JESSE SCANLAN; Guest Writer;

Marching in formation for miles on end, putting together weapons while blindfolded and crossing rivers with a single rope. That is what it takes to compete in the Ranger Challenge competition.

Every year, PLU army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)  takes a ten-person team to Camp Rilea, Oregon, to compete against schools like Oregon State, University of Washington, University of Montana and University of Hawaii. This is a two day event  on Nov. 4 and 5 that tests the team’s limits, physically and mentally.

This will be my third year competing as part of the team, and we have been training for months in preparation.

Now, what does that look like exactly?

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Well, I’ve woken up every day at 4:50 a.m., prepared my equipment and formed up with the team an hour later.Since the competition is both a physical and mental test, we alternated daily between skills training and physical training.

Training physically for the competition has taken a lot of time and a lot of sweat. We have been rucking (running with a bag on your back) an average of about four miles per training day, with long rucks being about seven miles.  Immediately following these rucks are usually thirty-foot rope climbs, pushups, sit-ups, flutter kicks, etc.  However, we train in other ways too.

In the past two months we have incorporated swim workouts into the training schedule. It has only been once a week, but, personally, I think it’s the hardest day because of its intensity.

“Swim days are extremely rigorous,” Junior and Cadet Nick Lund said “It’s a bad dream within a bad dream.”

Physical training is only half the battle, though. The amount of skills knowledge needed for this year’s competition is tremendous. We’ve been training to build rope bridges, tie various knots, assemble and disassemble weapons, provide medical first aid and various other skill training exercises.

As a more senior member of the team, I have been in charge of training for this year, and it has been no easy task.

Mastering any one of these skills could take upwards of two months. However, to be competitive in the Ranger Challenge competition, we have to train for a total of ten skills within two months. There never seems to be enough time in the day, but we have managed to successfully practice and adequately prepare for almost every skill so far.

What does it take to compete in the Ranger Challenge competition?

Well, it takes discipline, mental toughness and drive. Waking up at four in the morning in itself takes a tremendous amount of discipline, and to then pick up a forty-five pound bag and ruck great lengths requires a mental toughness that the average person might not possess.

Continuing to do this every single day for more than two months takes a motivation and drive that cannot be faked. We will finally be putting our training to the test next week and I trust that our team will be prepared to endure the struggle that lies ahead.

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