Wilderness Skills in a Hostile Environment Review of Oregon Firearms Academy.


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I will start first with my expectations of the class and what I got out of it. If you have had any formal training in firearms you could compare it to that I was simply grinning from ear to ear with all the new information I had to learn. What I thought we would do and what actually happened was far more in depth than I could have hoped for. Joel the lead instructor was amazing always there to listen and as patient as anyone could be. The way he explained things just made sense. He broke down every skill into simple easy to understand steps. I went into the class like a 5 year old boy, soaking up every bit of information I could like a sponge.

Elements we covered in the class were as follows:

1. Fire starting, how to find dry wood in the wettest conditions, how to find PITCHWOOD which lights up like gasoline! We covered the 3 elements of building a fire and what it needs to get going. We learned how to use a flint to light a fire. Its so simple it makes matches obsolete in my mind. How to properly take care of your fire and leave no trace. We practiced using 2 different methods of making fire which were of our choosing. We had 5 minutes to make a fire and perform 2 different knots to complete the task.

2. We learned how to navigate by compass and the 5 key elements to using a compass and practiced these steps. Joel broke them down and explained in detail how to perform each task.

3. We learned 6 key knots that will work in almost any condition to use to setup shelters.

4. We learned food procurement and which is most effective with the least amount of effort.

5. Key items that are hardest to replicate in the wilderness and should be kept in your pack.

6. Shelter building, the tarp is KING! How to keep warm when it’s cold. Which shelter configuration is suited best for good and bad weather. We learned 4 or 5 different shelters which were Joel’s favorite and how to tie them up.

7. How to find and make a bow drill as well as how to find materials suited for such. This was an extra bonus that Joel let us learn after the formal class. He took anyone who wanted to learn on a small hike, identified the key elements and where to find them. We then carved our fireboards and spindles to take home and practice.

8. How to keep you axe and knife sharp in the woods and which natural materials will work if you have no form of sharpening device.

9. Security around camp and your surroundings which I call night games. This was a real eye opener and was great fun. If you ever like to spy and sneak around you will love this part. We learned how to use the terrain to our advantage, the basics of a patrol route and how to most effectively secure your area.

10. How to gather water in a hostile environment and not be seen. Some students learned that 1 or 2 bottles of water were not enough to go through the day. The result was more trips to retrieve water thought out the day.

11. Primitive shelter building and materials needed to make it water tight.

12. We learned what others had brought in their packs, what worked and what people didn’t use. My pack weighed in at 39 to 40lbs with 4 liters of water, food, etc. some students had much heavier packs and probably learned some things they could have done without.

13. Hygiene -- baby wipes are king

14. Sleep deprivation and how to cope with it. How you react when sleep is interrupted, some students were very sluggish.

15. Clothing and how much is really necessary out in the wilderness.

What I used and what I could have done without:

Kifaru Zulu pack: coyote brown with 2 side bags, pack worked flawlessly. Will work to stash a AR, but I see a real value in using Joel's WASP my choice was based on practical use, not mission specific which Joel's WASP would excel.

Bivy bag, tarp, Marmot pounder plus sleeping bag, Prolite 4 large pad and large thermarest pillow were key in sleeping for me. I brought my carry knife (griptillian which worked great) I noticed a lot of larger knives which I don't think I would have used.

Food: I ate less and had maybe 1/2lb to much for the required time. Wayne and I did a bit of night fishing and found 14 or so crawdads that we ate after patrol. Rick made breakfast for us so that is why I had a bit more food.

Axe: Important tool to have I used a Gransfors Bruks small forest axe which worked flawlessly.

Knife: Griptillian worked perfect.

Glock shovel: didn't use, but see the value and hard to replicate in the woods.

Cooking supplies: Pepsi can alcohol stove worked flawlessly with windscreen, Titan kettle pot and homemade stand. Used once and used the fire the rest of the time to cook meals. Regular spoon from home, mountain house meals, granola, cliff bars, jerky and pine needle tea.

Fire supplies: flint, charred cloth (not used), lighter (not used), small piece of rubber (not used)

Lights: Tikka plus headlamp worked perfect (Dorcy LED 3AAA flashlight not used) Substituted Dorcy for 1AAA minimag light and bought a Tactikka with red flip down lens although I prefer the push button of the Tikka plus I see the value in the red flip down lens of the Tactikka.

Water: 3-liter camelbak bladder with sleeve, 1-liter lexan container -- all used was just enough

10x10 tarp tent -- worked perfect

Para cord 2x25ft sections

Misc supplies: Advil, melatonin, ointment for cuts, 3 hydracodone, baby wipes.

Motorola radio with ear bud and scan feature to listen in on intel.

Compass: Suunto MC-2 worked perfect

EZ-lap 2 sided small stone -- didn't use but see the value in keeping

Red Ledge waterproof jacket -- didn't use

Stocking cap -- didn't use but see the value in carrying

Long john bottoms -- didn't use but see the value

What I wore:

REI quick dry fitted boxers

REI quick dry pants earth color (heavier duty won't snag and rip) liked much better than Northface quickdry. The REI brand had a more jean feel to them and could hold up to more abuse then the Northface brand.

REI brand poly T-shirt quickdry (moss green color)

Black diamond 94% poly jacket with 6% spandex (Black) kept me very warm, light durable and waterproof except under armpits.

Columbia fleece button down shirt (used for a few hours but didn't need, even on patrol the T-shirt and jacket were plenty.

Smartwool socks crew

Boots: Redwing leather 8" waterproof, worked great in the river while collecting crawdads, not to good for hiking, my feet slipped around in them. Will look for smaller lighter hiking mid shoe. My feet were sore after 3 days of use.

What I got out of the class was this, a great learning experience, tons of information and hands on experience. Oregon Firearms Academy has always exceeded my expectations and this class was no exception. The instructors were top notch, always there to help and share stories outside of class time. This is what keeps me coming back to OFA, for your money you cannot find a better school with such high quality instructors who are always willing to teach us what they know.

If you would like to take this class go here. Link Removed


sounds like a great class!!! also had some military type skills that could be useful. i gotta get some training time in.
What kind of knife do we all carry. I just called Kershaw about a missing part on mine.New part on the way no charge.Good service. The biggest onion.

i like my army/air force suvival knife, my kalishnikov bayonet and my modifid kukri. i probably need to gt another one or two. of som kind. MAYBE A NINJA SWORD!!!!!:eek:
The defensive knife I carry sometimes is a thing called a bear claw. Its a small little fixed blade, but it can do some serious damage if used right. For outdoors survival/hiking/climbing. I usually take along a Air Force Survival knife. Most people would go against it because its heavy, and you need a lighter knife for distance. But I've needed that heavy handle more than a few times when I could not find a rock that would work. I've found it the quickest to sharpen with a river rock or sharpening stone. I carry kershaw for all around stuff. Although I find the parts loosen and dissapear if you dont locktite them in. But, I abuse my knifes like no one else. Not to mention that the air force knife is cheap. And the way I loose things, thats a plus.
Where is this class held? And how much was tuition? I live in Oregon, and that would be something I would be interested in.
This series of courses are taught in Oregon...it is a series so some portions are taught at various locations in Oregon. There are two basic level courses (prereq's) scheduled this year, one on March 29th and the second April 12th) if you want to move forward in the level 1, 2, 3 and other bolt on courses plannned then you'll need to get into one of these basic courses.

Contact the Academy to learn more details.

www.oregonfirearmsacademy.com or 541-451-5532.

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