Central Washington University

Ranger Challenge Grenade Assault Obstacle Course

“ Central Washington University has hosted an Army ROTC program since 1981. The CWU program is currently ranked as one of the top 20 of 270 programs in the nation. There are a variety of ways to learn about training, to include Ranger Challenge, the varsity sport of Army ROTC. Ranger Challenge, along with the Physical Fitness class, is open to all CWU students enrolled in the Army ROTC program. ”


The Ranger Challenge is an opportunity for schools to "compete" with each other completing military tasks. In addition to a written examination where Cadets test their Army knowledge, there are physical fitness drills and field exercises. Battalions leave a Ranger Challenge with stronger bonds and sharper skills.


The National Society of Pershing Rifles gives Army ROTC Cadets the opportunity to develop to the highest degree possible. Cadets can take part in precision trick rifle drill teams that provide them with the outstanding traits of leadership, military bearing and discipline.

Commissioning Ceremony

Each spring MS IV Cadets reach their goals of becoming the United States Army’s newest Lieutenants.  It’s what they’ve been training, leading, and motivating for, for the past four years.  It may be the proudest day they and their loved ones will ever share together.

Wildcats train as you fight

ELLENSBURG (WA) The Cadets of the Central Washington University Wildcat Battalion descended up the Yakima Training Center the weekend of 25 to 27 February for their Winter Field Training Exercise (FTX). The annual event introduces cadets to Army barracks life, Drill and Ceremonies and Situational Training Exercises (STX). Cadets were also introduced to Army mess hall chow and the ubiquitous, Meal Ready to Eat or MRE's. Cadets began each day with a 0530 wake up, followed by Physical Training (PT) at 0600. Saturdays' PT consisted of a five mile run to cadence. Following PT the cadets received several hours of instruction on Drill and Ceremonies prior to leaving out on a 3 mile road march w/ruck to the Squad Situational Training Exercise (STX) lanes. During the STX lanes, cadets trained on conducting Movement To Contact, Knocking Out a Bunker and the Conduct of an Ambush. The Sunday morning kicked off with a squad PT competition followed by a farewell breakfast where the support staff at Yakima Training Center were recognized for their efforts in support of the CWU's Army ROTC. The weekend concluded with barracks maintenance and a drill and ceremony competition prior to heading back to Ellensburg and the CWU campus. Throughout the year, cadet's of the CWU Wildcat Battalion participate in several FTX's and an M16 range in preparation for the Leaders Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) held at Ft Lewis each summer.

CWU Wildcats Tackle Umptanum Falls.

ELLENSBURG (WA). The cadets of the Central Washington University Wildcat Battalion braved the snow, ice and frigid cold of central Washington during their winter survival lab held on 11 February. The lab consisted of a march along the snow and ice covered Umptanum creek trail to the base of Umptanum falls. The falls trailhead is located 15 miles south of the CWU campus making it an ideal destination for cadet training.

" This was great, a good break from the battle drills that we usually do during the weekly lab" remarked Cadet Wyatt Ottmar. Cadet Ben Souriall added, " The best part of doing this is just getting away from campus, out in the woods, and into the snow."

The highlight of the lab was the descent to the base of the falls that required cadets to traverse an icy crevasse and over 100 meters of emplaced hand lines that guided the cadets down. The hand lines proved essential in making the way down and greatly assisted on the ascent back up to the trail above.

" I really liked the ropes, I've never done anything like this at least since basic training" said Cadet Ryan Jacobson, Cadet David Celski said, " this was fun, well put together, the best part was going down to the bottom of the falls, across the ropes, this is definitely worth doing again totally."

Cadet Adam Nixon, a graduate of the Mountain Warfare School in Jericho Vermont used his climbing expertise to emplace hand lines and post safeties along the route, " At first glance I had some real doubts that we could put the hand lines in, across a safe route that would allow everyone to make it to the base of the falls. Once the lines were in, I was confident that it would be fine."

The lab was the culmination of several weeks of planning. During the initial reconnaissance in late January, much of the snow had melted leaving an icy but mostly clear trail. Snow fell and the temperature dropped the weekend prior to the lab, drastically changing conditions along the route.

Due to the compacted snow and ice, cadets used traction devices on their boots. Helmets were a mandatory safety item during the descent.

" When I first saw how steep it was and the ropes, I had some doubts about making it" said Cadet Erik Nystrom, " but once I started moving it was O.K., this was a real confidence builder."

