Gun Run With Your #1
By Tim Clark
Most of you are familiar with The Gun Run format: it’s simply a biathlon using two firearms (centerfire rifle/ PCC and centerfire pistol). As far as competitive shooting, it’s a great mix of real-world fitness and shooting expectations which I know is the intent of the founder. I started off wanting to do them because my profession requires both endurance-based fitness and graduate-level marksmanship under stress. The first couple of events I did were with teammates and we had a lot of fun. But for the first team event, I chose the closest partner of all: my wife.
She’s rather small at about 5’2” and I am not, at 6’2”. We were both confident in her ability to shoot well, even with an elevated heart rate. The tricky parts were physical obstacles: our weight differential, getting over walls, exercises she hadn’t focused on, etc. We decided to run this event with fun guns, but I wanted to give her every advantage we could. We both carried red dot equipped SBRs to cut weight for her (a Sig 553 for me and a 11.5” AR for her). She used a Roland Special, in the hopes the red dot would help her out towards the end of the race. We each had battle belts with 2x pistol mags (plus 1 in the gun), 2x rifle mags, and a dump pouch. I sported an old First Spear chest rig loaded with rifle mags and a Spiritus Systems fanny sack with extra pistol mags.
Overall, we had fun. We were together doing a hobby that I love and I was proud of my wife for getting out of her comfort zone. We did learn a few key lessons the hard way:
- Play to your individual strengths as a team. My wife is a great rifle shot and much shakier on the pistol. We knew this going into the race, but had to make some adjustments after the first stage. On that first stage, each partner only shot rifle or pistol. For whatever reason I can’t remember, I shot rifle and my wife was forced to execute something she wasn’t as practiced at. We learned after that, so if there was an opportunity for her to shoot rifle and me to shoot pistol on the other stages, we did that with much better results.
- Common equipment matters. Since we elected to have my wife focus on rifle and me on pistol, we ended up having to cross load ammo. We were using non-standard firearms (Sig 553 and STI Marauder for me and an 11.5” AR and Glock 19 for her), so we couldn’t simply swap mags. Instead, I would take ammo out of my Sig rifle mags and jam her AR mags on the move. We couldn’t run and do this, so we lost time in between stages.
- Get creative to make up for strength abilities. My wife was a trooper dragging me in the skedco, especially since I outweigh her by close to 100lbs. Unfortunately, not much I could do for her there except verbal encouragement. However, we knew ahead of time we’d be asked to carry a litter as a pair. Luckily, I packed with me a few lengths of tubular nylon for just such an occasion and I encourage everyone to do the same. I pre-tied the tubular nylon into a loop using a simple water knot and adjusted the length to my wife. All she had to do was drape the loop over the back of her neck and slide the litter handles into the loops on each hip. This ensured she wasn’t reliant on her grip strength while we carried the litter the prescribed distance. Most SOF teams will have this as part of an SOP to drag casualties, climb, or even rappel in emergencies. It’s lightweight and takes up little space when S-rolled.
- Magnification matters. I’m not as young as I used to be, so my eyesight has fallen off from 20/10 to the point where I need glasses now. We paid for it on both long-range stages. The velocity of our rifles didn’t affect it, 11.5” is more than enough to get hits at 300 yds (especially steel targets), but it was tough for both of us to even see the targets. She was still able to knock her targets down, but I was having a tough go with the 8.3” 553…. Which I only confirmed hits on at 100yds. More magnification won’t make you a better shot, but it will help you identify your targets as well as call adjustments for your partner. When in doubt, a low-powered variable optic (LPVO) is fantastic.
We had a lot of fun. I think we ended up 2nd or 3rd from the bottom on the leader board, but that didn’t matter to us. I got to go for a 5km run and shoot some guns during some challenging courses of fire while on the clock. Sure, she was tired and soaked from the obligatory creek crossing, but I had a partner who was willing to put herself out of her comfort zone and never gave up. She drug me in a skedco without any help, got up a high wall, and shot her rifle extremely well (better than me on the long range stage).
Couples who train together survive together!