An AAR for RSF Course-100, And The Survival Essentials Course

4 Nov, 2014

Below are two AAR’s submitted by Scott H. I had the privilege of meeting Scott at the Regional Security Forces Level 100 class I taught near Pittsburgh, PA in July, and again with his wife Paula at my Survival Essentials Course in September in South Central PA. Networking is one of the great advantages of being a Tactical and Wilderness Survival Instructor, and the other, is the friendships that are made. I’m glad to  be able to count Scott and Paula as friends, and fellow members of the IIIPSFA, and yes they got the 15% discount due to their IIIPSFA membership.


The following is my AAR of the RSFSUTATS-100 course.


This being the first time that I had attended a course such as this since coming off active duty ( 15 years ago ) I had certain expectations drawing from prior service and experience.
My first impression of JC as an instructor was that he was approachable. Not because we were paying for the course but because he is a consummate professional.
The syllabus was strait forward and easy to follow. Leaving plenty of time for Q and A as most taking the course were being exposed to this type of training for the first time.

As with any training of this type it behooves you to maintain a certain level of physical fitness. Our training area was very hilly and required many trips up and down. Again, some among us were not prepared for the physicality of some of the maneuvers but that was not looked down upon. The impression that I got from JC was while they may not have been in the right physical condition they were at least trying and not sitting in an easy chair behind a keyboard.


Again drawing on prior service, when it came time for the blanks and live fire portion safety was utterly paramount. Many, many dry runs took place before any kind of round was chambered.
JC was quite clear that if he raised his voice and used a certain vernacular it was to emphasize a point as it related to safety and not to take it personally.

I was fortunate enough to run the react to fire drill twice and while I don’t see myself as a slouch, RUNNING the course, taking cover and firing in all of my gear, coupled with the heat, was taxing to say the least.

This is a course that I would recommend to anyone that is interested in gaining a working knowledge on small unit tactics. Not beginner stuff but not death from above training either.
I would highly recommend that before you take this course put in your time with PT. Focus on cardio and road work. Become familiar with your weapon and how to clear jams as well as reloading in different positions.


Live fire buddy team drill, reacting to initial contact

In closing, Mason Dixon Tactical is top notch and money well spent.  I look forward to continued training from JC and his instructors. If there are ladies out there that want to get involved and learn I would encourage you to look to MDT. My wife is no operator but likes the training environment and the time taken to help the less experienced.

Scott Hill

The following is my AAR for the Survival Essentials Course that Paula and I attended.

Student using a clubbing technique to strip the branches off of a limb.

After much prodding and slight coercion I was able to get my wife to attend the Survival Basic course offered by MDT. While I had a pretty good, albeit rusty, grasp on my skills, she had none.
And given the current world climate I really wanted her to have a basic knowledge of how to atleast care for herself.
I was pleased to learn that the others in attendance were also IIIPSFA members who took advantage of the discount in the training cost as a benefit of membership.
Over the course of the weekend Doug, Lisa, Ryan and myself would work along side one another in learning how to rig a snare for small game, gather the right material for starting a fire sans the use of match or lighter,and make shelter among other skills that are needed to to be self reliant in an emergency.
One of the things my wife commented on was that the training environment was light and often times jocular. It wasn’t like attending basic training or having an instructor speaking in acronyms. She was able to ask questions and ask them again if she wasn’t quite sure about the answer.
Something that I noticed was the confidence she gained from learning these skills. That was the real reason I wanted her to attend. As I mentioned before, I had a basic grasp on my woodsman skills, but as is sometimes the case, we learn better from others who have an outside perspective.
Given the small size of the class we were able to spend working more as a group and helping one another. JC was also able to take extra time with those that needed more help in certain areas.
One of the things that I was able to really appreciate was that the lessons that were being taught were not just from a book but from someone who has lived these skills. To me that made a huge impact. He knew what works, doesn’t work at all and techniques that improve your chances of success.
During the evening hours after training we all gathered for a coffee and were able to delve a little more deeply in to specific scenarios and situations that we may have had questions or misunderstanding of. That was another observation that my wife had, that JC was willing to discuss and answer other questions that perhaps weren’t related to the class but were a concern to her.
Overall I am very pleased with the quality of the training and the impression that the weekend left.
I would recommend this course to any one who wants to gain an understanding of the basics and the peace of mind that it brings to not only the student but to those that they care about.
PS. My wife insists that when ever we start a fire in the fire place or the wood burner that it is done with one of the methods that were taught that weekend. Editors note: That is not just being trained, this is a mindset, and goes a lot further than training can to keep you alive in a bad situation.
Scott Hill

