Public Disclaimer: if you’ve ever wanted to drive a police car like you stole it and NOT get arrested, or shoot a pistol, rifle or shotgun like a sharp shooter taking down a fugitive barricaded inside a house with hostages, this is the day you’ve been waiting for.
Y’all. Outside of my singing tour in Scotland 4 years ago, this was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. Hands down.
Field Day is where every adventure movie junkie’s dream comes true! You wanna pretend to be Bruce Willis in Red? We gotchuu! Maybe you wanna be Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious 34? Hop in and hit that accelerator. Maybe you wanna be a member of SWAT as they work alongside the K9 unit to take down the bad guy who refuses to do as told. Ohhh, yeah baby, come along, cause we alllll family on Field Day with the Bartlett PD! Buckle up, buttercups, cause shit’s getting real toDAY!
I was actually a tad nervous about this day because I didn’t know what to expect. We met up at the Bartlett PD and carpooled over to the Shelby County Sheriff’s field obstacle course next to the penal farm. It was actually kinda like what I always imagined having a police escort for being famous would be like. Cop cars all around, front and back, as we drove super fast down the road through traffic to our destination. Ok..FINE..we did the speed limit, but in MY mind I was as famous as Elvis being escorted to my next Vegas concert. A girl can dream, dammit.
Once there, we took our positions alongside the course in chairs we brought so we could relax in between taking turns behind the wheel. When I first walked up, it was hard to make sense out of all the cones set up on the pavement. My anxiety started creeping up a bit, but Ellie (the intern who deserves an Oscar for her award winning acting from traffic stop class night) was deemed dj for the event and quickly put on 80s music for all us “old people”, as she innocently referred to us without actually intending or “saying”…sigh). Turns out, 80s tunes were the perfect backdrop for the day, so she was forgiven. Mostly.
Ellie actually volunteered to drive first and was promptly disqualified by ole Cap when it was proven she wasn’t aware of how the cones were meant to be followed, so she opted to just flat out run them over. Her passenger-side Officer made her stop the car, get OUT, and get in the passenger side. He literally took his hat off, leaned over and took deep breaths before getting in and driving her back. All of us on the sidelines were in stitches from laughing so hard. It was a great ice breaker and allowed the rest of us to relax a bit. Meanwhile, Ole Cap threw his clipboard down and “quit”. 🤣
We took turns behind the wheel to learn the course before getting serious. You start out doing a driver side parallel park (I mean, WHO does this in real life???), then hit the gas going straight into the serpentine portion which was one of the most fun, but hardest parts of the entire obstacle course for me. There’s more, some of which includes a HARD left turn (and I mean HARD left, y’all), a passenger side parallel park (ok, now that’s more like real life), going through a slalom course (omg fun), a hard stop, forward park, backwards park, and a straightaway where you put the pedal to the metal before hitting the brakes with all ya got. It SOUNDS easy enough, but proves to be super hard when you’re behind the wheel being told to “drive it like you stole it” by your passenger-side Officer, and ole Cap is outside running around the course like a wild man following along, screaming at you to “GO GO GO GO GO!!!” “You call that a hard left turn?!!!” “What the hell was THAT?!!!”
Another observation I have about this entire thing is that you have a LOT less visibility when looking out of the car due to all the safety features on the squad car. Most definitely harder to look out of than say, your run of the mill Nissan Rogue or Chevy pickup truck, but by our third trip around the course, I felt myself learning to lean out the window, sitting up in the seat to ride the steering wheel and take the verbal ques from my ride along Officer at face value. All very helpful. (FYI: I kept looking for the ole “Dukes of Hazzard” ramp on the course, but sadly, none were to be found.)
Before my third go ‘round, Ole Cap decided I needed to run the course as a passenger once through with one of the fastest driving Officers on the force, Officer Vuncannon, (who was someone I thoroughly enjoyed throughout the entire course as he reminds me of one of my most favorite family members). After assuring both Cap and Officer Vuncannon I didn’t get carsick, I found myself on the ride of my life!
Y’all. Y’ALL!!! OMG! Before I could say anything we were off and rolling. When I say it was the most fun and largest adrenaline rush I’ve had in years, I mean it. We were fishtailing it, whipping from here to there, and flying down the straightaways like Smokey and the Bandit on crack. We were whipping around corners and burning rubber like nobody’s business! I was whooping and hollering, but I think it all stayed in my head and never made it out my mouth cause I was so focused on bracing my body to keep from sliding around, even though I was buckled in!
