Saturday started off about -2 degrees outside with the windchill. We stepped off at 05:15 in the morning. We already had a couple teams drop from our squad alone and we started hearing from the match director that a pretty darn good amount of teams from both divisions and all squads had dropped out. Something like 24 teams of the 72 that we started with. Was motivating to push on and not quit to say the least. We were told our first stage was back at thunder valley, 3.2 miles away and was the same hike as yesterday morning. Now, it was pretty darn cold out so we did a light jog down the hills and fast walked most of the way to stay warm but not quite sweat. Sweating is a horrible thing when it's that cold. Once you stop that cold will sneak up on your extremely fast and thats the last thing you want. We got to thunder valley and got ready to start the first stage of the day. This stage required you to traverse across a rope with all your gear and get into a sniper hide and use your LRF to start engaging targets. This was a fun start to the day, but a reminder of how cold it was when you touched your trigger with your bare finger.
DAY 3 - Sunday
Thursday Aaron and myself arrived around 1100 hours. We signed our registration for the match and brought all of our stuff up to the hotel and settled in. At 1230 hours the stalk started so we were downstairs in the lobby ready to go. I love the stalking portion of field craft day. We got in my truck and followed Joe (the match director) out to the stalking lane and I suited up in my ghillie. I learned from the 2015 Mammoth Sniper Challenge to not use my actual gun I compete with. It’s no fun crawling around with a 21-pound Accuracy International through the woods. So, I brought a full auto Sig MPX with an 8” barrel and threw a Leupold on it from a gun I had in my safe. Stalking with that… talk about amazing and so much easier. Aaron decided to not do the stalk this year and was on glass spotting looking for people and hanging out. There were about 8 of us doing the stalk this year in total. The lane we used was extremely difficult. We could only go 10-20 feet into the wood line at any given time and the middle of the lane was tall grass. If you went though the tall grass you were almost guaranteed to be spotted right away. The woods were your only option and there wasn’t much space to play with inside them. I got caught once and had to start over, but learned from that and was able to get a good distance back to the spotters relatively quick. I was low crawling towards some trees covering the spotters and crept left a couple inches and looked up and noticed I was about 50 yards from them. I didn’t mean to get that close by any means and at that point was in the “oh shit what do I do now” thought process. My ghillie is more set up for gold and tan backdrops and it was all brown where I was laying. Not good… I set up and was ready to take my shot and started yelling for a walker… no one heard me or came. I heard a walker yell freeze after a couple minutes of me trying to get ones attention. I lay there knowing it was because of me. A walker started walking over and I knew it was over. A spotter walked him right in on top of me. Oh well, such is life. Once the 2-hour time limit was up I found out no one passed the lane or even got a shot off. Like I said, it wasn’t an easy stalking lane by any means. There was one guy that got a little closer to the spotters than I did so he won the stalk. We didn’t have time to go to the target detection, range estimation and .22lr side match lanes. After the stalk we went back to our room prepped for the beginning of the match in the morning.
DAY 2 - Saturday
LASER TECHNOLOGIES: TRUPULSE TACTICAL LRF
I was honored to be able to field test the Laser Technologies TruPulse Tactical LRF and really put it through its paces during Mammoth. When the unit arrived the first thing that popped into my head when I picked it up was “Holy smokes this is light!” In all seriousness, the unit is incredibly light and it’s noticeable. I’ve played with some smaller LRF’s and they seem to weigh as much if not more. So, that to me makes a big difference. Every ounce counts when you’re rucking 38 miles. The case it comes with is quite nice as well, being a soft case I couldn’t complain at all. It came with the unit itself, software, a soft case and computer cord. All in all, the initial first impression of the entire package was very pleasing on how it arrived.
