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View Full Version : how to guide (spot) somone on the trail


isotel
05-15-2007, 02:59 PM
after being in moab and seeing a bunch of photos of different spotting stratagies im wondering what your guys take on it its.. is there common hand signals? what do they mean? where should a spoter stand? When is a good time to start?

i dont like to have someone elce tell me what line to take until the line i choose is not working, or the spoter sees a situation that could be dangerous..

when i do spot i like to stay to the drivers side of the truck, and try to be in visual and verbal communication usually just guiding them to get there passenger tire to where i believe the best line is.. Anyone elce got ideas or a link to this sort of thing..

treerootCO
05-15-2007, 05:23 PM
The FJ Trail Team held classes Sunday and Monday before Cruise Moab and did a very good job. I learned a lot from them.

nakman
05-15-2007, 05:42 PM
I like to talk to the driver first, so we agree what line we're trying. Then ideally stand far enough away so that I can spot them through the whole obstacle, but that isn't always an option sometimes you have to move. I use whole arm signals above my head, not just little gestures with fingers.

Do you have any of those FJ Cruiser magazines? I think the first one had a deal with common hand signals.. I'll look for it tonight. but yeah, their leader training was awesome, plus any time I get spotted I tend to learn something...

J Kimmel
05-15-2007, 07:12 PM
I call driver and passenger when giving direction, this prevents left/right confusion. I try and find out what the driver wants unless they trust me. I also try and not push someone past what they want. There are plenty of times where it feels worse in the truck than it looks, but if the driver doesn't like it, well, they are the ones driving so we will try something else. That doesn't happen very often if you're on the same page though.

RockRunner
05-15-2007, 08:20 PM
There are some common signs that most people use, closing a fist to convey stop is one and touching your finger tips together open/close meaning a little bit. At the same time I am sure you could talk to a hundred people and get a hundred different answers.

Your comment about not liking being told what line to take illustrated the biggest problem with spotting, communication. The spotter and the driver need to be on the same page, they also need to understand the skill of either person. You are not going to have a rookie spot you going up Hells Gate.

When I wheel I try to wheel with some of the same people so we understand our driving habits and learn the capabilities of the driver and the vehicle, an important item often forgotten. I try to use the same spotter if I can if not and I am working with a "new" person I try to walk through the obstacle first all the time talking and listening trying to come up with the best line, this could be the easiest or the hardest line.

The other thing I like to do is use FSR radios. They make talking to each other a breeze, I have mine in the truck set to VOX and the spotters is set to use the button. Before the FSR's we used our CB's, it was a little harder but still worked.

My two cents can be taken however you want as everyone has their own style and comfort level. One thing that I don't think that can be disregarded is the communication, with out it there will be trouble, one way or another.

ScaldedDog
05-15-2007, 08:24 PM
I call driver and passenger when giving direction, this prevents left/right confusion. I try and find out what the driver wants unless they trust me. I also try and not push someone past what they want. There are plenty of times where it feels worse in the truck than it looks, but if the driver doesn't like it, well, they are the ones driving so we will try something else. That doesn't happen very often if you're on the same page though.

Exactly. Also, I prefer to be talked to while on an obstacle, partially so I know the spotter has his mind on what we're doing, too, so I tend to say more, rather than less.

In addition, I prefer spotters who are good drivers, and who have a decent understanding of mechanical things. There's a lot of difference between repeatedly banging a skid plate on a rock, and repeatedly banging your drive shaft on the same rock, but not everyone knows that. With this in mind, I brought a Jeep-driving buddy of mine to CM07 - where I knew almost no one -because I wanted someone on every trail that I trusted.

If you want to see what good spotting is like, do BTR with Joe C. That guy's a pro.

Mark

J Kimmel
05-15-2007, 10:23 PM
I second the good driver. You have to be comfortable in your own vehicle first :)

Red_Chili
05-16-2007, 06:56 AM
If you want to see what good spotting is like, do BTR with Joe C. That guy's a pro.

Mark
+1, no doubt. Joe's solid spotting did a bunch for me on the first BTR obstacle which 'tickled my giblets' as Squishy would put it. He made High Dive boring.:hill:

OK, hyperbole, but you get my drift. Joe could teach spotter school. Interestingly he said almost nothing, but the communication was superb.

