The inaugural U.S. Optics Team Challenge produced by Competition Dynamics was not only successful but a ton of fun! This unique field match proved to be challenging for all 34 teams as they tackled head on 3 Field Stages and 8 Assault Stages.
Our Journey Begins…
As most of you know Contingency X is based out of California and we love to travel. So the opportunity to head cross-country to Douglas, Wyoming seemed like a great adventure. Our route would take us through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and then into Wyoming for an approximate travel time of 17 hours. Not our longest trip but still a solid day of driving. As you can imagine the crew is all hyped up and ready to hit the road. Spirits are high and the Red Bull is plentiful! We are a few hours into our trip, heading towards Vegas on the 15 FWY, and all of a sudden we come to a dead stop. We check our GPS and realize that the roads are red for the next 20 miles or so. With no signs of things clearing up, an executive decision was made –WE MAKE OUR OWN PATH. A quick look of our LeadNav GPS app showed us a dirt path running alongside the freeway, so we went for it! Needless to say everyone stuck in the traffic stared at us with envy or anger as we trail blazed through the Mojave Desert around the traffic a few mountains and finally back onto the 15 FWY. All in all, it added about 2 hours to our trip, but it would have been much worse if we waited for traffic to clear up. It was approximately 10AM on the following day when we pulled into base camp in Douglas to see competitors signing in and zeroing their rifles.
Zero / Demo Day…
The zero / demo day felt like a family reunion. As competitors showed up, smiles and greetings were bountiful. Jokes and friendly bantering filled the air, as friends would share advice and stories from matches past. One of the big draws was a side match sponsored by Falkor Defense where individuals had the opportunity to shoot 5 rounds in 5 minutes at a target 960 yards down range. The competitor with the most hits on target would win a U.S. Optics scope. Now for those of you who are not familiar with the Falkor Defense Petra 300 Win Mag… this semi-automatic rifle is one LOUD rifle! But still easily managed. The sounds of freedom rang all morning and it could not have been a better day.
Day 1: Recognize, Locate, Range, and Engage
The beautiful Wyoming sunrise lead to a picture perfect day as teams started their courses of fire first thing that morning in their allocated slot time. The layout was split into 3 different Field Stages, which was required to be completed within a 1-hour time limit and was over a span of up to 1-mile. Each of the 3 Field Stages had 4 courses of fire, and then there were additional 8 Assault Stages, making the total stage count, 11. Each day teams would complete one Field Stage and a series of Assault Stages.
Its always interesting to watch teams come up with different strategies, and bring along diverse gear from one another. Unlike many other competitions the teams are not given any information as to where the targets are, the distance, or size, so as you could imagine teams would have to get creative. Of the 2-man team, one of the members must be designated the Long Range Rifle Shooter, while the other is designated the Carbine (Semi-Auto Rifle) Shooter, and each brings a pistol as well.
Gotta Get Creative…
One of the more creative and fun teams to watch that day was the team of Dorgan Trostel and Ckye Thomas. As they approached the second COF of Field Stage 3 Dorgan became a human platform for Ckye as he shot off Dorgan’s back to engage his targets. Now we have seen this before but for some reason it was just entertaining to watch these communicate and try different techniques.
A Hard Team Match
That afternoon we moved on to the Assault Stages. This is where teams would use pistol, carbine, and long gun to engage targets while on the move. One of the more exciting assault stages was Assault 1 (A1). Here competitors had to take a shot from their starting position with their rifle then move through some tall grass to scan for pistol and carbine targets. Once they engaged their targets they had to cross a ravine where if you didn’t have enough momentum you wouldn’t make it back out. Several people didn’t make it back out on their first try and some were left with bruised knees and egos. Once you crossed the ravine they would have to move to the top of a hill to engage another target with their long rifle. This stage was exciting to watch as it definitely tested the physical and shooting skills of everyone.
The day ended early so part of our team decided to go out and explore some of the vast ranch. After a few hours of exploration, we were on our way back to camp when we came across two rattlesnakes in the road. Immediately out came the Sig P320 loaded with snake shot and Operation Rattle Snake Eradication commenced. Those damn snakes would not die! We unloaded several rounds of snake shot until we finally decided to get out and shoot them with Hornady Critical Defense rounds. Now we have never shot a snake before so we were pretty spooked as the snakes were still moving around when we knew they were dead. Knowing that rattlers can still kill you when they are dead and remembering what Jimmy told me, we cut off their heads and took their bodies back to camp.
*Jody and Christine, sorry for scaring you girls.
Day 2: Fighting through Injuries
Another early morning but today it seemed as if a few teams had less pep in their step. But were still high in spirits! We talked to a few teams that shed some gear weight in hopes of moving faster, and few teams had attained some minor injuries but were excited to conquer the day. The biggest challenges of the day was the wind, with a sustained wind of about 15 mph, and gust up to 25 mph wind calls were very tricky throughout the Wyoming terrain.
That evening we did a little more exploring around the river beds and spent some time getting to know more of the property. As we went back to base camp spirits were high and one of the match directors Jimmy was on the BBQ preparing that night’s dinner. If you’ve never tried Jimmy’s BBQ, man, you have no idea what you are missing. As food was on the grill, Travis, one of the ranch owners schooled us in the art of skinning a snake. I guess when your on a ranch you do cowboy shit. We skinned the rattlers and tossed the meat on the grill. With a touch of Jimmy’s peanut sauce those damn snakes were absolutely delicious!
Day 3: Finish What You Started
By this time, the two days of competition where showing on more of the competitors and even some of the staff. The heat, the wind, and the long treks across the open terrain made it evident why this was such a tough competition. With all of the Assault Stages completed the previous two days, teams only needed to complete their final Field Stage. For some teams, this was just another day, and for others, it was a test of will and determination to take those final steps. Around noon the last shots were fired and teams started to gather to find out who would be this year’s winner.
For some people it was just a fun match to shoot, for others it was a tough competition and race for points till the end. But when the dust settled and scores were tallied, the team of Andy Reinhardt and Joe Metzger took home the first place win.
The U.S. Optics Team Challenge brought together a lot of people from across the country, some who have shot these types of matches before and others that were new to this style of competition. Overall it’s a great success for the competitive shooting industry – it shows growth in a sport that we all love. Together with the partnership of U.S. Optics and Competition Dynamics another great match is in the books. And of course none of this would have been possible without the support of the generous sponsors and RO staff.