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Week 22: Name Tags on Storm Coats

“Picture-perfect P's on final exams”

Cadets at the firearms range

2005-11-20

Well, I think it's official: winter has commenced. Even though there have been previous snow sightings, this time it'll likely be around for a while. As luck would have it, we're in high browns again and the prediction I made all those weeks ago is definitely founded: slipping and sliding on Shaw Street and praying you don't break anything in the process. Yes, the promised Saskatchewan winter is here and it's only going to get worse. So of course we needed to try out the wearing of the fur hats followed by the storm coats a day later. I must admit there was some eye-rolling on my part: I didn't think these drastic measures were necessary because it really wasn't that bad. In fact I feel sorry for these poor saps who can't handle a little chill: what will they do come January and February? Although the snow is a good sign (as it's a further indication that the end is near), it's still a hassle and many find it too cold!

Another sign of progress came in the form of additions to our kit. At the beginning of the week we got to wear our issued name tags. No longer identifiable solely based on the Depot ID tag, but by the official-looking piece of plastic pinned to my jacket (and shirt when we're not wearing the softbody armour.) It seems like something so small but I realize that by having to earn the privilege to wear our name tags (as opposed to being handed everything upon arrival) makes it more meaningful. I'll never show up to work without my name tag as it has significance now.

There is still much going on in most of the practical skills areas. In PDU we are in the midst of preparing for EVO (Emergency Vehicle Operation - in plain English: travelling at higher speeds with lights and sirens). In PDT we worked on vehicle extractions. That was a bruiser of a class: scrapes, bruises and limbs getting caught as we pulled one another out of cars for various reasons. And to think we were being cooperative! I imagine a vehicle take-down with a combative suspect would be more challenging still.

While on the subject of challenges, this week FTU went much better than previous ones. First and foremost I passed my pistol requalifications! The score wasn't great, but it was well over the minimum requirement. These past two weeks were just nasty with this U hanging over me. (To get two Us in anything means you go home or get back-trooped - talk about pressure.) When I got my preferred P it was as though several 25-lbs plates had been lifted off of an unusually heavy bench-press rep that I had been holding up at half extension for the past 15 days. It's mainly a test of will, strength and partly skill. Many of us have the skills; it's about being able to apply them under pressure.

I participated in a Tactical Shooting match this weekend and managed to do quite well which is a further testament to the notion that I can in fact shoot accurately. I've found that the key to successfully triumphing over stress is to have the necessary skills ingrained in your muscle memory, and for that practise, practise, and more practise. Unfortunately practise is something we don't get enough of given the amount of material we need to cover. For example, we picked up the rifle this week in Firearms. We shot five practise rounds followed by another 20 to go through the Rifle RCMP Course of Fire and next week we qualify. It's shocking how quickly it moves: 25 rounds of practise and then we shoot for all the marbles!

The biggest milestone this week was without a doubt the final exam: a long three hours of thumbing through my Criminal Code and scratching my head. But relief set in shortly thereafter when we all received notice of our picture-perfect Ps. Now it's on to the remaining big-ticket items: final detachments! The latter part of the week was dedicated to prep and practise for these. Just when you think the stress subsides... Unlike for first and second detachments, I'll be by myself to run the show and the only partner I have will not be in a position to think for themselves. So essentially I have no one to consult with and a ventriloquist dummy for a partner that I will most likely need to babysit. I guess it's all part of the big plan to get us ready for the real world which is creeping up fast: 10 working days left!