Sunday, January 25, 2009

5th Annual National Winter BoB Exercise

We joined with old friends and made new ones. We wore t-shirts and sweated and we donned polar fleece and shivered in the cold. We hiked down groomed trails and we stumbled through rocks and briars. We laughed around a large group blaze and we silently contemplated life around small personal campfires. We enjoyed sunshine and we put up with some light sleet. We had folks who have been doing this for decades and others who just became aware a few weeks ago. We had formal instruction, impromptu classes and we goofed around. We built shelters and we set up tents. We sat in chairs, on stools and on the ground. This all occurred as we joined with like minded individuals and participated as a group in the 5th Annual National Winter BoB Exercise.

Every year we pick a winter weekend months in advance and declare it the “National Winter BoB” weekend. Presumptuous of us, I know - but some friends and I came up with the idea 5 years ago so I reckon it’s okay. The idea is to take your BoB and head out to your own little slice of timber/desert/prairie/swamp/mountain and live for a couple days. Test your gear in winter conditions. Since we all “have lives” we have to plan this pretty far in advance and we do our best to pick a cold weekend. This year temps were far from cold – I think they ranged from the mid-sixties to the low 20s. Ah well, what can ya do?

The event grows larger every year from a humble beginning of just a few individuals to this year’s crew consisting of teams and individuals from various places and totaling 14 hearty souls in all. Some convoyed from hundreds of miles away while others arrived individually but all linked up within a small window of time and moved to our mountainous “bug out location”. Actually, the drill scenario was that we were enroute to our BOL when an EMP killed the BOVs so we all had to dismount, secure our BOBs and continue on foot (how’s that for acronym heavy?)

We rucked for less than a mile to an area selected for the event but it was enough for some folks to realize (as we do every year) that their BoBs were just too darn heavy. Everyone made it in good order though. In fact, we took the opportunity to move in a secure and efficient manner with the crew broken down into three sub units. Our point man encountered a hostile varmint during the patrol and quickly dispatched it so we all arrived safe and unharmed.

We took some time establishing camp and getting to know each other and then it was time to train. We had classes on trapping beavers and raccoons and rabbits. We hiked through the woods, up and down hills, over rocks and through brambles. We purified water and built fires. In fact, I had the great pleasure to see one of my former students teach an excellent bow drill fire class to the group. We had classes on firearms and we had some range time. We used gear that worked well and we used gear that failed. We talked about God, and politics, and movies, and kids, and critters and gear, and the economy and…well we talked late into the night (early in the morning) each evening around campfires that dotted the woods.

As it is every year, the time went by much too fast and we all had to pack up and get back to reality.
If you have not yet taken your BoB out for a rigorous test run I highly encourage you to do so. As the man who named the National Weekend puts it – “if you haven’t tested it, it doesn’t work”. Get out from behind your computer, strap on your BoB, and venture forth. I’ll see ya out there.

Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee. – Deuteronomy 23:12 - 14


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

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