Man Jerk
05-16-2007, 08:30 AM
Just don't let me spot you trev :flop:

JadeRunner
05-16-2007, 02:55 PM
[QUOTE=isotel;35166]

i dont like to have someone elce tell me what line to take until the line i choose is not working, or the spoter sees a situation that could be dangerous..
QUOTE]

I agree, which is different than how most people want to be spotted on tough obsticles. The fun for me is picking my own line and working my way through the best I can with no help from a spotter. Then if I'm stuck and\or stopped and loose track of were my tires are, I'll ask for help. So if someone is initailly triing to spot me it's important for me to tell him in advance or he will wonder why I'm not listening to him.

Bobzooki
05-16-2007, 03:50 PM
As a driver of a little bitty thing, I have had some misgivings from drivers of those big behemoth monstrosities, like 80's and 100's. "You can't spot for me! You drive a Suzuki!!!"

After a little work together, however, we have come to understand that even though I drive a Quad on Steroids, I really can get the big beasties cleanly over an obstacle. It's a trust thing, and you can only get that by working together, and demonstrating your ability to the satisfaction of the driver.

Rock Dog
05-16-2007, 06:45 PM
You touch upon an important point Bob. That is different vehicles need to be spotted a little differently depending on the obsticle.
I got a lot more experience spotting Ben's brother in his 80 than i ever had before, and the longer wheel base definetely changed the lines needed on the same obstacle. Spotting several different vehicle types up the same obstacle one after another is a great learning experience.

DevinSixtySeven
05-17-2007, 02:27 PM
It always seems easier to spot what you drive since you can visualize the rig on the line, from the turning radius to tire cheat to how much pitch or roll it'll see to how much stress the front end is under and what the point of first contact and greatest risk will be.

What helps the most for me is using only one form of communication at a time...voice up close, arms and hands away from the rig, and very obvious motions to avoid confusion. Personally I'm leery of radios, even on VOX, just because a lot of people forget to press THEN talk...so "yes", "no", "stop", etc. come across as CLICK and when I go "whatdjasay?" I get another CLICK. Frustration :rant:...

Something nobody's mentioned yet is the absolute need for ONE spotter with ONE vehicle, period. I've seen more than one case of several people trying to throw in helpful remarks and motions, and it always goes foul. If ya ain't spotting, get outta the way, mouth shut, hands down.

There's one other thing...had this happen actually, glad I was an observer at the time. It started with one spotter and a hotheaded, inexperienced driver. It ended with everybody yelling a lot. Spotting is half of the team; the driver needs to be patient, observant, and trusting of the spotter. Not trusting, listening, or watching the spotter is gonna hurt, somehow...and if your spotter screws it up, you can always give them a good thumping after the run :hill:.

-Sean

wesintl
05-17-2007, 03:02 PM
after being in moab and seeing a bunch of photos of different spotting stratagies im wondering what your guys take on it its.. is there common hand signals? what do they mean? where should a spoter stand? When is a good time to start?

i dont like to have someone elce tell me what line to take until the line i choose is not working, or the spoter sees a situation that could be dangerous..

when i do spot i like to stay to the drivers side of the truck, and try to be in visual and verbal communication usually just guiding them to get there passenger tire to where i believe the best line is.. Anyone elce got ideas or a link to this sort of thing..

There should be common hand signals but for the most part there is not amongs weekend warriors. Watch the FJ Trail Team in action and you'll see what Supurb spoting and hand signals are.

If you want to try a line as a driver I would tell your spotter what your going to try. That way they know what you're doing and can look to anticipate what is going on if you get hung up to be able to get you out and or tell you when to stop.

I prefer not to use a radio. To much left and right, right and wrong and the steering wheel goes the other way. After watching Dan Mick spot with a radio and one hand then see Chris Nelson use of hands only on hells gate only confirmed that I don't need or like radios. I think the first fj cruiser book has hand signals in it. I thought I scanned that page and posted it but i'll have to look around to find it.

