The Engineer Regiment is searching for Soldiers and Marines wishing to prove themselves worthy of the title “Best Sapper 2017,” for the upcoming 11th annual Best Sapper Competition being held April 23 to 28 at Fort Leonard Wood.
Eleven months in the making, this year’s event has the same theme of “50 teams, 50 miles, 50 hours,” but organizers say this competition in particular will test the competitor’s technical expertise, mental agility and physical toughness like never before.
“We have gone back to the drawing board for this year’s Best Sapper Competition, challenging competitors in new ways both physically and mentally,” said Capt. Robert Zimmerman, Sapper Leader Course chief of training. “If you think you know what’s coming, think again.”
According to Zimmerman, the competition’s 35 events will span a variety of mobility, counter mobility and survivability tasks in lanes that are both technically challenging and physically demanding.
In addition to finding the best in the regiment, the competition also serves as an interview for future Sapper Leader Course instructors.
“The Best Sapper Competition is one of the best mediums we have found to identify potential future Sapper instructors. At any given time, between a third and one half of our current Sapper instructors have competed in previous competitions,” Zimmerman said.
Current Sapper Leader Course instructor and competitor in the 2012 Best Sapper Competition, Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Olson said in addition to choosing the right partner, the competing team’s training methods are key to success.
“Your train up should be for at a minimum of two months with no other distractions, and when you study or practice events you need to do them when you are tired and beat down,” Olson said. “Ruck at least three times a week at different distances with at least 60 pounds on your back.”
“You need to be a strong Sapper and a smart Sapper,” Olson added. “This year’s competition is not a sprint; it’s a marathon, and it will slowly break you down over the course of 50 hours.”
Zimmerman said spectators are welcome to observe the majority of the competition, with certain events, such as demolitions and land navigation, being off-limits due to the nature of the event or location.
Those wishing to watch the competition may pick up a map of the approved spectator locations after the start of the competition.
“Everything taught at the Sapper Leader Course is fair game,” Olson said. “Remember, this is a competition to see who the best Sapper is. We will not accept anything else but perfection.”
Each two-person team must be the rank of E-4 or above, one of which must be a graduate of the Sapper Leader Course. Registration is scheduled to run through Feb. 28 or until all slots are filled. As of Feb. 16, 42 teams have registered.
For more information or to register, visit www.wood.army.mil/sapper/BSC.