Eight things I learned in HEFAT training

  1. Carry duct tape. Need to secure a bandage or tourniquet? Or assemble an improvised weapon in self-defense? Always wrap some duct tape around your water bottle, just in case. Your future, war-correspondent self will thank you.


  1. But if someone ties you up with duct tape, you can handle it. You can break out of it! And also out of handcuffs and zip ties. Just wear bobby pins and be persistent.


  1. Remember your circular breathing. Whether you’re getting fake-kidnapped by Zetas or elbowing a former special forces guy in his padded face mask, yoga breathing techniques will help you stay focused and enjoy the ride.


  1. When under attack, go for the throat, face and groin. Go for the groin more times than you think you need to. Just to be thorough.


  1. During the shooting simulation, don’t just pop out your head to see what’s happening. You’d think this one would be self-explanatory. Then you get there, and it’s not.


  1. After the shooting simulation is over, don’t challenge your HEFAT trainers to a game of paintball. They will win. And also shoot you. And also maybe use you as a human shield while shooting all your friends like Rambo? I don’t know, it’s a blur, the former special forces guys won pretty quickly.


  1. Have an exit strategy. Think your HEFAT trainers are going to surprise you with a shooting scenario in your classroom? Test all the doors in advance and see if you can get out onto the roof. Think your HEFAT trainers are going to surprise you with a shooting scenario in your hotel room? Barricade the door like they taught you to and get to work on making that escape rope out of bed sheets. Think your HEFAT trainers surprise you with a shooting scenario immediately after another shooting scenario? Hit the dirt and get behind that car engine. Constant vigilance!


  1. Last but not least, if Claudia tells you you’re going to a paintball range, but in order to get there you have to drive suuuuper slowly down some random back roads that don’t appear to actually go anywhere, and your driver looks weirdly preoccupied like he’s waiting for something to happen… don’t go. This is a trap.