The first day, we learned how to get out of duct tape, zip ties, rope, and even handcuffs.
If you're duct-taped, hold your arms close together, then bring your hands high over head and and hit your elbows hard across your own ribs. I learned the hard way that if your arms are too far apart as you are bound, this doesn't work. This trick also works for zip ties, although it can hurt your wrists (which is why the instructor made "Wonder Woman" bracelets out of duct tape first). If that fails, try rubbing your bound hands on a sharp edge like a door. Above, author Hannah Jayne demonstrates the correct technique for breaking duct tape, as well as how you can use paracord (a lot of preppers replace their shoelaces with paracord, or wear it as a bracelet) to saw through zip ties, duct tape, or even the links on handcuffs by looping it over your feet and bicycling madly in the air. Later, we practiced shimming or picking our handcuffs using bobby pins or broken off barrettes. For extra credit we did it that night in our hotel room with pillow cases over our heads.
Here's what happens if you get handcuffs/duct tape/zip ties etc. wrong:
We also learned how to pick locks and steal cars, although we didn't practice that last one.
We learned how to figure out if you are being followed and how to weaponize anything. We learned that most people think they are in a survival situation if they miss lunch.
The last day, we were kidnapped, hooded, stun gunned (I still have marks!), and then your captors go for a “smoke break” and you have to use everything you just learned to make your way to a certain point, collecting information and photos along the way.
We learned that if you are full of adrenaline, you dont feel as much. At the start of the exercise, we got caught in a parking lot surrounded by 10 or 11 foot high chain link fences. And we were being chased by a real-life security guard. Hannah started climbing the fence, which meant I had to, too. At the top, the chain links had been cut off, forming a pointy barrier. I have some crazy bruises, one for each point, on one leg.
But we made it. We had been to GoodWill the night before and cached some outfits. (It is very hard to cache anything in Los Angeles and then go back and find it the next day. You always have eyes on you, and cacheing arouses curiosity). First I was a nurse (I even looked like a nurse even though it was just a plain pink Tshirt layered over a white Tshirt worn with scrub pants), and Hannah was a goth girl. Then Hannah was pregnant with some of her previous clothes, and I was her churchy-looking mom. Finally, we were both tourists.
Even though we were hunted by 10 people who had our picture, and we had to stay within proscribed boundaries, we were not caught!
I'm so glad I took this risk. I turn 56 in two weeks and I'm pretty pround of myself.