Through the lens they provide, one can track the evolution of the contest. Morphing from a rifles-only test of skill in the more confined area of Fort Meade, where intense obstacle courses were run with plastic rifles instead of the real thing, the contest grew in both dynamism and popularity throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Today's competitors not only have to deal with the challenges presented by thousands of acres of harsh terrain, such as thermal drift factors, but also must demonstrate proficiency with both a rifle and a handgun. Where the Fort Meade obstacle course was a short but intense route, full of rope climbs, stone hops, pit climbs and barbed-wire crawls, the Peacemaker contest is a fully integrated endurance "race," where one's pistol and rifle are carried (safely) though a circuitous loop of woods, mud and steeply rolling hills, competitors only stopping to put shots on targets.
Over and above the fun of competition, the camaraderie that is had yields results far from the shooting grounds. Units who may find themselves working together in the real world swap tips, tricks, and build familiarity that can serve them well in a firefight. For many folks there, it already has. For more on this storied contest, check out our video, and stay tuned for a future clip highlighting some of this year's competitors.