All I can say is "wow." Two and a half days of seminar-ific information and experiences. Our hosts made sure that our time was well spent on learning about gun safety, technical gun issues (A bullet is not the same thing as a cartridge. And it's called a "magazine"--never a clip.), and basic issues about carrying, concealment, and comfort levels. I met some incredibly interesting authors and had the pleasure of seeing old friends, too. (Karm, hope you got back home safely!) Of course, since I'm picture challenged, I forgot to bring my camera, but I'm hoping to pass on a few photos of my experiences soon, after fellow authors have shared their pix.
As educational as day one in the classroom was, yesterday was what really gave me food for thought. We visited a local gun range, where we had the opportunity to fire everything from a sub-machine gun to shotguns to handguns to a "sniper rifle"--a .50 cal. Barrett. You guys, this rifle was HUGE and can reach a target located a mile and a half away. We were asked to hit a small bottle about 500 yards in the distance. I came close, but no cigar. What was amazing is that I got used to the loud BANG as well as the force of the fired round: just standing near the rifle when it's fired sends a push of pressure against a body.
Then came something called "simmunitions training." Oh. My. God. First, let me mention that a private tactical training outfit was there to lead us writers through our educational journey: these men and women belong in Bombshell and highly-trained operator novels. They are well-spoken, thoughtful, and impressive. They train military and law enforcement. You getting the picture?
So..."simmunitions." Basically, this is an extreme exercise designed to test an individual under majorly stressful situations. I'm talking almost unbearable adrenaline, you all. As they prepped us for the scenario, I actually wanted to throw up, among other things. Our instructors made good use of the psychology of terror to amp us up, but that was only the beginning. A group of us were taken behind a shed so we couldn't see what was happening with each chosen participant after they were taken away. You know that had an effect. Previously, they'd told us that we would find out things about ourselves in this situation that might not be pretty--I think that scared me most of all. Who wants to face the fact that you, perhaps, freeze under pressure? Who wants to find out that you're a coward?
Then our names were called and we were brought to the holding area, where we were given what amounts to a handgun/paint gun. We were suited up in body armor, a protective mask, and...a hood. Yes, I said A HOOD. From there, there was disorientation, then a nightmare situation that included a hostage, a man who was holding a "knife" to that hostage's throat, and a home that was supposed to be my very own. To make this short and sweet, let's just say that I hope none of us have to go through this no-win situation. It was excellent thriller training that I will never find on the internet or in a book.
I wish all research were this effective.