Competitive Shooting Cola Warrior West: Play Stupid Games, Win Fantastic Prizes Mike Searson March 16, 2019 Join the Conversation Chances are if you routinely frequent firearms or tactical related forums or social media groups, you may have heard of Cola Warrior. Bring your rifle, handgun, and favorite non-alcoholic carbonated beverage. Getting an exact definition of what Cola Warrior is differs depending upon whom you ask, however. Last year, I received a complete insider’s view to this unique event at Cola Warrior West IV held outside Reno, Nevada over the course of the last week in March and first week in April 2018 from setup to shut-down and I walked away with the knowledge that this event is much more than it seems. What is Cola Warrior? Cola Warrior was started by a few active duty Marines who tested each other by seeing how many push-ups they could do after downing a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola. It evolved into more rigorous exercises and food challenges until it became an actual competition outside the Corps. It can probably best be described as a combination Tough Mudder and 2-gun match during which participants must negotiate obstacles, shoot firearms, eat a box of marshmallow peeps and chug a six-pack of soda. Each Cola Warrior event is similar, yet unique. Cola Warrior West IV began with an obstacle course with 5 obstacles of varying difficulty that tested the participants’ strength, speed, and stamina. At this event, the first obstacle was the sled. This was half of a 55-gallon drum about 50 feet from the rear axle of a dump truck. Participants had to sit in the drum and pull themselves to the dump truck by using their upper body strength and a towing strap. The magnificent sled starts the obstacle course all you need to do is pull yourself toward the dump truck After pulling yourself to the end of the truck you must crawl underneath it from the rear to the front while carrying two weights and without activating a trip wire beneath the chassis. Drag these weights beneath the dump truck. Next up was picking up what best can be described as an 8-foot long weighted barbell. Cradling it in their elbows the Cola Warriors had to run through tires placed on the ground like an old school military/police obstacle course. Grab those weights and run through the tires . Grab those weights and run through the tires. Upon completion, the race was to the next hill where an oversized tractor tire had to be rolled or otherwise moved up and down four hillsides. Roll the big tire up and down the hills. With the tire out of the way, contestants had to climb a 10’-12’ high pole and touch the top of the platform. Climb that pole and touch the top. Dropping off the pole, the Cola Warrior had to sit in a chair and eat a package of marshmallow peeps while field stripping and then reassembling an AK-47 rifle. Eat those peeps while you assemble that AK. Make sure that AK ends up where it belongs at the end. When the rifle is back together and dry fired to prove functionality, the race continues. The next step is to run a little over a half a mile to the shooting range. Some folks fast walk it, but the run time is a part of the overall score; so, nobody really wants to stop and smell the roses, or in the case of Cola Warrior West, the sagebrush. Shooting The firearms, safety gear, ammunition, and beverage of choice await each shooter at the range. Upon arrival, eye and ear protection are donned so each shooter can then load and make ready their handguns. This is where it can get difficult. For Cola Warrior West, handgun shooting was performed while the shooter straddled a 55-gallon drum suspended by chains. It's like shooting while on a mechanical bull, depending on the wind. Targets were provided by the event’s host, Mitch Gerlinger of MOA targets, and their construction and design revealed Gerlinger’s evil genius. Everyone loves shooting the alien. The Texas Spinner is a trickier target than it appears. The steel targets were placed anywhere from 25-500 yards. The first one was a spinning Texas Tree that was much harder than it initially appeared. It was followed by various alien-shaped silhouettes, a standard IPSC style target and a small spinner with a hostage taker for the pistol portion. The Glock family of handguns seemed to rule the pistol range, from stock variants to custom guns. You get two handgun magazines to attempt this portion. Once the pistol part is complete, Cola Warriors switch over to their rifle of choice with several challenging steel targets to test their skills. Again, two magazines are the only limit and like the handgun course of fire, capacity is whatever the shooter desires. Although the most common rifle of choice at Cola Warrior is an AR-15, a Ruger Precision Rifle with a Thunder Beast Arms Ultra-9 suppressor made an appearance and the shooter cleaned up on the rifle portion. Almost everyone goes prone for long range shooting. After the last rifle round is fired, we arrive at how Cola Warrior earned its