Mammoth Sniper Challenge, what is it and why would anyone do it? Perhaps an even more intriguing question is why would two women, both new to long range shooting, attempt this event? The short answer is we love a challenge, are confident in our ability to plan and prepare, and know we have the right mindset to do hard things.
Mammoth is a three day, two night team sniper event that has been held for the last five years at Fort Gordon, Georgia. When competitors step off on a Friday morning in January, they don’t return to their vehicles until Sunday afternoon, so everything needed for three days is on your back, in a ruck. We carried a tent, sleeping bags, food, ammo, rifles, pistols, laser range finder, and multiple layers of clothes, but nothing extra. People talk about comfort items, things that are worth the weight as they just make you happy or…more comfortable. Gummy bears generally top this list, but it might be an extra pair of socks, or tools you are not likely to need but ease your anxiety. We know some participants who stepped off with 70 pound rucks. As an all-female team with relatively small frames, we needed to be light, so everything we carried were things we considered essential. We worked hard on gear selection and ended up with rucks plus rifles weighing in at 45 pounds.
All the competitors arrive on Thursday, as the zero range is open and team check-in is mandatory. The 2023 event had a record high field of 90 teams, divided into eight squads, with the list posted on the door of the registration area. Thursday evening is filled with last minute packing decisions mostly based on weather, and teams trying, but failing, to go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Every morning at Mammoth starts early, with a match director brief at 06:00. The first morning is the most chaotic as there are lots of people about, and the squads have not formed up yet. Squad Six assembled toward the back of the crowd, and we met our Squad Leader, Shane. The Squad Leader’s job is to give us directions for the rucks and make sure we don’t get lost. Shooting order is chosen by teams based on their finishing order for the rucks, and the Squad Leader keeps this list.
Most people will call Mammoth a shooting competition, while some will call it a rucking competition. The debate stems from the required 16 minute per mile ruck pace. Generally, competitors will ruck approximately 10 miles per day, divided into rucks that get you to the shooting stages. If you don’t make the ruck times, you are out of the competition. Teams can continue to shoot, but no longer camp with the participants, and are driven by their Squad Leader in a van from stage to stage.
The pace of Mammoth is predictable: ruck, shoot, ruck, shoot, ruck, shoot, ruck, shoot, ruck, camp. One has to train enough for the rucks so you arrive at the stages ready to listen to complicated instructions, then work with your teammate to make a plan and execute. Most stages have both rifle and pistol targets and many have you shooting from multiple positions during the stage. Teams will make mistakes and must be able to communicate about any issues and move on as it’s a long event.
After rucking, shooting, and camping for two nights, the alarm welcoming you to Sunday morning means you’re almost done. If you planned your food poorly, you might be hungry. If your partner snores or your sleeping bag was cold, you might be tired. Something about your body definitely hurts, but the finish is tangible. The whole field moves together on Sunday, and there is some energy derived from the big group. This is felt most at the mass start of the last ruck, which is always the longest. The distance in 2023 was the farthest in Mammoth history at 7.4 miles. After rucking for three days along the quiet rolling hills of Fort Gordon, the last part of this final ruck is different as it’s filled with the noise of spectators, staff, and competitors who have already finished. As the first all-female team to ever complete the Mammoth Sniper Challenge, we were greeted by Tim Jensen from Grunt Style and Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Reggie Evans. Tim asked how we felt and mostly, we were proud of ourselves. We had trained very hard, with a singular focus, and accomplished the goal.
WHAT IS MAMMOTH?
Mammoth Sniper Challenge is a three day physical and mental endurance competition. Teams will engage in long range targets in simulated sniper hides. From Navy Seals to school teachers, carpenters to combat veterans, participants from all walks of life compete in this competition. Registration opens in july, visit G3 Dynamics to learn more.