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Archive for the ‘TFB’ Category

Call Of Duty Mega Bloks – Mini Review

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

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We purchased and constructed the Chopper Strike, RIB Beach Assault, and Mountain Recon Call of Duty Mega Bloks sets. The three sets were fairly easy to put together, although the Chopper Strike set was missing a couple of critical parts and required some workarounds to build up. The “super poseable micro action figures” are also a bit of a pain to snap together, and they come loose easily when handled, especially at the torso/leg joint. It’s pretty cool, however, how detailed they can be, with all the gear options they can be equipped with. Also, the faux-M4s the figures come with can swap magazines, stocks, and barrels, and can be further accessorized with scopes and suppressors.

Overall, I would have preferred the sets had more of a LEGO-level quality to them, given they are Mega Bloks brand, but if you like your building block sets with a more military oriented focus, then these aren’t a bad option.

www.megabloks.com/en-us/shop/construction-toys/call-of-duty/?view=list

This article was originally posted on Tactical Fanboy, where pop culture meets tactical.

Vacation Message

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

While I am out at Scout Camp this week with Tac Mite, Tactical Fanboy has been delivering the mail, and it’s seemed like Christmas season. So lets all give him a hand for making SSD happen these past (and next) few days!

Hip, Hip, Huzzah!

Hip, Hip, Huzzah!

Hip, Hip, Huzzah!

Tactical Fanboy Morale Patches

Monday, July 15th, 2013

TF Patches

Check out Tactical Fanboy for details.

Coming Soon

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

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S.H.O.V.E.L.

Monday, June 17th, 2013

This story originally posted on Tactical Fanboy.

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The S.H.O.V.E.L. or Semi-Horned Oblong Versatile Eating Ladle, is not just an ordinary titanium spork. It’s also has a serrated knife, bottle cap opener, and six feet of red paracord wrapped around its body. Well, all this, and it also happens to be open-source. The product page includes the data sheet and CAD files so, given the proper tools, you can make your own S.H.O.V.E.L. and even make improvements to the design.

www.sparkfun.com/products/11763

HSP Winter Problem Solver AAR – TD2-TD5

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Tactical Fanboy attended the Haley Strategic Partners Winter Problem Solver course in Telluride, Colorado from March 31st through April 4th. This was his first time attending a mountaineering/survival course and this AAR is in his voice. You can read about the equipment he used here and TD1 here.

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At the start of TD2, we met up at HSP headquarters, did an equipment weigh-in, then loaded up our packs and took a 1-1/2 hour drive towards the staging area. After being assigned to our teams (I was assigned to Team 1) and undergoing a team exercise, a map folding competition for speed, we headed towards the campsite. Early on in the march towards camp we underwent a simulated rescue mission, looking for victims [beacons] trapped under the snow. Team 1 headed downhill and managed to find two beacons, wading through thigh-deep snow in the process; Team 2 took the high ground and also found two beacons. Afterwards, we discussed the exercise and continued our march towards base camp.

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One fairly challenging march later, featuring a modest incline, switchbacks, and requiring the use of our showshoes, we made it to the campsite. It was a wooded area featuring a hut, outhouse, and trash/recyclables area. The hut was home base for the majority of the class. It featured a stove and 8 sleeping mats, and functioned as a (mostly) dry place to eat or undertake a bit of classroom instruction. Our packs, and by extension most of our gear, was stored outside most of the time, hung on a rack.

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Throughout TD2 through TD4, we practiced a variety of survival and mountaineering skills:

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Shelter building was a primary focus. We built two shelters during our time at the campground; every attendee was required to sleep at least one night outside (I slept two). Team 1 completed two separate hybrid snow trenches/caves, while Team 2 completed two separate snow caves, the latter of which was large enough for at least six people, eight if space wasn’t a concern.

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We practiced techniques for efficiently traversing up and down a slope. These techniques included different foot positions and use of our ice axes as another point of contact and for self arrest in case of a fall. We also practiced glissading.

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We did a brief class on fire building. Afterwards, we were tasked with building a fire of our own. We separated into our teams and had to built a fire using a striker, a bit of a starting material, and whatever we could gather from the environment.