That's my :twocents:

RockRunner
05-17-2007, 09:50 PM
Communication is the number one thing and agree 100% with Sean, one spotter for one truck. I have gone up obstacles many times with my buddy spotting when onlookers start helping and yelling what to do I just ignore them.

Sean your comment about radios and the problems is correct to a certain point. We have made sure that we have very good radios for one. The driver is the only one using VOX and the Spotter always holds the button for a second before the message and after. Once the order has been relayed nothing happens till the driver says AOA, old restaurant saying standing for "audible order acknowledged"

It took us a while to get a good system down and are still working on perfecting it if we ever do LOL. Everybody has there own system and prefer their own way and that is fine but there should be some standard hand signals that everybody should know on the trail so we can communicate.

Hants
05-18-2007, 09:07 AM
Something nobody's mentioned yet is the absolute need for ONE spotter with ONE vehicle, period. I've seen more than one case of several people trying to throw in helpful remarks and motions, and it always goes foul. If ya ain't spotting, get outta the way, mouth shut, hands down.

On a pre-run of Cliff Hanger, I had two guys each start to spot me down an obstacle. They were the same distance in front of me, about 4 feet apart. Guy on my left pointed left and yelled LEFT, guy on my right pointed right and yelled RIGHT. I just stopped, we all shared a smile, and one guy spotted me down. I still chuckle remembering it. :)

I don't have much experience wheeling with RS, or big groups of any kind, for that matter. CM was my first opportunity to spot where there are a wide variety of driver-skill/experience levels.

I was spotting a guy up an off-camber obstacle that required a hard left turn going up. His front made it up the ledge, but his back started walking left. I told him to turn passenger and backup slowly. He took his foot off the brake, rolled back a couple of inches and said, "which way is passenger?". I pointed. He turned driver and backed up a couple more inches. One of his front tires dropped of the ledge, and he was suddenly at 30+ degrees. We got him out safely due to a quick reactions & experienced people.

My takeaways: 1) If there's ANY doubt, spot the conservative route, 2) always make a point to go talk to the driver so both of you are working together, 3) spotting in reverse can cause (additional) confusion.

In this case, it would have been more conservative to back him back down the obstacle and start all over again. I didn't know the driver and didn't make certain that were "on the same page". When there were obvious communication/expectation/execution disconnects, I should have stopped the proceedings immediately and resolved them.

From that point forward, anytime I spotted anyone, I walked up and talked with the driver about the approach, line, tricky spots, etc. Then I spotted them through using only gross arm movements.

You can be less-formal with smaller groups where you know each other. But in groups where there is less/minimal experience together, simple & conservative is the rule in my book.

corsair23
05-18-2007, 12:03 PM
I was spotting a guy up an off-camber obstacle that required a hard left turn going up. His front made it up the ledge, but his back started walking left. I told him to turn passenger and backup slowly. He took his foot off the brake, rolled back a couple of inches and said, "which way is passenger?". I pointed. He turned driver and backed up a couple more inches. One of his front tires dropped of the ledge, and he was suddenly at 30+ degrees. We got him out safely due to a quick reactions & experienced people.

Made for some excitement and excellent video :thumb: and gave us a chance to see some well done recovery ops. With the rain that day and the sand on the wet rock some of the waterfall sections were like driving on ball bearings :eek:

On a side note, you also have to be working with a driver that is willing to listen and follow the instructions and not decide they know better :)

ginericLC
05-21-2007, 03:32 PM
I think you guys have nailed most of it down. I've mostly spotted 40s most of my wheeling career and I've almost always driven wagons. Even when I've had 40s I've not driven them on runs very often, I think only twice. But I think because it is what I was around all the time I got pretty good at it.

I don't have a problem with somebody I don't know spot me if I know they have skills or I don't need them. If there is a question of trust in my mind I just don't do it.

Up Hell's Gate a few years ago the leader said he wouldn't spot me because I didn't have a front locker. I said that is OK, I'll do it without you spotting. He did not like that answer. I said I'll have So and So spot me. He asked, "How long have you guy's been wheeling together?" I asked him what time it was, and then told him about 3.5 hours. He really got upset by that response but it was the truth. I wasn't trying to be a smart aS$. I felt comfortable with my driving and this guy spotting me that I was willing to give it a go. The next thing I know I'm at the bottom looking up for my spotter and he points to the trail leader. So the trail leader ended up spotting me up the Gate anyway. He did do a good job of spotting me. But the 80 right after me slammed into the wall with the same spotter. Communication was an issue.

