Monday, November 3, 2014

War Stories: Keys Are for Pussies

During my tenure with "the most dangerous press in America," I got to see a lot of very interesting things, talk to some fascinating people, and take part in activities the average person rarely gets to witness.  All of it legal, of course.  When it came time for me to describe some of what I learned in the books The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse and, to a lesser extent, The Blessed Man and the Witch, my younger brother told me, "When I read your books, I know that the fight scenes are realistic."  I appreciated that; it's very difficult to show real-world combat tactics through fiction in a way that makes sense to a reader regularly exposed to media representations of violence.  What follows is an example of an experience I had that would be considered atypical.

We were in the production phase of a shotgun video intended to take the viewer from firearm selection to the penetrating power of various rounds (slug vs. birdshot vs. buckshot) to bare-bones shooting tactics.  Across the board, it was a great instructional video, and arguably the best of its kind.  

Near the end of the first day of production, we drove to the on-site shoot house to show the power of a door-breaching round on an exterior door you'd find on a typical suburban home.  Most people won't ever have to blow a door open with a shotgun, but we had the ammunition and door, and part of the video was about exploding various shotgun myths (like the notion that you can just stand in a doorway and blow scores of people away with one shot).  So we went for it.  

The problem was that we'd forgotten to get the key to the shoot house.  A shoot house (also called a kill house) is a purpose-designed building used for teaching close-range firearms tactics.  Depending on your budget, it might be furnished (to give the trainee a more realistic experience), have a roof, and even video cameras to record the training.  This shoot house was about as good an example as you'd want to train in and included a grate-style ceiling on which the trainer/RO (Range Officer) could walk and observe the drills being practiced.  

But we didn't have the key.  It was back at the main building.  

Rather than go through the rigmarole of getting into the truck and driving the onerous two minutes or so to get it, one of the men with us said he had his lockpicks in the glove box of his car.  In less than a minute he had the lock open and we were setting up our cameras.  The man who'd done it wasn't a professional locksmith or super-secret spy: he was using skills he'd learned and practiced over time to solve a problem.  Most, if not all, of the other men there could have done the same thing.  It wasn't a big deal.  Just thirty seconds with a rake pick and tension tool.

Typical Monday. 

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