Day 2 started on a rainy and damp morning, but there was nothing but energy in the air. The candidates had their feet put to the fire on Day 1 and expectations for their performance had been set. Yet while all of the candidates had a clear understanding of what it would take to succeed during the Training for Certification (TFC), the instructors had a few more curveballs waiting for them.
We started again bright and early at the community center, where as expected, Chris and Bill immediately condensed a month’s worth of information into one classroom session. What occurred over the next few hours were discussions on the differences between full time and part time 4WD systems, and manufacturer specific vehicle based traction aids such as Toyota’s ATRAC and traditional mechanical lockers.
This wide variety of information was covered because as an I4WDTA certified trainer, one is expected to be able to cross train among various platforms. With such a wide range of vehicles currently available in the United States and abroad, having a firm understanding of different 4WD systems and manufacturer specific features is almost a must.
Candidates were also tested on their knowledge of vehicle mechanical systems from types of differentials, to the variations between axle designs. Then out of nowhere the class was stopped and a session of “Round Robin” was announced. Candidates were told they would be given 1 minute to describe a topic provided to them by an instructor, naturally we assumed we would be talking about 4WD systems.
So when Bill called up one of the candidates and asked for a description of the process of using a standard funnel, we were all surprised. Yet what surprised us even more was how difficult it was to describe such a simple process/item that we had used dozens if not hundreds of times.
There were numerous other questions asked by the instructors, and I won’t give them away here, but the point was that at any time a professional instructor needs to be ready to answer any question he’s asked (even the obvious ones). It also pointed out how difficult it could be to describe some of the simplest tasks that we pay literally no attention to.
The lesson was definitely learned by the candidates, and as we covered presentation skills and strategies, everyone was paying complete attention, even myself. The main reason for this portion of the training is really to test a candidate’s ability to describe and articulate his instructions to a potential student/client/etc. The reality is in any training environment, simple questions will be asked along with complex ones, and being able to deliver that information to said person in a professional manner is something you’re guaranteed to get when working with an I4WDTA certified trainer.
After our classroom session was complete, we moved back to the Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center for the field training portion of the day. As the instructors moved us towards a steep hill, all we could see was the potential for a lengthy and slick recovery scenario.
The test for the day required the candidates to extract a “stuck” vehicle, and pull it up a hill without the aid of a traditional vehicle mounted winch. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem for any of the candidates, but the truck was also carefully put in between a large tree and a stump.
Candidates were provided with Hi-Lift jacks, recovery ropes, screw pin bow shackles, soft shackles, winch line extensions, and I’m pretty sure there was a ground anchor lying around at some point. What took place next is what I can only describe as “some off-road MacGyver level ingenuity”, and while it worked, it wasn’t pretty.
The total process took over 2 hours and involved moving the truck from its “stuck” position, and then using a Hi-Lift as a come-a-long to pull it up the hill. This exercise was designed to not only test the candidate’s knowledge of recovery skills and equipment, but to also test their leadership skills and ability to work as a team.
Day 2 was a wakeup call for the candidates, and this exercise showed they still had a lot to learn and even more to prove before the end of Day 4.