10 Tips to Help Prepare for the Mammoth Sniper Challenge

The Mammoth Sniper Challenge is a tough shooting match, requiring shooters to carry everything with them across 30+ miles and live out of a backpack for the duration of the match. Here are 10 tips that I’ve learned along the journey, and hopefully they’ll help prepare you to survive the competition.

  1. Prepare your feet and footwear. Since you’ll be covering a lot of miles at the Mammoth Sniper Challenge, having your feet prepared via training will be essential to prevent injuries and blisters. An investment in quality socks that are appropriate for your shoe type, movement speed and weight will pay dividends throughout the match. Shoes that are broken in and provide the support that you need will get you across the finish line if you do your part.
  2. Bring a good backpack. With living out of your backpack for the weekend, the essentials to compete and survive the weekend can drive up the scale quickly. A backpack with a good frame, fitted to you is invaluable. Also learn to setup your bag to manage weight during the rucks, and reconfigure as needed to complete stages. I have two layouts of the same gear in my bag whether I’m rucking or shooting.
  3. Learn to listen. There is a lot of information presented before and during the match. The stage briefs are also extensive with a lot of information. Learn to focus and listen intently to each brief, even jotting down notes to comprehend quickly and enable smart questions while you have the opportunity. Also, don’t forget that it is a team match and that you have a partner to make it to the end with. Listening to each other will help keep the team effective and get to the end.
  4. Have your guns squared away. Ultimately the Mammoth Sniper Challenge is a shooting competition. You should show up with your rifles squared away, with good drop data and a solid zero on the scope. The stage times at Mammoth are not very long and a lot of things need to happen in a short amount of time on a stage to be successful. You need to be able to get hits with the shots you take, and be able to make things happen on a stage instead of trying to fix problems.
  5. Manage your clothing via layers. The weather at the Mammoth Sniper Challenge can vary from cold to wet to warm. Having a few layers and knowing when to wear them will help significantly in your misery factor and directly affect your performance. A good base layer and pair of pants with a variety of tops from light to insulation layers plus a hard shell will let you adapt pretty well to almost anything you’ll encounter. Also don’t forget to look at gloves, hats, beanies and neck gaiters as options depending on the forecast. Finally, think about what you’re doing and dress appropriately. I’ll lighten the layers before rucks since you’ll turn into a heat generator, then layer up when waiting on a stage and at bed time.
  6. Have a nutrition plan and stick to it. Since you have to carry everything with you, creating a nutrition plan is important. Remember that it’ll probably be cold, and you are burning a significant amount more calories than normal. I’ve seen plenty of competitors struggling by day 3 because of a calorie deficit. When you need to think and perform on stages, being decently fed can actually do a lot for you relative to the rest of the field. We have probably brought more food than needed in the past, but we can honestly say we’ve never been hungry at the Mammoth Sniper Challenge.
  7. Consider a small luxury or two. While conditions can get miserable and there’s a lot of rucking, consider a small luxury to bring along. For our team we’ve splurged on music and small candies. The music makes the rucks go a little easier, especially when the conditions really suck. We’ve also found that a small reward at the end of a ruck or end of the day can lift spirits a bit, so if there’s something that helps you stay motivated it’s more than worth the little extra weight.
  8. Pistols equal points. Don’t forget that there is a pistol involved too. All too often in the precision rifle world pistols are ignored in the practice routine or not always considered for their point value when included in a match. Getting a little pistol practice in and trying to get some pistol hits can almost be considered bonus points relative to most teams that don’t think highly of the pistol or aren’t that great at shooting them.
  9. Earn points where you can. The shooting can be hard, but it is not impossible. As you listen to stage briefs, make a plan and then when it’s time to shoot, understand that you’re probably not going to earn all of the points possible. However, you do need to make a plan to get some of the points. Having a realistic expectation based on the actions required on a stage, target size/distance and your team’s shooting ability will let you focus on the points you can earn. If you can earn 50% of the possible points on most stages and then do a bit better on others that play to your strengths, you’ll be a strong contender.
  10. Have emotional durability. The Mammoth Sniper Challenge is a rough experience as a competitor. The miles can wear you down, the stages will be hard and the weather will probably suck at some point. Being cold, wet and hungry can be miserable. Good gear and some planning can help mitigate some of these problems, but as my friend Scott Satterlee likes you say that you need to have some “emotional durability” to get through things and I agree. Things are not going to go well at times, but that doesn’t mean you are out of the game. Being not just physically, but mentally tough will help get you across the finish line and have some success throughout the weekend.