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Regaining Control – Through Training

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There are times in life that I feel I have no control over anything that is happening around me. Recently, there has been a whirlwind of events that have most all of the patriot community on edge, including myself. These combined events have, once again, left me feeling I that I have no control. It is at times like these that I have always found solace and perspective by returning to my training. From the time I was 12 years old, I have made training in martial arts an integral part of my lifestyle.


Sometimes, the only thing that we truly can have a modicum of control over is our own body and mind. I haven’t been able to partake in what I call “fight training” since I moved up to the mountains of northwest Montana. I have however, been blessed with the opportunity to start training regularly in another form of martial arts. Instead of boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, or Judo, it is now small team tactics, digging in defensive positions, and creating hasty ambushes. There is a lot of overlap between hand to hand combat and combat using firearms. But there are so many new skills to learn. These are skill sets that I believe all Americans need to be learning as soon as possible. Skills that need to be taught to our children so that they may have a better chance surviving, thriving and, finding happiness in the economic and social nightmare they are inheriting from us. I know there are a lot of you that are reading this that already have these skill sets in their tool box from doing your part for our country. But there are just as many, if not more, that have not yet looked at the reality that we may see a time very soon that these skill sets may be very important in the heartland of America. Do not let recent history fool you. We are heading into a dynamic shift in our economy and culture. For those of you who have not ever been in the military or even a tactical training class. I am going to run you through what the experience of going through a 3 day and 2 night training class is like. I hope you will see that this is something that most anyone can attend and get through. You don’t need to be a veteran, merc or “operator”. In fact, most of these classes are populated by everyday folks like you and I. I hope it will motivate you to find a school and class in your area and give it a chance. I hope that you will find that when the world is raging out of control around you. That you too can find a refuge and new amount of self control through the discipline of training.


Before you attend a training there are a couple of points that I need to stress to everyone. The first is the absolute necessity for PT (Physical Training.) I don’t care how good of shape you think you are in; it is always the best course of action to begin to up your game. I can only relate this to my time in the ring and fight experience, as I have never been in a firefight/combat situation. But I can tell you that strength and endurance trumps technique any day of the week. He who is in better shape will win the fight 9 times out of 10. OK…Ok already…I can already hear the emails I soon will be getting telling me about how your body is broken and you are too sick. Folks its time to GET INTO SHAPE….as a country! As long as you are making progress from where you were yesterday, then you are winning. Do things at the pace you need to, but don’t cheat yourself. Push yourself everyday and you will be astonished by the results in both your body and mind. You also need to be sure that your basic safe gun handling, including clearing malfunctions and basic marksmanship is at a good basic level. If you need to find a local gun range in your area and ask who would be a good local instructor to help you get up to snuff in these areas.


Once you are ready find a training group in your area start looking, be sure to ask others about their experiences there, and read reviews. Oath Keepers will also be posting a list of recommended training instructors / schools across the country. My experience has recently been with the North Idaho Training Center. These guys all have the type of background and experience you want to look for when selecting a school. Their lead instructor has a military career that spans over three decades and includes having attended pretty much every school that had been offered including Airborne, HALO, and numerous weapons and combatives. The other instructors have either served tours overseas, in combat theaters, or spent years and years training under folks that have. The point I am trying to make is that when selecting a school try and surround yourself with excellence. If you surround yourself with people whose skillsets are greater than yours, then you will rise to their level. Over the next year we will be compiling a comprehensive list of trainers and schools that we would recommend to our membership. These recommendations will come through experiences we have had attending their classes and getting to know their Cadre (leadership team.)


So here is what you can expect once you sign up for one of these courses, again I am basing this particular article on the courses offered by The North Idaho Training Center.  The following experience is based on taking a class with NITC and only reflects their methodology.


The first thing you need to do is to find a course that you would want to take. This is usually done by visiting the website and checking for any upcoming courses they may have listed usually on a school calendar. After selecting a course, you then need to book a class. First, you must first figure out which class you can and want to take (often there are prerequisites) from their calendar. Then book the class by paying a Non-refundable deposit. Your deposit is usually non-refundable, but you can often transfer it to another class. You must call or email within 72 hours of the class, if you cannot make it, in order to transfer your deposit. You will forfeit your deposit if they do not hear from you more than 72 hours from the start of the class.


You will then be emailed a list of items that you will need to take this class. It generally includes a sh!t-shower-and-shave-kit, tent, sleeping system appropriate for the terrain and time of year that the class will held in, and enough food and water to sustain you through the training period. The average class at NITC is 3 days and 2 nights.


On the first day you are given a rally point to go and meet at, this is usually the parking lot of the closest grocery store or other easily found local landmark. From there a member of the Cadre will come meet you, make sure you have the required items for that particular training and then take you up via convoy to the training location. This is usually a piece of privately owned land that is literally in the middle of nowhere. I have taken courses from the high mountain ridges of Northern Idaho, the valleys of Montana in the middle of winter, to the desert basins of Nevada in the heat of summer.

