By Arthur Guo
So its been a few weeks since Competition Dynamics’ Sniper Adventure Challenge 2013 and my team is finally recovered from all we endured during our 32-hour, 40+ mile slog across the New Mexico high desert. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to participate and am proud of every team that showed up to challenge themselves, especially those in Endurance class. For a look back at our preparations and gear selection for the competition, please see my previous preparation article.
SAC 2013 was definitely a challenging, professional and well-run competition. Like all creative competitions though, it was not without its quirks. Any teams that “quit” prior to the time cut-off time of 34 hours could receive a ride back to the finish line and retain all points earned up to that point. There was no penalty for quitting the race early. This gave all teams a fair chance of doing well without any medical consequences while de-emphasizing the endurance aspect of the challenge. We definitely had our pre-conceptions of what would be important during the competition. Here’s a look at what worked and what didn’t for our team.
Navigation and Travel
First off, minimizing weight cannot be emphasized enough. The total course mileage was over 40 miles of on foot travel over often rough, rocky terrain and changing elevations. The New Mexico desert is unforgiving and harsh. While none of the terrain was particularly steep, the rolling hills were composed of hard, broken rock that constantly threatened to twist or sprain ankles. The vegetation was invariably sharp and it seemed like everything tried to cut or poke you, especially during the moonless night.
Ounces mattered. Many teams suffered fatigue and exhaustion simply by being over encumbered. We needed every weight saving trick we used and could have benefited from a few more. The largest savings, of course, came from our primary weapon choices. Trading down to the AIAW .308 and .223 Colt SBR weapons from the AIAW .338 and Rock River LAR-10 .308 combination saved us over 10 pounds each in weapon and ammo weight. That 10 pounds was critical in allowing us to continue hiking well past when many teams could go no further.
We also used the more lightweight and comfortable Osprey backpacking packs instead of our Eberlestock Gunslinger packs, saving about 3 pounds each. In general, we opted to stay as close to the required gear list as possible. However, we still ended up carrying loads of 42 and 48 pounds each including water, food, weapons and ammunition. We could have benefited from even more aggressive weight reduction to go faster on the course.
The Suunto magnetic declination adjustable sighting compasses we used proved to be very effective. Magnetic declination adjustment is pretty much mandatory to maintain navigation efficiency in a race. It inspires confidence being able to set the declination and never have to worry about it when transferring an azimuth from real world to the map and vice versa.
While my team elected to plot every mandatory
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