Wednesday, October 23, 2013

SCA - Class 8

SCA - Class 8

    Hello everyone, welcome back and thanks for joining me! This has to be one of the most interesting classes in the SCA, as I’m sure you’ll agree. But let’s get started.

    Driving out to the Carthage range, I noticed that the moon was nearly full; it was large and low on the horizon, a pale light in the still bright evening sky. When Dad and I arrived, we pulled on our jackets and walked over to where a few of our classmates were standing, talking with the sheriff and a few deputies. This time Sgt. Davis was there. After the rest of the class arrived, we were each handed earplugs and given our instructions. We had to stay behind the parked car unless we were shooting. There were two deputies with assault rifles, AR-15s, on one side of the range while Sheriff Kaiser was on the other with a different gun.

    “The gun the sheriff has,” Sgt. Davis told us, “is a Thompson machine gun from WWII. It didn’t work when we got it, but someone had the right piece and we can now shoot it.”

Dad and Sheriff Kaiser

    The first three volunteers went forward, got their ammo and prepared for some shooting. Dad was one of the first to go. It looked rather fun. Sgt. Davis told me I was next, so I headed over to Sgt. Karraker. (He had been one of our instructors in the last class and, I found out later, is one of the snipers on SWAT.) He asked if I had ever shot a rifle before and after I told him no, he gave me a few basic instructions. It was pretty easy. I shot once, flipped the switch once, and fired twice. Then I moved the switch once more to fully automatic and as long as I held the trigger, it fired. That was rather fun and fast. I can see why the guys like going to the range and shooting.
Sheriff Kaiser giving me instructions about the Thompson

    Stepping back, I pulled out my camera and started taking some pictures. Then Sheriff Kaiser pointed at me and beckoned. It was my turn to shoot the Thompson. When I reached him he said with a grin, “I saw you lurking back there and I wasn’t about to let you leave without getting to shoot this gun.”
It sure was fun!

    I was delighted. There were no fancy switches on this gun, you just loaded it and shot, and as long as there were bullets in the chamber and your finger was pulling the trigger, it kept firing. I loved it! There didn’t seem to be as much “kick” to the Thompson as there was to the AR-15. And just knowing that it had been a part of history made it even better because I love history. I think that was probably the highlight of my evening right there, though the rest of class was fun, exciting and informative.

    Once everyone had gotten to shoot the guns, we moved back to the parked cars and prepared to watch three of the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) guys prepare to storm one of the targets. (Poor target, it didn’t even have a rubber-band gun to defend itself. :) )

Don't you just love his "outfit"?
Sgt. Karraker donned his “grass skirt” and disappeared behind the cars, since he is a sniper, while the other guys explained what they were going to do.

They were “stacked” and took turns firing. Because one of the guys was shorter, he was in front with the other two guys standing like you might see geese flying, in a wedge. These would fire over his shoulders. The reason they take turns firing is because the force of the gun being fired forces the middle man’s head in the opposite direction and if the guns on both sides were fired at the same time, the guy in the middle wouldn’t be able to shoot his gun because his head would be bobbing back and forth. First the right man fires, then the middle and then the left.
Storming the target!

    It didn’t take long to “storm” the target. Then, while we waited for the other members of the SWAT team to arrive, we were shown some things and there was talk about guns. The way they rattled off numbers and letters sounded like they knew what they were talking about, but it was all Greek to me. Sgt. Karraker was letting class members hold and sight his sniper rifle and one of the older members of the class brought it over to me and said, “I think you should get to see how heavy this is. Now, I don’t expect you to try and sight it ‘cause it is heavy, but—” and he handed me the gun. It was heavy! A little later Sgt. Karraker brought out his very expensive night vision lens. He can just snap it on to his rifle and things look like day. He passed it around. Wow, that was quite something. Since it was growing dark, the difference between seeing the targets with only my eyes and looking at them through the lens was night and day difference. Literally. One member of class said he wanted to use the lens to go coon hunting.
    By this time the moon was higher in the sky and it was growing rather chilly. Sgt. Davis said we just needed a good fire and to roast some s’mores. I think most members of class agreed. The other SWAT team guys arrived along with two others who were going to be playing the parts of “bad guys” a little later. We were told that one of them had agreed to be tazed for us! “These guys are great,” one of the SWAT team said. “They let us rough them up, gas ‘em, taze ‘em, all kinds of things.”
Tazing in action

