Living Social: “Hey, so we’re offering this new Living Social Adventure Deal to the public where they get to spend a day shooting big guns and getting training on aggressive driving techniques. It’s called the The Ultimate Adrenaline Rush. Do you guys want to beta test it for us?”
BYT: “Does the Pope shit in his hat?”
Now, I have never shot a gun before, or been in a fight since maybe 7th grade, and I drive a Mini Cooper, and most people think I’m gay. So obviously I was the best choice to head this up. But I needed backup, so I called up the adorably diminutive man about town and friend of BYT Andrew Bucket. Duh. We of course also needed some photographers to document, especially the parts where we cried, so I drafted Shauna (cause she has never been seen in anything but heels her entire life)
and Amy (cause she’s my hot Asian wife who looks good with a gun).
I packed my camo print G-Star jacket, applied a temporary tattoo, and found some plastic army men. Bucket grabbed a pen and paper to write war letters home. We were scared, but prepared.
And since we were soon to become an elite fighting unit that functions as one, we’ll spend the rest of this narrative tag teaming. So Colonel Bucket can take over for a bit…
I actually come from a military family– my father is a retired Green Beret, my uncle is a Colonel in the Army and flies blackhawk helicopters, my other uncle was Special Forces, and my mom is a retired Army nurse. I’ve spent most of my adult life doing performance art and buying clearance rack clothes from Chicos (because the perfect apparel for eccentric men in their 20s is clothing made for batty women in their 50s) but my rough and tumble family loves my stoney ass anyway, and I’ll tell you something about firing a gun- it gets you high.
So when I got the opportunity to try Living Social’s modern warfare training adventure dealio I found the least chauncy outfit in my ‘drobe and got a good night’s rest, because this battle was scheduled to rage at 5:00— sorry, sorry, O five hundred hours.
We drove out beyond the buildings and then beyond the strip malls. Soon enough there were fast food shacks every 20 miles, but nothing except amber waves of grain in between. Cale’s themed playlist (including With a Gun by Steely Dan, Son of a Gun by The Vaselines, Gunpowder & Led by Miranda Lambert, and That’s When I Reach for My Revolver by Mission of Burma just to name a few) and a giant bag of beef jerky were the only creature comforts on the desolate stretches of lost highway.
Turning into the G4S Training Facility was mundane enough, just a curly road with a modest sign to indicate your arrival on the obscure back road in West Point Virginia, about 3 hours from Columbia Heights. It led to a parking lot with modular trailer units (the type they use for classrooms) and our point man spotted us from a mile away, greeting us with half a smile at the sight of our ridiculous photo props. After taking some potentially offensive bullshit hipster art photos that were censored by Living Social, we were led to the debriefing room to begin the journey.
We met our team leaders for the day– a collection of retired law enforcement, coast guard, special ops, and SWAT team. We had some coffee and signed a waiver. They issued protective eye wear. Everyone was carrying a side-arm.
We filed out of the trailers and were taken to a caravan of SUVs outfitted with roll-bars and were driven a mile deeper into the facility, where structures made to look like city streets came into focus. A helicopter was hovering just in the distance, part of another training program, and everywhere around us were junky cars. I saw a large bird in the air and asked my team leader if it was a hawk, and he said that it wasn’t a third as big as a blackhawk, and I realized he was talking about the helicopter, and then I got embarrassed and didn’t say anything more about the actual bird.
On that awkward note, back to Cale:
The day long training is divided into two sections, with the first half being aggressive driving. We were given expert instruction and demonstrations of various tactical maneuvers aimed at keeping us alive in hostile situations, and then plopped in the drivers seat to show off what we’d supposedly learned.
One highlight was the mock-car-jacking scenario. I drove to a checkpoint stop sign and was approached by a seemingly harmless person asking for ID, and then on the opposite side of the car an attacker drew his gun! But what to do – an idle car blocked my path? Guess I’ll just get shot in the face. Nope, not at G4S International Training. I floored the accelerator and plowed through that car like a maniac. Yes, you get to ram cars demolition derby style. This is probably worth the admission price alone.
The most harrowing moment of the day was when we had to master spinning someone out during a high speed chase. With an instructor riding along, we were shown the precise spot where you can nudge the car in front of you, causing their tires to smoke as the giant hunk of steel twirled past your windshield while you continued on your path unharmed and looking bad ass. The ease of this maneuver will tempt me during moments of road rage for the rest of my life. After completing it, you get to swap spaces and get your own ass spun out.
Additional moves like J-turns were practiced, and I gotta tell you, these two pansies did pretty well. Much of this had to do with our instructors, who contrary to my expectations, were easy going and encouraging. The entire day took on much more of a fun obstacle-course-adventure-vibe than a boot camp-vibe. The only reason I broke a sweat was because it was 90 degrees in February for some reason.
For the driving finale, the instructors took us on a 100 mile per hour demonstration of everything learned thus far and then some, complete with extras firing shotgun blanks at us. It was better than Kings Dominion, and if I wasn’t so constipated from my poop schedule being all out of whack due to the early morning start time, I’m sure I would have devalued these cars a little further.
Ok, back to Bucket:
Part 2 – We arrived at the gun range and received instructions on how to load our own magazine of ammunition. Multiple stations were setup each featuring a different weapon: A Glock 9mm handgun, an M4 semiautomatic with a laser scope, and a fully automatic MP5 machine gun. Plenty of rounds were squeezed off as various targets were pummeled to oblivion and the expelled cartridges piled up. Many a Facebook profile picture was taken and Cale and I had numerous outfit and accessory changes.
The playlist during this portion was very possibly the Empire Records soundtrack (I definitely heard Sugar High) and I started getting kind of self-conscious even knowing what soundtrack it was, but then AC/DC greatest hits came on and I was fine after that.
After getting a go at each weapon we were ready to simulate a hostage situation in a huge fake house that had been constructed next to the range. We were issued airsoft pistols (sort of like paintball guns, but with little pellets instead) and sweet face masks, and told there would be an unknown number of bad guys in the house who would not hesitate to fire at us without mercy. In teams of five, we made our entry.
Using a real flashbang grenade we stunned any criminals immediately inside the front door, and then moved as a tactical unit to clear each room of the house. In the first room there was a bad guy behind a dresser who fired shots as we entered, I took one in the hand and Cale was shot in the gut, but like the real men we are, we fought through the pain and killed him. The other unit encountered heavy fire from an annex in the living room but took cover and managed to kill the bad guy by shooting him about 24 times.
In the deepest room of the house there was a bad guy who had taken a hostage and had a gun to his head. We attempted to make the bad guy drop his weapon but confusion amidst the AC/DC playing on the stereo and obstructions in our view of the suspect caused us to eventually fire at will, and we killed both the bad guy and the suspect by shooting them upwards of 150 times.
Our teams leaders congratulated us on a mission sort of accomplished and we were driven back to the trailers for a pizza party. I ate five pieces and then my tum hurt. I told the instructor Brian that my tum hurt and he said he didn’t have time for hurt tummys.
If you don’t have time for hurt tummys either, Living Social will offer the Extreme Driving + Weapons Training: The Ultimate Adrenaline Rush Adventure Deal on 10 different dates every Saturday from April 7, 2012 to June 9, 2012.
The cost is $199 if you take the chartered coach bus, or $179 if you drive yourself. The bus departs from DC at 8am, and everyone will arrive at the site at 10:30am.
You’ll get a half day of driving and a half day of shooting just like we did + some Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ.
And don’t forget your tactical pants:
And God Bless America.
And now a million more photos: