Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning 2021

Fort Benning’s Infantry Week used to be the home of 4 major competitions for military members- Best Sniper, Best Ranger, Best Mortar Competition, and Army Combatives Tournament. Two of those, the Mortar and Combatives competitions have not been reinstated yet after the Covid situation. As we previously reported, the 2021 Best Sniper competiton was held early last week. The 37th Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition was held from Friday to Sunday. The grueling course saw 51 teams of two in the matchups in what is described as the “Super Bowl for Rangers.”

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“It’s really a testament to what these individuals do in Ranger School – limited sleep, limited food, moving long distances with different amounts of poundage on your back. Just strenuous activity that is mentally and physically draining – to include having to execute various technical and tactical skills along the way. I mean, this is the Super Bowl for the Army right here. This is the Super Bowl for Rangers.”

Col. Antwan Dunmyer, Commander, Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade

The schedule – sound like fun to you? (Note: yes, they all had to adhere to the military’s Covid rules in between events)

Terms: Malvesti is an obstacle course with rope climbs, scaling vertical log ladder, monkey bars over a pit filled with muddy water, crawling through the water under barbwire, and pull ups. The Darby Queen or ‘weaver’ is an obstacle course that students run during the Benning phase of Ranger school. Students must navigate the obstacle by “weaving” over-and-under bars set at an incline on the way up to the peak, and on a decline on the way down.

The rivalry pits the military’s best two man teams against each other. One of the first competitions Saturday morning required the teams to “assemble a radio, and fire weapons from vehicles and the ground in darkness.”

best ranger
US Army Photo from Best Ranger Competition by Spc Christian Simmons

They also had to complete chin-ups, a swim under razor wire, and rope climbing during the obstacle courses.

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US Army Photo by Spc Lucas Wenger

And don’t forget those ‘fast rope jumps’ out of a helicopter into the “Victory Pond.”

Competitors are dropped from a helicopter by rope into “Victory Pond” – US Army photo by Spc Lucas Wenger

The competition began Friday with a predawn nine-mile run and ended Sunday afternoon with a final buddy run that saw Rangers 1st Lt. Vince Paikowski and 1st Lt. Alastair Keys cross the finish line first. In between those runs, competitors navigated a series of obstacle courses, an urban-assault course, eight marksmanship events with various firearms, a combat-fitness test, swims across Victory Pond, a nighttime land navigation course, and fast-rope jumps out of helicopters.

1st Lt. Vince Paikowski and 1st Lt. Alastair Keys, assigned to the75th Ranger Regiment. Photo by Spc Lucas Wenger
Participants in the 2021 Best Ranger Competition prepare to relocate to Night Orienteering on Fort Benning. US Army Photo by Spc Lucas Wenger

Army 1st. Lt. Vince Paikowski and 1st Lt. Alastair Keys, assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, were the winners of this year’s competition.

“In this competition, anything can happen, but you’ve got to forget the bad things when they happen and you have got to build on the good things when those happen. So, we just tried to use the good things as momentum and have a short memory on the bad things.”

1st Lt. Vince Paikowski


Featured photo: 1st Lt. Alastair Keys and 1st Lt. Vince Palkowski, assigned to 75th Ranger Regiment, raise their awarded pistols to the sky as becoming 2021 Best Rangers on Fort Benning, Georgia, April 19, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christian Simmons) All photos in public domain via Dvidshub.

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