There is two ways you can input the data for the TruPulse Tactical. One being manually and the other using a computer and the supplied software. I’m going to get my two gripes out of the way, but they’re literally the only two things I wasn’t completely satisfied with. One, the cable supplied to hook the Tactical up to your computer isn’t necessarily standard to all computers. So, you might have to purchase an adapter. No big deal at all by any means, it’s just a personal gripe. Now, gripe #2 is where I’m got stopped in my tracks using the computer to input my data. The software that comes with the TruPulse Tactical is for Windows computers only. I own all Mac’s so the software doesn’t work with any of them. Limiting me to manual input only. Again, this is a personal gripe. Both of these gripes are nothing more than me trying my best to find something wrong with this thing. And trust me, it was hard to find anything wrong with it. So, you have to bitch about something, right? All that being said, I brought the TruPulse Tactical with me to work a couple times and played with it and set it up manually for my firearm I was running in Mammoth. It was good to get familiar with the unit and play with it before it was time to really run it in the field.
The TruPulse Tactical can hold up to 5 guns or the same gun running 5 different types of ammo. Whatever you want to put in there, it will hold 5 forms of the data. This is great for guys running the same gun but different ammo or guys/teams running up to 5 different guns. Personally I will run my Accuracy International when playing around at the range at home and run anything form a 155gr 308 to a 208gr 308 in it. So having all that data in a single unit I can easily swap between is amazing. Now, on the tactical side when running in a team match like this being able to change between your gun and your partner’s gun at the push of a button is unbeatable. The TruPulse Tactical not only holds your data incase whoever is reading this hasn’t researched them before. This thing is a smart computer all in its own. Once you put your data in the required fields the gun reads everything but the wind. Humidity, elevation, air temp, density altitude, heck all your atmospherics. It calculates everything for you. So when you push that range button to get your distance to your target it tells you your hold over or what you need to dial. On top of that, if you push another button it will tell you what your wind holds are based on MPH’s of the wind. So lets reiterate here. This thing tells you everything you need to know from your distance to the target and what your bullet needs to do to get there plus what your wind holds are. How do you beat that? All by just pushing a button. It takes all the hard work and math out of shooting and the time to manually figure out what your hold or dial is going to be and makes shots on target extremely fast. There aren’t many things that impress me but this is one of them. It’s easy to use and gets me on target and engaging faster that I ever could have before.
The day we arrived at Mammoth we unloaded all of our gear and packed our bags for the first day of the match in the morning. The TruPulse Tactical slid nicely inside my small backpack I was using for the match and took up very little room. Off we went to the stages for the first day. Weather was extremely cold every morning and all day, so I wasn’t sure how the Tactical would like that being an electronic device running on a battery in freezing cold weather. The first stage was a LRF stage. Which means it was the coldest time of day so if the Tactical wasn’t going to work, now is when it would fail. It started right up and was spot on lasing the targets for the entire stage. This was a good sign because again, if it worked now, it’ll keep working. The TruPulse Tactical was very cold to the touch. As in I needed gloves to touch anything or my fingers froze almost instantly and I couldn’t feel anything with them tell I warmed them back up. That should give you an idea of the conditions and what the TruPulse Tactical was dealing with that morning. Talking with people after they finished the stages and staged for the move to the next one I was asking them about their LRF’s and if they had any issues. I wont go into brands or anything, but just about every single team said theirs were sluggish and very slow to read or start up or had some issues. This gave me great confidence in the TruPulse Tactical knowing as long as we had it, we’d be doing great the rest of the match.
Every stage that required an LRF had its own ups and downs after the first stage we used it at. But, the TruPulse Tactical never once failed up. It actually ran in colder weather the following morning. The battery never died and heck, I’m actually using the same battery that came with it since Laser Technologies sent it to me and she’s still going strong! Who needs a spare… I’ll be honest, with the cold weather I was a little worried any battery out there was going to die extremely fast, but this thing never quit. My Iphone lasted a whopping 30 minutes though, ha.
I really do have to give this LRF some major props. For as long as I’ve been running and gunning either over seas or in matches at home, I’ve used and abused a lot of gear were some has worked amazing and some gear has only lasted a day. This LRF has my vote of confidence and is a true beast of a product and I highly recommend it. I’d be happy to take it with me to every match and run it with zero worries. With its only two downfalls that affected me personally that probably don’t mean anything to 99% of all the other users, I say it’s a winner for sure.
I found a Windows based computer to use with the software. The software was way easier to use than I ever thought. It’s self explanatory and straightforward. If only it worked on a Mac.. I’m very content with the supplied software and only wish I was able to use it at home.