If something is really complex a lot of times I walk the section prior to starting to drive it and tell the spotter I want my DS wheel right here and then right here and when I get here I need to do this. Sometimes that works wonderfully.

I have not found anyone that uses hand signals that are so strange I didn't understand them. Left and Right is not good either. The other one I hate is the little finger twirling to crank it one way or another. Folks reverse that too.

I like Christo's driver's meeting. "If you wreck your truck don't blame the spotter it is always the driver's fault!" And if you think about it. You could have a spotter out there by himself and if you didn't bring your truck out he couldn't have done anything wrong.

If you want to get into craziness join a multimake club. The club I'm currently active with has Fords, Dodges, Chevys, Suzukis, Isuzus, Toyotas, various models of Heeps and one Nissan. Some of those companies do crazy things like putting the front pumpkin on the DS. A lot of times I just stop and say, "Hey I can't do this, I'm not familar enough with your rig to do it right."

Red_Chili
05-22-2007, 09:17 AM
If something is really complex a lot of times I walk the section prior to starting to drive it and tell the spotter I want my DS wheel right here and then right here and when I get here I need to do this. Sometimes that works wonderfully. Often works for me! That helps build confidence between the driver and spotter IMHO


I like Christo's driver's meeting. "If you wreck your truck don't blame the spotter it is always the driver's fault!" And if you think about it. You could have a spotter out there by himself and if you didn't bring your truck out he couldn't have done anything wrong.
Absolutely true assuming a minimum level of ability- but I am completely trusting the spotter. I have done things under a spotter's direction that I would not have had the confidence to do without it (as in, Joe Callejia's most excellent spotting this year). Under those circumstances the spotter could direct me off a ledge that otherwise I would not have driven - so who is responsible when my truck rolls then?

It's a major responsibility, and I've passed on spotting someone if the risk was great and I did not know their vehicle/ability.

Hants
05-22-2007, 10:22 AM
... Under those circumstances the spotter could direct me off a ledge that otherwise I would not have driven - so who is responsible when my truck rolls then?

It's a major responsibility, and I've passed on spotting someone if the risk was great and I did not know their vehicle/ability.

It is ALWAYS the driver's responsibility. The driver ultimately makes the choice to follow the spotter's direction (or not). The driver assumes the inherent risks of offroading AND following someone else's guidance. If the driver isn't willing to assume those risks, they shouldn't be out there.

That said, I would feel horrible if I were involved in any way with a rig being severely damaged or, worse, people being hurt. :eek:

Red_Chili
05-22-2007, 11:13 AM
Hmmm... dunno. I hear the conventional wisdom, but all of us saying the same thing does not make it so- is there any solid basis for this?

When I am following a spotter's direction I simply cannot see what they can see and I am putting my safety in their hands. Maybe I am aware of the theoretical ledge, maybe not. My eyes are on the spotter, as it should be.

It would be interesting to hear a legal perspective, though God forbid it should EVER come to that.:eek:

The famous video of the jeep end-over-end on Hell's Gate comes to mind. IIRC the spotter was late in telling her to turn driver, and her front climbed. By then, the frantic spotter was too late. She handled it graciously, insurance came into play, the spotter felt HORRIBLE but that was that. What if someone were killed? What if lousy spotting became deadly? Always the driver's fault if the driver is completely trusting the spotter for what she or he cannot see?

It's just a big responsibility is all.

Hants
05-22-2007, 12:58 PM
It's just a big responsibility is all.

In a professional guide/leader role, the rules would be different... legally, at least.

I'm not a lawyer... and lawyering can obtain results that are not rational. :eek:

It certainly IS a big responsibility to take on spotting someone. And there's a bunch of great input/experience here on this thread to help make it a positive experience for both driver & spotter.

It is also a big responsibility to take a vehicle and intentionally drive it into precarious situations, including offroading. If one is not up for the responsibility, don't go there.

It is ALWAYS the driver's responsibility. The driver ultimately makes the choice to follow the spotter's direction (or not). The driver assumes the inherent risks of offroading AND following someone else's guidance. If the driver isn't willing to assume those risks, they shouldn't be out there.

I still stand by my position. It's the way I live my life. :)

Red_Chili
05-22-2007, 01:20 PM
:lmao:

Or as a friend once told me:
"I always think I'm right. But I never think I'm always right"

Ya hafta think about that one...








Why would one argue for something they didn't think was right? But who in their right mind would think they were always right?
:blah::lmao:

corsair23
05-22-2007, 01:30 PM
After CM07 I have an immense amount of respect for the Trail Leaders and Gunners that volunteer to lead/gun and spot a bunch of noobs (like me :)) on trails that the driver's may never have been on before, in rigs that they may never have had offroad before, and who were hesitant on some of the obstacles (me, me, and me). My hats off to those that lead/gunned the trails I was on :thumb:

That said, personally I don't believe I would ever hold a spotter responsible for damage or injury done as a result of them spotting me through an obstacle. IMO the go/no go decision rests with the driver and once the driver has made the decision the spotter is simply there to try to help them get through unscathed.

It is similar to flying and being the PIC (pilot in command). Ultimately the PIC is the SOLE decision maker. 99% of the time accident reports will one way or another blame the PIC for an accident and list all the other 'factors' as a contributing causal factors.

powderpig
05-23-2007, 09:53 AM
What a great conversation to have, hopefully all will take away some info that did not have before. So many places to start on this. I will start with what is most on my mind.
The conversation of if the spotter or driver is responsiabe is a tough one. If you take the true (my true interpetation) of what a spotter is doing and if the driver follows to the tee as he needs to. Then I think the spotter would be the person responsiable. If the spotter is not confortable with the responsiablity then that person should not be spotting. But what the spotter can not conpensate for is irattic control of the vechicle. So if the spotter know this, then it is his job to control the situation. So he can then voice his opinion and pass on spotting or have a real meanful conversation with the driver to hopefully have the driver get control. This may not be a popular view, but is one I hold to.
So this takes me to what conversation I usually have with people. I will only spot when requested to. This is accomplished by makeing it knowen to the group that I will only spot if requested. Or if I am a trail leader and I see stuff going wrong, I will step in and say something. I usually go over my basic hand signal with them quickly. Most time if I am at a major obstical the people following are seeing it in advance. I still have the question "do you want a spot". I never take it as a given(except with my wife, some day she will ask me not to spot her". I usually use bigger hand signals, unless I have spotted some one before and I know they know my style. Scott Brady had some bright orange glove that would help alot to make the hands stand out. Always stand in plan view. Verbal commands do not work very well as engine noise could interfer with the commands.
If using verbal, use words that do not have two meaning, sound like each other. For example "ho (for go), wooh( for stop and I can not spell it, get the Idea)". I usually will explain what my verbal commands are. I work with Driver's hand down(driver down), passenger hand down(passenger down). I explain this as "when I say driver down, pull with the driver hand on the steering wheel down" " when I say pass down, pull with the pass hand down on the steering wheel". If using verbal then you must stay close to have the person hear you. In the conversation you have before this starts you make make sure the driver will not move if they are not clear. This is real important.
The spotter is the drivers eyes, So the driver must never take his eyes off the spotter. If the driver can not see the spotter, he must stop and allow the spotter to reposition to better see. Trust is a big thing. If the driver does not maintain eye contact, stop and have a brief talk with the driver and get on the same page. Always stop if either party has some misgiving about the situation.

Any how this is long and I have more, I will try to post more as more question come up. Keep the conversation going, and the club will benifit as every one gets more on the same page. Later robbie:cheers:

Red_Chili
05-23-2007, 10:56 AM
Word!

Beater
05-23-2007, 11:06 AM
what do you do when the designated spotter just shrugs, then takes a seat over on a rock out of the way robbie?

powderpig
05-23-2007, 11:22 AM
It means you are not wanted or loved:D.
You did not ask for spotting, so I sat down and waited for the problems to arrise. :eek:

Red_Chili
05-23-2007, 12:38 PM
It's probably a commentary on your rack. That's my guess.

Beater
05-23-2007, 01:05 PM
what's wrong with my rack? Is this an implant thing?

Inukshuk
05-23-2007, 01:08 PM
To me its a no-brainer :rolleyes: that the driver should be responsible. Before being spotted on something where the driver is concerned enough to ask for a spot, the driver should walk the line with the spotter and discuss :blah: it.
On the other hand, spotters :bump: can easily get a driver in trouble. When I am being spotted I follow exactly what my spotter says to do. :clap:

Probably more than anything we need to choose a policy approach and then put that in writing. Truth is that newbies on a trail rely on the leaders and gunners and any discussion here that the driver "should" always be responsible won't help in court. Worse than that, the insurance company :mad: of the injured person/damaged vehicle could not care less that the driver being spotted did not listen to the spotter. At that point it becomes a he-said/she said. :rant:

Fortunately, we really play it pretty safe on obstacles and accidents :flop: are rare. I will still lead/gun, knowing that I am exposing myself to liability. I will not serve as a volunteer bartender at an event I am involved with (the Denver Polo Classic) because a problem there or serving to a minor could cost me my professional license.

Oh yeah, and I AM a lawyer! :bowdown: (So can someone send me the liability waivers to read....)

Red_Chili
05-23-2007, 01:40 PM
And all this time I thought he was an Eskimo.:p:

Hants
05-24-2007, 07:24 AM
...that the driver "should" always be responsible won't help in court. Worse than that, the insurance company :mad: of the injured person/damaged vehicle could not care less that the driver being spotted did not listen to the spotter.

Are you saying the driver's insurance company could make a claim against the spotter's insurance?

California has a Good Samaritan law that protects volunteers from lawsuits. As a Mountain Rescue volunteers, we were told about it and told we were protected because we were not paid.

Does Colorado have a similar law? Would it be applicable?

nakman
05-24-2007, 08:12 AM
I think he's saying the driver is the only one who is responsible. "could not care less"= don't even know what a spotter is = don't try to say it wasn't your fault when you wrecked your truck offroad.

ginericLC
05-24-2007, 12:15 PM
I can't recall if I've been spotted by Robbie or not. But I have seen him spot. He's pretty darn good at it. Even if you get a chance to let him tell you about the obstacle and how it feels it is worthwhile to take a moment and listen.

One thing I've noticed at CM is that there are some trail leaders and gunners that are inexperienced with some vehicles. I remember one of the earlier CMs when the run I was on was led by a diehard 40 guy. I was driving a wagon. Others were driving minis. It was a real diverse group. There were a lot of inexperienced folks on the trail including myself. He wouldn't spot anyone that wasn't driving a 40. At first this really ticked me off, but then I realized he was not comfortable doing it. Really we were probably better off without his advice. My point is the trail leaders and gunners really have a tough job. And even gets further complicated when the driver brought a buddy along who seems to know everything. I really respect the folks who volunteer. I've gunned a few times but I don't think I'd ever want the leader responsibility unless it was on like Fins and Things or Poison Spider or maybe Pritchett. Easy or Hard but not the middle!

Another thing I will share is that I've been on several trails that Dave Brown has led and I've wheeled with him a few times when he hasn't been leading. He's a different person in each situation. What I was amazed at about him as a trail leader is that he sort of could tell when somebody wasn't ready for an obstacle. He'd make a point to chat with them about it and then he'd talk them out of it. And he'd do this while still making them feel good about their rig and their driving. I've seen him do this a bunch of times and he did it for me once. I was having a rough day on Hell's Revenge. I was tired and I was thinking of driving my 60 up the Gate. I also was having some ARB issues, I had a leak. I'll admit it didn't feel right to me. But in my head I had made up my mind that I had to do it because this was my once chance for the year. He chatted with me and sort of encouraged me not to do it by sharing experiences he had seen throughout the years. I really think that if I would of drove that obstacle that day something bad would have happened.

Sometimes the pre obstacle chat is even more important than the spotting of the obstacle. Getting the mind ready is sometimes the hardest part.