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We practiced rope work as well. Aside from a few important knots, including the double fisherman’s knot, multiple forms of situational figure eights, and the munter mule, we also worked on rappelling and ascending on a rope, and the use of a pulley system, primarily for pulling up a rescue litter.

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Other skills we worked on included navigation, methods on how to transport an injured person, and additional rescue work in the form of hunting for buried beacons.

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At the start of TD5, we rose just before sunrise and cleaned up camp. We then geared up and started to descend from the camp grounds. Shortly after our return started, Travis announced a helicopter was coming to pick us up. We prepped our gear and went in two chalks; a third trip was made to transport our gear. It was my first time ever riding in a helicopter and it was an exhilarating experience.

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We were dropped off at Telluride ski resort before the general public arrived so we could undertake our final challenge for the class, reaching the 13,230ft Palmyra peak. This involved traversing the increasingly steep ridge using minimal equipment. Thankfully, one of the ski resort SAR personnel was willing to make the climb first, placing footholds for the rest of us to use. Although that did take away some of the difficulty, it was still a challenging endeavor.

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When we reached the peak, we enjoyed a “special treat”, took some photos, and began our descent, retracing our path up. It was a bit faster going down, but also required using some of the descent techniques we practiced earlier in the week. As we returned, the skiers started to flock in. More than a few were grateful that there was already footholds available thanks to our ascent. It was a fantastic end to the class proper, and of course we took the obligatory final class photo:

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With this, the class was all but over. We descended into Telluride using the fantastic gondola system, where we enjoyed a great meal at a restaurant called ‘Oak…The new Fat Alley’. We then said our thanks and goodbyes to our two resident SAR personnel, and made the long drive back to HSP headquarters where we gave back our issued equipment, received our certificates of completion, and reflected on the class.

Final note: The Winter Problem Solver course offers a wealth of information regarding survival in a winter environment and mountaineering in general. However, due to the relatively short duration of the course in conjunction with the volume of information, it shouldn’t be considered a definitive source of skills for either of these topics; rather, it should be treated as more of an introduction. Additionally, this particular Winter Problem Solver was a “beta course” in that it was the very first run of the course. I can all but guarantee the course will become further refined and may even change in content as further courses are planned and run.

HSP Winter Problem Solver AAR – TD1

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Tactical Fanboy attended the recent Haley Strategic Partners Winter Problem Solver course in Telluride, Colorado from March 31st through April 4th. This was my first time attending a mountaineering/survival course.

It was a bright, sunny, early morning when we all met up at the Haley Strategic Partners headquarters for Training Day 1. The day started with an opportunity for introductions, as we all stood in a circle and one-by-one we gave our name, occupation, goals for the class, and one thing we were good at. Students came mostly from all over the States, with one student hailing from Canada. It was great to hear all the various occupations people held (doctor, arborist, software programmer, writer…) and that a few of the students were taking a class like this for the first time, myself included. This also gave us an opportunity to meet our instructors, two Search and Rescue personnel/Sheriff’s Deputies in addition to our host, Travis Haley.

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We then stripped our rucks and went over every item to ensure we were properly equipped for the class. We were also issued a logo’d Klean Kanteen and Moira fixed blade knife (more on these later) as well as additional class items and equipment as needed. After this, we repacked our rucks and stored them for the next day. The calass was also introduced to our beacons and completed a simple exercise to make sure they were functioning properly; this involved us sweeping for a signal at the far end of Travis’ yard that one of the SAR personnel had with them.

We stepped out for lunch, and upon our return convened to Travis’ office which was filled with, among other things, memorabilia from his military service. It’s here that we viewed a video presentation on avalanches. This was followed by a PowerPoint on weather identification and a PowerPoint on avalanches, headed by Travis and one of the SAR personnel respectively.

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As a final exercise for the day we drove out to the hill above the classroom which we climbed as a group. Once at the top, we did a lap around the perimeter of the summit; both exercises served as a test of our general endurance for the trip ahead. Despite being acclimated to the environment, I didn’t find myself ahead of the rest of the group when it came to ascending or running. When we descended, Travis, instead of marching down with the rest of us, decided to paraglide down; the below picture doesn’t do the act justice.

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With the exercise done, we returned to HSP for our final briefing of the day, followed by returning to our respective hotels in wait for TD2.

