Tuesday, April 14, 2009

essential skills for the post-apocalyptic world

The Independent | I couldn't believe classes like this even existed. In the last 48 hours, I'd learned to hot-wire a car, pick locks, conceal my identity, evade attack dogs, and escape from handcuffs, flexi-cuffs, duct tape, rope, and nearly every other type of restraint.

The course was called Urban Escape and Evasion, which offered the type of instruction I'd been looking for to quell my anxieties about the headlines I read in the newspapers every day, threatening riots, terrorism, economic collapse, and citywide strikes. The objective of the class was to learn to survive in a city that had turned into a battleground. Most of the students were soldiers and contractors who'd either been in Iraq or were about to go, and wanted to know how to safely get back to the green zone if trapped behind enemy lines.

The class was run by a company called onPoint Tactical. Its founder, Kevin Reeve, had been the director of Tracker School, America's pre-eminent wilderness survival centre, before setting off on his own to train Navy SEALs, Special Forces units, SWAT teams, paratroopers, marines, and snipers. As a bounty hunter, his partner, Alwood, had worked with the FBI and Secret Service to help capture criminals on the Most Wanted list.

For our next exercise, we walked inside to a shooting range behind the classroom where an obstacle course had been set up. Alwood handcuffed me again, adding leg chains to my feet. I then ran as fast as I could through the course, ducking under and climbing over chairs and benches, simulating a prison escape.

"We're nine meals away from chaos in this country," Reeve lectured afterward, explaining that after just three days without food, people would be rioting in the streets. "With gas and corn prices so high, recent events have made it much more likely that you'll be needing urban escape and evasion skills in this lifetime."

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