2015 Competition Dynamics Sniper Adventure Challenge
By: Bill Alexander
October 5, 2015
For the first time, Alexander Arms® participated in the 2015 Competition Dynamics Sniper Adventure Challenge held southwest of Douglas, Wyoming from September 4 to September 6, 2015. In addition to the match sponsorship, we were a sponsor for the pick-up gun stage together with our friends at US Optics.
For those who are not familiar with this event, the Sniper Adventure Challenge is a 36-hour land navigation competition covering up to five mission objectives with a series of shooting, mental, and physical challenges included. This event is one of a few top-tier events in terms of difficulty. While the shooting aspects are not heavily emphasized, they are still taxing. Land navigation performed with only a map and compass and without the aid of GPS or other technologies. Competitors work in teams of two and must be self-supporting for the duration of the match. The venue for this year was two large ranches with a spine of mountainous terrain running through them. The course covered both sides of this ridge line and demanded that competitors climb and traverse some difficult terrain. We generally were lucky to have good weather. The nearby rain showers held off and the wind we did have was mild and fairly steady.
The initial team briefing brought our first surprise. I had, I thought, rather wisely brought a set of tools and a number of small spares for the Ulfberht .338 semi-automatic rifle we were to support at the event. I did not anticipate that several competitors would be running rifles in the 6.5 Grendel caliber, so I had nothing with me for those rifles. One team running a custom rig had broken an extractor the day before during the zeroing. Inspection showed that the extractor must have been made of, at best, cream cheese and that neither it or the associated bolt should ever have been represented as rifle parts. A brief scramble yielded a bolt-carrier group we "borrowed" from one of the prize uppers we had donated and we got the team back into operation. Fate is sometimes kind and I would note that the team in question placed in the top 5 and rather graciously selected the upper from which we had used the bolt-carrier group. This alone should give the reader a good gauge of the class of the event and its competitors.
With the initial drama subdued, we busied ourselves with the aspects of the pick-up gun match for the larger part of the first day. Our challenge was relatively easy in the scheme of things. We had opted to use our Ulfberht .338 Lapua rifle for the stage and Jimmy from Competition Dynamics had set out two IPSC style steel targets out at the 935-yard mark on a flat section against a small stream bank. Backed by a swathe of sage brush, neither target stood out well and so the start of the challenge was to find and identify what you were to shoot. After that, the competitors were faced with a time limit of two minutes to engage both targets and make as many hits as possible. We ran ten rounds from the 338. Each competitor had to fire at least two shots from the gun and, once a target was hit, the other target had to be engaged. From the Ulfberht, the competitors then moved to a very nice 6.5 Creedmoor custom bolt action which US Optics had supplied, topped with what I think was a beautiful US Optics LR17 scope. I might have the designation wrong, but the glass was wonderfully clear and I spent a few spare moments during the match checking out the resolution and letting a few rounds drift down range onto the targets.
On our rifle, I was running the Steiner T5Xi 5-25x56. The reticle is the excellent SCR, which has some nice features for the shooter without being overly complex. Set down on the ever trusty Seekins Precision rings, we set the zero at the beginning of the day and verified it again about midday as everything warmed up. The consistent wind was the biggest variable for the shooters, but it was interesting to see how the techniques and the resulting outcomes varied. Of note were the military teams. Without exception, these teams would tension down on the rifle and hold it in a death grip. The technique seems to stem from using the M110 .308 caliber type rifles. When faced with the Ulfberht, they would, without exception, throw all the shots about one mil low. It became so predictable that it was almost possible to tell the background of a team simply from the elevation calls. That is the problem with shooting a large caliber semi automatic as a pick-up gun. Without familiarity of the weapon and with someone else's dope on the weapon, making consistent hits at long range is always a hard task. This said, we saw a vast majority of competitors do exceptionally well. The one all-ladies team must be noted as they absolutely hammered the targets.
The range work ran in a series of waves as the competitors arrived at the stage. Some elected to miss the stage. Others would consider the wait time and calculate if the points were worth the delay. In all, we had about 25 teams shoot at the stage. Ulfberht ran like a clock - as it should - and the Hornady® 285-grain ammunition shot exceptionally consistently in the wind. I elected to use the Hornady® factory ammunition as this is a better representation of the weapon than a carefully tuned hand load. To be honest, we generally see excellent accuracy from the Hornady® ammunition. From the 27” barrel, the ammunition clocks about 2,870 FPS and it seems to report a bit flatter trajectory than the Kestrel ATRAG gives it.
Day two for us was a non-shooting day. I somehow ended up volunteered as the "hostage" in the force-on-force stage. Competition Dynamics had set this up as hostage extraction from a rather dark barn filled with a variety of machinery and general mechanical projects typical of a working ranch. This offered a huge variety of difficulties in clearing the stage. As hostage, my job was to be slightly less than compliant and provide an audible signal for the red team to confront the rescuers as they attempted to exit the structure. It did not take long for the red team to figure out that the best method of thwarting any rescue effort was to shoot the hostage. And, while Airsoft hurts less than simunition, it was not infrequent to be left standing in the middle of crossfire while rescuers dove for cover and the red team took great joy in seeing how many times they could hit me.
Again, we saw a huge diversity of different approaches to this task. Only one team actually cleared me to ensure I was not a decoy and only one physically controlled my movement and took me from cover to cover. Funniest was the team that walked me out several yards in front of them so the red team had to merely stroll in and administer a kill shot.
Overall, the event was a great success. This was due in no small part to the very professional team from Competition Dynamics who kept everything running smoothly. We had a lot of fun working with the competitors and the Ulfberht rifle. There were no surprises for how it ran; the gun is nearly unstoppable when the gas system is set correctly. It was nice to see Grendels placing and how well the caliber that our company founded is growing. We need to get more economical match grade ammunition and I think we will wee many more 6.5 Grendel rifles in competitions like this.