Okay, so this will be relatively brief but i feel worth your time. Many of us dryfire our firearms (right??). Why? Well we understand that ammo is expensive, but mostly its due to time. I can spend 5-15min a day getting dry reps in a lot easier than driving 30min minimum to a range and spending 1-4 hours there if not more. Is it the same or as good as live fire? Eh, maybe not. However it still helps us to test out things and keep our skills up.
The disconnect I tend to see though is with gear. We add to cart, purchase, wait impatiently, receive and assemble, and then try it on just to say “heck yeah this is based!” All to not really use it until the next field outing that takes a day or more. How many of you have done just that, all to realize 4 miles in that your pack isnt working with your LBE, a pouch is rubbin a raw spot on your nipple, and your boots squeak like crazy? If this has ever been you or your just getting in to this and havent had the pleasurable experience mentioned above, let me offer a solution.
Yard work, AKA, CHORIN’.
I posted the above picture on IG and made the comment “now to go do some yard work” (roughly, bare with me, its been a bit). Several understood, but even more thought I was being funny or speaking some sort of secret squirrel language. However, Im being serious. Any time i get new kit in, ill set it up the way i think it will work best, and then let it sit until I can go out and do my typical yard/homestead chores. Why? Its a really easy way to test my kit or break in gear with only a little skin in the game.
Anyone who has done heavy yard work, in the Ozarks, in the summer; will tell you its not an easy task. Physically taxing stuff like putting up fence or clearing brush lends you to lots of walking, bending, pushing, pulling, carrying, and other body movements.
Yard work, when done correctly, can be very similar to field activities. The plus side is finding out when things arent going to work out WAY before it really matters. For instance. The above chest rig initially wouldnt hold a GI canteen. So, I put in a 32oz nalgene. It fit, seemed good to go, and so i stepped out to do some work. I found out quickly that the heigh of the nalgene was in the way with my arm movement and the bulk was really uncomfortable to my chest. Instead of being 5 plus miles in the woods I was at home. Able to take it all off, finish my work, and then reassess the setup. Once done, I went back to work and life was good.
That night I did the ol’ Wet-N-Stretch trick that anyone utilizing old Eagle Industry mag pouches and pmags knows so well. Soaked the GP pouch, convinced a GI Canteen to go in, and let it dry over night. Next day i threw the rig on and did some minor yard work while waiting for the grass to dry enough for mowing. All seemed well and by the time the grass dried it was time to do some work.
The day had begun to heat up at this point, so i tested another feature of the chest rig. Having the ability to un-zip and still secure the rig to help with cooling/heat shedding is a huge plus and I was happy to find the feature worked just as i had hoped. One of the major issues with chest rigs and other chest worn kit in my area is the hot months are extremely humid and you can feel almost suffocated with restrictive chest worn kit; especially on a long ruck or movement. The other side is the winter tends to lead to extra layers, so the retained g-hook strap allows me to open up the rig and fluctuate my layers without changing the actual settings of the harness.
Now to test with a ruck. The wife can attest this is a pretty usual occurrence around our house.
Threw on all my kit and went to push mowing. So now im dealing with multiple layers of kit, heat, movement, and pushing an object. All while under load. All similar to field conditions. This allowed me to determine pretty well that the kit system as a whole will work. All without having to leave my home property. Now I know, or at least am pretty certain, that I can wear the kit into the field without much issue. The best part? Im not miles away from home and miserable finding all of this out. Just like with firearm dryfire, Im testing all of this out way before any lives are (potentially) on the line or my team is relying on me. I have greatly decreased my risk of being a liability to those that matter.
Hopefully this will be helpful to some. Its not ground breaking, but its definitely not some I feel most consider in terms of training. So the next time you have kit to test, test it out for a few days or weeks at home doing some strenuous yard work before taking it to the field. It just might save you some heart (and body) ache.