GORUCK Constellation 12 Hour, Richmond VA 2018 || AAR

GORUCK Constellation 12HR Richmond Virginia
The GORUCK Constellation Area of Operation Map.

It happened to be St. Patrick's Day when I did the GORUCK Constellation 12-hour in Richmond VA. I wanted to take some time to reflect on the event before I did an AAR.

For those who might not know about Goruck, this is one of their survival events. Constellation comes in two favors 6 hours and 12 hours and is the urban survival event out of the survival series of events.

Just like other GORUCK events, you sign up for a city only to get the link-up point just a few days before the event.  Also, there is a packing list that I will get to later in the post.

One thing I have learned as a military instructor is that people give feedback on the course or class based on the expectations that they have going into the course or class not what happened during the course or class. Either you meet or don’t meet those expectations. So the only thing you as an instructor can do is control expectations. This was why I wanted time to reflect on the event and not post on my expectations. 

So did the Constellation meet my expectations? Yes, but not the way I had thought it would. A few weeks before this event I had ordered some GORUCK GR1 rucks for work. We used some of the packs to make kits to carry the specialized equipment that we use. Since I had not used one of our kits at this point I took one of the GR1s to see how well it worked with packing all the gear from the packing list. I am happy to report that the GR1 works great!

I have the GORUCK Bullet that I use every day and I love it. The GR1 is just bigger and has a lot of the same features as the Bullet. The GR1 will run you about $300 which is a lot for what is a day pack or in Army terms a patrol pack.

What I like about the GORUCK pack is that it is simple, and simple is more. It's hard to understand that simple is more until you use the pack. In general, I believe it also makes you think differently about what you carry and how to pack it. The GR1 is also a great carry-on travel pack. I had to go on work-related travel the following day after my event and the pack was a real joy to travel with.

The Packing List:
There are two parts to the list. Required and Team gear.

Required :
Water bladder ( I use Source military bladders)
Photo ID & $20
PT belt/bands
Smartphone with battery pack
1 contractor bag (did not use)
Metal can min size 12oz (find something a little bigger )
1 dust mask
1 2L plastic bottle- empty
1 pad steel wool
2 9v batteries
1 car cell phone charger and cable (did not use)
1 paper clip (did not use )
1 canteen cup (GI or Nalgene cup size)
1 multi-touch
1 long lighter
1 ballpoint pen (plastic stick pen with cap)
1 free tourist map

1 selfie stick (did not use )
1 personal key fob
1 digital camera (in most cases this will not work again)
IR Flashlight
Small screwdriver set
1 roll of duct tape

You might already have most of the required items around your house. If you have to purchase items like the small screwdriver set, long lighter, ballpoint pen, and 9v batteries. Just go to a dollar-type store to pick those items up.

Note: The empty plastic 2L needs to be clear. Soda water is 89 cents so it's like paying for the bottle...

I believe the gear list will change over time. The more they conduct the course the more the list will change to get the right mix of gear needed for the events in the course.

I did carry an empty Nalgene bottle in addition to the required team gear. That was a personal choice.  If you have not had it happen to you a bladder can and will fail you. A Nalgene bottle is there when the bladder fails. As I noted above I use Source brand military bladders. They are my go-to bladders. Easy to use, easy to keep clean. They hold up for a long time but they will fail at some point. Your mileage may vary.

It does not seem like a lot of gear but you will fill up a 21L ruck.

Note: Communication with others on the Facebook page would help in the cross-leveling of team gear.

Back to expectations... This course was an austere medical and defensive weapons block of instruction that caught my eye. While the course did not meet the expectations that I had in my head. I did gain a knowledge bomb or two that was worth its weight in gold.

Most of the other blocks of instruction were things that I had learned in the Boy Scouts and it was fun to knock the rust off of those skills.

Couple of things I took away from this event. 
  • One is to work as a team. In a survival situation, it is working with your neighbors or community members. You cannot do this on your own (well not for long). 
  • Second, always practice your skills. Just because you did it 20 years ago does not mean you still have the skill set. Building a fire, navigation, and first aid are just a few examples of things you should practice and develop your skills. 
  • Third, problem-solving. Just understand how things work. How can you take some junk and make something work?

If this sounds like something you would like to do then grab a friend or two to do the course with you. The hardest part is signing up!

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