Yeoman Tell In Pursuit of the Good Life

Storm Mountain Training Center Carbine II (CQB Prep)

Fresh out of the NRA Law Enforcement Patrol Rifle Instructor course, I received a message from Noah of Wise Men Company: “If I had a slot open for carbine-ii [now called Carbine-III (CQB Prep)] at Storm Mountain next weekend would you be interested and able to get away fri-sun?” Three hours later, after getting my ducks in a row, I simply replied: “Very interested and available.” The estimated round count was a bit daunting for someone paying for his own ammo: 2500 carbine + 350 handgun. “Not a deal-breaker, but trying to justify it.  What’s so great about this place?” So, he gave me a brief overview.

NRA LE Patrol Rifle Instructor

Noah and I first met at Direct Action Tactical, working through a potent cocktail of Krav Maga, Okinawan Kenpo, Brazilian Jujitsu and MCMAP with a former contractor. Now, he and Ben asked me to tag along to one of the most intense training facilities open to civilians in the United States.  Founded by former Army sniper Rod Ryan (PhD), Storm Mountain Training Center is located in the hills of northern West Virginia.

When we arrived Friday evening, we stowed some gear in the bunk house and then joined the instructors and other students in the adjacent classroom. After paperwork and introductions, we learned about Rod’s background, his training philosophy, and an outline of what to expect in the coming days.  And, he gave us some goals: safety, improvement, and fun. Safety violations can get you sent home with an invitation never to return.  Repeating faulty actions can cost you a case of yellow Monster.  But having fun?  Well, that just happened when everyone stayed safe and showed improvement.

After the classroom portion, we returned to the bunk house to compare notes, gear and expectations.  More cabin than barracks, we had our pick of dozens of wood bunks with mattresses, each with its own locker.  In the great room, there is a full kitchen, dining table, sofas and a TV.  The attached bathroom has numerous sinks, toilet stalls and a large common shower.  Students brought not only weapons and kit, but also smart phones, laptops, cameras, and drones.

The next morning, after grabbing some breakfast and kitting up, we hopped aboard country-style mass transit. Powered by John Deere and driven by Rod, everyone set their gear and ammo on the wagon, slung our weapons and mounted up.  With all thumbs-up, we were on the move, past the rappel tower and sniper ranges, en route to Range #5.  Each of the numerous ranges at Storm Mountain is purpose-built to teach a set of skills.

Storm Mountain mass transit

On our first morning, our task was to become familiar with qualification standards and set a baseline from which we could measure progress. We shot standard drills: Two from the ready, six from the ready, two-reload-two, and two-transition-two. To keep things moving, Rod split us into two relays.  One relay shot, while the other hydrated, topped up magazines and made minor adjustments. Never a wasted moment, each time we fired, we received specific feedback.  Each time we topped up magazines, it was time to get back on line.  We worked through reloading drills, shooting while moving, multiple targets while advancing and retreating before repeating the standard drills for time.

When we concluded the day’s curriculum, we were assigned some homework based on the day’s performance.  In our case, the class needed to work on smoothing out the reloading process, so we were assigned 100+ dry repetitions in the bunk house before bed.  But before we left the range, “Who wants to shoot 100 yard steel with pistols?” Nobody declined the offer.  With Rod spotting for us, we each had five rounds to make a hit.  After dialing us in, many of us did.  Alas, my shots left no mark that could be reported, so it wasn’t my day.

Back at the bunk house, some went looking for food, but others geared up for some sniper practice.  We joined them on an unknown distance steel range and observed the process.  After some photography and instruction, I was handed a single round of .308 and given a warm LWRC R.E.P.R.  Getting low, I finally found light in the high magnification optic, identified the target, held as instructed for conditions, and fired a hit at approximately 250 yards.  Work done, we hiked back, cleaned up, and drove into town for some food before retiring the day.

R.E.P.R. on the UD steel range

Day two began with a brief recap in the classroom, and then back on the wagon.  This time we arrived at Range #10 to practice shooting laterally moving targets while advancing and retreating.  Wise Men Company launched their drone to capture some aerial footage, and it returned unscathed.  The same could not be said, however, for the other drone in attendance.

As we practiced 2-man shoot-communicate drills, the second drone flew an aggressive pattern downrange behind the steel targets.  As the wind picked up, it struggled to stay in position, and drifted into a tree near the corner of the berm.  Striking a leafy branch, it fell to the ground in the line of fire.  It wasn’t exactly shot down, but it was shot… in the camera… while recording.  An expensive series of unfortunate events, but the owner shrugged it off.  He planned to upgrade the camera anyway.  So yeah, it was funny.

Normally, this would wrap up the course, but we all kept up, did our work, and earned some bonus material.  To preview Carbine III, Rod invited us to sample Range #14: “The L-Shape.”  Essentially two walls opposite two berms, it allows practice stacking, entering and clearing a single room.  We had various levels of experience with such tasks, from seasoned veterans to, well, me.  I learned enough to know I need to learn more, and enjoyed the newfound knowledge enough to want to learn more.

After cleaning up and packing our gear for home, we grabbed some cigars, made some plans and bid our farewells.  With some new knowledge and new Facebook friends, we headed home.  Listening to podcasts and humming a John Denver tune, we reflected on the weekend and began planning the next time a country road would take us home to this singular facility in West Virginia.

For more information about the Storm Mountain Training Center, including upcoming courses, please visit  You can learn more about Wise Men Company at


Yeoman Tell is a Christian homeschooled autodidact polymath from Pennsylvania. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science, a graduate certificate in geospatial intelligence, and is pursuing a master's degree in homeland security. He has formally studied religion, law, business, and four languages. He consults for small businesses, and is certified as an NRA Law Enforcement Patrol Rifle Instructor.