When he pulled to a roaring stop at the end of the course, I said “OH! So THAT’S how we’re supposed to be driving this entire time?” Hahaha! I think Cap said his time was 1:39, which was like warp speed compared to my 2:35 or so on my previous run. We quickly swapped places because I knew it was now or never for me to really “drive it like I stole it”, I lined up my car at the starting point, we threw in the lights and siren for full effect, and Cap said as soon as you put it in reverse and give me the signal, you’re good to go and OFF WE WENT!
Woooweeee I was flying. When I hit the serpentine portion, Officer Vuncannon said “follow the marks on the road and don’t look at the cones” which was the best/worst advice as I immediately took out 3 cones in a turn as I went from looking at the cones to the road, but then corrected myself and didn’t knock any others down the rest of the course as I never looked at the cones again. Smart advice. We roared to a stop at the end and ole Cap told me because I knocked over 3 cones, I had 15 seconds added to my time, for a grand total of 1:59 (I think is what he said..might also have been 1:55, but I was just so happy I was under 2 minutes I didn’t care!)
In the middle of doing the course, we broke for a while and walked over to the K9 training field where we were treated to an entire drill that re-enacted a scene with a man in a car (the lead K9 trainer decked out in a dog bite suit) and the SWAT guys (yaaeesss!) and the K9 crew trying to get the man out of the car. If you follow the Bartlett PD on Facebook, you know they have a new K9, Gozer, who’s still a puppy, but is large enough to get the job done. They put him through his paces, and he did an amazing job of getting the guy out of the car, backed by SWAT, who closed in on the vehicle once Gozer did his part. Yeah for manly men in SWAT gear. It was mighty impressive.
They had two other K9 dogs there that also gave us fun presentations.
One sniffed out drugs that were stashed way out on the course and promptly took his reward (one of his toys) and ran back to the squad scar and hopped in. Job done. Lol. The other behemoth K9 showed us how he goes after someone either coming at him or running away from him. He was a large black German Shepherd that made a sickening “thud” when he launched himself into the back of the Officer he was chasing. It was enough to remind everyone just how much of an impact these dogs make. Bottom line, these dogs are used for the “make” portion of the “ask, tell, make” scenario I talked about in the K9 portion of class a few weeks back. You don’t want to make it to that part of a scenario, I assure you.
With the driving, SWAT and K9 drills done, we all loaded back up and headed over to the gun range, where we got to test our skills at being sharp shooters. At this point, I need to come clean and say that it took every ounce of my willpower in that drive from the obstacle course to the gun range to not whip my car around the turns like we did out on that course. I was fighting the urge to just let the rubber fly, I tell ya.
I’m fairly comfortable around guns, as I’ve been around and owned them my entire life. However, there were a few folks who’d never held or shot a gun in their entire life. It was fun to watch them learn the ins and outs of gun safety, then take the gun, hold and aim it, and finally work up the nerve to pull the trigger.
First up, we shot pistols. I don’t remember what they were caliber-wise, but we got to shoot 10 rounds from them. I was “ok” with my aim, but not as good as I used to be when I owned my Glock. Ohhh, I miss my Glock. She was one of my faves….
Next up, the rifle. Y’all, the rifle had a laser sight on it that was AHHHHMAZING. Wherever you put that laser dot, that’s where your shot went. Perfection. Hands down my favorite of the three guns we fired. We got to shoot 5 rounds and mine were “on point” with the rifle.
Lastly, the shotgun. We only got to fire off 2 rounds with it, but we also got to load the shells ourselves, and do the entire Arnold Schwarzenegger move of pumping the slide forward and back. ULTIMATE POWER MOVE! If only I’d thought to say, “I’ll be baaaahhhhckkk” or “I’m here to ‘pump you up’.” Damn. I missed a good opportunity there. Oh well. Doesn’t matter cause my 2 shots went into the target one on top of the other. Smooooth.
I have to say a mighty big THANK YOU to the Officers who were all out there either on the course, or at the range, for all their time and patience with us that day. I mean, that’s a full Saturday of “work” for them, play for us, and overall energy used up on all sides.
All in all, Field Day was the ultimate day of fun, learning, bonding and “ball growing” all rolled into one. It was the perfect ending to 6 weeks of “hands-on” learning that, at least for me, was life changing in many ways. After 2 years of staying home 24/7, and not really being able to do much of anything, going through sickness, surgery and recovery, this 6 week course was the ultimate kick starter for my year of doing things out in the world again. To top it off, I actually made new friends, both with my classmates and the folks at Bartlett PD, I reignited my love for adventure, and I felt alive again.
Oh now, don’t y’all go thinking I’m done with my review of this course. Nay, nay, I say! We just had graduation this week and there were some real dramatic turn of events that took place during the ceremony! Ohhh yessss. Stick around my dears. I’ll be bringing you all the tea in the next post very, verrry soon!