Event Review: The Waco Tactical Fitness "Sunday Sprint" Biathlon

The Waco Tactical Fitness "Sunday Sprint" biathlon is no joke.

5km of obstacles, water crossings, brush, vines, snakes, and shooting stages designed to push you and your skills to the limits. The actual course is located in Crawford, Texas on a piece of land that was graciously loaned by some awesome Texan (like there are any Texans that aren't awesome?!?) and W.T.F. set it up to really maximize the physically challenging aspect!

Pre-Event Load out (Photo Credit: Kevin Zuniga)

Participants began at the Crawford Community Center staggered 5 minutes apart then ran approximately 1000 meters before reaching the first obstacle: a three-part pistol-only shoot at 4" steel targets ~15m away. I consider myself a pretty decent shot, but these tiny steel targets destroyed several competitors, myself included. I sacrificed mags for weight and only took two pistol magazines with me (17 round capacity) thinking 34 rounds would be enough for the day... I was wrong. At this point I had caught up to the guy ahead of me, so I was confident that my stamina would hold up, but the ego took a massive blow. Now I had to be faster, and shoot better on the rifle targets to try and make up ground. The only negative I have for the course itself was the marking which was sparse and led to my next setback which turned out to only be mental.

I took off from the pistol stage and went full Harambe to the water crossing but when I got there I couldn't see any markings for where to go down and where to come up. Screw it. I popped my shoes off and long jumped as far as I could landing in soft, mossy rocks up to my thighs, barely clearing the waist-deep stuff. I slapped my shoes on and ran to the slope but could only see a turtle slide trail, so I went for it and got torn up by thorny vines but made it up and out of the ravine quickly. Now since I had just made my own damn path I had a 50/50 chance of taking the correct next turn which I did luckily. I made it to the first rifle stage in excellent time, having closed the distance on the guy ahead of me.

This obstacle was two stages and two targets per stage. Each target was about 250m out and you had to hit each twice, and drag a VERY SURPRISINGLY HEAVY dummy between the two shooting points. Here is where I picked up the most ground because I knew my zero and could quickly adjust for windage. Before me was a father-daughter team and she was incredibly accurate, but her and the father were walking the entire course so I had the chance to pass them up which gave me a bit more confidence.

I had a solid pace to the third obstacle, a deer blind with two targets at 300m and 400m. I struggled dialing in the near target because I couldn't feel the wind from inside the blind, but I bracketed in the shot and was able to first-round the second target with a quick second round on target. I expeditiously climbed down and started the long jog to obstacle 4 - the "Timothy Murphy" tree climb and shoot which was exactly what it sounds like. If climbing a tree wasn't enough, they set up an 8' outward-leaned wall 100m prior to the stage with a 15min penalty attached. The problem with the wall was the 2"x6" along the top. I made a valiant first attempt but couldn't get a grip on the back side and tore my arms all up.

Aftermath of the wall v. my arm (Photo Credit: Kevin Zuniga)

Never one to quit when I likely should, I beat my chest like a mighty gorilla and threw every ounce of energy I had at the wall, making it over by sheer willpower, determination, and probably some divine intervention! (Only 13 of 43 participants made it over the wall) So the tree... it wasn't that bad. Climb a tree, get comfy, rain down lead. I ran my Houlding Precision with NiB mil-spec trigger, an economical and decent setup pushing through a Centurion barrel. For glass I have a Burris MTAC 1-4x zeroed POA/POI at 100m. I ran this one with the reticle not illuminated though it has the option, it was just fine turned off on a nice semi-overcast day. So I shoot from the tree, climb down, and realize that I'm gaining some good ground on those ahead and behind me. Confidence is up after some good shooting stages so I'm running faster, and able to stop and snag a selfie with G-Dubya!

With El Presidente (Photo Credit: Kevin Zuniga)

Everything is going great at this point, there's a makeshift set of monkey bars (some sort of drilling platform with an expandable ladder suspended across) which I navigated quickly thanks to my gorilla-like climbing prowess. By this point I'm realizing that leaving my 4th rifle mag behind was a terrible idea. I'm at 16 rounds and the next stage is 10 round min, with sketchy positioning. The "Dude Where's My Car" stage featured a beater car with 2 targets 75 and 100m out. You run up and engage both from the trunk, underneath, inside, on the windshield, and under the open hood.

Car Stage (Photo Credit: Kevin Zuniga)

Sounds awesome, until you get underneath and HAVE to be sideways to get anything like a clear shot. I've practiced this several times with 45° offsets which makes a hell of a difference, but I didn't have those on this gun and paid the price. I ran dry on the last position and had to swallow my pride and drive on. Now empty I know there's one shooting obstacle left. I've caught up and passed a few people at this point so I was amazed when the dude in front of me was just arriving there. (Turns out he dislocated his shoulder on the wall!) As he's finishing, I swap a dry mag for one of his (I later gave him a Dustoff unit patch in thanks) and I ran a perfect 6/6 on the last obstacle. To start you're standing on a mattress and have to shoot through a window about 5' away at targets about 75m away *ping* *ping*. Then run to a doorway and hit the same two *ping* *ping*. Then run to a makeshift slanted roof and go prone not silhouetting yourself on top and hit them again *ping* *ping*. The guy saved me big time. From there it was a lot of running back to the start point!

Some major takeaways from my first biathlon:

  1. Carry more ammo or practice shooting exhausted.
  2. Know what gear works for you. My Vasque "Juxt" shoes felt awesome, Darn Tough socks dried out really quick, Crye pants stretched well and breathed great. Rifle was heavy and put a lot more strain on me than I planned, chest rig was good but could have been a lot lighter.
  3. Be a bro. As I came in there was just a lady with a clipboard and a timer. After I finished I made sure to go back out there and cheer people in. The guy who gave me a mag when I needed it saved an entire obstacle for me. The dude I lent my spare ear pro to was incredibly grateful. Some people come to these things with an attitude of winning is all that matters and aren't going to get much help from anyone if they go down.
  4. Stay humble. Shoot an awesome stage, thank the ref and move on. I walked up and tried to make friends with everyone I could, maybe someday I'll be the dude with a spare mag!
  5. Eat lots of carbs prior, I needed the energy mid race and had to slam a Kind bar.
  6. Once you know your zero, learn your windage correction and keep some "dope" on you if you forget. I got so used to having my Horus using holdovers that I had to correct on the fly which cost me some time.

At the end of it all I finished 19th out of 43 shooters, with the 7th fastest run time. If I had one more rifle and one more pistol magazine I could have been more liberal with my rounds (the only thing I'm liberal with!) and possibly cracked top 5. I learned a lot and made some good friends, hopefully I'll get Logan down here for the next one in April.

-Kevin Zuniga

*The 1st obstacle wasn't used today for the "Sprint" so ignore that on the score sheet...