Drill sergeants, cadre test physical limits
December 19, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (Dec. 19, 2013) -- Drill sergeants and cadre in 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery took a break from pushing their Soldiers to test their own physical limits, Dec. 11, in their inaugural Gauntlet Challenge.
Competitors from all six batteries were pitted against each other in volleyball and racquetball at Rinehart Fitness Center, and basketball, weight lifting and the Iron Axe event at Honeycutt Fitness Center.
Tournament sheets were posted on the walls of the fitness centers and the participants went to work.
"This breaks up the monotony and builds some camaraderie [and] gives the drill sergeants a break from being around the Soldiers," said 1st Sgt. Alexander Yazzie, B Battery.
The Iron Axe was a modified version of the Ranger Physical Assessment Test. It was originally meant to be done outside, but because of the freezing temperatures was modified inside the gym.
Five drill sergeants took to treadmills to see who could run the fastest four miles; do the most pushups to the cadence of a metronome; the most pullups; most situps in one minute; most heel hooks and finally the fastest 300-meter shuttle.
"That was a great workout, I'm certainly smoked," said Iron Axe victor, Drill Sgt. (Staff Sgt.) Chris Vaughn, D Battery. "Everybody is so busy in the drill sergeant environment. When one group is on cycle break, the other is working really hard. It's a good change of pace to get everyone away from the typical environment. Friendly competition is great every once in a while."
He received a replica Gauntlet Axe at their battalion holiday party with his name engraved and the battalion and brigade coin on each side.
"It is very difficult for a unit to all get together at the same time for such an event because training usually has us scattered to the four winds," said 2nd Lt. Hayden Ware, F Battery. "Today alone, we had two different batteries conducting training, with four conducting recovery operations and getting ready for holiday block leave shipping operations."
Ware said a drill sergeant from F Battery made sure she was still able to compete despite the hectic training schedule by performing all of the Iron Axe events at a gym the night before.
"A typical drill sergeant work-week is anywhere from 70 to 100 hours of training Soldiers, so naturally it was great for the cadre of each battery to get together and compete against one another to enhance esprit de corps while promoting physical fitness," said Ware.
Drill Sgt. (Staff Sgt.) Michael Sanders, C Battery, won the weight lifting competition by lifting the most in the bench press and deadlift. The drill sergeant who lifted the most, but did not win the most events, was Drill Sgt. (Staff Sgt.) Donald Craine, B Battery, 1-40th FA.
"I don't workout that much, I'm just naturally strong. The only thing I work out on is bench and you see that's my weakest event," said Craine. "My battery commander knows I'm an in-shape guy, so he told me to do the weightlifting contest. I was like 'OK, I'll make it happen,' and that was the mindset I went in with."
He lifted a total of 1,205 pounds, and his name will be placed on the brigade gym's wall for the 1,000-pound lift club. Joining him from the Gauntlet Challenge are Ware and Drill Sgt. (Staff Sgt.) Tyson Lueck, D Battery.
A Battery took the trophy for volleyball, while F Battery took the basketball tournament. C Battery commander Capt. David Rhoades won the racquetball event and secured the overall victory for his battery. They won the Commander's Shield that is passed from one victorious battery to another.