Fort Gordon hosted the 2022 Mammoth Sniper Challenge Jan. 7-9.
This is the fourth consecutive year the installation welcomed what has earned a reputation by many in the sport as “the toughest civilian sniper competition in the country.”
“The level of professionalism that exists within the Mammoth organization and the competitors themselves – even the recreational shooters have a level of professionalism in how they view the event, how they approach the event, and how they compete – it’s impressive,” said Craig Larsen, Fort Gordon DFMWR director.
There is also evidence that it is has gained in tremendous popularity over a short amount of time. Registration for the challenge opened on July 14 and all slots sold out in less than one hour. The previous year’s slots sold out within five hours.
In total, the competition is open to 104 teams; four of those team slots are set aside and awarded to Fort Gordon service members. But on Day 1 of the competition, only 74 stepped off, and 51 went on to finish.
“That’s a 30 percent dropout rate,” said Chris Andrews, giving emphasis to the difficulty of the competition.
Andrews, Mammoth Sniper Challenge match director and former competitor, said the challenge is designed to test shooting and communication skills while pushing competitors to their limits; and in some cases, discover new ones.
Competitors rucked 30 miles, shot 11 stages and were presented with multiple challenges over the course of three days while hauling everything needed for the weekend including equipment, food and sleeping gear. Despite there being a semi-familiar flow each year, Andrews is intentional about changing things up to keep veteran competitors on their toes.
“It was more difficult,” Andrews said. “The rucks were longer, the targets were farther away, targets were smaller … everything about it was more difficult, but we also had a more competitive field than ever, and the top 10 are within the margin that the top 5 were in last year.”
That approach is what keeps some competitors eager to return each year. Repeat competitor and Fort Gordon POC for the challenge, Sgt. John Bogue of 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, earned one of the installation slots during a qualifier held last year. Having just completed his fourth Mammoth Sniper Challenge, Bogue has experienced and learned something new each time.
“Last year we grew quite a bit,” he said. “his year, there were so many loopholes that were thrown at us … it was definitely a ‘kick in the butt’ that I need to practice some things and understand some different styles of shooting a little bit more before coming out here next time.”
Bogue’s teammate, Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Meier, Navy Information Operations Command – Georgia, expressed similar thoughts.
“You need to be prepared to put in the work … you get out as much as you put in,” Meier said. “I feel like we prepared the [heck] out of this, and I still think we had a lot of shortcomings, but at least it’s something to work on for next time.”
Looking ahead, there is speculation about the event possibly being held twice a year, instead of one, to increase the chances of other would-be competitors getting a slot. However, nothing has been confirmed. The only thing Andrews could say for certain is that he is looking forward to returning to Fort Gordon for the 2023 Mammoth Sniper Challenge.
“The ranges are amazing, the property is amazing, the ruck routes, the support here is amazing – MWR, all the staff, medics … I mean, the logistics to put this on are amazing. Everything here lends itself to running this match,” Andrews said. “We come here and we put on the shooting portion of the match, but you can’t do that without all of the support. There’s no place we’ve found that can do what we get down here.”