FORT BLISS, Texas- As the El Paso desert winds gusted over 50 miles an hour, contestants of the Regional Health Command-Central's Best Leader Competition participated in a stress shoot on April 12th, 2022.
The stress shoot required competitors to move through various shooting lanes, firing at targets in different positions with both an M4 rifle and M17 pistol, all while dragging a 165-pound medical dummy on a sled between each lane. The soldiers were judged based on time and their firing
This was the third day of a five-day competition, and the participant’s ninth event, putting them to the test both physically and mentally. Spc. Ursus Jaen, assigned to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas, said he is certainly feeling the previous events effects on his body.
“So far some of the challenging aspects was really pushing myself and motivation. With the ruck march and all the running we had to do the day prior it really put a toll on my legs and feet,” Jaen stated. “That was probably the most difficult thing and we’re tired and we still have more to go.”
Spc. Cameryn Usher, also assigned to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas, one of Jaen’s teammates in the Best Leader Competition, agreed with his sentiments. He said the 15-mile tactical foot march and water survival events on the days prior were very taxing on his body. He went on to say their team anticipated the competition would be physically demanding so they trained ahead of time.
“My team and I prepared for this competition by doing as much train up as we could,” Usher said. “We went on our own ruck marches, general physical training, studying, and things of that nature.”
Staff Sgt. Edward Cabalero, a supervisor at the stress shoot, assigned to William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, says he advises candidates to prepare for both the mental and physical aspects of the competition.
“The advice I give to soldiers and candidates to prepare for this in the future is to be able to endure the strenuous physical activity. Also mentally prepare yourself,” Cabalero remarked. “While this competition can be very demanding it can be very rewarding when you complete it.”