The Tactical Games will not only challenge you physically but mentally as well.
(Photo by iStock Photo)

No Shit, There I Was: Training For My First Tactical Games

The sounds of gunfire reverberate through the air; you are exhausted after sprinting eighty yards and then dragging a 50-pound weight over to a shooting position. Your armor plate carrier feels heavy and weighs you down as you pick up your rifle and prepare to shoot a salvo of well-placed rounds down range at a barely visible target. You try hard to regulate your breath as you squeeze off your rounds. Yep, this is definitely not a Tough Mudder

A Tough Mudder sees the competitor navigate such obstacles as an Artic Enema that drops them into a massive ice bath and then runs them through Electroshock Therapy built around a vast array of electrified strands. Nope, the Tactical Games is not the Tough Mudder; they are in entirely different categories. 

Getting your shooting skills up to speed is an essential part of preparation for The Tactical games.
(Photo by Jason Piccolo)

Training For My First Tactical Games

According to the Tactical Games’ official website, “The Tactical Games were created to provide a platform to test the skills and readiness of tactical athletes from all backgrounds. Whether you are military, LEO, competition shooter, or a civilian gun enthusiast, you can compete in The Tactical Games. The Tactical games provide a venue for all shooters and athletes to compete against the best in the world to find weaknesses and test gear in the most stressful environment a competition can offer.”

Tactical Background, Don’t Worry About It

Do you have to be a former or current special operator to compete? Is there a need to be in law enforcement to compete? Do you have to be able to shoot a fly off a branch at 1000 meters with a highly tuned sniper rifle to compete? One word to answer all those questions: no. You do not have to have a tactical background to compete. 

The Tactical Games breaks down its nine divisions from Teams to Tactical to Intermediate to Elite, and beyond. There is a division for all types of competitors, and yes, even for those with a tactical background. For example, if you are in decent shape and run around a 12-minute mile, then the Intermediate Division might be correct for you. Want to compete as a team? The Team Division is set up for intermediate-level athletes, men or women, and is gender neutral.  

Let’s Talk To A Pro

I spoke to Jacob Heppner, winner of the 2022 Tactical Games. Jacob is a former CrossFit competitor that jumped into the Tactical Games arena and quickly rose to become the top competitor in the games. He participated in CrossFit for ten years before becoming a Tactical Games competitor and trainer. 

He didn’t have a background shooting competitively, either. Jacob said, “Luckily, I had people pull me to the side and teach me basic things. To this day, I keep it basic. I’ve been shooting for a year and a half to two years. You’re not going to see me do complicated things. It’s not going to do me any good. Sure, it looks cool, but we must go back to elemental basics before progressing.”

Jacob discussed preparing for the Tactical Games without having a tactical background. Jacob said, “It’s going to be different from person to person. It’s 50/50 firearms and fitness. From my perspective, I came in with an A++ in fitness, and I would say a D- in shooting. We may have someone come in from three-gun who may be slightly overweight and have an A+ in shooting and a D in fitness. That’s the beauty of the sport [everyone can do it].”  

Amateurs Are Welcome To Compete

Amateur competitor? You are welcome to compete. I asked Nate Thayer, President of the Tactical Games, about amateurs competing in the games. Nate relayed, “We welcome competitors of all skill levels. If you can use firearms safely, this sport is for you.”

Shannon Cofield has been volunteering with the Tactical Games since 2022. Shannon said, “The Tactical Games (TTG) community is quite welcoming and eager to help new folks- whether it be questions about gear, training, ammo, events, etc. Even a simple message on social media will get a response. For those who want a fast track, TTG offers a weekend “Training Camp” led by the top competitors and shooters in the sport. We also have a training app programmed by many of the same competitors. The best way to learn is to come volunteer with us! You’ll see how events and learn from watching all levels of competitors. As a bonus, you’ll earn a free entry to a future TTG event.”

Traing and competing with the gear you already own is the best way to compete in your first tactical games.
(Photo by Jason Piccolo)

The Gear You Need To Succeed

The number one question Jacob Heppner gets is what equipment you need. “The biggest thing I tell people is to use what you got. Don’t buy something ridiculously expensive and over the top.”Jacob recommends the basics: a sling, a weight vest, a belt, holster with level 2 retention (to keep your pistol in place when moving around). The big thing is to learn the things you already have. Then you can purchase or upgrade later on. 

So what are Jacob’s Tactical Games firearms: Jacob uses a 2011 9mm Atlas Titan pistol and a Ballistic Advantage with a Vortex optic. 

Train! Shoot And Move

It would be best if you didn’t show up to the Tactical Games out of shape and with no idea how to use a firearm; this is not the sport to do that. You need to train in fitness and firearms at a minimum. 

Jacob said to talk to a coach; it doesn’t have to be a CrossFit gym, but one that has functional fitness. Talk with the coach and develop a plan based on the Tactical Games events. Jacob also recommends the Tactical Games training plans they offer online or through their app. 

Jacob gives some great advice about where to spend your money. “If you are going to spend money on this sport, don’t spend money on gear; spend money on experience,” Jacob said. According to Jacob, getting training is the best way to spend your money. 

While having the best gear and equipment available for the Tactical games isn't necessary, it can't hurt either.
(Photo by Jason Piccolo)

The Tactical Games University 

The Tactical Games puts on a two-day training course. The course is run at the Tactical Games University (TGU). According to the TGU, “Every TGU emphasizes marksmanship and efficient weapon system manipulation. Utilizing these skills as our base, we further develop athletes by teaching them how to move into and out of shooting positions quickly and smoothly. These are the baseline abilities of any TTG competitor and are the foundation of our program. Applying these skills under duress while navigating obstacles and using various barricades prepares our athletes for whatever may come, whether it be at a match or on the job.”

Ok, I’m Sold. Where Do I Compete?

Are you ready to push yourself to the limits of your tactical skills and athletic capabilities? You can compete in the Tactical Games year-round and throughout the Nation, from Texas to Kansas to Utah. 

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