I have become addicted to shooting competitions. 3 Gun, USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge – they’re all a blast. But none of them can compare to a Run and Gun competition. Hump your rifle, pistol, ammo, and gear across 4-5ish miles and shoot stages along the way. Some are rifle only, some pistol only, and some are a bit of both. Be prepared to engage targets at point blank, out to 500 yards, and at unknown distances everywhere between. These events put your shooting skills, physical endurance, and gear to the test.
The WTF Biathlon was hosted last year, but I’m only just getting around to finishing the writeup. It was a 5.3 mile run through the beautiful Texas Hill Country, with seven shooting stages along the way, with the maximum distance out to 480 yards. They also had a Sunday Sprint that was a shorter 3.5 miles, but I did not compete in that one. The course also had a number of obstacles along the way that needed to be navigated, anywhere from fording a small river, clambering down a rope, crawling through a tunnel, or scaling an eight foot angled wall.
To conclude the article at the beginning, it was an excellent event and I can’t wait to compete in it again this year.
If that’s all you need to hear, then hurry up and sign up for the WTF Biathlon as spots are filling fast. If you want to hear more, then awesome, I’ll tell you all about the event.
I definitely don’t think I performed my best at that event – especially with pistol. While normally I’m a pretty good shot with the pistol, I was struggling to hit the targets left and right. I also had a number of fumbles with my rifle, like forgetting to chamber a round. Despite all that, I still did pretty good and ended up in 7th overall and 6th in shooting. I’m fairly confident I could have jumped up at least a rank or two if I had simply performed more in line with my pistol skills. Still kicking myself about that one, but hey, this is why we do these things. I identified a number of things to practice, and I’m feeling confident in my skills for this upcoming event.
Stage 1: Pistol only
The first target was a hostage style target. I had to hit the red swinger plate and not the torso plate – hitting the black torso plate would result in a time penalty. I did not hit the hostage. I did forget to reload while transitioning between spots which resulted in a slide lock reload, costing me time. I was also not pleased with my pistol performance on this stage. I was just shooting terribly.
This stage also had my biggest gripe about the event – the Range Safety Officer just said start, without warning. I hope this year all of the Range Safety Officers will use a standardized set of start commands. It’d also be nice if they used shooting timers instead of stopwatches. Minor gripe though.
Stage 2: Pistol only
The second stage was another pistol only stage. Again, I was not overly pleased with my performance, but I still did better. Stage 2 had three shooting stations, while the first required you to get low and shoot under a barricade. I accidentally slipped and slid to my rear when stopping at that stage, but just kept on shooting like I intended to do that. Extra style points right? The targets were small, and swung after getting hit. So the second shots had to be more precise, or delayed to wait out the swinging.
The distance between Stage 2 and Stage 3 had the majority of the natural obstacles that needed to be navigated. While the WTF Biathlon isn’t the only run and gun to require contestants to traverse obstacles, it was the first for me. It was quite fun to traverse these with all my gear.
There were 3 little mini cliffs that had to be navigated by rope or rope ladder. They were not very tall at all – a distance I would likely have just jumped off of if I didn’t have all of my shooting gear. But it was a neat change of pace nevertheless. This section also forced us to cross the small river twice. The first time had to be forded, but the second provided the opportunity to balance beam across a fallen tree – I simply waded through the water since I was already wet. Finally, right before Stage 3, was a small metal culvert that had to be crawled through.
Stage 3: Rifle and pistol, with a dummy
Stage 3 was definitely the most difficult stage – I heard more competitors timed out on this one than any of the others. There were a number of steel targets that had to be hit twice at a distance from about 75 yards to about 350 yards for the rifle, and about 20 yards with the pistol. The most challenging part of this stage was definitely how it elevated shooter’s heart rate and breathing. We had to shoot from four different shooting positions, dragging a 100+ pound dummy twice. That dummy really got the breathing going heavy. Since we’re under the clock, we have to force ourselves to slow down our shooting to slower than we would have otherwise. It’s very easy to rush our shots and result in a lot of misses. I’m very pleased that I hit the distance target with both of my two shots.
