A lot of great shoot­ing schools are out there. A lot of great mar­tial arts and un­armed com­bat in­struc­tors are also out there. We’ve done our best to in­tro­duce you to as many of them as we can. But for all the ones we’ve cov­ered, there are still some re­ally fan­tas­tic hid­den gems. We re­cently found one such gem in the moun­tains of North­ern Ne­vada: Team TORN.

Team TORN ac­tu­ally started as TMTORN: Tac­ti­cal Mo­bil­ity and Tech­ni­cal Off-Road Nav­i­ga­tion. The fa­cil­ity was ini­tially built to teach some very par­tic­u­lar mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions the niche skill of us­ing off-road ve­hi­cles like side-by-sides and dirt bikes in hos­tile or non-per­mis­sive en­vi­ron­ments. While they con­tinue to teach this “very unique set of skills” they’ve since ex­panded their cur­ric­ula to in­clude dis­mounted land nav­i­ga­tion, com­bat­ives, shoot­ing, rope res­cue, sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, and ru­ral and ur­ban sur­vival skills. They’re cer­ti­fied by all of the fol­low­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions to teach their var­i­ous cour­ses: Mo­tor­cy­cle Safety Foundation, ATV Safety In­sti­tute, Recre­ational Off-High­way As­so­ci­a­tion, NRA, and USCCA.

Some­times, when you see an in­struc­tor or school with an ex­ten­sive list of “on-pa­per” cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, it can be an at­tempt to com­pen­sate for a lack of real-world ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­struc­tor cadre. In the case of Team TORN, even typ­ing that sen­tence made us snicker. The owner and lead in­struc­tor of Team TORN has over 18 years of Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions ex­pe­ri­ence and has served in some of that com­mu­nity’s most sen­si­tive roles. You’ll read that on their web­site, but we can ver­ify it first hand, as we per­son­ally met this in­di­vid­ual while de­ployed downrange on a sim­i­lar gov­ern­ment pro­gram. The au­thor has since hung up his hel­met to spell-check ar­ti­cles for a liv­ing, but sev­eral TORN in­struc­tors still run in those cir­cles at least part-time, so we’re not go­ing to go into a ton of de­tail about them.

That level of sub­ject-mat­ter ex­per­tise runs from top to bot­tom with the TORN cadre. All of their in­struc­tors are ei­ther for­mer Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions per­son­nel who re­tired with decades of ex­pe­ri­ence or, in the case of a cou­ple of their driv­ing in­struc­tors, in­ter­na­tional cham­pi­ons in their mo­tor­sport of

choice. With over a cen­tury of ex­pe­ri­ence in their in­cred­i­bly small train­ing team, you’re go­ing to be hard pressed to find that ra­tio of prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence at a lot of schools.

We re­cently had the chance to spend a long week­end at their moun­tain school house, prac­tic­ing ev­ery­thing from pre­ci­sion long ri­fle work, to driv­ing and navigating off-road ve­hi­cles. Their fa­cil­ity is cur­rently 643 acres, with plans for an ex­pan­sion that will put them over four fig­ures’ worth of acreage. They have ac­cess to 1,000 miles of trails, roads, and unim­proved off-road ter­rain with mean el­e­va­tion run­ning from 4,500 to 8,000 feet.

But nos­tal­gic scenery and dirt trails are hardly all they have to of­fer. The bunkroom, equipped with its own gun vault so you can store your gear right next to where you sleep, is steps away from the grill, gym, eat-in kitchen, and show­ers/bath­rooms. Im­me­di­ately upstairs is the team bar (one of the best we’ve seen in a long time) and class­room. All the meals we en­joyed dur­ing our time there were ei­ther catered by lo­cal small busi­nesses or cooked by neigh­bors us­ing from-scratch fam­ily recipes.

Whether you’re vis­it­ing Team TORN as a mil­i­tary unit, tac­ti­cal re­sponse team, or fam­ily-and-friends train­ing trip, the en­tire at­mos­phere of this place seems to pro­mote ca­ma­raderie in one form or an­other — whether the liv­ing quar­ters, the (lit­er­ally) home-cooked meals, nightly so­cial hour, or just the wel­com­ing at­ti­tude of the in­struc­tors. Also, both cell re­cep­tion and In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity are some­what spotty. We call this a big plus — you can fi­nally fo­cus on your train­ing and ap­pre­ci­ate the sur­round­ings with­out your elec­tronic leash con­stantly vi­brat­ing in your pocket.

