Eastwind 7 was my first year attending Eastwind and going into the event, I could tell I was in for something completely new and challenging. In fact, this is precisely why I chose to attend Eastwind. I wanted something that would put all the hours of memorizing hand signals, practicing personal and squad movements, going over contact drills, learning how to navigate, etc to the test. I often find myself walking away from an event satisfied that I was able to bring a good fight, but disappointing that all the “other” soldier skills weren’t even necessary for me to thrive in that “milsim” environment.
I became interested in Eastwind roughly a year ago. I liked the idea of a fully immersive event but was hesitant as to my ability to fund the seemingly endless required kit list. As a sort of litmus test, I began corralling gear items I knew I could use elsewhere and set my eye on attending a training event. 14 months ago, in January of 2013 that training event arrived. Two Eastwind attendees and 1Shepherd graduates were putting on a small unit tactics class. Being a sucker for training, I drove the 6 hours to Kansas City and attended.
The night we arrived in camp it snowed and we woke up to a beautiful landscape the next morning. Our first training lane was “react to contact”. I had read about battle drills but never had enough similarly educated/motivated persons around me to actually practice them. Our training squad moved out in fireteam wedge, squad column (holy crap these guys actually know what this means!) When the call of “CONTACT FRONT!” came out, I hit the deck and began high crawling into an “on line” position. To my amazement, so did the rest of my fire team! I was floored – here I was among other milsim players that actually took the finer points of working as a unit seriously.
Long story short, we ran battle drills all day, followed by equipment familiarity classes (such as field telephones and claymores) and a full scale mission. After an AAR, we planned and executed the same mission at night. I was hooked. It was at this weekend that I decided that I would be attending Eastwind 2014.
From here, I scoured the Eastwind forums for tips and tricks of what gear to buy that wasn’t on the list and what gear to avoid. I then put together a list and began trolling Ebay, Craigslist and my local surplus shops. When a good deal popped up, I would snag it. I took the whole year to gather equipment – often at a steep discount compared to the going rate.
Throughout 2013 I also spent time brushing up on my hand signals and small unit tactics. I studied the references I had posted on my own website and when able, held training classes to teach them to others. I’ve always found that teaching someone else is the best way for me to learn something and I fully believe that this helped set these procedures in my muscle memory.
As the weeks flew by, I kept a close eye on my funds and another on my “to purchase list”. I dwindled down the “wants” until only what I thought was necessary was purchased. With the last few odds and ends en route, I laid everything out in my living room (many thanks to my wife for allowing me to destroy our house for a few weeks!) and labeled everything. All items were packed, repacked and crammed into my vehicle. Checklists were checked and re-checked and I was off to Eastwind…finally!