FORT BRAGG, N.C. — An enemy won’t wait for a Soldier to be rested and ready before attacking. Therefore, Soldiers must prepare themselves physically and mentally to be able to fight even in the most undesirable conditions.
Troopers with 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, participated in a “Stress Shoot” on July 15, to test their ability to accurately engage targets on a firing range despite extreme stress and exhaustion.
Teams of five Soldiers from each Troop in the squadron competed in the event. The teams stepped off at 7 a.m. for a timed, seven-mile tactical foot march. The Paratroopers wore all of their gear, a 35-pound ruck sack and a rifle.
Immediately upon arrival to the range, they were given eight minutes to prepare their bags to be dropped for an airborne operation. Each deficiency in their rigging added 20 seconds to their foot march time.
There was no resting for the men, even as they waited to begin the next event. They performed exercises such as push-ups, jumping jacks and jogging while still wearing all of the equipment they arrived in.
They then loaded a “casualty” weighing 340 pounds wearing all of his equipment onto a litter and carried him to the next station.
“You never know who’s going to become a casualty,” said 1st Sgt. Andrew Dennison, Headquarters Troop, 1/73 Cav. Regt. “It could be the 100 pound guy or it could be the 250 pound guy with full kit.”
Finally, each Soldier competed at the range. They were required to hit 40 targets, 10 from each of four positions: lying, sitting, kneeling and standing.
Dennison said he tried to replicate combat when planning the event, making sure the men were tired and wore out before completing the marksmanship event.
Team leader Sgt. Michael McCaskey, A Troop, 1/73 Cav. Regt., said that the event was a test of how much heart a Soldier has and how determined he is to complete the mission.
“It definitely pushes your Soldiers to the max,” McCaskey said.
McCaskey’s team finished the foot march in one hour and 50 minutes, he said.
The individual with the shortest march time who hit the most targets will win an Army Achievement Medal and a coveted parking space that he can claim until the next Stress Shoot. The winning team receives coins of excellence and four-day passes to be used at any time.
“This is a mission that every Soldier, regardless of MOS, should be able to do,” Dennison said.