-Small in size for its capabilities
-Holds up to 5 guns and is easy to switch between them
-Has a nice carrying case it comes with
-Supplied with a spare battery, computer cable and very easy to use software
-Works in extreme environments flawlessly
-Supplied computer cable might require an adapter for your computer
-Software is Windows based only
Mammoth Sniper Challenge this year was between Jan 5th through the 8th and held at Rockcastle in Park City, Kentucky. The temperature was between -2 and 21 degrees, so it was extremely cold. There was a little snow on the ground and thankfully most of the muddy trails were frozen over so walking wasn’t that bad. Each squad in the division I was entered in was walking just under 30 miles. Darren had his fitbit on and was in my squad and it clocked up at 38 miles in total, which included walking around at the stages and doing the stage itself as well.
The third stage of the day we hiked to the golf course. For this stage you had to go over and under beams across trees then the primary shooter had to shoot off a swing then move positions and secondary shooter had to shoot off a small wooden wheel. The stage was pretty tough as the shooting positions were not very stable.
Holy crap, we made it back to the lodge. A motivating 3.2 miles back at that. Once we got back we showered immediately, packed up and loaded our vehicles so we could leave right after awards. The scores were posted about a hour after we finished. We placed 9th in our division. I really can't complain at all. I feel we did pretty good considering the competition. 1st place winners were a Ranger Battalion team in Tough Man Division and the owners of Short Action Customs in Regular Division. Following winners were two Army sniper instructor teams, you get the idea. The competition was incredibly good to say the least. We walked out with some great prizes and met a lot of great new friends. All in all it was a great time and I hope to do it again next year!
A little run down on our equipment this year. First and foremost I want to thank Lanxang Tactical for sending Aaron and myself guns to compete with. Aaron used a Lanxang VL34 in 308 running M118LR ammunition and I used a Lanxang CAS22 in 5.56 running MK262 MOD1 ammunition. For whoever is reading this, these are hands down the best and most accurate gas guns I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting. And for anyone that knows me personally, I shoot a lot of guns. I was honored they let me run their gun. On that note, talk about a light gun. The CAS22 is extremely light compared to the 21-pound Accuracy International I usually compete with. It made a world of difference humping a CAS22 this year, as I have a pretty bad back from being hurt over seas, this gun felt great to carry. Plus it being a freaking tack driver wasn’t so bad either.
Another sponsor I want to give a big shout out to is Laser Technologies. They were nice enough to send me their TruPulse Tactical laser range finder. You want to talk about light? This thing is incredibly light. For what it is and what it’s capable of I was absolutely shocked when I first started playing with it.
I’ll do a full review after the match about my thoughts on the Lanxang CAS22 and the Laser Technologies TruPulse Tactical.
Friday morning at 0700 hours we were downstairs ready to go. It was 17 degrees out but we were motivated and excited to get this match going. Joe gave a quick match speech and told us our squads. We headed over to the staging area for our squad (2) and were told it was 3.2 miles to our first stage. We were given a time limit for the ruck (all movements are timed), and boom, off we went. Aaron and myself started off at a good pace to get the blood pumping and warm up a bit. Once we did it was smooth sailing from there. The first team to get to the stage gets to pick the shooting order and lets just say we picked it at every stage the entire match. Getting on your gun for the first time in 17 degree weather sucks. The gun is freezing, which means your hand is freezing, which makes it really hard to shoot. The first stage we had to climb over a tree and shoot from a hogs saddle with all loose joints on the tripod, engage two targets like that, then 4 prone using bipods and sand socks only. Most stages have a 8 minute time frame. This stage required the use of a LRF (laser range finder) which worked out perfect because we had the Laser Technologies TruPulse Tactical with us. The TruPulse Tactical powered up and lazed all of our targets perfectly. We got some good hits and were happy with the start of the match. Watching other teams shoot we realized we were doing good, as most teams got around the same amounts of hits as us or a few less.
