LEAD Complex Rappel Training
Maj Harold Compton
Rappel training began at the Marine Military Academy during 1999 with the completion of construction of the Academy Rappel Tower. Following initial instructor training and rapel certification, cadets began training during the spring of 1999 and the tower was utilized fully during Summer Camp 2000. Over 500 cadets and summer campers were taught rappel techniques and completed over 1500 descents from the tower during its first year. It was immediately recognized that this was an event that was immensely popular. Many of those that completed the training had never found themselves that high off the ground, suspended only by a rope and their own skill and the result was the conquering a fear of heights.
Rappel Training Operation
Participants initially are provided ground training which includes briefing on equipment, harness fitting and rappel
braking techniques. A ground rappel facility allows participants to practice braking as they lower themselves from a platform only 12 inches high until they are sitting on the ground. After several practice sessions and when the participants feel comfortable they are then moved to the top of tower where they will conduct their first rappel from a height of 30 feet. The first session is always conducted on a wall where the participant slowly walks down the wall while lowering them self. A safety belay from the ground ensures that no participant falls.
Once participants complete several descents on the wall they are then given the opportunity to try a descent from the simulated helicopter skid. This descent is a free suspension without the feet touching the tower. This has turned out to be the most popular type of rappel training and one that participants want to repeat numerous times. Again a safety belay is provided to protect each participant.
Rappel training evolutions require that each station is run by a certified Rappel Master and an additional Rappel
Master serves as the Safety Insert Officer to oversee all training. The Marine Military Academy also utilize the
tower to provide rappel training for all Academy cadets and numerous schools throughout the Rio Grande Valley. The US Army JROTC Leadership Camp, which is held at the Academy each summer also receives rappel training and tower is also used by the US Border Patrol for training of their special operations unit. Local US Army and US Marine Corps Reserve units have also received training from the Academy staff.
Check back tomorrow to read Part II, Obstacle Course at the Marine Military Academy Course.
Check back later for more on rappel training with our new Plebes!
Check out what Alumi Jim Mischel has to say about he and his wife visiting the tower for rappelling during the Alumni Reunion at his website.
To learn more about the Marine Military Academy visit our website at http://www.mma-tx.org or request iformation at http://www.mma-tx.org/MMA/admissions/admissions_form2.html