We spent our first af­ter­noon hump­ing up and down slopes, shoot­ing one of their two par­tic­u­larly unique ri­fle cour­ses. This one, The Giffy Chal­lenge, is named in honor of fallen Gun­nery Sergeant “Giffy” — a friend and for­mer team­mate. The course con­sists of a num­ber of steel tar­gets laid into the sur­round­ing ter­rain at dis­tances be­tween 200 and 350 me­ters. Shoot­ers must nav­i­gate be­tween tar­gets on foot over chal­leng­ing ter­rain a to­tal of 800 me­ters. The low­est point on the course is 6,890 feet, and there’s a 200-foot el­e­va­tion gain across the dis­tance of the course. Only one tar­get is off an im­proved plat­form. The rest of the time you’ll be shoot­ing off rocks, branches, and tree stumps.

Most of the tar­gets can’t be hit from con­ven­tional stand­ing or prone po­si­tions. The des­ig­nated shoot­ing spots are also on a moun­tain­side, mean­ing you’ll have to crouch or kneel on var­i­ous in­clines/de­clines. While the course is de­signed to be shot on the clock, it was our first ex­er­cise with the TORN cadre, so we did it purely as an in­tro to the com­ing week­end. We used sev­eral of

the school-owned Daniel De­fense ARs with a va­ri­ety of sight­ing op­tions from fac­tory irons, to red dots and mag­ni­fied glass. While ring­ing steel at 350m with an ACOG isn’t typ­i­cally any­thing worth brag­ging about, the un­even tar­get dis­per­sion and ag­gres­sive cross-winds will force you to get fa­mil­iar with wind calls and holdovers. If those skills are new to you, or you hap­pen to be a lit­tle rusty, the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of Team TORN will cer­tainly give you some qual­ity learn­ing.

The next morn­ing started out with a cou­ple hours of com­bat­ives. Team TORN doesn’t en­dorse a par­tic­u­lar com­mer­cial sys­tem for hand-to-hand. It’s not Jiu-Jitsu, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, or Kali. What they teach is down-and-dirty street fight­ing. Their in­struc­tors have life­times of ex­pe­ri­ence op­er­at­ing in a wide range of hos­tile en­vi­ron­ments — some of which don’t per­mit the warm blan­ket of belt-fed weapons.

The tech­niques we re­hearsed were quick to learn and not re­liant on strength or form. With a base­line of phys­i­cal fit­ness and healthy doses of ag­gres­sion and over­whelm­ing vi­o­lence, we watched our fel­low stu­dents over­come the in­struc­tors and cre­ate enough time and space to es­cape some very ugly, very dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions. While our class was meant as a brief over- view, they’re fully ca­pa­ble of teach­ing a com­pre­hen­sive self-de­fense course, in­clud­ing the use of Red Man suits for full con­tact re­hearsals.

The rest of our morn­ing was spent in Land Nav­i­ga­tion class. Team TORN has part­nered with North 40 Res­cue in Mon­tana for their nav­i­ga­tion and tech­ni­cal res­cue classes. North 40 is run by an­other Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions vet­eran who spent a siz­able por­tion of his ca­reer teach­ing both nav­i­ga­tion and searc­hand-res­cue to his fel­low sol­diers. We spent our block of in­struc­tion get­ting ac­quainted with Garmin’s Rino se­ries of GPS de­vices. The Rino se­ries is an ex­cel­lent choice for team sports, like SAR or small-unit move­ment, as it packs a num­ber of fea­tures that al­low di­rect track­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion of other Rino-users.

Top­ics in­cluded ev­ery­thing from prac­ti­cal use of GPS to nav­i­ga­tional back­ground data, in­clud­ing how to en­sure your GPS is us­ing the same da­tum as your maps — ad­mit­tedly, it doesn’t sound like the coolest thing to learn.

But you know what else isn’t cool? Get­ting lost be­cause your GPS is giv­ing you co­or­di­nates that don’t align with your map, then hav­ing to get bailed out by your in­struc­tor. Ask us how we know.

Af­ter mak­ing it through our 1,500me­ter prac­ti­cal move­ment ex­er­cise, we

started our work on mounted nav­i­ga­tion. This is TM TORN’s foun­da­tional cur­ricu­lum, and they of­fer a com­pre­hen­sive tech­ni­cal off-road pack­age that in­cludes route plan­ning, nav­i­ga­tion, move­ment tech­niques, and ve­hi­cle re­cov­ery. Their off-road nav­i­ga­tion class is based on a soft­ware suite known as ATAK — the An­droid Tac­ti­cal As­sault Kit. ATAK is an app-based map­ping and sit­u­a­tional aware­ness pro­gram that al­lows real-time net­work­ing of any An­droid-based de­vice (phone, tablet, etc.) to track mul­ti­ple el­e­ments across an im­agery over­lay.

