Ex-commando inspires youth for special operations

Ex-commando inspires youth for special operations

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Arnold T. Stocker, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) in Broward County, Florida, has served in the military for more than 40 years and operates South Florida Tactical Athletes, a preparatory school for those wishing to join the most coveted jobs the U.S. military has to offer. During his military career, Stocker has completed two special operation duties as a former Army Special Forces medical sergeant (with combat diver certification) and Air Force Pararescueman. Regardless of branch of service, special operation programs have a high standard of acceptance and a passing rate of lower than 10 percent. According to Stocker, thousands will try out, a hundred will get chosen for selection training and less than 10 will graduate. “To come to our program takes a lot of guts, dedication and motivation,” Stocker said. “We get men and women who are a cut above the rest; many of them are former athletes who think they are in great shape, but it’s not about being the fastest or strongest. It’s about expanding your circle of comfort and your mind, developing as a young adult and learning to work as a team.” Four days a week Stocker and four other instructors, a former pararescueman, a Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer, and two Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance members, coach more than 20 men and women in running, swimming, water confidence, and team building exercises for two to three hours. Each week participants spend two days in the water and two days on land. They also participate in one extended training session a month on the weekend. The training includes warming up, calisthenics, underwater tasks, rucksack marching, sprinting, working together and listening to directions. “Each day is different and when people come to our program, we brief them beforehand but they don’t really know what to expect,” Stocker said. “We provide them with a challenge and we focus on proper form and technique; with that comes the speed.” Stocker envisioned SFTA to be the beginning step for future special operations men and women who will one day lead the nation’s defenses. So far, the program has trained more than 100 men and women since 2012, but Stocker’s journey training others to follow in his footsteps started 6 years prior. While visiting his home state of Pennsylvania, a friend told Stocker that his son would like to become a pararescueman. “He’s the first guy I can say I prepared to become a PJ (pararescueman),” Stocker said. “It’s an awesome feeling for me and every one of the instructors at SFTA, when one of ours makes it through selection. We aren’t just giving them a physical challenge, we are setting them up for the rest of their lives.” Stocker is versed in special operations, but his military journey began in the Air Force as a jet engine mechanic and then he later joined an aeromedical evacuation team on C-141 Starlifter aircraft. He wanted to join the pararescue career field, the military’s combat-search-and-rescue tip of the spear, but didn’t know how to swim. He hired a swim coach to learn stroke techniques and was later sent to the pararescue indoctrination course. “I failed the swim.” Stocker said. “I do (SFTA) because when I was training there was no program around. I told my swim instructor what I wanted to do and he had no idea about water confidence training. I also do it because I enjoy training and mentoring.” Today as a traditional reservist, Stocker oversees patient triage from aircraft to hospital and acts as a patient’s advocate while confirming patients are kept in stable conditions before the next echelon of care. He has two daughters and says the greatest challenge has been juggling his family, anesthesia profession, his reserve duty and SFTA. He couldn’t do it without the help of his instructors and his love for helping others. One other SFTA instructor who works with Stocker, former pararescueman Mike Mahoney, said he also does this job for the enjoyment of developing young adults into great men and women. “Just the other day I had one of those moments when I saw a guy swimming and I thought to myself, wow that’s good form,” Mahoney said. “I wanted to know who that person was, and it turned out to be one of our students who came to us not knowing how to swim. Now he’s working as a lifeguard and wants to become a pararescueman.” Leo Fernandez, one of the participants who joined SFTA not knowing how to swim said Stocker and the coaches have changed his life, both physically and mentally. “I can honestly say I would not have stood a chance in selection without Colonel Stocker,” Fernandez said. “He has worked with me on my swims and has taught me how to get out[…]

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The Key to the Eggbeater

From the PJ Pool Wizard Series.  How to improve your eggbeater technique The Egg Beater can be a difficult skill to master.  For some guys, this technique can come quickly.  For others, it takes months and months of practice for your legs to finally get the motion down.  It boils down to flexibility, technique, glute strength and persistence.  Eventually it will come together.  Don’t give up.

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Fin Swimming Common Mistakes

From the PJ Pool Wizard Series, here’s a good run through of finning.  I’ve seen guys neglect this portion in the pool and they suffer for it when going to selection.  Don’t neglect the fins!  On top of strengthening your legs, you need to get your feet and ankles used to the general uncomfortable-ness you will experience from longer distance fin swims.

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cone fit

43 Weeks of Battlefield Airman Workout Plans

Here are 43 FREE, FOCUSED, COMPLETE & COMPREHENSIVE weekly workout plans to integrate into your preparation regimen for Battlefield Airmen selection training.  These ‘Dirty Scurve’ workouts are brought to you by the fine folks of Cone Fit.  Although the continual refreshment of workouts has ceased, their legacy now lives on here at Specialtactics.com. A prior sneak-peak of 12 workouts was published earlier this month.  The list below is the complete, unadulterated list of workouts that were published from the Cone Fit crew from start to finish.  I would recommend you adjust the numbers to your physical abilities as many of these workouts are designed to be challenging. These workouts were made for cones, by cones.  If you are looking for a professional training program for little cost that will keep you healthy, strong and leave you ultimately the best prepared, check out Team ST All 43 Workouts (.zip): CLICK HERE Individual Workouts (.pdf): #1 The Dirty Scurve Mar 28 – Apr 2 #2 The Dirty Scurve Apr 4 – 9 #3 The Dirty Scurve Apr 11 – 15 #4 The Dirty Scurve Apr 18-22 #5 The Dirty Scurve Apr 25- 30 #6 The Dirty Scurve May 2 – May 7 #7 The Dirty Scurve May 9 – May 14 #8 The Dirty Scurve May 16 – 21 #9 The Dirty Scurve May 23 – 27 #10 The Dirty Scurve May 30 – June 3 #11 The Dirty Scurve June 6-10 #12 The Dirty Scurve June 13-17 #13 The Dirty Scurve June 20-24 #14 The Dirty Scurve June 27-July1 #15 The Dirty Scurve July 4-8 #16 The Dirty Scurve July 11-16 #17 The Dirty Scurve July 18 – 23 #18 The Dirty Scurve July 25 – 30 #19 The Dirty Scurve August 1 – 6 #20 The Dirty Scurve (August 8 – 13) #21 The Dirty Scurve (August 15 – 20) #22 The Dirty Scurve (August 22 – 27) #23 The Dirty Scurve (Aug 29 – Sept 3) #24 The Dirty Scurve (Sep 5 – 10) #25 The Dirty Scurve (Sep 12 – 17) #26 The Dirty Scurve (Sep 19 – 24) #27 The Dirty Scurve (Sept 26 – Oct 1) #28 The Dirty Scurve (Oct 3 – 8) #29 The Dirty Scurve (Oct 10 – 15) #30 The Dirty Scurve (Oct 17 – 22) #31 The Dirty Scurve (Oct 24 – 29) #32 The Dirty Scurve (Oct 31 – 6) #33 1-17 The Dirty Scurve (Feb 4 – 11) #34 2-17 The Dirty Scurve (Mar 13 – 18) #35 3-17 The Dirty Scurve (Mar 20 – 25) #36 4-17 The Dirty Scurve (March 27- April 1) #37 5-17 The Dirty Scurve (April 3 – 8) #38 6-17 The Dirty Scurve (April 10-15) #39 7-17 The Dirty Scurve (April 17-22) #40 8-17 The Dirty Scurve 2017 (April 24-29) #41 9-17 The Dirty Scurve (May 8-13) #42 10-17 The Dirty Scurve (May 15 – 20) #43 11-17 The Dirty Scurve July 17-22

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4 breath hold exercises to boost your underwater time

Just like hitting the gym is a cornerstone to improving your muscular capacity, the same can be applied to underwater confidence.  Training your body to endure the rigors of oxygen deprivation and Co2 tolerance is just as important as other forms of training while prepping for selection.  And just like utilizing different exercises to train the same muscle groups, there is more than one way to train for underwater exercises.  We don’t need to limit ourselves to doing endless 25m underwaters to improve our capacity– in fact I would disapprove of this method. There are two physiological factors at play when attempting to increase your breath hold capability: O2 deprivation and Co2 tolerance.  Your urgency to pop during underwater activities is largely attributed to the buildup of Co2 in your body- not the lack of oxygen (although lack of O2 is still a factor- just not the primary one).  That’s why I suggest you apply more focus to the Co2 tolerance tables below rather than the O2. -Static Tables are breathing exercises meant to be done while sitting still; in a rest position.  What’s great about these is you can do them almost anywhere.  (DO NOT ATTEMPT THESE TABLES WHILE DRIVING!) -Dynamic Tables are while you are in motion.  This could be while doing underwaters, walking, sprinting or performing any other motion that depletes your breath hold capacity quicker than while at rest. The tables below can be modified!  Adjust the times up or down to meet your performance level.  You can also mix it up by attempting 100m breath hold sprints on a track, etc.  The purpose is to have fun with these while increasing your breath hold capacity. These should be challenging, so push yourself and you will get better overnight.  Do not expect overnight results.  This, along with any other exercise program, takes time to see results. Static Co2 Tolerance Table (3-4x per week): Above water, not moving breath holds (ie: sitting in a chair or lying down) Breathe           Hold [spp-timestamp time="2:30"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="2:15"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="1:45"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="1:30"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="1:15"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="1:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="1:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="1:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"]   Static O2 Deprivation Table (1-2x per week): Above water, not moving breath holds (ie: sitting in a chair or lying down) Breathe           Hold [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  :40 [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  :50 [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:10"] [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:20"] [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:30"] [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:40"] [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="1:50"] [spp-timestamp time="2:00"]                  [spp-timestamp time="2:00"] Dynamic Co2 Deprivation Table: -Perform 25m underwater with no fins and rest on the opposite side (do not freestyle back to the starting point).  This  table can also be accomplished on land by walking 30 seconds instead of the underwater. 25m underwater      [spp-timestamp time="1:30"] rest 25m underwater      [spp-timestamp time="1:20"] rest 25m underwater      [spp-timestamp time="1:10"] rest 25m underwater      [spp-timestamp time="1:00"] rest 25m underwater        :50 rest 25m underwater        :40 rest 25m underwater        :30 rest 25m underwater Static Single Breath Hold Repetitions: This Co2 tolerance exercise is a substitute for the co2 table above if you are short on time. -Take one exhalation/inhalation every :45 seconds for [spp-timestamp time="6:00"]. (Example: Inhale and breath hold, start the clock.  At :45 exhale your breath, take one inhale and continue to hold.  Repeat at [spp-timestamp time="1:30"], [spp-timestamp time="2:15"], [spp-timestamp time="2:30"], etc)

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cone fit

12 ‘Dirty Scurve’ Workouts courtesy of Cone Fit

The gents at Cone Fit did a phenomenal job creating workouts for “Cones” interested in trying out at a Battlefield Selection course.  The PDFs below have been preserved and compiled for your viewing and training pleasure. There’s multiple aspects of these workouts that I really enjoy, including: -A tribute to a “Badass of the Week” operator who did amazing things -A motivational quote to get your juices flowing before you go rip your body apart -A comprehensive workout for all stages of selection, including calisthenics, weight training, cardio, rucking, grass and gorilla drills, swimming and water confidence. 20170204 The Dirty Scurve (Feb 4 – 11) 20170213 The Dirty Scurve (Feb 13 – 18) 20170227 The Dirty Scurve 2017 Feb 27-4 20170306 The Dirty Scurve 2017 Mar 6-11 20170313 The Dirty Scurve 2017 Mar 13-18 20170320 The Dirty Scurve 2017 Mar 20-25 20170327 The Dirty Scurve 2017 March 27- April 1 20170403 The Dirty Scurve 2017 April 3-8 20170410 The Dirty Scurve 2017 April 10-15 20170424 The Dirty Scurve 2017 April 24-29 20170508 The Dirty Scurve 2017 May 8-13 20170717 The Dirty Scurve July 17-22    

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How to DOUBLE your breath hold in 15 minutes

I’ve tried this myself and validated this technique with the core group of guys I work with at the pool. I’ve seen guys’ breath hold go from an initial :45-[spp-timestamp time="1:15"] to [spp-timestamp time="2:40"]-[spp-timestamp time="3:28"] utilizing the below technique. First, some key information: -Deep Breathing: “Deep breathing” involves taking a big breath in through the mouth, holding for one second, and then exhaling for 10 seconds through your mouth through your almost-closed mouth with tongue pressed against your lower teeth. It should be a hissing exhalation and make a “tsssssss…” sound. All breathing and exercises are performed though the mouth. -Purging: “Purging” involves a strong exhalation as if you were trying to blow a toy sailboat across a pool, followed by a big but faster inhalation. Cheeks puffed out as you do the exhalation (imagine the big bad wolf blowing the pigs’ homes down). Be careful not to heave or rock back and forth, which wastes oxygen. Keep as still as possible. -Success Tips: 1) Find a comfortable chair free of distractions. 2) Do not move around while performing this test to keep your heart rate as low as possible.  This includes moving your hands & arms or shrugging your shoulders when inhaling.  Any movement, no matter how small, increases heart rate. 3) Make a conscious effort on your breath hold to inhale and fill your lungs fully.  Concentrate on slowly filling your stomach, then your lower chest, then upper chest, then your trachea and then your throat and mouth.  Maximize the airspace available to you. 4) Distract yourself while holding your breath.  Recount your favorite movie in your head or associate each letter of the alphabet with a name of someone you know. ALRIGHT, NOW FOR THE TEST. DISCLAIMER: THIS IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. DO NOT ATTEMPT IN WATER! Sitting still, do a baseline breath hold and record your time. Then perform: [spp-timestamp time="1:30"] deep breathing, then [spp-timestamp time="1:15"] purging (if you feel like you’re going to pass out, do it less intensely) Hold breath for target [spp-timestamp time="1:30"], no more After your [spp-timestamp time="1:30"] breath hold: Take 3 large recovery breaths, [spp-timestamp time="1:30"] deep breathing, [spp-timestamp time="1:30"] purging, Hold breath for target [spp-timestamp time="2:30"], no more After your [spp-timestamp time="2:30"] breath hold: Take 3 large recovery breaths, [spp-timestamp time="2:00"] deep breathing, [spp-timestamp time="1:45"] purging, Hold breath for as long as possible & record your initial and final times in the comments box.  (FYI, Harry Houdini’s life-time record is [spp-timestamp time="3:30"]).

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The Ultimate 7 Must-Haves for Water Con Training

While some suitable substitutes are, well…suitable, sometimes it is absolutely essential to duplicate the exact gear used at selection.  In this write-up, I have done the research and found the 7 critical pieces of equipment that you need to train with to be successful inside the pool while at PJ Indoc, CCT assessment, Phase 2 assessments & Dive School.  All of the pieces have equal value: you must be well-rounded to be successful at selection.  You could be a stud at underwaters, buddy breathing, mask/snorkel recovery, one man comp, etc etc, but if you can’t handle a weight belt on your hips, you will fail just as easily as someone who struggles in any other event. I have scoured the internet to find the best prices for you and have provided affiliate links below (all on amazon). 1) The dive mask used for Air Force selection courses is massive.  It is important to train on this:  Single Lens Dive Mask to get used to the amount of air it takes to clear this behemoth.  There are small nuances to this mask that you must get used to such as how to properly trace the head strap & feeling where the nose cup is underwater so you don’t put the mask on upside down (this happens ALL the time to the untrained). 2) Grabbing the right snorkel is critical for buddy breathing.  Ensure you get either the:  Snorkel – J-Tube  or J Tube Snorkel Clear Mouth as getting intimately familiar with this snorkel will help you succeed when you are under full harassment.  This snorkel takes a bit more air to clear than other snorkels due to its larger than normal lower mouth piece section.  You may have an adjustment period with the bite blocks and upper mouth piece as well I’ve seen guys struggle to establish a seal quickly while in the pool. 3) Finning with stiff Rocket style fins is an experience that cannot be duplicated with substitution.  Your legs and feet will need to experience the suck of fin swimming with these:  IST Rocket Fins for Military Special Ops, L prior to going to selection.  The force that is put on your legs is critical to experience  as well as learning the skills of ditch and don with these type of straps will help you be ready for when its time to perform.  Expect calf, foot and hamstring cramps when ramping up training with these fins. 4) At selection, booties aren’t just used for finning.  An easy way to make underwaters (or any pool event) more challenging is by slapping on these:  Black Zippered Dive Bootie and watch yourself struggle.  These booties are a perfect fit for the IST Fins mentioned above. 5) There have been many of candidates who could fin great, but once that: Weight Belt, Black went on for the first time, their eyes would get big and they’d mercilessly sink to the bottom.  Don’t be that guy that struggles with a weight belt when it comes time to put in on when it counts.  This belt also has a clasp that can be difficult to manage while performing ditch & dons. WARNING: Do not perform weight belt swims in the deep end without a buddy!  Always ensure you have the belt setup so it will release with your right hand 6) A weight belt is useless without weights.  Grab 4 of these: Uncoated Lace Thru Style Hard Weights, 4Pounds to get 16 lbs total.  When starting, I recommend going with 8 lbs and working up to 16.  There is a particular way to place these on the belt that unless you’ve been to selection before, you won’t know the nuances– if you are unsure, ask in the specialtactics.com forums here. 7) Underwater knot tying is a skill that takes finesse and repetitiveness to master.  Use this:  7mm Accessory Cord to learn the square knot, inside bowline, girth hitch w/ an extra turn and the single fisherman’s knot.  TIP: Grab the 20′ or 30′ length and cut out two equal pieces of 36″ each.  Use the rest of the rope as your line that you will tie your knot around. Happy Swimming, SW

