This past weekend, FAMU’s Army ROTC program competed in phase two of the Ranger Challenge (RC) competition at Fort Benning, Georgia. Teams from 10 schools across the southeast region competed for two days to find out who would advance to Sandhurst, or the third phase in West Point, New York.
Ranger Challenge is a competition developed to test competitors’ physical and mental toughness and to develop leadership through teamwork. Teams participated in nine graded events, including land navigation, disassembling weapons and identifying grenade systems.
According to 6th Brigade Commander, Colonel Anthony P. Marante, RC helps cadets develop team-building skills, a skill non-ROTC students can utilize as well.
“What most people don’t realize, especially as a cadet in college, is understanding just how far you can push yourself,” said Marante. “You can push yourself so much more with a team behind you.”
Throughout the two-day competition, teams hiked 25 miles carrying a rucksack with at least 35 pounds. Competing in sub-40-degree temperatures with only four hours of rest left competitors no choice but to rely on each other.
6th Brigade encompasses 39 schools from the southeast region of the United States. Out of all 39 schools, FAMU was the only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to make it to phase two of the competition. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is also the first time FAMU has seen phase two in over five years.
Self-proclaimed “fitness junkie” and third-year business administration student Caleb Barr led FAMU’s RC team during phases one and two. Although only a junior, Barr was chosen to be captain based on his physical performance and leadership skills displayed in ROTC. He’s been on the team for two years now.
“Joining RC was essentially like breathing air for me,” said Barr. “I feel like it was somehow a part of my life, something that I already do, so joining wasn’t a hard decision to make.”
Barr and the rest of the team had all eyes on them as they were the only HBCU competing, but he wasn’t worried. He says he’s known the connection he and his team have is unique and would be beneficial during the competition.
“Honestly, I knew this group of guys was special from day one,” said Barr. “We had a three-mile tryout. I feel like if you ask somebody who’s not motivated to do a three-mile tryout, they’re not even going to complete it. Every single one of my team members completed it. So, I knew that this would be a historical team and they proved that to be true.”
FAMU finished 10th overall and were the fastest team to complete the call for fire event. Follow the FAMU Army ROTC Instagram @famu_arotc for more pictures and news events.