Team Valhalla Armory checks in at the finish line after covering 36 miles
I’ve purposely waited for a few weeks to write about our Survival Trial experience. I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to approach it or what I wanted to say. So, here goes…
First of all, what is the Survival Trial. I took this from their website (http://www.survivaltrial.com), “The Survival Trial is a 24 hour endurance shooting event that will push competitors to the absolute limit. Taking place at the beautiful NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM, the 2012 Survival Trial is designed to make competitors think outside of the box, as one would in a survival situation. “ That’s a fairly accurate description. I will also add that it’s an ultra-endurance event of the ‘unknown’. Each person carries an AR15 rifle, 9mm handgun, backpack with about 35-40 pounds of gear (required items). Each team also carries a .308 precision rifle.
Team Valhalla Armory started preparing for Survival Trial over one year ago. Part of that preparation was trying to find out everything we possible could discover about the event. There’s not much out there – and I think it’s meant to be that way. After having experienced it for myself, I think the best part of survival trial was not knowing what to expect.
So in keeping with that idea, I won’t give a lot of details, strategies, etc. Sorry… if you want to know what to expect, you’ll just have to go do it yourself!
Survival Trial is a test of you as a person and your partner – and how well you work as a team. The most important thing you can bring to Survival Trial is a strong team. You can both be super shooters and ultra fit, but if you don’t work well together, you will not do well. Survival Trial pushes you on all levels; physical, mental and emotional. You have to think, plan, analyze, develop strategy… and then make it all work together as a team.
There’s a lot of competitions and adventure type races out there. To one degree or another, they are games. The better you play the game, the better you do. Survival Trial is the same way. There is a ‘game’ element to it. Before going, you need to decide if you’re going to ‘play the game’ or testing yourself. Team Valhalla Armory went on the idea of testing ourselves and our gear. We looked at it this way, “If we really had to survive 24 hours and cross 30-50 miles of dangerous, difficult country, what would we need?” If you take this approach, it probably means showing up with things you will not need. Most of the teams at Survival Trial 2012 II had a lot more gear than what they needed. For example, I carried a water filter in my pack. I didn’t need it as they provided water at each station. But in my mind, if I was on a real survival trek, I’d need a water filter so I carried one anyway. That’s what I mean by ‘playing the game’ or testing yourself. If you’re going to Survival Trial just to compete and do well, you probably won’t need much more than what’s on the packing list.
How does it work? Survival Trial is actually very simple. Each team gets a military grid map and a list of coordinates to the shooting and event stations. Then they say, “You have 24 hours… Survival Trial begins now!” You and your partner sit down, plot out the coordinates and decide where you want to go. Every team will end of working through the arena in their own way. Team Valhalla Armory covered 36 miles.
Everyone wants to know, “What was the hardest part”? My partner came up with the best answer and I’ll quote him here:
Looking back over the race, the hardest part was not the skill challenges, events or tasks we had to perform. At each of those phases, such as carrying a tire 5 miles up and over a mountain pass, we had a finite task at hand. There was something very specific in front of you to overcome. For a competitive spirit, having a defined task to overcome is a dream come true. It is inspiring and focuses the mind and body on defeating that objective. The surprising “hardest part” was the boredom of seemingly endless miles of just walking in the dark. There were no challenges, no tasks, nothing to focus on and no visual or mental “goal line” to cross. Once boredom set in, the mind starts to wonder, to loose focus and to start questioning. ”Is this even the right trail…shouldn’t we be there…why am I really doing this…” So, in retrospect, I expected the obstacles and physical challenges to test me, in reality, it was the hours and hours of “nothing” that challenged my mind and will the most.
So very true!
For me, Survival Trial set a new baseline for what’s possible. Most of us go through life with this imagined idea of what’s possible. Events like Survival Trial allow you to go out and see that you are capable of doing more than you thought possible. It’s like hitting a ‘reset button’ on possibility. It’s life changing because it changes what you think is possible and leads you do doing more and more. Everybody else is standing around telling you something’s impossible, but then you go and do it – and that’s a powerful experience. You’ll never look at things the same again.
Team Valhalla Armory finished in 3rd place out of 12 teams.