Hidden deep in the hills of West Virginia is 750 acres of awesome. Until recently it was a secret place known only to the clients who go there. The locals of the nearby town have many stories and theories to share about this place. They hear the gun fire, they see the explosions and the mushroom clouds, they see the helicopters come and go with men in black clothing inside. Some think it’s a training facility, some think it’s some kinda government BlackOps site, I even heard a tale that this place was a super secret submarine base and there is a tunnel leading out to the Ocean.
It’s not a submarine base. Nor is it a BlackOps site. It is however a training facility. It’s one of the best in North America. How do I know? Because I’ve been there…and I know who does their training there.
For many years this place has been used as an elite training facility and finally…they opened it up to civilians. This was a test and I was selected to be a part of it. The owners of the facility joined up with a contact of mine and made a plan to bring in civilians to experience this facility. The word went out online and hundreds of people applied. Only 12 were selected.
We came from all over North America. A few from Canada, but most were from the USA (from as far away as Seattle and Miami). Some of us had some military or police background. Some members of our group used to work for various government agencies (I can’t say more about that).
We all had a great time though!
Day one started off with a briefing about explosives and IED’s….then we got a demonstration of them out on one of the shooting ranges. On a 1000 yard range, riddled with destroyed cars, we saw first hand the effects of blasting caps, pipe bombs, DetCord and Slurry sticks (used to take down buildings). Our demolitions expert, and one of our instructors throughout the weekend was a former US SEAL but I can’t say more about him. Actually he was just one of many instructors that I can’t talk about.
From there we moved on to a day of driving exercises. High speed driving skills, in-class lessons about the physics of driving, weight transfer, etc. We also practiced PIT maneuvers, J-Turns, and racing around their 1.5 mile long race track. As an advanced driving instructor, day one was easy for me but a tad alien for the other participants.
Yes they have their own paved race track, as well as a dirt-road course, and an off road course designed to get you stuck so that you can practice self recovery (you can’t call road side services in the combat field). They also have a large skid pad that can be used for autoslalom and advanced driving drills, as well as a “Kill Town” which replicates a small town to train in urban warfare tactics and hostage training. And they also have the most advanced live-fire Shooting House in North America.
It’s no wonder this place is used by…squirrel!
Day two…I was out of my comfort zone. I haven’t fired a gun in over 20yrs but if you’re a gun nut…it was like Christmas. We started the day on the gun range with Ar-15’s (semi-auto and full auto), MP-5’s, Tommy Guns and a fully automatic AK-47 where on the table to use.
In the afternoon, we moved to the Shoot House. This building is the most advanced training house in North America and can be set up for nearly any scenario. Its a two story building and even has cat-walks overhead for observers and instructors to take note of the action below.
We were all issued modified Glock 19’s that could only shoot non-lethal rounds. Various scenarios were set up and the teams had to take each other out. It may have been non-lethal rounds but that stuff hurts! Non-lethal my ass! Get shot in the head or face at close range, without the protective gear on and it could be your last day! And there is nothing like being shot in the back by your own teammate…yes Scott…I’m talking about you!
This was the first time they allowed civilians into their facility but it won’t be the last. Future weekends are being scheduled at the time of writing this. Lots of driving, smashing cars, shooting guns, tactical shooting, good food and new friends to be made.
I even got a couple gifts from a former ‘agency guy’. I can’t say who or what agency he worked with but I guess I made an impression with him and earned it.