name. Contestants must perform the “Chug” as in downing 72 oz of soda or their favorite non-alcoholic carbonated beverage. Get ready to chug! I think I saw more choices and debate about the soda than I did concerning rifles, handguns or ammunition. Mountain Dew seemed to be the clear winner in this regard as Cola Warriors said, above all else, the soda must taste as good coming back up as it does going down. Scoring The overall score is based on time. The obstacle course is timed, the half-mile run is timed as are the shooting events and of course the Chug. In the end, it's all about the Chug! A contestant's time is offset by numerous penalties and Cola Warrior doles these out in 5-minute increments. There is a penalty for each obstacle not completed, each peep not eaten, each target not hit and each 12 oz. can of soda not finished. There is a 30-minute penalty if you try but fail at drinking a 2-liter bottle instead of the canned variety. Afterward, the firearms are put away and food and beverages are served at the Bad Idea Bar. When it gets cold, there is always the firepit. This is where the real magic of Cola Warrior takes place as the contestants mingle, compare notes, eat, drink, and make merry. The mess tent turns out some mighty fine tacos and non-carbonated beverages. Why? On the surface, Cola Warrior may seem like frat-boy (and girl) antics. Navigating an obstacle course, shooting at steel targets under extreme conditions, not to mention the eating of peeps and chugging of soda; how in the heck is that “tactical” or even training related? I feel any time you get a chance to put yourself or your gear to the test, that you are training. People practice rigorously for these events, but with the layout kept secret until the last minute, most of it is a surprise. In a rare event for Northern Nevada, the rains came in and it got muddy. Contestants need to think on the fly, adjust and of course there is the stress of the sugar rush from the Peeps, the chugging of the soda and the hecklers in the peanut gallery. Adding to the frustrations of the Cola Warriors was an uncharacteristic (of the area) rainstorm that turned the playing field into mud-like quicksand. Some Cola Warriors run the course after dark using night vision. To me, this is the true essence of tactical training and I experienced it first-hand (minus the soda and peeps) as a Marine Rifleman back in the day as a run-up to MEU (SOC) training. You may have a mission and only an hour or two to rehearse it beforehand. You have not trained specifically for the mission previously so your overall physical fitness, body mechanics and skill with your weapons and gear need to adapt quickly. The guys and gals at Cola Warrior events come from a multitude of backgrounds and in all shapes and sizes. The one thing they all have in common is that they will not be in a hurry to order a soda the next time they go to lunch. Some shooters run exotic firearms like this full-auto PPSH. Rewards Like any contest, there are prizes donated by sponsors such as Geiselle triggers for AR-15s, ALG triggers for AK-47s, shirts, swag, handguard sets for rifles and other assorted goodies worth much more than the cost of competing. What impressed me the most was seeing the camaraderie and friendships based on this event; especially hearing the stories of folks who traveled across the country to partake in Cola Warrior West. Some are in it for the challenge, others the fun, but all seem to be united in friendship. According to everyone I asked, not a single contestant has ever “rage quitted” a Cola Warrior event. Even the folks who come in dead last are happy to have competed. The money raised goes to charity and when the event has concluded, every piece of trash is policed and disposed of, leaving the area as clean as it was found. It may not be for everyone, but if you really want to put your gear, your guns, your skills and your body to an extreme test with a great bunch of guys and gals; check to see if there is a Cola Warrior event that you can attend. The pile of empties grows throughout the weekend and on the last day just disappears. Cola Warrior West V will be held in White Hills, Arizona from April 6 through April 8, 2019. The complete list of sponsors is as follows: Abe & Moe ADM Aim Surplus ADW Knives ALG Arisaka Arson Machine ATF Convenience Store B5 Systems Black Sheep Ink Blue Grass Targets BoBro Cherry Balmz Cutting Edge Creations Damn Yankee Kydex Dillon Precision Esstac Forward Controls Design Geissele Jolly Green Juan Knights Arm Co Lee Armory Macon Armory MOA Targets Night Vision Inc Owl & Anchor Robar SBF Kydex Weapon Genetics For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/Colawarrior/ Explore RECOILweb:"Tank Girl" from Weapon OutfittersNext Generation: The University of Arizona Scholastic Action Shooting TeamSo Others May Live - US Navy (video)EA’s Medal of Honor and LBT Offering Unit Patches NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. 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