I attended GORUCK Navigator Core in Gore VA in June. Here is my AAR (After Action Report).
I spent the night before in Winchester VA, it was only about a half hour from the event. It was nice to wake up in the morning, get breakfast, and head out to the event.
It was held at the Cove Campground in Gore, VA. This was a great location for Core, because the camp ground is on 3,000 acres of wooded and hilly terrain.
I arrived at the camp ground around 7:30 am, the original start time was 9:00 am. After arriving at the camp site we found out that that the cadres would be an hour late due to travel delays.
Jedburgh was starting from the same location, so the Jedburgh cadre invited us to listen in on the beginning of Jedburgh. We had a chance to see a lot of the Jedburgh members as we wondered throughout the woods the rest of the weekend.
Around 10 am our cadre showed up, both Chris Way and Cadre Brett. After they arrived they split up into two groups, the members that signed up for Navigator Core and the Navigator Z members.
Navigator Core was instructed to setup up camp and Navigator Z was told to dump all of their water. After this we only saw the Navigator Z members occasionally as we were in and out of camp.
Here was my home for the night even though I didn't spend much time in it. It worked great. I had just purchased it on Amazon, and it was the best single person tent I could find for the money. Here is a link http://amzn.to/2sVOOvl.
After setting up camp we were instructed to remove anything from our ruck that we didn't need for treking through the woods. The campsite and home base location was next to our vehicles so anything we needed we could always stop and get it out of our vehicles.
Next we received our maps and Chris started to go through the basics of the map and using our compasses. We were also each given a Spot Tracker. This way if we got lost we could be found, and this would allow the Cadre to see how we did at hitting our points.
After going through the basics we worked on getting our pace count down. Then we did a few simple drills to test our ability and get comfortable with the compass and our pace counts. Luckily before going I made up a set of ranger beads out of some 550 cord and a few beads my daughter had in her craft materials. This was very helpful keeping track of my pace.
We were given 4 points to hit in any order we would like, that were spread out across the camp grounds. The woods throughout the camp grounds were very dense and even in the more open areas with less ground cover the trees were still pretty thick. This made finding a point far away to walk towards very difficult. I found my self jumping from tree to tree and not covering very much distance between rechecking my compass and looking for a new point to walk toward. This made progress very slow trying to get through the brush, especially using the dead reckoning method; following an azimuth directly and pacing it out. This picture was of one of the more open areas.
After everybody made it back to the camp site we went over terrain features and how the map translated to real terrain. While Chris was going over this with us he was working on carving a bow out of a stick for the Navigator Z team.
Next we were given a location about 1.5 miles away and were instructed to follow the terrain and compare it to the map as we traveled it. Up until this point we were doing everything individually, but this task was done as a group. It was nice to have someone to talk to as we walked through the woods, and because we were following the ridge as one of our terrain features we had some nice views.
After returning to camp it was time to go out and find a few more points we were given. We were back to being on our own again, but occasionally you would find somebody headed to the same point or cross paths with someone. Shortly after leaving the camp site it began to get dark. At this point we were able to use any method for finding our points, including roads, terrain features, or dead reckoning. We found out earlier in the day that the roads/trails on the map were not very reliable, seeing as the map was from 1988. Quickly I found out that navigating through the dark was a much slower process and the terrain could be misleading when you could only see a short distance with a headlamp.
We were out through the night, basically they said that we could stay out as long as we would like. I was determined to find all my points so I finished up around midnight.
After that I came back to the camp site to get in a few hours of sleep.
The next morning we were instructed to get up around 7 am and get something to eat.
In the morning we were given our final task. There were about 25 points, and we were told to hit as many as possible in about 2.5 hours.
I was able to get through about 7 points, and I had a pretty good pace. So getting all of them would have been impossible, even if running. After finishing the first 6 I ended back at camp, so I rushed out for one final point.
I am very happy I did because the view was awesome, a great way to finish up.
After we all returned to camp, we met with the cadres, and were instructed to go to one final point to meetup with the Z group.
They were doing their final challenge. We saw the end of it, they had to get their gear across the lake while keeping it dry, start a fire and boil water.
After they finished up, we all lined up and got our patches. This is our Core class.
This is both the Core and Z class.
In conclusion I am very surprised that more people are not taking these classes. I have done a number of GORUCK events now and this was one of the best. This is different from many of the events I have done. The challenges will teach you a lot about working as a team, but the Navigator classes are all the learning without the beat down. I would highly recommend any of these classes.
A few items that I used.
These worked great, much better than the dehydrated camping meals I saw a few others using. Mainly because you didn't need to boil water to eat them.
Suunto A-10 Compass
The compass worked great, but if I did it again I would probably get one with a mirror. I think it would have helped a little with accuracy.
1:24,000 Credit card UTM Tool
This worked Great for distance, but it didn't have the angles to find the azimuths.
This is my go to for any event.
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