The Challenge of the Vanguard

The Challenge of the Vanguard

The Vanguard was an incredible weekend in the Texas Hill Country full of physical challenges & hands-on lessons that cultivated the skills our happy, developed world tends to neglect. The agenda was simple: with your team, watch, listen, and do what these professionals show you. It was time & money well spent, for men & women alike, ranging from active duty military to gym rats who skipped Boy Scouts and have never seen a shooting range. I lean towards the latter, toy soldier end of the spectrum and handled it all pretty well. The weekend went quickly and covered a lot.

Everything was live-action, with as-you-go Q & A from world-class instructors. There was no Power Point. The only hand-outs may have been our maps for land nav, filet knives for butchering, and our MREs for Saturday lunch. I’ve never done ROTC nor been through basic, and no belts for me, black, brown, or otherwise. I have not field dressed a wound or a deer. But when I was unfamiliar or uncomfortable, I asked & received immediate instruction and feedback. Tim Kennedy—Google “Tim Kennedy UFC” if unfamiliar—provided the quickest, most direct self-defense lesson I will probably ever receive. He is fast and lethal and showed us laymen how to approach dangerous, confrontational situations. Each instructor was engaging. I left each session satisfied but in some disbelief as to how my white collar world exists without this stuff.

IMG_1503The venue, Reveille Peak Ranch, is a gnarly outdoor event spot just outside Burnet, Texas with the all the usual hills & granite outcroppings. Reveille hosts trail runs, the Spartan Race, etc., but Atomic Athlete mostly ran the Vanguard in a secluded section on the property. We camped in our own tents within a short walk of a covered shelter with meeting areas, showers, toilets, and a fridge. And this section of Reveille Peak included the shooting range and plenty of space for the bonfire.

They split us into teams of five to six, which could include any of your buddies that attended, and these were our crews for the weekend. We rotated around to each session with our teams but also had plenty of time to rap with other teams. There were some kinks. In the first session after I cut the throat of our team’s chicken, I then cut my own fat thumb. Lucky for me, a Williamson County Tactical Medic helped me clean and dress that bit of tomfoolery. And we agreed to go without mobile phones while out there. I survived. You can, too. Mind the gear list.

IMG_1146I had to get a few items for the weekend, specifically ammo and BDU/tactical pants. And I highly recommend a decent head lamp & a camping chair. Whatever hiking or tactical boots and/or trail running shoes you already have will probably do. A simple lock-blade/folding pocket knife is another good item to have, along with your favorite jerky and bourbon.

All the Vanguard sessions emphasized mindset. The instructors cultivated and honed our approach to each skill, from safety and accuracy at the range to harvesting a rabbit and chicken, until we finished each session. From excellent instructors to excellent team members, the weekend was time well spent.

The Vanguard challenged me and tired me out, yet I left satisfied and wanting more. In conclusion, rest up and go.

The 2015 Vanguard is November 20th-22nd in Burnet, Texas.  Click Here to become a part of this experience.

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