Taking a page from my Marine Corps training from way back and utilizing the civilian environment which we are in I believe I have come across a fun way for groups/families to practice land navigation (land nav) and stealth/concealment at the same time. I have two young teen age children and have been trying to teach them land nav which is somewhat fun for a short time but they haven’t really gotten it yet. One thing kids really like is hide and seek another is to camouflage up. I liked it and in the past become very proficient and blending in and disappearing in the woods. While in the military we would hone land nav skills with practice and occasionally refresher classes. After the class the unit would break down into 1-4 man teams. At that point each team would go to the 100 meter course and verify your pace count then verify the accuracy of your compass on a known azimuth. As each team was ready they would head out into the bush on any number of courses to known/designated points. Each team would rotate the various tasks of plotting, pace count, follow bearing etc. It was a fun day to learn or hone skills. But at times we would also incorporate patrolling into the class. Still in fire teams, the training would involve multiple team on team ambushes and evasions while completing the course. Any other group encountered would be considered the “enemy”. The idea wasn’t to practice tactics at this point but land nav and stealth. So laying in ambush was not the point unless the opportunity presented itself. It could really be a challenge during darkness. These courses covered large areas. There were often 10-15 points each team needed to find and a leg may be only 2-400 meters or it may well be 1 mile or more.
In the novel “Patriots“, the [retreat] group trained in a wooded area where they could possibly encounter hikers/campers unexpectedly. Here in Colorado if you are in a national forest wearing the official hiking clothes (no cotton allowed, must have moisture wicking shorts, shirt, hiking boots, floppy hat, day pack and hiking poles ) you won’t get a second look. Same area but off trail in cammies (BDUs) and web gear with map and compass you might get a good sideways look because you’re not in the official hiking attire and you’re not on the trail. Then again, same area but in full combat gear and your paintball /airsoft guns the hiker passing by on the trail may give the local ranger a call whether you are seen [training] or not if there is evidence of activity (wet paintball splats everywhere). So a team seen doing the same action wearing the same clothes but is obviously unarmed then the observer is more apt to think you are only a couple of nuts not necessarily a scary threat (been there and seen it). This training isn’t for tactics and concealment but stealth, concealment and land nav.
So, to make a short story long use the military style land nav training to teach camouflage/stealth/concealment and as many land nav skills as you can. Depending on your situation have the family(s) or group break down into 1-4 man teams so everyone can practice all the land nav skills. As a good prepper there are enough radios so every team can have one and are all on the same freq. Every team has a map or strip map of the area and of course a good compass. Preferably a very large area with some type of easy to identify boundaries (road, trail, lake, ridge, swamp, cut) so should someone get lost or turned around they will recognize the boundaries to stay within.
As stated in other posts paintball/airsoft guns have very limited range. However, line of sight can go for quite a way and in the real world if you are seen even at a relatively long range it could mean your time is up. Again, a big part of the purpose of this training is camouflage/stealth/concealment. The reason for the radios is simple. You’re not shooting someone with a paintball. You nail them with the radio. If the other teams are family and friends you should be able to identify them by their posture, gait, clothes, size etc. If not, then perhaps each team could be marked with some sort of specific colored tape or cloth or number. You observe your best bud 300 meters off exhibiting an unbelievable amount of poor judgment by standing next to a fine bit of concealment in the open looking at his map instead of kneeling down behind it. If he had concealed himself you may not have seen him as you glassed the area as you traveled on your own land nav leg. So you get on the radio and nail him (Hello you, this is me. Freeze. Observe to your 4 o’clock. You are toast. Gotchya.). Clean shot.
Again, this does not necessarily teach threat left, right, ambush fire-team or squad drills. Though it certainly can reinforce fire-team positions and movement. It can of course be modified any number of ways to suit the situation. This can be a very fun way to teach kids, wives/girlfriends valuable skills without breaking out the artillery. And remember. No matter what color clothes worn the lack of movement in itself can be camouflage.
Camouflage clothing isn’t the last word on concealment. Some work better than others in different environments and times of year. Know what works in your area. Often times a single drab color can do better than a pattern. The plain earth tone may accept the highs and lows of the surroundings as opposed to a pattern being forced into the scene (while slowly moving in tall grass plain green army jungles do better than BDUs). If going all out and using camo face paint don’t forget inside and behind the ears, under the nose, neck, hands, wrists. Throwing a few stripes across the face is a “NO GO”. Do it right. Gloves or shooters type gloves with finger(s) cut out help conceal exposed skin. Put your collar up and sleeves down. I always have an old GI green triangle bandage around my neck. Not just for sweat but sized and positioned that if need be at a moments notice I can pull it up bandit style and have my face almost completely covered for concealment without always wearing cammie paint. Bush covers (hat) are a wonderful thing.
- Land Nav gear
- Reliable compasses
- Map(s) and strip maps
- Grease pencils [or Vis-aVis pens], pencils, paper
- Comm gear
- Walkie talkie with ear bud for each team (preferably the same brand and model)
- Extra set of batteries
- Plenty of water and snacks
- Camouflage veil or dark colored triangle bandage.
- Camouflage face paint
- First-aid kit
Regards, – K.B.