Looking for a challenge? How does 24-40 hrs of continuous physical and mental endurance testing sound to you? Add to that, some 30-40 miles of foot/land navigation? Awesome, and a little intimidating, right? Well, that’s what I thought when I first heard about the Sniper Adventure Challenge (SAC) Endurance class hosted by Competition Dynamics – a company known for top of the line shooting competitions.
This year’s SAC venue will be hosted at the Felix Canyon Ranch outside of Mayhill, NM. Teams of two will be required to navigate the course on foot, without the use of any modern GPS or navigation aides; using only a compass and map. As they make their way along the course, the teams will encounter a series of mental and physical challenges that will need to be completed to win points. The team with the highest point totals wins the competition. Basically, it’s an endurance test of brains and brawn! These tasks might include shooting with a long-range rifle, a carbine, or a pistol. Additionally, problem solving on the run; field craft; physical challenges; target recognition, and memory drills. It’s a real test of endurance, teamwork and time-management – all under intense desert conditions, while operating with a lack of sleep. Teams are required to carry all their equipment and provisions with them during the duration of the competition, as well as a list of required equipment given by the match officials for survival purposes.
So your typical shooting competition or marathon just isn’t doing it for you anymore? The SAC is no joke and is not to be taken lightly. I am pretty sure you’ll agree with me when you hear that they went through several cases of IV bags last year to keep competitors moving along. Many teams don’t even complete the course due to exhaustion. My partner and I have no prior military experience or land navigation skills what so-ever, but thank God we live in the age of YouTube experts. We’ve spent the majority of our training focused on orienteering, because this is a race using a map and compass to find your way across unfamiliar terrain. Of all the places to debut our newly learned skill set, the desert will defiantly test us to our core. Among other things we’ve been doing weekly runs while carrying our full load of gear to try and get a feel for what the SAC has in store for us. This has been a true test of equipment and I can honestly say that it pays to spend a little extra money and buy good quality gear the first time, than to be half way through a 10-mile run and your ruck fall apart on you. Using gear that is comfortable, durable and functional is crucial to one’s success in this event. Effective nutrition is also key during an adventure-style race like the SAC; you must stay on a schedule for your hydration and calorie intake, to push your body to its breaking point. This is another new area for us as well, and it pays to start well in advance – testing new energy bars and drinks. Some come with a few not so pleasant side effects that you may not want on race day.So you think you’re a good shooter?
Well, the guys at Competition Dynamics are known for getting shooters into the most awkward and uncomfortable shooting positions that you can imagine. Think of playing twister with a couple of large boulders, no sleep for 30+ hours, and a full value wind that seems to have a mind of its own; all the while attempting to make a 1,000 yard shot. The only way to prepare for a shooting competition like this is to get away from your protected shooting range, and get out into the field to really experience what wind does when it hits a rock face or rips through a ravine. One of the ways we have been preparing for the shooting aspect of this competition has been by making a set of Density Altitude (DA) cards for our rifles that we will be bringing with us. These cards allow a shooter to use several atmospheric conditions to yield a true elevation value of what your bullet thinks it’s flying at. This process eliminates any math work that would have to be done on the fly at a shooting stage, and, as long as you are using the same load for your gun – 1000-yard hits will become routine if you do your part in the equation.
So why would anybody ever want to push themselves to the brink of collapse? Good question, but hopefully I will survive, and be able to write an AAR about the competition afterwards. It’s probably safe to say that you can learn a lot about yourself, and what you are made of, by pushing your body to its breaking point. Everybody seems to have an inner sense of survival hidden somewhere inside their being. Those that know how to identify and find that “inner” strength and endurance are sure to excel in this competition. I think just finishing the SAC is an accomplishment in it’s own right; and is certainly an accomplishment worth being proud of. I’ll let you know how it turns-out!