Camp Pendleton service members competed in the Military Battle Challenge, Commanding General’s Cup competition at the 11 Area shopping center, July 22 and 23. Competitors raced to complete a series of tasks such as scaling a rope net, moving five 40 pound water jugs and shooting a rifle modified into a laser tag-style gun.
The Military Battle Challenge is a new obstacle course race that tests competitor’s endurance, strength and marksmanship skills against the clock and each other.
“Once I retired, I got in touch with Dr. Paul Davis, who had been hosting the Firefighter Combat Challenge for the last 25 years, and we decided to collaborate to develop a functional fitness competition for the armed services,” said Gene Coughlin, a retired Marine and co-creator of the Military Battle Challenge. “These are all basic battlefield tasks, based on the functional movements that you have to do across all the services.”
The first basic task is a 12-foot climb up a cargo net. Competitors next descend a rope and race to clear a 7-foot wall. Competitors must then carry four ammo cans, two at a time, over a set of stairs. Failure to touch each step or secure the ammo cans in their proper place on the other side adding more time to their total run.
The low crawl marks the halfway point in the race, followed by competitors moving water jugs from one spot to the next. All five, totaling roughly 200 pounds, secured, the competitors then put their marksmanship skills to the test.
“It’s not just a fun competition, there’s a training component to it,” said Coughlin. “At the marksmanship piece, competitors are finding that when they take their confidence shot at the start of the course it’s very easy to hit the target. But once their heart rate is up and their muscles are trembling, it’s not so easy. So we’re really driving home the point that there is a physical fitness component to marksmanship.”
With shots fired and a lighted target confirming the hits, the competitors then scramble to drag a 175 pound dummy wearing roughly 10 pounds of gear 90 feet across the finish line. A clock over the finish line gave contestants their final time, with the best times coming in under 2 minutes.
“The most difficult part was putting the rounds in the target when you’re breathing hard,” said Cpl. Christopher Furlong, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, who came in first with the best individual time at 1:36. “You just have to slow down and breathe.”
Furlong’s team, the Freqs, also took first overall in the Commanding General’s Cup portion of the competition with a combined time of 3:36.
The next Military Battle Challenge will take place at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, with plans to return to Camp Pendleton in the future.
“We’re looking forward to bringing the Military Battle Challenge back to Camp Pendleton,” said Coughlin.