Back to thunder valley... this is were we finished our stages for the match. Almost done! 2.whatver miles back? Who cares. So close to finishing. We got back to thunder valley and were briefed on the stage. This was another LRF stage. You had to crawl under barbed wire with all your gear, secondary shooter engages all their targets dominate side and then weak side on the same targets. Then you move positions with all your gear and primary shooter shoots dominate side then weak side on their targets. Now, for the movement back to the lodge and we are done!
06:00 step time, Red Barn here we come. This was the warmest day so far. The morning temp was about 12 degrees when we stepped off but it turned out being about 21 degrees right before our last ruck back. We got to Red Barn and learned our first stage was off the A-frames. This was another good stage. You had to run over one A-frame with all your gear then climb another and engage targets off of it. Once primary and secondary shooter engaged their targets from the A-frame you go prone and re-engage all targets in the same order. My CAS22 was shooting pretty hot and broke a steel target apart. Oops... Side note, at 16 rounds through my CAS22 it was frosted up. Ice was all over it on the sides and when I loaded it the first time that morning I had to slam the charging handle back because the lube inside the gun was frozen. The gun functioned flawless, it was just very, very cold.
WE ARE DONE!
The last stage of the day we rucked roughly 2.8 miles if I remember right to the "red barn." This walk wasn't quite as hilly so it was pretty nice, plus the sun was out so I was feeling pretty good. We got to the stage and started to prep. On this stage you had to move two massive wooden wheels then shoot off two 55gal barrels and nothing was allowed to touch the ground, meaning you and your gear. Thankfully we learned from Mammoth 2015 and were packing light this year so we just left all out gear on our backs. I got a couple hits and Aaron got one. Now heres the deal, Aaron decided to not wear gloves for this stage... His fingers were purple when we finished. I can only imagine how horrible shooting was with no gloves on. I really hope his fingers are ok, as he was saying they felt pretty bad. After the stage was over that was it for the day. It was just about dark and we still had to head back to the lodge. Off we went. Once we got back we were informed of a 5:15 start time. We headed straight to our room and took a nice hot shower. In 2015 we couldn't do that by any means because we did tough man extreme and that sucked to say the least. That hot shower felt amazing.
The last stage of the day was hands down my favorite one. Lanxang tactical sponsored this stage, which made it that much better. On this stage you had to carry 4, 5gal water jugs to a designated area. The primary shooter shoots off a plastic tube at targets across the ridgeline. Once all targets are engaged you move the plastic tube to a designated area and the primary shooter fires from inside the tube. Lanxang provided a stage gun for this stage. You then jumped on their CAS22 and fired at the same primary targets with 4 rounds, then the secondary shooter jumps on the gun and shoots 4 rounds at the targets. You had 1 minute for both shooters to get their 4 rounds off before you had to move to the next part of the stage. The secondary shooter then engages a plate rack trying to move all 6 plates to the opposite side of the stand. Trick for the secondary shooter was you had to hand load all ammo. So, if you had a gas gun like myself you needed to insert an empty magazine and hand load all rounds, all while shooting off sticks while kneeling. During the time the secondary shooter engages his targets all 5gal water jugs have to go back to the starting position and all gear must be next to the secondary shooter before your 8 total minutes was up. There was a lot of moving parts to this stage which made it great and very challenging.
MAMMOTH SNIPER CHALLENGE 2017
The last stage at red barn was zig zagging through a small course and going under some tape without breaking it and then shooting off a barricade. The barricade made for a good shooting platform and was pretty darn solid so the stage wasn't to hard at all. It was a fast stage and over before we knew it. We packed up and got ready to move out to thunder valley for the last stage of the match.
DAY 1 - Friday
DTV Tactical innovations
The second stage was right down the hill, but we had to make some milage up so we walked 1.4 miles to a barn and back and got ready to shoot. This stage required you to move a large tube, secondary shooter gets inside and engages his targets while primary spots. Whenever you call stop is whatever time the primary shooter has left to use for his turn on the stage. I hit most of my targets and called stop just over 4 minutes. The primary shooter, Aaron was shooting out of the back of a SUV for his portion of the stage. We prepped and ran over to the SUV, both of us climbed inside and Aaron started firing. Now, Aaron is a much better shoot, let alone a damn good spotter, so you can only imagine how that goes on every stage.