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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneral2017 Competition Dynamics Darin Fink Memorial Sniper Challenge2017 Competition Dynamics Darin Fink Memorial Sniper Challenge
New Post
12/12/2016 3:23 AM

OK, so my buddy and I decided to take on this challenge mainly due to the fact that as someone who's never been really overweight I was recently diagnosed with diabetes (I guess I'm just lucky). The doc thinks I can be off the meds and good to go in six months and while that's a great goal in and of itself completing this challenge would be a good ol' kick in the face to that diabetes as well. 

I noted that there were some posts on this topic here and I've read them but I have a couple of questions that are gear related and directed at people who have done this challenge or something similar to it. 

First, I'm curious what sort of packs are recommended these days. I haven't really looked at packs in a few years and I don't really feel the need to rip up my Arc'Teryx climbing pack on such an adventure. Quite frankly I don't think it would be a good pack for this job. I'm thinking that a frame pack is probably the best place to start and I'm curious how other people feel about that. I'm currently playing with a Mardingtop Tactical Backpack because I fully expect to destroy my practice pack (or two) and this thing is pretty modular but above all it's cheap ($45). To give you an idea of my thought process here I know what gear I'll be bringing and I've WAY over weighted myself for practice. In reality I'll probably be carrying around 35-45lbs of gear, water, food and ammo (dependent really on how much ammo I feel I need to carry) to start out with while currently my pack currently weighs in at 77.3 fully loaded (Thanks GoRuck plates!)

I'm not really looking to get a tacticool pack for this adventure but I'm not opposed to it either since a proper one will help ensure compliance with the firearms rules as well as my personal rules. I hate people who slap a rifle horizontally under the flap of their ruck and walk around muzzling everyone. Personally I couldn't care less what people think of the rig as long as it works and is comfortable.


Second, I'm curious what sort of rifles people are generally using for the long distance shooting portion of this challenge. I know that in some other challenges people use some crazy expensive tricked out rifles. I won't be doing that. I'm going to either be rocking a Remington 700 SPS or a Mossberg 100ATR. Both are in .243 Winchester. I might drop the coin on a Vortex scope but more likely I'll stick with my 3-9x50 Redfield Revolution.  This question is more my curiosity as to what people are actually using at these competitions. 

Just to be clear, we have no illusions that we're going to win anything. We just want to finish. 

\Thanks guys!

New Post
12/13/2016 11:38 AM
Rifles are quick so I will start there. Folks run everything from basic M4 style AR15s with RDS to AIs and customs and ever caliber from 5.56 to 338 Lapua. Personally my recommendation is to go with some more compact and lighter in general since you are going to be carrying it a lot more than shooting it, and a big old rifle strapped to your pack is a big old rifle strapped to your pack.

When I ask folks how much they are carrying 35-45lbs seems pretty typical, but as you said train heavy. This year folks almost exclusively used lighter, backpacking and climbing packs, and my feeling is that most folks went to far that directlon. You still want a pack that will carry the weight, and 45lbs for hours on end is still 45lbs, and a fair number of the packs that I saw had fairly limit, if any frames for supporting the weight. Most folks this year carried their rifles strapped to the pack in some manner vertically.

Out of our current line up I would choose the Ute, and those that have used the Ute loved it. While I have carried an Umlindi for a lot of miles with that amount of weight just fine, the Ute is going to be more comfortable with that same amount of weight and being taller support the weight of a longer rifle better. Given the environment the height is also not going to be a detriment.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
12/13/2016 3:18 PM

Background: I did the 2015 SAC, unfortunately wasn't available to do this years, but should be at next years.




 I would say that 40#'s ish is close. The packing list seems pretty standard throughout the years. So, you can gather everything then add gun, ammo, food, and water to see exactly what you are looking at weight wise. The only real variable we saw was how much water we carried- sometimes there was water ivo where we were going other times we carried more,  


Wearing a 45# pack for 32-36 hours isn't exactly comfortable regardless of what pack you are wearing. So, if you can suck it up, whatever you have will work. That being said, the people who have put time into using and developing their products to carry loads comfortably over extended periods of time are going to have a product that is better suited. The weight needed to be carried is right on the limit of most civilian backpacking and "military" style daypacks/ extended daypacks. I used a MR NICE frame with a smaller bag- it was what I had. I haven't used a UTE, but it seems like the Hill Bros pack that I would choose for this. Being able to put pouches and a holster on the hip belt is nice too.





I'm not familiar with either of the rifles you mentioned taking. Since you will be firing 10-15 rds in a couple minutes, I would take the gun that the barrel handles the heat the best. More importantly, I would make sure you and your partner are able to identify a tgt, get the range, and call wind under a time constraint and a position other than easy prone shooting.



Based off what I saw: equipment plays a really small role in who finishes or not. You need to put in the miles in training, understand and apply some basic long range shooting skills, and be mentally prepared to keep on pushing through some physical discomfort.



I hope that helps. It is a one of a kind event.






New Post
1/12/2017 8:34 PM
I'll be joining you out there this year! I've volunteered at the event the last two years, so I at least know (mostly) what I'm getting into. I'll fill you in with what I'll be running as a start. I really don't plan on buying anything new for this event, I feel good with the system I've got already.

