ACFT Army Combat Fitness Test For Dummies
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The Sprint-Drag-Carry event on the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) measures four big fitness components: agility, anaerobic endurance, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. In combat, you use these skills to build a hasty fighting position, pull a casualty out of a vehicle and carry him or her to safety, react to fire, and carry ammo from Point A to Point B.

Muscles used in the Sprint-Drag-Carry. Muscles used in the Sprint-Drag-Carry

Here are the five parts of this event, which you start in the prone position with the top of your head behind the start line:

  • Sprint: On the command of “Go,” jump up and sprint 25 meters in your lane. Touch the 25-meter line with your foot and hand, bust a U-turn, and sprint back to the start line.
  • Drag: Grab each strap handle on the sled. Pull the sled backward until you have the whole thing over the 25-meter line and then turn it around and pull it back. The entire sled has to cross the start line.
Sled drag Zack McCrory

Sled drag

Don’t jerk the straps—use a steady pull to move the sled. Remember not to sling the sled to turn it around, too.

  • Lateral: Face one side and perform a lateral run for 25 meters, touch the line with your foot and hand, and head back to the start line. Face the same direction on the way back. Don’t cross your feet during laterals.
  • Carry: Pick up your pair of 40-pound kettlebells and run to the 25-meter line. Step on or over the line with one foot, turn around, and run back to the start line.

Be careful when you turn around with the kettlebells—maintain control of your feet and the kettlebells the whole time. If you drop the kettlebells, just pick them up and keep moving.

  • Sprint: Put your kettlebells on the ground, turn around, and sprint to the 25-meter line. Touch the line with a hand and foot and then return to the start line as fast as you can.
Your time stops when you cross the start line after your final sprint.

In this race against the clock, you need to complete all five events in 3 minutes flat to get 60 points. Finish in 2:30 to get 65 points, or wrap it up under 2:10 to get 70 points. Power through the whole thing in 1:33, and you max it out with 100 points.

Sprint-Drag-Carry instructions

The Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC) comprises five separate events, and each one comes with specific rules for proper execution. The Army’s instructions for the SDC are as follows:

You must assume the prone position with hands on the ground beneath your shoulders and with the top of your head behind the start line, ready to complete five consecutive and continuous 50-meter shuttles. For the first shuttle, on the command “Go,” stand up and sprint 25 meters before touching the 25-meter line with your foot and hand, turning at the line and sprinting back to the start. If you fail to touch properly, the scorer will call you back before allowing you to continue. For the second shuttle, grasp each pull-strap handle to pull the sled backwards until the whole sled crosses the 25-meter line. If you fail to cross the line with the sled, the scorer will call you back before allowing you to continue. Turn and drag the sled back to the start line.

For the third shuttle, you will perform the lateral for 25 meters, touching the line with the foot and hand before performing the lateral back to the start line. The lateral will be performed to the left in one direction and to the right in the other direction. For the fourth shuttle, grasp the handles of the two 40-pound kettlebells and run 25 meters, touching the line with the foot before returning back to the start line. Place the kettlebells on the ground without dropping them. For the fifth shuttle, sprint 25 meters to the line, touching with the foot and hand, before turning and sprinting back to the start line to complete the event.

In plain English, that means you start the SDC on your stomach, in the prone position (just like the starting position for the HRP), and then you spring into action for the first sprint. When you hit the 25-meter line, you touch it with your foot and hand, turn around, and come right back to the starting point. Then you grab your sled handles and drag the sled to the 25-meter line as you run backward. Wheel it over the line, turn around and drag it all the way back across the start line, drop the handles, and go right into your laterals. Hit the line with your hand and come right back (while still facing the same way). Get over the start line and pick up your two 40-pound kettlebells. Carry them to the 25-meter line and back as quickly as you can, and then do your final sprint (down to the 25-meter line and back).

The SDC events are always in the same order: sprint, sled drag, laterals, kettlebells, and sprint.

SDC tips and techniques

The sled drag may not trip you up, but it’s likely to pre-fatigue the muscles you need for the remaining events. The two sprints are where you really give it your all; because they’re a relatively short distance, you can make up some time if you lose it in other shuttles.

Try these other suggestions as well:
  • Pull your sled straight back and keep your eyes forward while you’re moving backward—don’t try to turn to look for the 25-meter or finish line. You’re not going to miss the line; you see it as soon as you cross it. This way, you can also use your whole body to pull the sled rather than only the side that’s closest to it.
  • Use your legs for the sled drag—don’t flex your arms by trying to pull the handles in close to your body. Lean back and let your arms extend so you’re not pre-fatiguing your grip and your biceps (remember, the Leg Tuck is still on the horizon). This figure gives you a look at what your upper body should look like in the Sled Drag.
Proper form for the Sled Drag Zack McCrory

Proper form for the Sled Drag
  • Keep your chest tall while you drag the sled and lean back as you pull. Your core muscles and your lats (technically, your latissimus dorsi) work with your legs to provide you with enough power to get the sled across the line.
  • Get into an athletic stance before you do laterals. You go faster—and stay safer—if you get low and leggy. Don’t bounce, because bouncing slows you down and wastes valuable energy.
  • Engage your deltoids and lats to keep your kettlebells under control while you run with them. If you let your kettlebells swing, you can hurt yourself (or drop them, which costs you time).
deltoids and lats Kathryn Born

Latissimus dorsi and deltoids

Trouble spots on the SDC

If you perform something incorrectly on the SDC, your grader calls you back to the start and has you repeat the shuttle. This do-over counts against your time, so looking out for the same things your grader is looking for is in your best interest:
  • Failing to touch the line (with your hand and foot for sprints and laterals and your foot with kettlebells)
  • Failing to get the entire sled across the line prior to turning around
  • Crossing your feet during laterals
  • Jerking the sled
  • Failing to use the sled’s handles
  • Failing to travel facing the same direction during laterals
  • Throwing or carelessly letting go of the kettlebells
  • Running sideways or forward while dragging the sled

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