Many of the training pieces that deal with either the Selection Course or the SFQC (Special Forces Qualification Course) we write from a perspective of one of the cadre members, which I was for a time during the early days of Selection.

Passing Selection and the SFQC was/is no easy task and many of the candidates that tried…and failed were good men who just didn’t meet the standards. Passing the Land Navigation course was perhaps the biggest failure producing event in the course. Possibly even more so than the physical events like the runs (with LBE and Weapons) and the Rucksack marches, which were increasingly longer and faster as the course wore on.

Land Navigation, now called the “Star” Nav course is still operated in the same area as the SFQC has always operated in. But back in the day, the central location, the start/finish point was an old rifle range. I understand that is now long gone and there is construction going on out there.

So back in the day, there we were, all bright eyed and bushy tailed candidates who were looking to get a first time go on the Land Nav course. And we all had the same gear, map (Camp Mackall Special), map case, compass, protractor, pencil, grease pencil, notebook, M-16, 55-pound rucksack, and 4 quarts of water.

The points, arrayed in a series of draws, (so they are harder to find of course!) are green metal fence stakes that were placed in the ground with a metal tag and a card punch so that no student would be able to recreate it and cheat their way thru.

We had a series of classes at Camp Mackall in the old classroom that was hot as hell in the summer and drafty and cold in the winter. The information came fast and quick and the Land Nav instructors knew their stuff, having done this for several classes. During this time, we were deemed fortunate as North Carolina was getting deluged with constant heavy rain that only seems to occur in the south or the tropics. The compound at Camp Mackall was seemingly all standing water and the runs and rucks in the evening during the classes were done in mud that seemed to cling to everything in vast clumps.

We finally headed out to the “rifle range” and the cadre gave us an area to set up our poncho hooches. We were basically free to set them up wherever we wanted, it wasn’t like the “Big Army” and every squad in a row. The cadre took us out for a “terrain walk” and quickly reconfirmed our pace counts and then it was off to do the first of our practice land nav courses before the final test.