Old Pistols take down Young Guns in annual wellness ‘Challenge’

  • Published
  • By Vince Little
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Old Pistols outdueled the Young Guns this summer in their annual health, wellness and networking “Challenge.”

With a roster of majors, master sergeants, GS-14 civilians and above, the Old Pistols captured the 2023 title by rolling up 310,890 points – compared to 249,124 for the Young Guns, who were made up of captains, technical sergeants, GS-13 civilians and below.

Sponsored by the Wright-Patterson Junior Force Council, the Young Guns vs. Old Pistols Challenge is aimed at bringing both sides closer to the four dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual and social. The 10-week competition kicked off in May.

“This was our biggest year to date,” said Brittany Sommers-Woods, WPJFC vice president. “To the best of our knowledge, WPJFC has never had more than 50 registrants for Young Guns vs. Old Pistols, so we were absolutely blown away by the engagement and support we received. We generally had 40 to 50 people at each event, with our first event having more than 80 people present.”

Overall, more than 170 individuals registered this year, up from about 40 in 2022, organizers said. Throughout late spring and summer, 87 Young Guns and 44 Old Pistols participated in personal-wellness activities or at least one team event for a total of 131.

This marked the 17th installment of the “Challenge” at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The event was not held in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Sommers-Woods said the Young Guns vs. Old Pistols Challenge provides a social environment for WPAFB’s junior members to interact and build connections with senior leadership and other personnel across base while fostering healthy habits. It also creates mentorship opportunities within and among all organizations.

Art Huber of the Old Pistols started participating in the “Challenge” in 2010 when he was still active duty, the second year of his Wright-Patt assignment.

“The 2023 experience has been great because we’ve experienced a resurgence in interest and attendance,” said Huber, a retired colonel who’s now deputy director of Air Force Materiel Command’s Air, Space and Cyberspace Operations Directorate and a Senior Executive Service member.

“As you can imagine, the pandemic really put a dent in participation the last couple of years, so it’s been good to see people coming out again. ... My biggest takeaway is seeing the great young talent and passion we keep bringing into the Air Force – both civilian and military – which gives me confidence our future remains bright.”

Within the “Challenge,” competitors logged points daily for completing personal-wellness endeavors such as drinking 64 ounces of water, sleeping eight hours, eating a balanced diet, maintaining fitness routines and engaging in hobbies.

Every Wednesday, the Young Guns and Old Pistols battled for group points. Team events and activities included ultimate frisbee, sand volleyball, hiking, kickball, trivia and bowling.

Twila Murray, an operations research analyst with Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Financial Management and Comptroller Support Directorate, has worked at WPAFB since 2019 and took part in her first “Challenge” this year as a Young Guns member.

“After the pandemic, I was eager to participate in athletic and social activities after work. The prospect of playing low-stakes sports sounded like fun,” she said. “I really enjoyed the sports activities. Ultimate frisbee was new to me, and I had not played kickball or trivia for many years. I appreciated having the opportunity to play sports without committing to a whole competitive season.

“I also enjoyed getting to know other Wright-Patt employees without the pressure of having to make small talk for a whole hour or two. While playing sports, we could laugh and have fun without pressure.”

Lauren Pelan, also of the Young Guns, was another first-timer and turned out for three team events, in addition to tracking individual points for general wellness and other activities. She’s a research electronics engineer working on analog and mixed-signal integrated circuit design in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Highly Integrated Microsystems Branch.

“I wanted to network with other people across the base and the events sounded like a great way to do that,” said Pelan, who’s been at Wright-Patt for five years. “This experience was a lot of fun. It was great to meet other people outside of my career field and general area. That networking helped me get a better understanding of what happens across the base and see perspectives of people from other career fields. The games were fun, and the people were super nice.”

Huber says he has no plans to give up the “Challenge” and encourages everyone to come out next year.

“First of all, it’s fun and the fun is a constant year to year. Second, it helps build your network across the base, which has so many different organizations and missions a few of which you may find yourself employed with someday,” he said. “Lastly, it’s a great way to be a mentor and to get some mentoring either implicitly by proximity or explicitly by actively engaging with those you meet through the events. As we say in the flight-test world, you learn a lot by hanging around with the old hands and engaging them in some ‘hangar talk.’”

The Young Guns vs. Old Pistols Challenge is the perfect opportunity for base personnel to meet others at WPAFB in a “low-threat, social setting” while also squaring off in friendly competition, Sommers-Woods said.

“There are a variety of events, so they can pick and choose what they participate in,” she said, “but it’s a great way to find others with similar interests. If folks are looking for ways to be involved in base activities, this is a great chance for them to do so.

“This was such a great year, and we are so appreciative of everyone who participated and supported the competition.”

Anyone interested in getting involved with the 2024 Young Guns vs. Old Pistols Challenge can reach out to Brittany Sommers-Woods at brittany.sommers-woods.1@us.af.mil or Lexi Heironimus at alexandra.heironimus.1@us.af.mil for more information.