By Vaughn R. Larson, Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs
FORT BENNING, GA (ANG PR) - 1st Lt. Nicholas Plocar of Howards Grove, Wis., a member of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, is looking to improve on last year's sixth-place finish in the 2013 Best Ranger Competition which begins Friday, April 12th at Fort Benning, Ga.
Plocar was one of seven Army National Guard Soldiers last year to take part in a grueling 60-hour competition. The contest featured road marches of 15.5 miles and 14.8 miles, the Army's toughest obstacle course known as the Darby Queen, urban operations, night land navigation, water confidence course, jumping out of a helicopter and swimming to shore, and skill proficiency demonstrations. This year Plocar is one of only four Army National Guard competitors to take part in what is regarded as the Army Ranger Olympics.
Plocar, an endurance athlete who regularly competes in running and triathlon events, said the Best Ranger Competition is one of the most physically demanding events the Army has to offer.
"I enjoy seeing what my body is capable of and pushing myself to the limit," he explained. "Everyone likes to see where they stack up against everyone else, and what better group to compare my abilities against than the top 100 Rangers?
"I was always taught that it is easier to lead by example," Plocar continued. "This experience helps my Guard career by showing my Soldiers that anything is possible, and that we all need to be leaders and physically fit."
Preparation for this event is a year-long process, Plocar said. However, he and the other three National Guard competitors have been engaged in a 10-week dedicated training program at Fort Benning, working on road marches, running, biking, swimming, obstacle courses and Ranger skills. He said the competition requires strategy as well as stamina.
"You have to know when to push yourself and when to conserve energy," Plocar said. "Little mistakes in this competition can take you from first to 10th in just one event."
He is part of Team 49 with 1st Lt. Travis Cornwall of the Georgia Army National Guard, who also competed last year and placed seventh overall. National Guard Soldiers 1st Lt. Jose Luis Moreno and Sgt. Erich Friedlein make up Team 50. Plocar said he hoped their combined experience will serve them well this year.
"Participating in this event is a great honor, and there are many people who make this possible," Plocar said. "[We] have had great support from our families, friends, our parent units and most of all the National Guard. They have given us an opportunity to represent the National Guard, and we are going to perform to the best of our abilities. We are very lucky to have this chance."
The 30th Annual Best Ranger Competition will be held April 12-15.