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First Female Team Completes Sniper Challenge

Mammoth Sniper Challenge
Mammoth Sniper Challenge
June 2, 2023
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It seems to defy the odds that the two of us would become the first all-female team to ever complete the Grunt Style Vortex OpticsMammoth Sniper Challenge.  Both of us started shooting pistol and AR-15s only a couple of years ago, after our interest was piqued by special operations veterans who led GORUCK rucking endurance events that we regularly did for fun.  We enjoyed the discipline that it takes to hone competency with firearms.  We kind of came into the world of precision rifle by a serendipitous encounter that would eventually snowball into our first Mammoth.  

We were at a local ruck training session with some friends, when a man named Scott Whitehead rolled up with a pack containing a 2x4 board meant to simulate a rifle.  It’s not every day that someone random shows up to ruck 10 miles with 70 pounds with you.  We learned that he was training for shooting events that required rucking.  Later, he reached out, and invited Shannon and I to spectate the Vortex Sniper Challenge, also a rucking and precision rifle team competition.   At the time, Shannon didn’t even own a rifle of any kind, but we watched with great interest as teams tackled timed stages that required not only great shooting skills, but also concise and effective communication.  We could hardly imagine ourselves shooting out that far at the time, but the sport seemed like such a unique mixture of teamwork, endurance, and tactical capability.  

Months later, after purchasing our first precision rifles, we attended our first class in March of 2022.  We shot out to 800 yards that day, and figured that maybe one day, we could work up to competing at Mammoth, but not any time soon.   When July 16th rolled around, Scott reached out to us again, and pointed out that Mammoth had not sold out yet, even though registration had been open for 2 days, which was not normal.  It was a sign that it was our time to jump on it.  We had not shot a match before, and we had less than 6 months to prepare, but we decided to dive in with both feet and fully dedicate ourselves to it.

We joined a local range that went out to just over 100 yards, which is enough to work on most shooting skills.  At 100 yards, you can work on fundamentals and building positions.  We attended additional classes with various instructors.  While the fundamentals of shooting are the same, it can be helpful to hear it explained in different ways, and to learn different tricks from each instructor’s experience and unique background.  We also met one-on-one with seasoned competitor Andy Slade, who helped us learn how to work and communicate as a team and prepared us for many of the situations we might encounter at a shooting stage.  He and Scott helped to accelerate our learning and distilled their years of experience into countless nuggets of wisdom for us.

We listened to podcasts and read books to learn terminology and concepts.  We dry fired at home.  We continued to work on pistol skills, since Mammoth included close-range engagements.  We competed in more 2-gun competitions and tried our first precision rifle matches, to develop our ability to perform under physical and time stressors.  

By the time we got to Mammoth, we had a good plan for how we’d tackle each stage.  We’d take good notes during the brief, to remember important details.  We’d prioritize targets where we had the highest likelihood of earning points.  We’d visually scan the area, before starting to find and range targets, and then build stable positions with whatever items we had at our disposal.  We focused on communicating well with each other as well as the range officers, and on always operating in a safe manner.  When things didn’t go as expected during stages, we were ready to adapt and not be overwhelmed or frustrated.

After each stage, we completed priorities of work like preparing our gear for the next stage, and making sure our bodies were properly fueled and hydrated for the next ruck.  We also did an AAR, to see what lessons we could bring forward to the next stage to keep improving.  So much of the shooting challenge is more than pure technical skill.  It’s also preparation, focus, communication, and having a good plan.  While we aren’t among the top shooters yet, we were able to hold our own, by leveraging our strengths in those areas.  We are proud of how far we were able to come in less than 9 months, from never having shot a single precision round, to stepping off with 90 teams at the 2023 Mammoth Sniper Challenge and finishing in 49th place.

G3 Dynamics President Tim Jensen (left) congratulates Shannon Bass (right)and Jennifer Lee (center) after making history at the 2023 Grunt Style Vortex OpticsMammoth Sniper Challenge.
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