Ranger Challenge Team Claims Victory 4th Year Running

ELLENSBURG (WA) - For the fourth consecutive year CWU's Army ROTC Ranger Challenge team was victorious in their quest for the Task Force Cascade Ranger Challenge Cup. This year's event was held on 23 and 24 October and hosted by Eastern Washington University. The competition pitted CWU's male and co-ed teams against teams from the University of Washington, Seattle University and Eastern Washington University. Regarding this years success team captain Cadet Gabe Bowns remarked that, " This was the largest margin of victory ever, we really expected UW and Seattle University to be tough, UW is a big division one school and we expected to be challenged. Going up against schools like that really helps to motivate us". The event was conducted at the EWU Cheney campus and Camp Sekani in Spokane.

The two day Ranger Challenge competition consists of a Physical Fitness Test (as many push-ups and sit-ups a cadet can do in 2 minutes, plus a 2 mile run), timed Weapons Disassembly/Assembly, 300 meter Grenade Assault Course, 40 foot Rope Bridge, and a timed Orienteering course of 40 points. The competition concludes on day two with a grueling 10 kilometer Road March in full Combat Gear and 35 pound rucksack.

The competition began early Saturday morning with opening ceremonies followed by the Physical Fitness test in the EWU field house. The test was completed quickly and the results tabulated placing the SU teams into an early lead and CWU in close second. Following the fitness test the action moved to Camp Sekani 30 minutes from Cheney along the Spokane River.

The teams rotated through the Camp Sekani events in 90 minute intervals each performing nearly neck and neck until the orienteering event. CWU's male team pulled clearly away from the competition during Orienteering. " We really worked hard on land navigation at Reecer Creek and Lions Rock. Camp Sekani was easy by comparison" said Cadet Michael Rattcliffe a 3d year competitor. The following day the team would secure victory with the Road March.

The male team completed the 6.2 Mile Road March through Cheney in 67 minutes. The University of Washington, considered one of the stronger teams in the conference completed the Road March in a blistering 64 minutes. " Gabe drove us hard on that march" said Cadet Hans ValVerde, a first year competitor referring to the team captain, " he really pushed us hard from start to finish, " we came in about three minutes behind the fastest team" . UW's performance wasn't enough to threaten the lead established by CWU during Orienteering. CWU's second place Ruck March finish was enough to keep second place SU at bay and secure their first place overall finish.

The Wildcat Battalion Co-ed team became the story of the competition. The team came back from last place and a 100 point deficit following events at Camp Sekani. A disappointing performance on the orienteering and grenade assault courses placed CWUs Coed team fourth overall by Saturday evening. SU's co-ed team held down first place and what appeared to be a commanding lead. Going into the final day of competition, “we knew we had to beat SU's coed team in the Road March by 15 minutes to have any chance at winning" said Co-Ed Team Captain, Monica Colgan. “We really had to push ourselves to find the drive to win the Road March" . The team was unaware that they had closed the point’s gap and overtaken Seattle University going into the awards ceremony. " It was a total shock when we were called forward to receive the cup" said Cadet Chris Franco, a first year competitor on the co-ed team " we really had no idea that we had won up until that point, no idea at all" .

This year's victory was the result of a rigorous training regimen that had cadets practicing daily at 6:30 in the morning and Saturday and Sunday. Regarding the training regimen, CDT Adam Nixon noted that "we're really at a disadvantage compared to most schools. The (school) year at CWU starts in late September versus several weeks earlier for most of the other schools so there is less time to train" . The team was concerned that competition would be fiercer than years past with the addition of the University of Washington to the Task Force Cascade Conference. UW failed to emerge as a threat prior to going into Sunday's road march. Cadet Robert Johnston remarked, “They surprised us, beat us on the road march by three minutes, but still failed to move their final standing up from third place”. Seattle University held onto second.

In addition to both teams winning their respective classes, men's Team Captain Gabe Bowns received a separate award for achieving the highest physical fitness score in the competition. Cadet Bowns completed 97 pushups, 113 sit-ups and completed the 2 mile run in 12:09 resulting in an individual Army Physical Fitness Test score of 369.

The team departed EWU for Ellensburg Sunday afternoon in high spirits, I used to wrestle said cadet Tom Lorenson, a first year competitor, "and that was fun but this, this is absolutely awesome."

2004 Ranger Challenge, Task Force Cascade Final Standings: