When Brandon Erhardt helped convert the old Bowman High School into a military training facility, he didn't do a lot of converting. A retired basketball jersey hangs behind glass in the gym, die-cut paper letters wilt in the humid hallway, and a single marching band hat sits upright on a desk in the lecture hall.
They wanted it to look like a high school.
"It's a changing world out there," said Erhardt, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq war. "You're not just clearing out towns anymore."
Erhardt is vice president of training for Threat Management Group, a Goose Creek-based military contracting company that offers training in topics including urban combat and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) at its facility in Bowman, near the interchange of Interstates 95 and 26.
In an era of roadside bombs and extremist insurgents, Erhardt said he trains soldiers for a new sort of combat, one where you might find yourself speaking to a homeowner rather than kicking down his door, one where you might find yourself clearing out classrooms in a high school.
"It does no good for us to get one bad guy if we create 15 bad guys along the way," Erhardt said.
On certain days in a two-week program, training can last from 8 a.m. one day to 3 a.m. the next. There are punishments, there are full-gear simulations in the school buildings, and there is a lot of yelling.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Dallas Bozeman, who was going through rifle-range training on Thursday, said it was harder than boot camp -- and for a good reason.
"We saw a problem in the past of airmen going into theater without any experience in combat," Bozeman said. Those airmen included Bozeman himself when he was deployed to Iraq in 2005.
EOD training applies to all branches of the military, and it's becoming a larger part of what the Air Force does in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Threat Management CEO Brandon Cox, who founded the company in 2004.
Cox said his instructors act as a stopgap for the Air Force, which provides relatively little ground-level training and doesn't have the staff to offer its own EOD courses.
"You'd be amazed at the amount of training. It's nominal at best," Cox said. "It's amazing that they shoot 80 rounds and then they go into combat."
Firing-range instructor Joe Taylor, who has trainees firing over each other's shoulders and taking shots at a distance of 500 yards, said basic training only has soldiers shooting from a fixed line.
"Most of these guys have never even shot past 25 yards," Taylor said.
To the staff of Threat Management, all of whom are veterans, the rigors of EOD training are meant to keep soldiers alive.
"They get yelled at, they get beat up," Cox said. "It's stress inoculation. It's like getting a flu shot."
In the hall at the school building, where orange paint from practice ammunition dapples the cinder-block walls, instructor Brian McCue barked at a resting soldier: "Get off the wall! Next time it's 15 pushups."
In the hallway, Erhardt explained how bullets coming in at a low angle can skip and travel along walls. Cox said he was honored to be offering the training.
"We could have world peace next week and I'd be out of a job," Cox said. Not that that's a bad thing, he added.
"I'm tired of going to funerals."