-I worked a lot of lower body and did not start a rucking program until Oct/Nov. Based on my fitness prior, this worked well for me and did not cause any undue stress or injuries.
-My target ruck pace was 4 mph or faster, and walk speed was 3mph or faster. I trained on an isolated dirt road and used my watch to conduct 2 minutes on run, 2 minutes on walk.
o This plan worked well on the flat terrain of NC, and was blown apart on the hills of GA. I was not able to maintain the timed interval as I planned, but being conscience of the situation and my personal fitness. I was able to shift my strategy and accomplish all rucks at the match with plenty of time to spare.
-Trekking poles were awkward at first. I was trying to figure out the optimal length and the proper technique to use. I never used them until I started to train for this match. I mainly purchased them to facilitate the tent, but they were a game changer going up hills while trying to maintain some speed.
-My training venue had a range at the end of the dirt road. My partner and I would finish a ruck, take about 5 minutes to prep our gear and shoot a stage or glass a stage another friend set up for us blindly while we rucked. Having a team or a crew will really help you with this match prep.
-I tailored back all my physical training 2 weeks prior. I only did low impact and stretching.
-I was concerned about some previous injuries I sustained in the past. I wrapped my ankle and knees in KT tape the morning of the match, which lasted the entire match.
Rifle: Stumpies Custom Guns built me a nail driving 24inch Bartlien barrel with Kelby Atlas action in LH cut for the factory M118LR ammo I was using. The chassis was a white Magpul 700 Pro with an Atlas Bipod, topped off with a Viper PST in EBR7-C. The viper failed me the day prior, turrets failed to track at zero range day prior. I mailed it back to Vortex and sold it after it was fixed.
Pistol: Sig X5 topped with a Holosun 509.
Holster/Mags: Custom cut GCode on a belt slide. I used one rifle soft shell scorpion and one soft shell pistol mag pouch, both on paddle clips. This allowed me to not bring a dedicated pistol belt and save some space in the bag. The Sig was fed by two 21rnd mags and brought two MDT 10round mags for the long gun.
Optics: I purchased the Fury 5000HD to have something I can glass with and lase with in one package. Which was the perfect choice for us. I do suggest that your teammate bring an extra LRF because it makes it quicker for them to glass or range on their own. Oppose to swapping glass around. Our eyes were different distances apart, so adjusting the binos after he used it and vice versa caused shooting/targeting delays.
Support: Game changer wax coated shmedium with getlite along with a Todd TacPad were our support bags.
Tripod: Hind sight says its worth the weight. We decided not to bring one at the last minute. There was a stage that had us shooting off the same piece of wood that would move every time we moved. It would have come in handy.
Tent: Light weight design and use of trekking poles was something I was looking for. I purchased the Gossamer Gear 2. Has plenty of space in the main tent and had two side vestibules so our gear was covered at night.
Sleeping System: I opted to bring my good ol`coyote USMC bag with a poncho liner in a compression bag. I slept on a Klymit crash pad. There are lighter systems out there but I decided to bring the USMC bag because I didn’t want to spend over $200 for a comparable and lighter bag. I wrapped my shmedium with my schmog and that was my pillow.
Hygiene/Medical: Baby wipes and toothbrush. You will get soaked in sweat obviously and no one wants to sleep next to a yeti at night. Bring some earlpugs and TylenolPM for night time. The match staff make noise at night and are generally obnoxious. Earplugs or headphones with calming music will help with a good nights rest. I did not bring a “medkit” other than some liquid bandage, cuticle scissors, KT tape to take care of blisters or hot spots. Luckily it was not needed because of well fitting boots and sock/powder swaps between rucks.
Cooking: Jet boil flash was worth the weight. My partner chose a smaller burner system that worked as well. We both carried one mini can of fuel that had plenty of gas left at the end of Mammoth
Pack: I chose to go with the Stone Glacier R3 based on conversations I had with numerous back country backpackers and sniper challenge shooters. Mystery Ranch makes a good pack as well. The sticker price on the SG may make you vomit but trust me when I say the pack is worth it. I tore the strap rucking the rifle on the side and sent it back to SG for a $25 dollar fix. I noticed the tear right before the match so I wound up wrapping my rifle with a schmog to prevent more rubbing and tearing. Stone Glacier is top notch with their customer service and the pack was everything I needed. I took off the top bag and ran the pack in “bivvy” mode.
I added an old school ILBE Radio pouch to the inside of the pack to store my ammo a little higher in the pack and to keep things organized in the pack. The R3 has MOLLE webbing through out.
Power management: Bring a battery bank for devices. I did not bring one, but my partner did. I ran the match basically on one charge and juiced up Saturday night.