Stay tuned for a continuation of the HSP Winter Problem Solver AAR.

Tactical Fanboy Presents – HSP Winter Problem Solver AAR – The Equipment

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

I attended the HSP Winter Problem Solver course in Telluride, Colorado from March 31st through April 4th. This was my first time attending a mountaineering/survival course.

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Like any course, the Winter Problem Solver had its required equipment list:

-Winter appropriate clothing
-Winter hiking boots
-Cold weather hat, shade hat with brim
-Practical knife or multitool
-Sun screen
-Sun eye pro
-Water hydrating device
-Individual first aid/trauma kit or IFAK
-Quality headlamp + batteries
-Snowshoes
-Retractable ski poles
-Quality lightweight sleeping bag rated to 0*F
-Lightweight durable air mattress
-2 aluminum climbing rated locking carabiners

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To meet these requirements, the entire time I wore the Helly Hansen Dry Fly Pant, Arc’teryx LEAF Combat Pants, and an Arc’teryx Envoy SS shirt; the socks I used were the Darn Tough Vermont Extreme Cold Weather/Mountaineering Sock. The weather, surprisingly, wasn’t that cold with some days reaching highs up to the mid 50s. The addition of an extra layer or two, mostly a Crye Precision WindLiner and/or an Arc’teryx Atom SV Hoodie in MultiCam, proved more than enough clothing wise. The boots I wore were the Salewa Pro Guide Insulated Mountaineering boot, which I supplemented with a pair of OR Crocodile gaiters. Throughout the course, I wore an OR Seattle Sombrero because of its waterproof properties in addition to the wide brim which kept the sunlight out of my eyes, although I did have several other options for head covers, including an Outdoor Research Radiant Beanie, Outdoor Research Novo Watch Cap, Under Armor ColdGear Tactical Hood, The North Face Windstopper High Point Hat, and a black neoprene half-face mask. I also carried a pair of OR PS150 gloves and a pair of Arc’teryx Alpha SV gloves.

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Each member of the class was issued an HSP-branded Mora knife and Klean Kanteen before going out in the field, so although I brought my own knife, multitool, and hydration bladder, these items were ultimately unused and only added weight to my pack. We were issued, if needed, a climbing harness, helmet, shovel*, and ice axe. Mountain meals, rope and tubular nylon, beacons*, probes*, and other class materials were also provided by HSP. I had my own cooking stove, an MSR Reactor, and helmet, a Team Wendy Exfil Tactical Bump Helmet. My snowshoes and poles were both MSR Denali. The sleeping bag was a The North Face 0 degree Dark Star which I used with an REI Minimalist bivy sack. I paired this with a Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite; being a closed-cell foam pad, it didn’t suffer from deflation or potential puncture damage like an inflatable pad would. I also brought sunscreen, two carabiners, a Tikka 2 headlamp, an ITS Tallboy trauma kit and pouch, and a pair of Smith Cascade Classic Snow Goggles in addition to my personal sunglasses; I ended up not needing the goggles.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned on the list but ended up being required was a pair of camp shoes, slippers or other lightweight shoes for moving around a cabin. I just used my socks and changed out to a new pair just before sleeping, although this isn’t suggested. Other miscellaneous items I brought that weren’t on the list included a fire starting kit, snacks, a GSI Fairshare Mug, and toilet paper.

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All together, my fully-loaded pack, an Arc’teryx Khyber 80 in MultiCam, weighed in at just under 50 lbs, quite a bit heavier than what would be suggested. Unnecessary items included the aforementioned knife, multitool, hydration bladder, and goggles, along with additional hard shell layers, heavyweight base layer, trauma kit w/ pouch, and (arguably) my sleeping pad. Ultimately, given the planned environment, it was better to have these items and not need them than suffer without.

It’s also worth mentioning that I didn’t feel at all under prepared with the equipment I brought with me. I did, however, manage to snap my Light My Fire Spork Extra-Medium in half while I was cleaning it; going in with an extra spork, or possibly one made of metal would have been a solid decision.

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*The beacons, probes, and shovels were graciously provided by Backcountry Access.

Stay tuned for more information on the HSP Winter Problem Solver, including a full report on the course proper.

This article was originally posted on Tactical Fanboy.