Experience the Intense Challenge: A Weekend at The Tactical Games
Embarking on a weekend at The Tactical Games is a thrilling journey into the heart of competitive shooting, physical endurance, and a community like no other. You’re probably at the point where you’ve consumed as much media as you can find to be as prepared as possible for participating in your first event – but other than the hype footage and snippets of on-the-range fun & travel shenanigans, nothing has actually given you the full picture on what a weekend at The Tactical Games looks like. This article aims to cover just that.
Before Your Weekend at The Tactical Games Begins
In the month and weeks leading up to the event you’re registered for, keep an eye out for critical email communications from The Tactical Games. Expect to receive the event schedule, crucial addresses, and stage descriptions, which will all become more relevant after receiving your squad or heat number during the Saturday morning brief.
Friday – Registration and Gear Check
Depending on the event location and host range, you’ll typically have a check-in window from around Noon to 7:00pm. To make this process a breeze, bring your firearms cased with chamber flags inserted, and plate carrier stripped completely of any removable attachments (pull off your mag pouches, ifaks, etc). You’ll hand your gear over to an event official for a quick inspection, finish any registration requirements & receive any final instructions specific to this event. If you purchased their media package, you’ll get a colorful band to put on your plate carrier so the photographers know that you’re kind of important.
Check Your Zero
After you’re done with check-in, head to the range (if not already there) and hit the dedicated zero bay. This is easily one of the most critical steps that a lot of competitors skip. Speaking from experience, your zero is not something you want to have in question going into the event. They’ll typically have targets at 50 yards, make sure you know what your rifle is supposed to do at that distance and double-check your pistol while you’re at it. This is also a good opportunity to make sure your gear has fresh batteries if that’s something you neglect like I do.
Once you’re comfortable with your zero, you can usually check out the facility – but there’s not too much to be gained by hanging around and inspecting the stages. What The Tactical Games is exceptionally great at is testing your limits with no room to game your way through a stage. You’re either prepared to do the work, or you’re not. So get a lay for the land, check out some of the implements if you want, but there’s really no need to “walk the stages” like you’d do at a USPSA or 3-Gun match – take the opportunity to socialize with other competitors or head to your hotel and start on final prep/rest for the event.
Saturday Morning – The Action Begins
You’ll have a very early and very short window for final check-in if your Friday itinerary didn’t go as planned. Once that window closes, they’ll hold a mandatory athlete meeting & safety brief. You should already be familiar with the safety protocols (you reviewed them in-depth when you signed up, right?), but they’ll review and go over additional items that may be specific to that location and the medical staff on hand. The last bit of administration is to split everyone up and assign squads/heats based on your division.
Squad assignment consists of you walking over to your division area and lining up in groups of 5. You’ll be assigned your squad or heat number followed by lane. For instance, if you are grouped into squad 3 and are second in line, your athlete number will be 32 or 3-2. Squad 11 Lane 3 would read as 113 or 11-3.
Remember that e-mail you got with the schedule? You’ll see your squad number in the matrix and what time you start at each stage. Make sure you are there for the stage brief and ready to go at least 15 minutes before your start time. Sometimes they run behind, but in any case, it’s best to be there & ready to go.
Following the squad assignments, you’ll immediately go into your first stage brief and hammer down with the first squad (usually 7:00am). If you are the last squad for that stage, you’ll be judging the first squad out of the gate – so don’t wander off. The rest of the protocol is for each squad to turn around and immediately judge for the following heat. After you’ve finished your first stage and are no longer on the hook to judge, it’s lather-rinse-repeat for the rest of the day.
Oh, and, congrats – you’ve got those first-stage nerves out of the way but are probably heavily contemplating just what you got yourself into. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to wipe that smile off your face for quite some time.
There’s going to be a variation in downtime between your stages, as the matrix will bury a squad or two each stage. You may be idle for 30 minutes to 2+ hours, or having to jump into a floater stage right away. It’s important to pay attention to any communication coming from the Range Officers or volunteer staff so you’re not caught off guard.
When you do have some downtime, there are typically plenty of vendors on site – from food trucks, apparel, supplements, firearms & other cool gear like Volcon e-bikes. The Tactical Games will also have a full lineup of gear for you to peruse and purchase.
Sunday – The Final Stretch
Sunday is going to be a familiar repeat of the schedule. They’ll usually time a large group photo immediately after the morning brief before you get sent on your way, so make sure you’ve got your Where’s Waldo outfit on.
Post-competition, there’s a short arbitration period followed by the awards ceremony, often extending into the evening. Plan your departure accordingly, ideally for Monday.
Weather will play a big role in how smoothly the schedule runs. It’ll also play a huge role in how much fun versus misery you get to experience. Make sure you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature is going to throw at you for the weekend. It’s common for competitors to treat it as a “dry” tailgating event if you will. They’ll have pop-up tents, coolers, small grills, and all sorts of warm-up and recovery equipment. If you’ve got the room for it, don’t feel like you’re over-packing for the weekend.
A weekend at The Tactical Games offers a unique blend of intense competition, camaraderie, and personal challenge. It’s an experience that leaves lasting memories and smiles, despite the rigorous demands of the competition. Remember to stay prepared, engaged, and open to the incredible experience that awaits you at The Tactical Games.
Oh, and, get the photo package. There’s no proof you did anything cool over the weekend if you don’t.