Yeoman Tell In Pursuit of the Good Life


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Storm Mountain Training Center Minute Man II

Minute Man II

September 29 – October 1, 2017

Prelude to a Sequel

It had been over a year since I last visited Rod Ryan at the Storm Mountain Training Center (SMTC).  That visit was a memorable introduction, so I had every intention of returning. Minute Man II offered me that opportunity, so I took it. To knock some of the rust off of my skills, the guys from Wise Men Company invited me to check zero and run some pistol drills at Palmyra Sportsmen’s Association. We met for breakfast at The Filling Station, and then headed to the range. Satisfied with out zeroes, we finalized some trip planning details and parted ways.

Travel & Arrival

About half of our classmates departed South Central Pennsylvania on Friday morning.  We threw everything into the truck beds, mounted up, verified navigation and communications, and headed for West Virginia. One of the guys from Wise Men Company had recently completed training with Humanitarian Aid Security Forces (HASF), and made sure that our radio comms improved from last year. The BaoFeng UV-5R was practically standard equipment, with a few mobile rigs thrown in for good measure, and we turned left-left-left into SMTC by late morning.

We settled in, claiming bunks and lockers, unpacking, and generally soaking in the atmosphere.  For most of us, returning to SMTC brought stories from previous visits, happy reunion of previous friendships, and anticipation of the weekend’s events.  In the evening, we spent some time in the classroom, (re)introducing ourselves, stating goals and expectations, going over the schedule, and revisiting safety concepts.

Saturday

With two dozen students, the class was large enough to split into two groups. Our cohort began Saturday morning with a carbine qualification course. Beginning at 100 yards, we worked out way in to the 7 yard line.  We then ran some familiar SMTC static drills: two rounds from the low ready and six rounds from the low ready.

After carbines and lunch, we moved to a pistol range. Set up with Tactical AR500 Targets (TAT) steel targets, which have a distinctive, resonant ring to them, we ran more standard drills. As we went, the instructors offered helpful suggestions to each student, ensuring that everyone improved from baseline.

After supper, we returned to the “L-shape” for some practice stacking on a door. Intended for entry practice, it offers wall and windows in front of a dirt berm. We ran this portion cold, again, to verify everyone’s baseline skill level before going hot.

Sunday

Carbine Field Ranges

The next morning, portions of the ground were still frosty in the shadows of the West Virginia hills, and our group proned out at the known distance  steel range.  The instructors asked for two hits on each selected target.  With a tap to the foot, each student would send two (or more) rounds down range, until the second ring returned from the steel target. One after another, down the line, crack-ring, crack-ring. “Do you see the targets at the top of the slag pile? Second target left of the SUV. Two hundred and fifty yards. When we tap you, send them.” Crack-ring, crack-ring. “Target in the tree line, up the hill from the right berm, four hundred yards. Send on command.” Crack-ring, crack-ring. There were higher targets in the distance, but the other half of our class were busy practicing vehicle counter-ambush immediate action and counter-ambush skills in that area.

Confident in our zeroes, it was time to add some adrenaline to the mix. The Stress Course combines running and gunning, along with crouching by barricades, crawling trough tunnels, climbing to shoot over cover, working around rocks and vehicles, as well as taking final support-side shots from about one hundred yards. I waited, and watched, and pondered. I removed my pistol rig, my sling, and pocketed a reload. When it was finally game time, I had my head right, but I was clearly winded by the end. Everyone was. And we even completed the “snack size” version, which began at about three hundred yards, rather than the usual four hundred yard mark.

Vehicle Counter-Ambush

After running our carbines in the field, we switched places with our classmates on the vehicle counter-ambush range. We loaded up our pistols, donned plates, and received some simple instructions from Rod. “When I call the ambush, repeat the call.  Get out of the vehicle, staying low.  Move to your firing positions. Engage the targets we call, until we call MOVE! We will then walk with you, calling targets as you move cover-to-cover. Keep shooting until you hit. Hitting cover will cost you a four-pack of Monsters.”

Ben from Wise Men Company and I got into the battered SUV, which seemed somehow less safe than in the car commercials, and took a deep breath.  “AMBUSH LEFT” Open the door, get low, MOVE!, to the rear axel, crack, crack, crack, ring, crack, ring, CLICK, clear a stovepipe, crack, crack, ring, MOVE!, MOVING!, crack, ring, crack, crack, CLICK, clear a stovepipe…” Well, I managed to drive a Glock 19 to failure. The course of fire expended magazines from Glock, Magpul, and ETS… each ripped from a stovepipe. “I’ve never seen a Glock do that,” said Rod. Neither had I. Add lube, no problem. I should have tried the sweep-tap recommended in the classroom, but I had not quite integrated the concept by that point. Ah, well. Next time.

Carbine CQB

After lunch, we went to one of the shoot houses, without ammo, since we would be using SRTA rounds. We removed our bolts and waited our turn. When the instructors called for our team, Ben and I went to the staging area, received and installed the training bolts in our carbines, and loaded up the magazines full or SRTA.

Scenario: Home invasion hostage situation. Multiple hostiles. Unknown architecture. Right hallway is off-limits. Solve the problem.

So, we stacked on the door. I signaled ready. Ben burst left into the hallway, as I followed. Hallway green. Doors everywhere. Which one first? Left is open, so I advised we go there. Stack and clear… Green. Back to the hall. Stack and clear… Green. Closed door across the hall. Stack and… BATHROOM! I was right in there with him, so we needed to clear the hallway again. Closed door on right. Stack and clear… Green. Where are the hostage and invaders? We cleared every door, right? $&*%! We missed a closed door beside the bathroom. FIX IT!!! Ben and I traded places, he stacked on me, and I kicked the door. Process of elimination. This was the room.  I should have driven the gun forward, but instead sighted on hostage-taker’s hair line. Two rounds… one right, one low. Too low. Not good.

Pistol CQB

Finally, we went to the pistol shoot house. It looks like a log cabin, with wood steps leading up to the deep front porch. Here’s the radio, there’s the trauma kit. This time, we stacked hot. Two at a time, we stacked, entered, and cleared the first two rooms. It went well, and to make things interesting, we all unloaded our pistols, and returned to the house for a few words of instruction about larger stacks. Now on a cold range, we practiced seven man stacks clearing four rooms and a hallway. It was complex, but made sense with practice. And I wasn’t the only one who thought it was complex. So did some Operators, who decided to replicate the architecture in Afghanistan. Complexity in training can improve thinking, saving lives. And saving lives is always top-of-mind at SMTC. Over the years, dozens of students have survived lethal force encounters within weeks of attending Storm Mountain, and they are justifiably proud of that fact.

Wrap-Up

Late Sunday afternoon, we received our certificates, talked about our experiences, distributed prizes to top shooters, cleaned the bunk house, and said our farewells. The Mountaineer was closed for renovations, so we continued on to, appropriately, Shooters. The bartender mentioned that someone had paid forward some beer for anyone in the military. As civilians who detest stolen valor, we politely declined, and paid for our food and drinks. On the road again, we arrived home in time to greet Monday. Well, most of us. One of us would continue driving home… to Missouri.

Equipment Notes

Precision Carbine

For the field portion of our rifle work, I ran my Gen 4 Frankenrifle. Is it the latest and greatest? No, but it’s built from research, experience, and preference. Based on a 16″ Columbia River Arms (Black Hole Weaponry) stainless steel 1×8 polygonal mated to a VLTOR MUR-1A upper, it runs on a Superlative Arms piston operating system with Leitner-Wise BCG parts and billet dust cover. The lower is from LANCO Tactical, built with a Rock River Arms National Match two-stage trigger group, and Battle Arms Development ninety degree throw ambidextrous selector. The stock is Magpul CTR with a Spike’s Tactical ST-T2 buffer, the grip is an ERGO, and the forearm is a Samson Evolution 7-EX.

Lunar Concepts

Last time I went to SMTC, I ran a Blackhawk rigger belt with a Fobus paddle. It was practical, but not smooth. This time, I was determined to improve my situation. I ordered a custom AllWrap and Cobra Foundation belts from Chris at Lunar Concepts. I’ve known Chris from his early Kydex period, and wanted to buy something Multicam from him for a while. So, we talked at the range before we left for West Virginia. He had a Glock 17 holster “laying around,” and set it up with the appropriate belt loops for my new system. The system performed perfectly all weekend. My times improved over the Fobus, and I could ditch the whole rig easily when running carbine-only. I’m very pleased, and highly recommend his work.

IC13

Wise Men Company had introduced me to IC13 Arms, and their team were represented at Minute Man II. It wasn’t until I returned from SMTC that I finally placed an order for their Mount Up!. I should have done it sooner! It’s a great product. It installed easily, is (over?)built, and eliminates the compromise between readiness, security, and display. With the Mount Up!, I can see and access my carbine, without the danger of leaving it sitting around the house. Brilliant.


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About

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.