Pack: HPG Ute, without question this is what I want to use. I've got one four day 40 mile trip with it along with several 1-2 nighters and quite a few long single days. I'll without a doubt have many more miles with it before the SAC. It's the most comfortable pack I've used and I'm not the least bit worried about destroying it. Right now it's got a 60lb sand bag tucked in it for training rucks. I'll have to play with weights some but may add the pals pocket as well to keep some things easier to get at. The required gear list is no joke, expect to have to empty your whole pack at some point to prove you've got everything.

I'll also be using a Heavy Recon Kit bag. It won't be carrying a pistol but map, compass, notepad, rangefinder, pencil and snacks will all ride in there. It keeps it close at hand and well organized. I've got a standard Recon as well that'd be lighter but I like the ability to open the main pocket like a shelf so it's easier to see what you have.

Rifle: As of now I'm the carbine shooter for out team so I'll be running my AR. It's pretty basic 16" barrel, 1-4 Vortex Viper PST in ADM mount and a bipod. Without bipod it's about 8.6lbs, not the lightest but not bad. I may try to trim some weight but not sure if it's worth it. I'me feeling pretty comfortable with it out to 400yds, and when I do my part it'll reach 700 with match ammo no problem. For carbine shooters targets are usually 500yds and closer so it'll do just fine. My teammate will be shooting either an AR in 6.5 Grendel, or if it's built in time a 6.5 Creedmore built with low weight as a high priority. He'll be running a suppressor, I might be.Once the shooting portion is done I'll break my gun down and run the separate parts vertically in the side slot pockets of my Ute. This will keep it compact and the weight as close to my back as possible.

Footwear: This is one place I'm still experimenting some. It's between my Hanwag Tatra's or a pair of Asolo Jumla's. The Asolo's are a lot lighter and cooler which I like, but not sure if I'm willing to sacrifice the support of the Hanwag's. Comfort wise they're very close. I'm also considering throwing a pair of running shoes in the cache bag so I'll be able swap out and give my feet a break. There's quite a bit of road marching, at least the last two years there was, and putting on something with softer cushioning can be a nice break.

My last note about the competition, it's as much a battle with yourself and your own limits, as it is with the organizers creativity. They have a lot of long discussions over beer on new ways to challenge (some would say torture) competitors. I've been in on these in the past, what finally shows up come game time is pretty watered down from where things start, but they will mess with you.

"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
New Post
6/1/2017 3:33 PM
Hey guys, I just wanted to thank everyone for their kind replies and information.
New Post
9/12/2017 3:26 PM

I wanted to congratulate steamboatsystema and his partner for exceeding their goal at this years SAC despite some initial setbacks. You guys should truly be proud and I am sure you learned a lot about yourselves and what you are capable of. I expect to see you guys making even greater strides next year.

pf1 and Strych9, not sure if you were able to compete this year. If so I hope you and your partners crushed it.

Thanks to all of the great people that helped out on HPG's behalf. You and the competitors made spending a couple of days in the back country fly by. It is interesting to see how the competitors evolve year to year and I always learn quite a bit. Far fewer drops this year and foot problems (huge in the past) were minimal from what I saw. Calorie and electrolyte consumption continue to be the major issues we observed during our Welfare Check evolution. Several very switched on competitors were using toe separating socks with good results. In police work we call that a clue so I will be picking a few pairs up to try.


Nick Boyle | HPG Product Specialist
New Post
9/12/2017 5:40 PM

Nick, Scott, and all the other people associated with HPG,

Thank you for supporting this event. As a competitor, having the necessary manpower and backside support for the challenges to run smoothly and efficiently is nice. The particular flavors and knowledge of those individuals are what makes this event special.

A couple of my observations for this year:

- This years format change changed up the dynamic of land nav points and time vs challenge scores. After thinking about it for a few days, I think I like it because it fundamentally requires a mix of skill on the challenges and speed on the land nav portion to do well. Although, from my perspective, the allotted time needs to be decreased or the number of points/challenges increased so that there is more than just challenge scores that separate teams. 

- This event provides basic challenges that apply fundamental skills. If we trained solely on the tasks required to be successful this year, we would be competent in a wide array of pertinent skills. I believe that this event provides great opportunities to apply land nav, general shooting fundamentals, some peripheral skills (knots, climbing, communication etc...), and overall drive and grit. The extreme range of experience and knowledge base between teams is a concern. When talking nutrition and water, I don't think that you can apply the same set of instructions and assumptions to all. I believe this event is a great opportunity to really test what one's basic long range shooting, land navigation, and extended foot movement skills are. From that perspective, I would like to see a division that encourages less experienced involvement while still challenging more experienced competitors.

- Regardless of talent or skill, this event is challenging and requires focus and commitment towards a goal over a period of time. It is a tough event, but I feel that given the right amount of effort, a lot of people would find it beneficial and fulfilling. As a military person, this event provides a great opportunity to really appreciate the necessity of fundamentals. Technology, talent, and excessive gear don't mean a lot in this competition.

  After all that, my final comment is that it is good to see the diversity in people participating in the event. I saw young, old, fat, skinny, long hair, and short hair. If you like land nav, shooting, and walking with a pack; you will be ok in this event. 

If anyone has questions or concerns about participating in this event please hit me up. I have no affiliation with the Sniper Adventure Challenge or HPG, but I will give you my take on what will make it a beneficial experience. 

Thanks again to HPG,  who once again provided significant contributions to making this event successful.


HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneral2017 Competition Dynamics Darin Fink Memorial Sniper Challenge2017 Competition Dynamics Darin Fink Memorial Sniper Challenge