4 competitions where service members go head to head

The drive to compete underpins America‘s fighting force, and explains why they‘re the best in the world at what they do

4 competitions where service members go head to head

U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Abigayle Marks/DVIDSHUB

By David Brown

The U.S. military tends to attract the kind of type-A personalities who just need to know they're the best at [insert obstacle].

It doesn‘t even matter what the competition is. If there‘s a trash can in the corner of an office and one guy crumples a piece of paper and shoots for two, by lunch you‘ll have a whole rifle platoon battling it out to be named the Michael Jordan of the recycling bin. That drive to be the best underpins America‘s fighting forces, and explains why they‘re the best in the world at what they do. Here are a few competitions where service members go head-to-head to be named the best.

Best Ranger Competition

Best Ranger is one of the most well-known and well-respected military competitions out there, and like the cover of the Ranger Handbook promises, it‘s “not for the weak or fainthearted.” In this annual contest, two-man Ranger teams run, ruck, swim, and shoot rifles and azimuths in the lakes, fields, and forests of Fort Benning. Their goal: to determine the year‘s ultimate warriors. You don‘t have to be in the Army to compete in the Best Ranger Competition, but you do have to be airborne-qualified and wear a Ranger tab. (If you‘re not currently in an airborne unit, Fort Benning can get you on permissive jump status.) The event live streams online and has previously been broadcast on the Military Channel.

The International Sniper Competition

The U.S. Army International Sniper Competition is held annually at Ft. Benning for two-man sniper teams from the four branches of the armed forces (active duty, reserve, and National Guard) as well as from civilian SWAT teams and foreign militaries. Shooters and spotters compete during daytime and nighttime operations and engage in land navigation, milling, and counter-sniper missions. The most famous part of the contest is “the stalk,” in which teams put on their ghillie suits and get as close to a target as possible and put a round in it, all while being watched by observers on the lookout for movement or discoloration on the landscape.

Navy Diver Challenge

As explained on its website, the Navy Diver Challenge came about when a former EOD diver and an associate wanted to know the current record for pushups and pull ups in the military.

“Although there are several different types of records out there most were as verifiable as Elvis‘s karate black belt in the 1970‘s. My friend Flea, my old dive school roommate and the fastest guy I ever knew, said he saw a SEAL in Iraq do 100 pull ups for $100. I couldn‘t believe it! No way. About 2 months later we held our first contest.”

The competition brings together service members from around the world to compete in “the toughest 10 minutes on Coronado,” where records are set for the aforementioned pushups and pull ups, as well as lunges and 8-count body builders.

Warrior Games

The Warrior Games are an annual Paralympic competition in which wounded, ill, and injured veterans compete as five teams representing the four branches and special operations. Among the events are wheelchair basketball, track and field, marksmanship, cycling and archery. The contest was established in 2010. Notably, after Prince Harry attended the games in 2013, he was inspired to found the Invictus Games in London for wounded warriors around the world.