This article is the first in a series devoted to courses, certifications and workshops that members of The Training Adventure have attended, mainly by myself (Olly), at least to start!
One of the things I am big on both personally and as a coach is continued learning. As someone who is passionate about the outdoors and hiking, there are 3 things I consider to be important for regular and extended trips into the landscape.
This article covers developing my knowledge of the first point, navigation. I had accumulated some basic knowledge of navigation just by reading and teaching myself, however getting some quality instruction and some practical instruction was needed to really understand the skill of navigation.
Enter the guys at Avalanche Endurance Events. I first heard of AEE back in 2014, when a friend asked if I would do their Fan Dance event in July with him. I’d heard of the Fan Dance before whilst reading about special forces selection, but didn’t realise there was a way for civilians to have a go. I said yes, and 5 attempts and 4 completions later, the guys at AEE had solidified in my mind that they were a group of serious and committed professionals running a great series of events and training. I’ll give my verdict (tough but awesome) in a future blog.
My first Fan Dance finishers patch, earned July 2014
In 2016 I was considering taking the next step and attempting one of AEE’s test week marches (more on this in another blog!) The test week marches are all self navigated affairs in the Brecon Beacons and Elan Valley, so this was the final kick needed to learn some nav skills. AEE offer navigation and hill fitness training days to help people prepare, and so far I have completed 2 such days.
Getting to grips with the lay of the land and relating it to the map. Photograph courtesy of AEE
Both days undertaken have been with one of the company’s ex-special forces Directing Staff- DS Nick. The first was held in the Surrey Hills, and the second at Queen Elizabeth country park. Both locations were great for the courses, with a range of different terrains and features to aid with learning. The course started at 0930 and finished around 1630. A kit list and basic breakdown of the day were sent out via email beforehand, and the pre-course information was thorough and to the point.
The courses started with the basics of reading a map, orientation to the ground, the basics of the compass, and using the two together. DS Nick then introduced the concept of pacing, using a the number of steps taken over a set distance over varying terrains to be able to calculate the distance traveled, and combined with the time taken, speed over the ground. This then followed with the participants taking it in turns to plan and lead a navigational leg from point to point, with each leg putting into practice more skills, such as handrailing, and efficient route selection being hammered home.
The session also involved a good amount of hill fitness as well, especially in Queen Elizabeth Country Park, where I was first introduced to Butser Hill, and the lovely re-entrant hidden on the north side!
The importance if good route selection being hammered home by DS Nick! Photo courtesy of AEE
Both times attending these courses I have been thoroughly impressed, and it lead me to go on and attend their Test March qualification training day, and complete (just about!) the Iron Man test march. More to come on the Test March Q- course.
In short, if you are looking to improve your navigational skills, are looking for a practical hands on course, taught by blokes who have relied on these skills on operations, look no further than these training days. For more information regarding AEE’s training and events, check out their Facebook page, which can be found here.