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Assessment Redemption- What happens when you fail?

No one wants to think about the glaring possibility that you may not make it.  It’s something that no one wants to admit they think about but truthfully nags at them on a daily basis when prepping for assessment.  “What if I don’t make it?” Battlefield Airmen (BA) selection is unrelentingly merciless.  Wash out rates range from 40-80%, dependent on the AFSC you are striving for.  With such high rates, it is inevitable that many will not have what it takes– and that person could be you. When I went through, I told myself that it would never happen to me.  I put immense pressure on myself by telling all of my friends and family that this was my destiny.  My mantra was: As far as the Air Force was concerned; it was Battlefield Airmen or BUST. I also jedi mind-tricked myself at selection.  I told myself that I couldn’t quit; there was no way out:  I pictured it similarly as if I was in a prisoner of war camp and there was no escape from the selection course.  I looked at those that quit as killed off and only the strong survived.  (In actuality, the ones that did quit and sounded the horn would never be seen from again- so my analogy of being killed off- although drastic wasn’t that bizarre). There are two main reasons candidates fail at selection: 1) You fail (ie: injury & evaluation failure) 2) You quit (ie: failure to train & ‘sounding the horn’) Obviously #1 doesn’t feel as bad on the psyche as #2.  No one wants to admit they’re a quitter.  I’ve run into many guys over the years that have come and gone through indoc unsuccessfully.  The excuses never run dry; especially for the quitters.  Regardless of your selection exit strategy, it still sucks. After facing defeat, it is normal for guys to go hide in a hole and never want to come out.  Self pity reigns supreme for months on end while you try to rationalize your failure as a human being.  I know this because I was once a #1.  (If you would like a background, click here.)  And by all means you should go into your dark hole, cry it out a few times and have your pity party!  Get it out of your system.  Because what happens next will define who you are more than anytime before. YOUR REHAB PLAN If Battlefield Airmen selection did not go as planned, its time to pivot and drive to another goal.  This can be difficult to accomplish coming from the self pity state mentioned above, but YOU HAVE TO DO IT.  Don’t lose sight the mental and physical sacrifice you made to get to selection in the first place- you have the dedication in you to go far.  You have to now find a way to re-invigorate that drive somewhere else. For non-prior service Airmen that failed out of selection right out of BMT- there’s great news: you can try again and succeed.  I did.  I also know many that have done the same.  My advice is take a few months off after selection to cool down, chill out and regain that desire (if you are inclined to head back) and slowly ramp up training again to come back stronger than ever.  We can talk more about that gameplan in a later post. For those that do not desire to head back to BA selection or are ineligible, your path is more difficult.  You had dedicated months, if not years, to being a special operator.  And now you won’t be.  That’s a hell of a hard pill to swallow.  Some wither away and are unhappy the rest of their careers due to this failure- I’ve seen it.  The challenge is to re-energize your lust for doing something different; something special. How do you find your new niche?  Its not easy. You have to dedicate the same drive and dedication you used to physically prepare yourself for selection to do your search for your new passion.  Instead of daily ball-busting workouts, there needs to be daily trips to the library.  Replace your iTunes playlist with podcasts such as Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, etc.  Start looking at similar type job placements: No luck being a PJ?  How about the Search & Rescue team at a Nat’l Park.  Couldn’t snag your CCT slot?  Go cash in doing Air Traffic Control.  Or go do something completely different.  It doesn’t matter what it is you want to do, as long as it gets you excited every morning. Do not let your selection failure define you.  Either go back and kick the course in the nuts once and for all -or- use it as your opportunity to be great elsewhere.  Now go kick ass and do great things. SW

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