4 Ways to Practice with your Transceiver During the Offseason

August 26, 2021

Make sure your avalanche transceiver skills are honed by practicing in the off-season--so you don’t burn time on a mid-season powder day! A good first step is to watch the training videos on our website. Then grab a partner, if you have one, and spend a few hours in your yard or at your local park. Here are four ways to practice with your transceiver during the offseason.

1. Avalanche Transceiver in Tall Grass

For this scenario, you’ll need to find some tall grass. Preferably on a long hillside that simulates an avalanche path. Use flags or another marker to mark the boundaries of the path. Then, have a friend hide a beacon in the grass.

    2. Avalanche Transceiver in Sand

    For this scenario, you’re going to need to find some sand. A beach is ideal, but if you don’t live next to a sandy beach, a beach volleyball court works great. This scenario is exceptionally cool because you can actually bury the transceiver. This allows you to conduct a full companion rescue and shovel and probe if you want.

    A few tips: Put the avalanche transceiver in a plastic bag. Sand and electronics don’t like each other. In addition, keep in mind that if you decide to probe, a transceiver can be fragile and can also be difficult to bury deeply in the sand. Therefore, it’s best to bury the transceiver with something thin like a paint bucket lid or piece of plywood over it so you don’t skewer it with your probe. Since the goal is beacon search practice, you could even skip the probing phase, since it won’t be very realistic in such a shallow scenario.

    3. Avalanche Transceiver in a Foam Football

    Alright, who else has done this one? Anybody? For this scenario, cut a foam football in half and cut out space for the beacon. Once you’ve positioned the transceiver inside the football, duct tape it back up and...voila. You’ve constructed a beacon football. Once, you’ve got it all assembled, chuck that thing as far as you can and go find it. This is a really great drill to use when you don’t have anyone else to practice with.

    4. Transceiver Hidden Under a Flower Pot

    For this scenario, you’ll need 10 small plastic flower pots. This is a great drill to do in your lawn or driveway. Use flags or another marker to mark the boundaries of your scenario. Place the flower pots upside down and then spread them out randomly through the search area. Then have a friend place a transceiver under one of the flower pots. Paper lunch bags also work great for this scenario, but make sure you weigh the empty ones down with rocks or sand.

    Make it More Challenging

    For an extra challenge, hide multiple transceivers and practice different multiple burial scenarios.

    Make it More Realistic

    Or, to make it more realistic, hide some visual clues such as a glove or ski pole to better identify where the beacon might be. Another option would be to practice with multiple searchers.

    While these scenarios are not perfect, they function as practice. Conduct the beacon search as you would on snow. Conduct a signal search, followed by a course search, followed by a fine search.

    Make it more fun

    • Hide a cold beer with the beacon as an extra incentive.
    • Time yourself.
    • Challenge your partners. It’s one thing for you to be quick with your beacon. That said, you want to make sure your buddies are fast with their beacons too. Time yourselves. Make a bet. Put some money down. Regardless, have fun!

    Want to want some videos before going out to practice? Check out our videos on avalanche rescue.