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On Track With Greenside: Training Day 3

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Training Day 3, Greenside Training Index Tracking and GLINT: Refresh your memory with Training Day 1 and Training Day 2. During those two days Freddy Osuna and I (mostly Osuna) did our utmost to torture the students' eyeballs with learning direction and action indicators, learning “pillar drills” and attempting to hone their overall situational awareness. Day two was a long one, perhaps 12 hours training overall (in the Arizona sun) not counting meal breaks and transitions from training site to training site. Despite getting them out of the rack and putting them “on track” early the next morning, attitudes were great. I honestly think the sense of accomplishment the students realized by completing difficult night tracks using the GLINT method gave them some surety that they really could do what we expected them to do – so they performed better.

The morning of Day 3 began with some administrative work, quickly accomplished, after which we took them into the field; East of Black Rock Freeway into some of the back canyons, if you're interested. Before the exercise Osuna added abandoned mine shafts to the standard “heat, watch for rattlesnakes, no live ammo” safety brief. The ground in that area was intentionally more difficult than what the team had been training on. In addition to natural choke points and stretches of very difficult ground there was a significant amount of contamination, including not just human spoor but horse hoofprints (which on that ground are very misleading) and those of the many peccary in the area.

Additionally, I was the team's quarry. My intentions were threefold. First, to maintain the stride of a fleeing fugitive with a passing familiarity of the area. Second to provide action indicators that would hopefully be interpreted by the team to mean their quarry was watching for pursuit. Third, to at least three times conduct anti-tracking techniques over difficult terrain in order to force them into lost spoor procedures.

I took a 30 minute head start up a dry watercourse while the team reviewed some of the pillar drills and began microtracking in order to become familiar with the new ground. Radio comms with Osuna, following in a Tomcar, kept me apprised of their progress and allowed us to modify my activities and speed if needed. Interestingly we quickly determined that I'd need to work harder to challenge them, as they quickly overcame my initial attempts to throw them off track.

After numerous direction changes and long stints of anti-tracking I eventually went to ground in an ambush position and awaited the team's arrival. My position exploited the terrain features (lots of contour lines) in such a way that if the flankers and security elements of the 6-tracker team were slacking at all they would have missed me. Were I able to get in behind them it would provide a valuable lesson beyond that of locating spoor, interpreting it and acting upon it.

Predictably enough a flanker picked me up and utilizing good noise discipline the team moved into blocking positions and called me out. It was an excellent performance by brand new trackers unfamiliar with desert terrain and just three days of training. Although in an armed encounter I probably would have been able to successfully engage at least one of them, I have no doubt that it would have ended badly for me.

For further details you'll need to read Iain's article in the upcoming hard copy of RECOIL magazine.

Remembering the basic Index Tracking/GLINT Course terminal objectives (below), I believe this class to have been an unqualified success. Osuna proved not only his mastery of the art and science of tracking, but his ability to convey that skill to others.

Check mark symbolEstablish a criteria/standard for evaluating sign

Check mark symbol Determine precise directions of travel and index gaits

Check mark symbolIncrease environmental/tactical awareness

I do not hesitate to recommend Greenside Training's tracking courses to anyone interested in the skill, and I mean to include LEOs operating in urban environments and citizens wishing to improve their ability to perceive and interpret subtle nuances of what goes on around them.

That said. Don't just learn from Greenside. That road leads to stagnation and inbreeding. I maintain that tracking, like any skillset worth having, is one that should be learned with an open mind. Knowledge and training should be sourced from multiple instructors or places. The Israelis have some fantastic trackers – that doesn't mean they wouldn't learn something from the trackers in Western Australia. My suggestion; absolutely start with Osuna's Greenside if you can. Frankly he's one of the best instructors I've ever had the chance to train with. If you can't travel to him or host one of his classes, look at Mike Hull's VITALE (Virginia), Mark Sexton's Vista (Ohio), John Hurth's Tyr Group (Louisiana) and of course Scott-Donelan's Tracking School (Arizona; David Scott-Donelan is one of my 2 mentors). Better yet – train with all of them, just like you'd seek instruction from multiple firearms instructors.

The new Greenside training calendar will be posted shortly; it will include classes not just in Arizona but in Florida and Maryland as well. More to follow on that. In the meantime, consider reading Osuna's book, Index Tracking: Essential Guide to Trailing Man and Beast. You can also follow Greenside on Facebook, where he and his staff frequently post tracking-related material.

Afterword: This is the long overdue overview for the last day of Greenside Training's combined Index Tracking and GLINT (Greenside Laser Index Night Tracking) course conducted in the back country north of Anthem, AZ. It should have been available a couple of weeks ago, I apologize – the tardiness of the article has nothing to do with my perception of the class, which was superb.

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