    When they were ready, Sgt. Davis told us to pull out our cameras and phones and take pictures of the tazing. When he looked around a moment later, he gave a half chuckle and said, “Wow, this is going to be all over the internet!” Nearly every person had some device out for recording the event. We were just following instructions.
What the tazer shoots

    When someone is tazed, they are shot with two little things with tiny barbs like fish hooks in them. There is some sort of wire that runs from them back to the tazer and if the person (think bad guy) starts acting up once the five seconds are done, the officer can give him another five seconds.

    Next we were shown the vest that the guys wear. Boy, is it heavy! I wouldn’t be able to carry that thing for any length of time. There is a handle on the back of the vest and we were told that it’s there so that if any of the guys go down, he can be pulled out of danger by one of the other men. Whoever designed those vests was pretty smart to think of that. One thing I thought was interesting was that the SWAT team members don’t carry regular handcuffs. Instead they carry large zip-ties. “SWAT’s job is to go in and once they have every person neutralized (in handcuffs in one place), they let the detectives take over and SWAT leaves,” we were told. “But if you had to leave your $50.00 handcuffs on someone, you may not get them back. So, it’s easier to use zip-ties. Then, if the detectives decide that someone is okay, they can just cut the ties and set them free. Zip-ties are also a whole lot lighter and you can carry more.”

    The next event of the evening was the take down of the bad guys in their truck. The SCA class was divided and half of the members remained on the passenger side of the truck while the other half stationed ourselves near the driver’s side.

Two men were “stacked” on either side behind the truck, one guy was in the middle.

The Take Down
A command was given, a flash-bang was tossed beside the driver’s door and the SWAT team rushed forward. The single man in the middle climbed into the back of the truck while the guys on either side jerked open the truck doors and hauled the men out and onto the grass. It was all over in a matter of seconds, but we were told that even such a short, “simple” operation can take several hours to plan!
The driver is on the ground

    Gathering around the end of the truck, Sgt. Davis had a few things to say. He also had one of the SWAT reserves (There are some guys who like the excitement of SWAT so much that they work other jobs and volunteer their time to respond to SWAT calls.) tell us about and then demonstrate a silencer.
    “There really is no such thing as a silencer,” he told us. “It cuts down on the sound a lot, but it can’t silence the gun. So all those movies and things on TV that you’ve seen, where the gun just makes a whistle or some little click, that’s just Hollywood.” He moved to the range and loaded his rifle. There was a loud pop, but it certainly wasn’t quiet.
    “Shoot one of the other guns,” Sgt. Davis called to him, “so they can see the difference.”
    There is a big difference in noise. “After you’ve been shooting for a while with a silencer on your gun, it starts to feel like a sack of flour is tied to the front and it’s hard to hold it up.”
    Sgt. Karraker came up and told us a little about being a sniper. “The training is really tough,” he said. “But I like it.”
    “Yeah,” Dep. Peavler put in, “that’s cause he doesn’t have the brains to keep inside where it’s warm.”
    Sgt. Karraker grins. “I go out anywhere from several hours to thirty minutes before the entry team arrive. I have to sneak in and hide and then I give the entry team an up-to-date report about the house or building they are going to be going in. I’ll tell them who’s around, who comes and goes, when someone steps outside and anything that might be of help. We have to stay where we are for a long time. Once we were heading to a house and learned that the man who lives next door hates all law enforcement. Well, I snuck in and hid right beside that guy’s porch. He came out and called his cat and even dropped a bag of trash on my back and never knew I was there.”
    Dep. Peavler talked a little next. “We may give the snipers a hard time,” he said, “but we really couldn’t do it without them.”
Dep. Peavler and the sheriff's car!

    There were a few tools that we were shown and then we were done. It was only about 8:30, but we were all pretty cold and there wasn’t anything else planned.

    And this ends our night with SWAT and my favorite part, connecting with history in a real way. Will you be joining me next week as we learn about crimes against children and cyber crimes? I’ll be here waiting. Until then, this is Rebekah.

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