Clothing choice: Anti-microbial and loose fitting with proper layer management to ensure you are not bundled up when rucking and not to thin once you start cooling down. I ran in wrangler ATG pants I bought from TSC. They were perfect in wicking and drying off fast. I chose Keen Targhee 3 boots with an extra set of insoles just incase it rained on us. Which luckily It did not. I packed an extra shirt and 4 pairs of socks. I chose to wear compression shorts and an antimicrobial tank top for my base layer that I never changed out. My partner chose a merino wool base layer set. I packed a snizzle compression bag with some long johns and some cold and wet weather items. I left them behind in the truck the night before the match because the weather wasn’t going to be bad. Just low 30`s at night, no rain forecasted.
Chow: Eat when you can. Mountain house meals were good when opened and rolled into a tighter package. Two MH opened and rolled will fit in a gallon freezer bag. I brought 6 MH meals with me. Ensure you`re getting the calories your body needs to avoid bonking and having cramps.
Supplements: Personal choice, but I brought turmeric supplements because I am old and multi vitamins. I also brought hammer nutrition goo in a flask watered down for quick calories in between rucks.
- First day jitters. You will start all rucks in the dark so a head lamp is needed to avoid dying in a ditch. Run all the down hills and click it into 4 Low with the trekking poles when going up hill.
- I suggest bivouac as far away as possible from the main area. The event staff likes to come in during the night and cause a ruckus. Luckily for us we chose a nice spot out and away, this mitigated the noise at night. We were also able to go back to that exact spot each night.
- Keep your pace, don’t chase the rabbits. You will see all walks of people in this event, don’t let the guys who are running fast change your game plan. Stick to your 4mph pace and you will make the time hacks with time to spare. My partner was significantly faster than me so I encouraged him to run, it’s a team match but the point of match is to push yourself and complete the match. My partner enjoyed running fast so I encouraged it. Seeing his stupid smile while running like a Labrador chasing a squirrel was worth it. Remember though, ruck fast and chose your spot on the shooting order list.
-Exploit your down time and don’t get cold. You will be at some stages for well over an hour, including the 5-8 minutes shooting. Take that time to self aid, buddy aid, chow, socks, and gear checks.
-Ensure you and partner have all the tools needed to fix issues as they are presented. That includes cleaning rods! My partner had an issue with a dirty rifle and I was unable to assist him because my rods were too big. It is against the mammoth rules to trade or borrow gear from other teams.
-90 canting of the rifle: have a DOPE for it and squirrel it away in your kit. Parlor tricks, but may produce points.
-Truing and have DOPE for -1500, 0, 1500, and 3000 DA. The weather changes so drastically.
-Shoot your partners rifle and understand the ballistics. There is no need to memorize or keep DOPE on your parnters rifle.
-Ensure you have some sort of muzzle cap and scope/action protection. I used one of those black muzzle caps from the armory to protect my bore while running through the woods. I wrapped my rifle in my schmog to prevent the torn strap on my R3 from tearing more. This worked well. I carried the rifle on the side on the pack, but I saw other people with my same pack running the rifle in the center on the pack on the load shelf. How ever you carry you rifle. Ensure its protected.
Ranges: They were challenging and intentionally confusing if you didn’t listen to the brief carefully. Find the points. My partner and I had a solid game plan before the mind eraser went beep. That’s all I remember about the stages. They are not unshootable, but you have to pay attention to the brief, ask the RO questions, even if it means he rereads portions of the brief. Find the points and targets in the brief, they are there before you get to the firing line.
Range/Partner Communication: Ensure you guys are on the correct page on calling targets. Your communication for identifying targets and giving talk on`s based on target indicators is crucial. The next thing is ensuring you and partner can call a correction. Talking well together and understanding each others language or deciding on a language will keep you guys focused. Communication break downs are a quick way to burn up the clock and not have a good match overall. Find the system that works for you and your partner, but it has to be a rehearsed and verified system.
Take Aways: Take pics with your boys! Take the selfie stick or set up a tripod. Do it for the gram, do it for your fam. I wish I took more pics. Mammoth 2022 was a bucket list item that I was super stoked to participate in. I have been trying to find a partner since 2017. Do not let the mystique of Mammoth dissuade you. It’s a D kicker, but its not impossible. I watched teams fast walk the entire match, so don’t think you need to be Johnny Recon to participate in this match. I would 10/10 do this match again. I based a lot of my load out off Sean Murphy`s AAR of 2021 Mammoth. I couldn’t think of a better person to mimic than the two guys who won it multiple times. And as I write this, they keep stacking hardware on their shelves. My partner and I had the opportunity to train with Sean prior to mammoth, which helped with peeling the curtain back on this match and making it less mysterious. His biggest tip that blew our minds, be 60% good. Meaning, you don’t have to clean the stages, just be a consistent 60% good.
My Background: At the time of Mammoth 2022 I have been serving as an active duty Marine for 17.5 years. My previous units have been 2d Marine Raider Battalion, 10th Marines, 2d Marines, 6th ANGLICO, 9th ESB, CSSD-21. I currently serve at Marine Raider Regiment. I am communications Marine by trade and I am a long range rifle enthusiast.