      As you can see by reading my blog, I’m not huge on posting AAR’s from my classes (I have plenty, but I generally only use it for self/company improvement or sustainment purposes ). Unless I see something of note, It’s a new class offering,  or as in this case, Scott not only did the a tactical course, but a wilderness survival course too. Couple that with the fact he took the wilderness class with his wife (I encourage this if possible) I thought it was important to publish it.
     Training without the proper mindset is useless. I try to pass this along to students when they come to a class, because even though for some of us, this is implied, a number of people don’t “do the math” and they think all they need to do is learn a skill and they’ll be good. After receiving training, you need to practice to keep it fresh. Whether it’s tactical survival or wilderness survival, you need to constantly push yourself mentally and physically.
     Mentally (they really go hand in hand), by putting yourself outside your comfort zone with your diet, with your knowledge enhancement goals, etc. Physically with your PT, and learning certain skills that should become second nature (weapon manipulation skills, etc.) I don’t ruck or do combat drills, because I’m a prime physical specimen, it’s easy, and/or that I love doing it! I ruck (pretty sure God’s own rock is in my pack) and practice drills, because I need to assure myself that I can still do it (one day I might not be physically able to anymore), and to push myself beyond what is considered “do’able”, by the average person. I carry 70 lbs. of load bearing gear, a 15 lb rifle, and an 80 lb ruck, not because I know that’s what I’ll be carrying comes SHTF. I carry it because I’ve found that to be my max physical limit (without doing more harm than good), and one day, that might be my best friend, or loved one I’m carrying through the mountains to safety, due to injury.

Having fun on vacation

     In case you haven’t figured it out the point I’m alluding to. Tactical training, more specifically, infantry type training can really suck, but what you have to learn is how to embrace that “suck” and own it! Whether it is getting up in 15 degree weather, and performing a break contact drill out of your patrol base, or carrying a medium size person on your back for a kilometer or ten through the mountains, it all sucks. As I told a former student of mine (at Max’s first patrolling course) when asked how Max and I dealt with this stuff so well (appearances can be deceiving LOL), I said it wasn’t that it effected us any differently that it did the students, it was that we knew things usually get a little better after you get started, and that’s what we look forward to. Hell, even if they don’t, it doesn’t change the fact that you still have an implied task that needs completed, right? and you will only know that, if you get out and DO IT!
TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN! Time is short. Become a wall the tyrants have to expend time going around, or through, not a speed bump that one of them asks, “Did you feel that?”.

“Scout” participating in a leisurely walk through the woods.

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

8 thoughts on “An AAR for RSF Course-100, And The Survival Essentials Course

  1. Great write up. And its true: Training does suck. It takes up time, its painful and you will fail often before you start to get anywhere. This why so few actually do anything substantial or worthy of being called training, its because they cant hack it. Putting on rank they didn’t earn, dressing up in the latest cool camo and making selfies is more fun to them. And it is a mind set that if you’re not there, simply put, you wont get it. Tactics and survival training are not a hobby, they are not something you do when you have free time, and they certainly are not playing army and dress up time. Its real work. The more you do it the more you will grow and learn and become something useful to yourself, loved ones, team mates and you’ll become something other then a bullet catcher or a dead body in a ditch thats been picked over by the bad guys. You can never do too much healthy PT and you can never over train.

    Ill also second that Mr Dodge is very approachable. Though I have only spoken with him on the phone once, but on the net a zillion times, he has never failed to offer up advice and info in a strait forward practical manner w/o ever coming off like a Tacticool-know-it-all jerk-off. He’s just a regular guy….

    And if you think 15 degrees sucks, try survival shit at 30 below 0.. That’ll put hair on your ass and its defiantly sorts the out the hobbyists from the dedicated doers..

    Eisenheim, Alaska

  2. I had to go there.. Sorry. You’re still not getting any picture.

    But it does suck. Matches and lighter fail at about 10-20 degrees below. You have to store the lighters close to your skin and even then its not enough even in a hip pocket or smocks zipper breast pocket close to your warm parts. I have had to put them down my underwear or in my mouth to get them warm enough to function. Pack stoves fail, solid fuels refuse to light, matches are snuffed out by the sheer pressure from the cold air. . Its chaos. I’ve seen those crappy Walmart camo tarps shatter like rice paper and nylon tents just outright disintegrate under the least bit of tension or pressure. I’ve had folding saws shatter.. Extreme cold has an entirely different set of rule.

    In 7 years I have not found anyone willing to go the distance with it. They show up, try to get sorted but they never do and the signs of quitting start to surface and I never hear from them again….Or maybe I’m just a dick and no one wants to be around me


  3. Pingback: Mason Dixon Tactical: AARs — RSF Course-100 And The Survival Essentials Course | Western Rifle Shooters Association

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