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SEAL BLOG. Booby Traps

Thursday April 03rd 2008 - 11:48 AM EST
Added by: Don Shipley

Don Shipley SEAL Booby Trap Class

I ran my first booby trap course as a new SEAL and smoked it doing very well. Trapping as a kid and access to demo in SEAL Team went well together setting up my own booby trap courses. The courses normally consisted of 100 meters of trail, ten traps and ten targets to shoot.

Scattered along were ten military type objects laying off the trail and hung in trees for the guys to pick out.

I’d do a wild ass explosive filled class teaching booby traps and then one at a time the guys would run the course. It began with "KIMS" Game or "Keep in Memory. I’d pull back a poncho with ten items under it like a bullet, ear plug, compass and allow a one minute study. After the course, the clock stopped, bullet holes were counted, time was added for traps that they had tripped, items they saw on the trail counted and KIMS played into it for an overall score.

I always worked hard to trick them at the start of the class as guys coming had already heard "Don’t touch anything" before they showed up from past platoons.

I once assembled the guys and told them that a General would be attending and to help me clean up before he arrived. Picking up trash I had scattered, there was a half eaten apple and when one of the guys picked it up I had wired it and the place turned ugly fast. BOOM BOOM BOOM...

Another time, I put out seats for the guys to sit in. On top of each seat I placed a pencil and a piece of paper that they would have to pick up before sitting down. Under one piece of paper was a pack of "Ear Pro" the size of a pack of matches and of course that guy picked up the pack that was wired and set off a large (HUGE) field of demo.

The traps were pressure plates and trip wires leading to a pound and a quarter block of C-4. When the guys tripped them they absolutely knew what it was like tripping a booby trap without the shrapnel. Very intense, I’ve run them in the winter and guys would have sweat rolling down their faces worrying what was going to happen with each step.

Booby traps are top of the list of effective, cheap, and easy to construct weapons there are. While some are top of the line and use Mercury and Infrared, most are simple and I taught the most common and the most common methods of placing them.

Guys would spot a wire across the trail and signal me behind them that they see one and I’d cup my ears as soon as they’d turn back and brace for shock. The blatant wire would be a dummy and the real trap was on top of their boot and waiting for them to take a step or buried on the other side of the wire waiting for them to cross. BOOM...

Dummy wires, fish hooks in brush, wires at forehead level, waist, shin and ones to snag your boot. The guys had a great respect for booby traps when they completed the course.

Spending a day and putting twenty guys through was tough, as the constant over-bottom pressure from all the explosions took it’s toll on me and I’d be a shaky mess at the end of the day.

I don’t ever remember a single guy ever getting through without tripping something.

The traps were constructed with a length of wire, a nine-volt battery, cloths pin, a blasting cap and a charge. Simple stuff but proper placement both for the traps not being detected and the safety of the guys going through with the large shots going off was critical.

No one was ever hurt but a few times things got ugly.

I set up a course in Turkey for the Turkish SEALs once and the Turks were a little edgy as their compound had been attacked by Kurds a week before we arrived. I finished setting up early the next morning and the class would consist of a Turkish Officer translating for me. My friend Eric was helping me and I asked him to hold down the fort while I assembled the guys and pre-briefed the translator.

My class consisted of many explosions, demonstrating simply that I could booby trap just about anything. I was using an easel and flip charts and each time I’d flip the paper another shot would go off and the ground surrounding the easel had very small bits of paper I’d step on, blowing another shot and keeping attention.

Getting windy, I asked Eric to stay behind and not let the pages get blown as the shots would be fired prematurely. I also pointed out the pieces of paper and reminded him not to step on them.

I was sitting with the translator explaining what we’d be doing when a series of explosions "Rocked" the compound. One after another they kept coming louder and louder.
I knew what had happened immediately but the Turks, even after explaining about setting up the course never understood I’d be using live demo and FREAKED...

The compound went nuts...

The intercom system began blaring an excited Turkish call to arms and underwear clad Turks began running for weapons and manning defensive positions. The translator ran for the door and had forgotten every word of English he ever knew as I tried to get him to understand what had happened.

As we blew outside, I looked up where the course was set and where everyone was pointing their weapons and through a settling cloud of dust I could see Eric. Knowing Eric very well, I knew he’d probably punch me out if he wasn’t shot by the Turks.

I finally got the translator to understand and he went running for the intercom and shortly across it came the blah, blah, blah Turkish language I could not understand broken with BOOBY TRAP blah, blah, blah BOOBY TRAP blah, blah, blah.

Eric explained later that a gust of wind was lifting the papers and he stepped on one of the papers trying to stop it. It scared the Hell out of him and he knocked the easel over detonating those charges while dancing on a few more pieces of paper...

I went all over the Country teaching a three day booby trap course to Police Departments and had a hoot. Great Guys... The problem Police Officers have is houses and cars they search already have a power source and booby trapping a house or car is easy and very dangerous work for these guys..

I’d always call ahead to the SWAT or EOD guys at the department I was instructing and have a load of demo waiting. It worked out well, but I quickly discovered my aggressive nature with demo was a bit more than theirs.

I set up their demo range early with a pile of demo for the demonstration. As the guys showed up and gathered around I asked "Who’s ready for some DEMO?" and I stepped on a hidden pressure plate and shots began to fire. Loud and long the shots continued with nobody minding as everyone loves blowing things up.

Everyone except the neighbors who I guess weren’t accustom to such big shots and so many.

We moved to the next shot for a demonstration and the next, and the next. As I prepared to fire the Grand Finally a cop car shows up with the Captain and a Lieutenant who was dressed in the sharpest uniform I’d seen and setting a great example for the other Officers. Seeing how well they were dressed I fired the last shot quickly before they came closer as it was behind me in a big nasty mud puddle.

The puddle was deeper than I thought and enhanced the effect and sent a wall of mud and puddle water skyward. It had been my intention to wet down the guys going through the course but it caught some wind and there was no escape for the Captain and Lieutenant who just watched it come down realizing running from it wasn’t going to work.


Covered from head to toe they took it gracefully and explained they had come out after receiving complaints from citizens ten miles away.




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