If you have mul­ti­ple trucks or ATVs mov­ing around in a given area, ATAK will let each user track ev­ery other user in real time, with co­or­di­nates avail­able in both Lat/Long and Mil­i­tary Grid Ref­er­ence Sys­tem. ATAK al­lows you to set way­points, build routes, record sig­nifi-

cant events, and share all this data with fel­low users. It’s also rated for tar­get­ing use, so that data may be shared with air sup­port and fire di­rec­tion of­fi­cers to fa­cil­i­tate di­rected strikes. While it’s cur­rently avail­able only to mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment agen­cies, a de-mil­i­ta­rized ver­sion of the soft­ware is be­ing de­vel­oped with plans for com­mer­cial re­lease. So you’ll still be able to track your buddy’s ATV in real time — you just won’t be able to drop a JDAM on him for swip­ing the last en­ergy drink be­fore hit­ting the trail.

Af­ter learn­ing some back­ground on the soft­ware, we laid way­points and built a route for our­selves. The class was then bro­ken down into pairs — one driver, one nav­i­ga­tor with a tablet, and we drove our routes and wit­nessed first-hand just how ac­cu­rate the ATAK app was. We missed a sin­gle turn on a route that spanned sev­eral kilo­me­ters. ATAK helped us catch it within 50 feet, while trav­el­ing at ap­prox­i­mately 40 mph.

The mounted nav­i­ga­tion course also got us fa­mil­iar with Team TORN’s other par­tic­u­larly unique pre­ci­sion ri­fle range, which they sim­ply call the golf course. The course can be shot two ways: Sniper Golf or Hunter Golf. The tar­gets are the same but, in the Hunter’s ver­sion your ranges are given to you ahead of time. By Sniper’s rules you must mil, laze, or oth­er­wise de­ter­mine your own dis­tances to each tar­get. The course it­self is nine holes (tar­gets) spread out over a 1,000acre course.

Tar­gets are at a va­ri­ety of un­known dis­tances be­tween 450 and 875 me­ters. Shots must be taken from a com­bi­na­tion of stand­ing, kneel­ing, and prone, de­pend­ing on the tar­get. Move­ment be­tween tar­gets must be on side-by-side UTVs along a route plot­ted on ATAK or map. We didn’t have the op­por­tu­nity to shoot the en­tire golf course front to back so, of course, we’re al­ready plan­ning our re­turn. In the mean­time, tune in to RECOILtv for ad­di­tional cov­er­age on Team TORN, or visit their web­site and tell them we sent you.

Up­per, right: The ac­com­mo­da­tions at Team TORN are a much classier ver­sion of tra­di­tional mil­i­tary bar­racks. If this is out­side your com­fort zone, there are sev­eral ho­tels in town, 20 to 30 min­utes away, if you care to com­mute.

Up­per, left: Ever y good train­ing fa­cil­ity should as­pire to a team bar like the one at Team TORN. We spent sev­eral evenings here shar­ing sto­ries and killing off the weak­est of brain cells.

Lower, left: The TORN weight room is bound to make some peo­ple nos­tal­gic for FOB life. It’s spar­tan, but has ev­ery­thing needed to con­duct as much PT as you can han­dle at 7,000 feet.

Be­low: The au­thor and his driv­ing part­ner nav­i­gate a miles-long off-road course us­ing a tablet equipped with ATAK soft­ware.

Above: The lead in­struc­tor for North 40 Res­cue gave an ex­cel­lent hands-on class on tech­ni­cal rope res­cue in the case of a ve­hi­cle rollover in rough ter­rain.

In ad­di­tion to shoot­ing and mo­bil­ity, Team TORN of­fers sev­eral classes in sur­vival tech­niques, in­clud­ing shel­ter build­ing.

Our week­end with Team TORN in­cluded a class on coun­ter­am­bush tac­tics and live-fire ve­hi­cle bailouts.

Right: The owner and lead in­struc­tor of Team TORN walks the au­thor through route plan­ning prior to an off-road move­ment ex­er­cise. Be­low: with steel tar­gets in the hill­side at var­i­ous dis­tances, plink­ing off the back deck of the team house is...

Left: In true small unit fash­ion, long days in the field end with a cou­ple of pints shared among friends.

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