DARC LECTC LEVEL 1
Why you should shut the fuck up and attend if you carry a gun for a living….
So if you’re looking for a tell all AAR on DARC LECTC so you can come prepared, you’re not gonna find it here. This AAR in some aspects is going to be vague, on purpose, because there are many aspects of this course that need to be left out and be a mystery to you. The reason for this is because there are many surprises in the course that serve as learning points and would lose its training value if you knew what was up ahead. I’m going to share my experience while at DARC and also try to explain why you shouldn’t want to go to this course, but rather NEED to go to this course if you do professional level shit for a living. I will say, this course is more geared to the LE SWAT Officer, but regular street level non-tactical knuckle draggers could benefit greatly from this course. Also, Im a spazmatic ADHD mofo, so if I stray off on to rabbit trails or rapidly change thoughts, blame it on that. Lastly, I only half way follow the rules of grammar and use some slang/half ass spelled words, so I don’t need a lesson on it from your English professor wanna be ass, just read the shit and move on.
This is Where I Tell You How Shit Went Down
So let me tell ya bout me for a second…..I’m a police officer in the Houston Region and serve as a full time range master currently. I’ve been in this position for 2 and half years and also serve on a part time regional county SWAT team for the last 5 years. In this capacity I serve as an entry team member and have had a decently wide array of exposure in my time to different stuff where shit gets real. Also, prior to playing cops and robbers for a living I was in the Marine Corps for 4 years where I served as a Machine Gunner (0331) and had two combat deployments to Al Anbar Province, Iraq (2006 and 2007).
Well enough about me, who gives a fuck. So I got presented the opportunity to attend this course, which was number 1 on my bucket list, at the last minute. Despite the last minute notice and heavy financial investment involved, I still jumped at it. Also, to go ahead and invalidate your excuses out the gate, my agency did not send or pay for the course and I had to take vacation to attend this course. Everything was out of pocket. Once I received the invite, I called one of my teammates to see if he wanted to go and like me, he jumped at the opportunity. So once I convinced the wife to let me go, I started acquiring all the gear needed, which is semi steep. Once I acquired all my gear and equipment, I anxiously waited two weeks until it was time to go do gangster shit.
We arrived in Arkansas the night before, on Saturday, to get all set. Sunday came and we headed to DARC to meet with Rich Mason and get our briefings. I will say, DARC is an impressive place. It hands down has the best shoot house I have ever seen, especially the cat walk system, but….I haven’t seen a ton of shoot houses, so my word doesn’t mean a whole lot in that realm. Once inside the team room, they have badass cubby spaces for you to put all your shit for the course. We then went to the safety briefing and prepped gear. We also got our team assignments. If you’re hoping to be with your homies on a team together, your shit outta luck. Rich designs this around a multi-jurisdictional response, so your split up and grouped with guys from other places so you get used to working with people you don’t know. After that we bounced and headed to get dinner and one last big ass ice cold deliciously flavored American beer. My teammate and I ate with Bill Blowers and his teammate from Washington. Bill is a legit dude who has been in the SWAT game for a minute now. A lot of you will prolly recognize his name.
Monday morning comes……just go with an open mind, cause it’s not what you think it will be. The layout of this course will primarily be learning during the day and doing gangster shit at night. The lead instructor for the course is Rich Mason. He’s a burly red neck who is funny as hell. Dude also has an answer for just about every question you might have. Im genuinely impressed at his knowledge base, so when he speaks, shut up. His right hand man is “Cool Travis”. Travis is knowledgeable as hell too, but I will warn ya in advance, if you don’t have thick skin, he might get to you, but it’s all in good fun.
So we started out with some classroom time, which is what everyone just loves, but it’s genuinely necessarily. You get nuggets of information pertaining to terrorism and how to plan for it. Something I want to reiterate, if you’re a high speed low drag wear lots of velcro SWAT dude coming to this course for dynamic warrant tactics and things of such nature, this is the wrong class. A lot of the tactics you learn wont work in a 1100 square foot crackhead house. However, you’re in luck, cause Rich offers a class for that. Actually, the fuckin guy has a class for just about everything tactic related out there. Wanna blow shit up, he’s got that. Wanna jump outta an airplane, he’s got that. Wanna learn how to be a dude meat magnet, he’s prolly got that too.
Now that I got my first “squirrel” moment out the way, back to day 1. So anyways, after a little classroom time, you head to the shoothouse. This beast is huge and is a purposely built semi cluster fuck. Above it is a legit cat walk system which allows you access to see every square inch of the house. With that, a lot of the time when he is teaching a tactic, half the class stays down and the other half goes up, which allows every student to fully see what is happening and grasp it. After learning a certain building block, as I like to call it, you head out with your team do dry runs.
Rich has an Instructor Development program where prior graduates come out and work towards becoming full-fledged instructors. With this, there is no shortage of instructors there to answer your questions and help correct you when you’re doing a tactic incorrectly or just generally looking like a soup sandwich.
This continues on throughout the day until the sun goes down. This is when shit gets really real. Everyone is a badass during dry runs, but when they send the bees at you is when boys become men. So, you gear up and head in with your team. Don’t worry about bringing your Force on Force face protector or paint ball mask, your gas mask covers that job for ya. As Rich says, “Freedom loves the Gas Mask and if you don’t love your Gas Mask then you obviously don’t love Freedom”. Anyways, there are some lessons learned the first night and sometimes the best teacher is pain. There is a reason why my certificate included the nickname “Bullet Trap” on it. Despite me looking like I had leprosy and getting my lunch money taken against OpFor, I learned a lot of lessons. Each time you get drilled by a sim round, you learn where you vulnerability was and how to fix it. This continues to build all week until you turn the tables.