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The first day of a Level I class starts off with getting camp prepared, setting up tents, cook areas and latrines. You are first instructed that you must now act as if you are in a combat zone. It is required that through out the entire weekend you will never be out of arms reach of your rifle. You then will then be broken up into teams and leadership of those teams established. After this you move onto digging in defensive positions, most of you will know these as fox holes. These defensive positions will be used extensively through out the training. You will be taught how wide and deep to make these and how to best conceal them as well. You will also establish your safe firing boundaries. After you are dug in, you will then be cycled through a couple of class room sessions usually covering basic comms, including proper radio etiquette and use, basic land navigation, which includes proper use of a compass and map, using ranger beads and any other basic skill sets that you will need to build upon once you start going out on reconnaissance missions. I know that comms and land navigation aren’t nearly as sexy and tacti-cool to learn, as jumping right into the firearms and range work. But keep in mind that in the real world you need to be able to navigate to your enemy locations before any sort of firefight can ensure this is also true for effective comms. But we must have these basic skill sets under our belts to become affective warriors.



After these class room lectures you are taught the basics of moving as a small team. From different formations, to crossing linear danger areas, to hand signals, you will practice these skills as a team. You will be using them the rest of the weekend. From there you will also learn how to handle a hostile enemy contact and how to break away from that contact using smoke.


Now there will be an equipment check on your rifles and magazines to ensure you are carrying NO LIVE ROUNDS. You are then issued a BFA (Blank Firing Attachment) and can purchase magazines loaded with blank ammunition. These usually run about $10 a magazine (28 rounds, 30 will cause a jam.)


You are given time to eat all 3 meals. Also, if ever you need water, hot coffee or a break from the cold or heat, students are always welcome to stop by the command tent to get a brief rest. Please note that the Cadre understand this is just class and that different students will have different limitations both physically and mentally. They are not looking to break you down just get you to push yourself (always within your own safe limits.)


Before the sun goes down you will also learn how to “stand to” this is what happens when an enemy force comes upon your base and attacks. These can and do happen through out the night.


By the end of the first day most of the students are worn out, sore, tired, and looking forward to a good nights sleep in their cozy sleeping bags. But the enemy doesn’t care if you’re worn out and in a deep sleep. The Cadre will not afford you this luxury either. Through out the night your camps defensive positions will be tested by an opposing force on foot, quad, and motorcycle. You can call in parachute flares for a brief periods of illumination. Being able to acquire a human target in your sights during a period of confusion, gun shots ringing out through the nights by the hundreds, thunder bangs, simulated artillery and clouds of smoke from smoke grenades. Put this all together and you have an idea of what a typical night of training is like.


The next day begins with breakfast followed by another class on applying camouflage and how to properly do a reconnaissance patrol. After lunch, you break back up into your teams and begin to work on your land navigation. It is important you learn to do this competently during the daylight hours as the success of your mission that night will depend upon it.


After breaking for dinner you will once again break into your teams. You are then each given a mission to complete that night. This in my case was a night reconnaissance. Apparently, the infamous Leroy Jenkins gang (or at other times an ISIS cell) has been active in your area of operation. Your mission is to land navigate a predetermined course (in the dark) get eyes on the operations of the gang and return undetected to inform Command what is going on. The tricky part is remaining undetected as there are numerous patrols in and around the area in which they are operating. This mission often takes many hours to complete. But, I can tell you the thrill of being hunted and evading capture with parachute flares going off, hundreds of rounds of blanks rattleing, and the sound and feel of simulated artillery causing the earth to shudder all around you, is as close to combat as you are going to come in a training scenario.  The final morning is spent going over the after action reports, and answering any questions that the students may still have on the topics that we have covered that class. Bear in mind, this is just a level 1 training class. In my next article “The Need for National Standards” we will be going over the types of classes that that make up the 3 levels of course work that NITC has put forward as their training standard. It will be this system or one very much like it that will be adopted by Oath Keepers as its national standards required for our Community Preparedness Teams and to be a part of any Oath Keeper operation in the future. It is by having these standards that we can hold ourselves to a higher standard and gain a little more control over our own lives and ultimately in the direction our country is heading.



Jason Van Tatenhove


Stewart Rhodes

Stewart is the founder and National President of Oath Keepers. He served as a U.S. Army paratrooper until disabled in a rough terrain parachuting accident during a night jump. He is a former firearms instructor, former member of Rep. Ron Paul’s DC staff, and served as a volunteer firefighter in Montana. Stewart previously wrote the monthly Enemy at the Gates column for S.W.A.T. Magazine. Stewart graduated from Yale Law School in 2004, where his paper “Solving the Puzzle of Enemy Combatant Status” won Yale’s Miller prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights. He assisted teaching U.S. military history at Yale, was a Yale Research Scholar, and is writing a book on the dangers of applying the laws of war to the American people.



  1. Jason – Excellent article. The adoption of standards is a great way to bring everyone to proficiency, introduce common tactics and settle on communications protocols. I applaud this effort and look forward to participating. I would also like to recommend Max Velocity Tactical Max provides first rate training and his qualification standards appear to be consistent with the goals of the NITC.

  2. It’s sad when the author says he can hear the emails flowing in full of excuses. I’m always amazed and shocked at how many people don’t take health and fitness seriously. Round certainly is a shape in the survival/preparedness/3% community. If people took health and fitness as serious as they take their religion, hate, guns and ammo preps, etc. just think how much better off everyone would be.

  3. First let me say that I envy those of you who are still young enough and fit enough to partake in this type of training. I can promise you that it would be an experience you will never forget. However, as Oath Keepers, our mission is defensive in nature and a lot of this training is offensive in nature. We go out of our way to explain to people that we are not a militia. When you look like militia, think like militia and train like militia, saying you’re not a militia will have a hollow sound. So when coming up with standards of training, which is needed in the worst way, they should be consistent with our mission and our Code of Conduct.

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