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What are The Tactical Games?

What are The Tactical Games?

The Tactical Games is a thrilling and physically demanding competition that combines marksmanship with physical challenges. It offers participants a unique, challenging experience that tests their shooting skills, physical fitness, and mental resilience. This article provides an in-depth overview, including its origins, format, and key components.

Origins of The Tactical Games

Tim Burke and Zack Rodman at The Tactical Games 2021 National Championship
Tim Burke and Zack Rodman at The Tactical Games 2021 National Championship

The Tactical Games was founded by Tim Burke in 2018. Derived from a highly secretive event hosted and run by NATO Tier 1 units, The Tactical Games was initially designed to test tactical athletes throughout the continuum of combat-related tasks, while under time constraints, and physical duress. Tim sought to create a competition that would mimic real-world scenarios faced by military and law enforcement personnel while also emphasizing the importance of physical fitness.

Since its inception, The Tactical Games has gained popularity and recognition within the shooting sports community. Tim’s vision was later handed off to business-minded competition shooter Jared Halbert, who then fine-tuned every facet of the competition to be able to sustain continued growth and equitable scoring mechanics. In 2023, The Tactical Games has again changed ownership to Nick Thayer, Jared’s previously designated VP who has taken the business and competition strategy to new heights.

Competition Format


The Tactical Games is typically conducted over two days, with up to 200 participants competing in six to eight stages or events. Each stage presents a unique challenge that either combines shooting skills and physical prowess or tests certain modalities independently. These challenges are designed to simulate stress factors from real-world scenarios, such as tactical movements and decision-making under pressure.

Key Components of The Tactical Games

The Tactical Games challenge competitors in various aspects including marksmanship, physical obstacles, loadout management, fitness, endurance, and time pressure:

  1. Marksmanship: Competitors will use their rifles and pistols to engage targets accurately while on the clock. A majority of these targets will be precise shots on paper at short to medium distances. Depending on the location and capabilities of the host range, expect to have a stage or two with rifle steel engagements out to 400 yards. 
  2. Physical Obstacles: Competitors must navigate through physically demanding obstacles such as walls, sandbags, and barricades. These obstacles try to mimic the stimulus faced in tactical situations.
  3. Loadout Management: Each stage will have a prescribed magazine and round count. It is up to the competitor to carry and properly utilize the prescribed magazines during a stage or course of fire.
  4. Fitness and Endurance: The Tactical Games places a strong emphasis on physical fitness and metabolic conditioning. Competitors need strength, endurance, and agility to complete the course efficiently or under a time cap.
  5. Time Pressure: Time is a critical factor in The Tactical Games. Competitors must balance accuracy and speed to perform well in each stage.
  6. Individual and Team Categories: Participants can compete as individuals or in teams, allowing for a diverse range of competition options.
  7. Scoring: Scoring is based on a combination of shooting accuracy, completion time, and penalties. Participants must strive for both precision and speed to excel.

Divisions and Categories

The Tactical Games offers various divisions and categories to accommodate a wide range of participants. These divisions include:

  • Intermediate (Men/Women) Division: Geared towards individuals new to the sport and trying to determine a baseline of physical capabilities. There are substitutes for most movements if you encounter anything too difficult.
  • Elite (Men/Women) Division: Designed for professional competitors and athletes looking for the most challenging competition. There are no substitutes for movements in the Elite Division – You will be tested.
  • Masters (Men/Women) Divisions: Open to “seasoned” competitors, offering both 40+ and 50+ divisions, who still want to test their skills and endurance but have a little more wear and tear on their joints and bodies. Rest assured, these fields are still very competitive.
  • Tactical/Occupational: This division was created with an emphasis on testing those in an occupational role. Military, LEO or First Responders of any discipline. The challenges are more difficult than the Intermediate Division, but will not push an athlete into anything unreasonable as you would see in the Elite division. 

Equipment and Gear

The Tactical Games Gear

Competitors must come prepared with specific equipment and gear, which may include:

  • Rifle & Pistol that follow current ruleset
  • Ammunition (Regional Events are usually 250 rounds per)
  • Sling for Rifle & Holster for Pistol
  • Plate Carrier with 15lbs dry weight for men, 12lbs dry weight for Women
  • Clothing & footwear suitable for vigorous movement in varying weather conditions
  • Eye and ear protection.

We sat down with Austin Aylward for a complete run-down of his 2023 Season gear in this interview, it’s a great reference for the minimalistic approach you’ll find common across the Elite field.

Their ruleset is typically updated at the beginning of each calendar year. While this guide covers most of it, it’s a good idea to review the current revision to ensure you don’t run into any surprises when you go to compete. 


The Tactical Games is a demanding and exhilarating competition that attracts participants from various backgrounds, including military, law enforcement, and civilian enthusiasts. It challenges both shooting skills and physical fitness while promoting a spirit of camaraderie among competitors. If you’re looking for a unique and challenging experience that combines marksmanship and athleticism, The Tactical Games might be the perfect event for you. Be sure to check their official website for upcoming events and registration details.