted training area, so I took off to Virginia with everything but what I needed.
Assuming I would be rolling around on a matted training space I packed MMA shorts, dry fit shirts and wrestling shoes… By nine o’clock in the morning of the first day I was soaked through, nearly hypothermic, covered in red Virginia clay and wet grass/straw clippings.
What I quickly realized while trying to move around on a freshly mowed Christmas Tree field in “squishy shoes” is what Craig Douglas (ECQC creator) has been trying to tell me for five years. You’ve got to wear boots. If not boots at least mid hikers and make sure the color is not tan (the new black) so you don’t get picked out in a crowd as “that guy”. I’ve rebelled against this because, face it, I’m most comfortable close to bare foot as possible regardless of the weather. I’ve also completely healed my feet from two intensely painful bouts of plantar fasciitis by going “free” and getting rid of shoes with aches or substantial sole construction. Every ECQC class I’ve attended (5 now) I’ve witnessed the launching of a squishy shoe into orbit. Sometime during what Craig calls the FUT (F***ed up tangle), the clash of humanity at collision or in the clinch a shoe goes flying. It’s always a tennis shoe or variant that’s not fully covering the ankle and not fully strapped on. This has happened to me more that once and we all laugh when it happens but in the wet Christmas tree field I wasn’t amused.
Now for pants. I’ve been on a search for some good durable, comfortable tactical pants. My closet is full of $50 cool guy “school clothes” pants and none of them really fit well. Nothing really beats a beat up pair of Carhart’s and if you don’t want to be picked out as “that guy” denim is always a great choice. Last year I attended an 80-hour firearms course in 100 degree temperatures and the pants that were the most comfortable were a couple pair of old jeans. Yes a drawback is the lack of cargo pockets but I found that making some adjustments to my bat belt I was able to go without loose ammo banging around in a pocket. Also with the popularity of tactical zombie assault vests I didn’t need to stuff my pockets full. When I head to Phoenix next month for SouthNarc’s ECQC I’ll be wearing jeans along with my new boots (I got my first pair of Rocky Sv2’s thanks to Vancouver PD’s Chris Leblanc for the suggestion) for the live fire and both “embrace the suck” sessions. I’ll let you know how that goes.