Stage 4: Rifle, long distance from the tower
Stage 4 was this run and gun’s distance stage. Usually these events have one stage that’s designated as the distance stage, forcing you to engage multiple targets, hundreds of yards apart, all the way out to around 500 yards. The organizers placed these targets at unknown distances, not at even hundred yard increments. The farthest target was at 480 yards, while the closest target was a little over 100 yards. Between those rifle targets was one at about 200, another at over 300, and one at around 400 yards. You really gotta know your rifle’s drop in order to engage targets from 100 yards to 500 yards, all on the same stage, under the clock. The 100 yard and 200 yard targets were actually just as challenging as the farther targets because the two closest targets were very small.
Between Stage 4 and Stage 5 was “The Wall.” It was an 8 foot wall that angled back towards you and had a 6+ inch flat top, meaning you did not have a lip to grab onto. It was definitely a challenge to navigate this sucker with around 30 pounds of gear – having also run/hiked several miles at this point didn’t make it easier. If I remember correctly, the total number of people that climbed the wall didn’t get into the teens. If you didn’t climb the wall, you faced a substantial time penalty.
Stage 5: Rifle, from a tree
Stage 5 was definitely my favorite stage as I loved climbing trees as a pre-teen and into my teenage years. This stage paid homage to Timothy Murphy – America’s first sniper. During the Revolutionary War, at the Battle of Saratoga, Timothy Murphy scaled a nearby tree, and shot the British General Fraser at a distance of about 300 yards. The death of General Fraser helped defeat the British.
This stage had me start with my rifle unloaded and slung. I had to climb the tree, get situated, load my rifle, and engage a set of targets at about 150 yards and another at about 300 yards. I’d say my younger years of tree climbing gave me an advantage on this stage.
Between Stage 5 and Stage 6 was a set of angled monkey bars that were over 12 ish feet long had to be climbed and traversed. Failure to navigate the monkey bars in the allotted time resulted in a time penalty to your run, like the climbing wall.
Stage 6: Rifle, from the vehicle
Stage 6 had three targets from about 100 yards to about 200 yards that needed to be engaged from five positions in, around, and under an old vehicle. Shooting under the vehicle meant the rifle needed to be at an angle, requiring shooters to adjust their aim in order to be able to hit the target. I blitzed through it and placed 3rd on this stage. The only thing I felt needed improvement was getting into improvised shooting positions faster.
Stage 7: Rifle, from the “roof”
Stage 7 gave us three nice and large rifle targets from about 100 yards to about 200 yards. The targets had to be engaged one at a time from three stages with five hits each. The first two spots were offhand shooting, and the third had us shooting from a very steep roof. It required a running start to climb, and I had to hook my arm over the edge to keep from sliding off. It was definitely an awkward position to shoot from and a fun challenge.
Big thanks to the RSOs
The WTF Biathlon was a huge success. Definitely one of my favorite run and guns so far. Huge thanks to all of the volunteer Range Safety Officers who helped out and everyone else who was involved in organizing this event. So glad it has turned into a regular event.
My gear has hardly changed over the years I’ve been doing these run and gun events. I still run with my trusty 5.11 Tactical chest carrier, a Volund Gear works belt, a Blade Tech pistol holster, one Blade Tech pistol and rifle mag carrier, and a camelback. While I keep most of my magazines on my chest carrier for better weight distribution, I keep one full rifle mag and one full pistol mag on my belt for faster reloads. My firearms are my custom frankenbuild AR-15 topped with a US Optics 1-8 and using a LaRue barrel and trigger. My pistol is a Springfield XDM 5.25 with an upgraded trigger and flared magwell. Both firearms function flawlessly through these events.
If you’re looking to participate in a run and gun, these events sometimes necessitate up to 6 rifle mags and 5 pistol mags, possibly more depending on what size magazines you carry and how confident you are in your shooting ability.
The above picture is technically from my first run and gun, I’ve been meaning to take a picture of my latest iteration but haven’t gotten around to it. Like I said, my run and gun gear setup is pretty much the same.
Questions about your first run and gun?
Feel free to hit me up on Facebook or on Twitter and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you end up going to a run and gun in the Central Texas area, let me know! I’ll probably be there and would love to meet up with you.
Sign up for the WTF Biathlon
If you’re looking to push your shooting skills to the limit, run and guns are an excellent way to do so. They are extremely fun and well worth trying, even if it’s more of a Hike and Gun.
Spots are running out very quickly at the 2017 WTF Biathlon. Sign up while you can!