Every now and then you take part in an event that’s truly special. This was one of those events for me. Before I get too far into this I want to give a huge thank you to Fergus Hyke and Ed Hall for without them this day would not have been possible. I’d also like to thank David Thomas for all of the photography… without him this AAR would be a lot shorter and not nearly as nice to look at.
This event occurred in at the end of November, 2014 and was the day before the first GORUCK MLCH. It was put on by TRVLSQD and First Group and was not sanctioned by GORUCK in any way. All of the amazing set up and hard work you see was volunteered by Ed Hall, Fergus Hyke, and other members of TRVLSQD and First Group. If you want to read more about the lead up to this event you can read our “Supporting First Group 2014” post.
Early… something like 3 am. I met two fellow TRVLSQD members at a local park-and-ride for a nice carpool down to the start location. We stopped on the way to pick up a buddy who flew in for the event. After that it was to Joint Base Fort Lewis-McChord for the Arden Tough Range Day event.
Anyone who raised and donated at least $600 to the Arden Tough fund was included in the VIP experience. The goal of the VIP experience was to give everyone involved a little something extra as a thank you. We showed up bright and early and were greeted by Ed Hall. He brought us sweatshirts and sweatpants to wear so that we’d blend in with the community
After getting all set up we headed off to one of the PT areas and began a nice warm-up. After some warm-ups we went on a two-mile run then came back for some group exercises.
We were split out into three teams and each had to race to get everyone over the wall. Winners were able to bask in their greatness while losers had to do some push-ups.
Groups were split up and I think everyone had to do push-ups at least once in the end. It was a really fun time and I was thankful that most of the exercises were strength based. I came to this event with a broken toe and was glad that I didn’t hold my team up too much because of it.
Either way, winning or losing, there were tons of smiles to be had. Everyone was smiling throughout the day… we were there because we had successfully raised a lot of money for an incredible cause so was definitely a reason to be happy.
After some more exercises we headed over to what we were told was going to be a big surprised. I feel like I can’t, or shouldn’t, give much detail on this part because there’s no way I can do it justice. We heard very heart-felt and emotional speeches from some incredible people and it was incredible.
We were given gifts which have a ton of sentimental value. There was really nothing I’ve experienced that was like that… it was truly amazing. It really showed us that what we were doing was impacting real people… there’s a huge emotional difference from putting your credit card in online and making a donation and seeing the people right in front of you that you’re helping.
We heard some more stories and were explained about the significance of what we were standing in front of. It was humbling and something that was very emotional for all of us… I know it was at least for me.
After that emotional experience we were treated to a delicious breakfast… MREs! It was nice to sit down with everyone and learn where people were from and why they wanted to be there. It was truly a great group of people and I’m thankful we were given the chance to relax for a few minutes.
After breakfast we met up with the rest of the group (the non-VIP) who were just arriving. After the rest of the waivers were picked up we were ready to head off to the range.
Nothing like heading off with a great group of people to shoot some amazing guns.
We got together and went over the rules of the day, how everything would operate, and what we should expect. It was relieving to hear that the words PT were nowhere to be heard. The set up would be eight shooters at a time and the rest of the team would get to hang out and chat with the people there. There were four groups and it worked out perfectly.
Before we had the opportunity to shoot some guns we were treated to an awesome display of animal dominance. One of the dogs of First Group showed up to show us what they were capable of.
You’ve gotta run faster than that…
Speed up… that dog isn’t slowing down…
Too late for advice now you just have to ride it out…
Or play dead.
After the incredible demonstration it was time to hit the range. Everyone was excited.
I wasn’t in the first group to go but some of my friends were. We had the opportunity to shoot both rifles and pistols. There was even some ADR apparel present at the event. I definitely missed out on some photo opportunities by not wearing ADR gear but thankfully some other friends were.
Even David Thomas, the amazing photographer who shot (almost) all of these had the chance to hit the range. Side note: the patch on his hat is one of my absolute favorites… it could always be worse.
When we weren’t shooting we were hanging out and what’s better than hanging out with a group of friends you don’t see every day?
The rifle was an absolute blast and the glass attached to it was in a class of its own. I feel pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to shoot it with support from 1st Group.
The handguns were fun too and they were what we ultimately were tested on. That’s right, we had a contest. The contest was ten shots at a target that was 25 yards out. For someone who doesn’t do a ton of shooting that was pretty tricky. I did have some luck though and ended up with only one stray shot and the majority in the 8 – 10 ring.
However, I wasn’t good enough to take home the prize… that all went to Harvey The Wolf.
After the contest we had enough time left for 1st Group to give us some active shooting experience. We donned plate carriers and had to run the length of the range (horizontally) then get into the first station. It was there where we put two bullets into the left target then two into the right.
From there we ran to the second stage where we took a knee and put two in the left and two in the right. From there we were tasked with using a long rifle to hit a tin sign 200 yards down range. It was a really, really fun experience and it was really nice for 1st Group to put this together for us.
When all was done it was time to clean up and get out of there. We thanked everyone profusely for the opportunity to take part in this event. We were incredibly lucky to have the chance to show up and take part in such an amazing experience.
What an incredible experience. If something like this comes along again I’m signing up in a heart beat. The donation to attend this went to an incredible cause and I’m so proud to have played even the small role that I did in it.
I’d like to again thank Ed, Fergus, and everyone else to helped put on this phenomenal event. They have everything to be proud of and having the opportunity to take part in it was nothing short of an honor.