What Is an Assault Course?

Dan Cavallari

An assault course is a type of course through which a person will run; periodically along this course, the runner will have to overcome obstacles ranging from tall walls to netting or ropes. Outdoor assault course variants can be very long or much shorter, depending on the purpose of the course. Military training is perhaps the most common application of these courses, as new recruits train to complete the course as quickly as possible. The obstacles are meant to represent some of the obstacles a soldier might encounter in the field.

An assault course is a common physical activity for soldiers to improve their fitness and endurance.
An assault course is a common physical activity for soldiers to improve their fitness and endurance.

Soldiers in basic training will participate in regular physical activity to improve their performance and endurance. An assault course is one such physical activity, and the soldier is likely to run this course often to improve his or her skills at navigating the individual obstacles. In many cases, the assault course is quite long to improve the soldier's stamina, and the obstacles can vary in difficulty as the course progresses. Some courses are designed to be intentionally muddy to provide even more of a challenge to the soldier, though this is not always the case.

One of the goals of running an assault course is to develop teamwork skills. The course can be run as a group, and each member of the group will be responsible for ensuring all the other members complete the assault course as well. This is particularly important for military applications; squads or platoons will learn how to work together and how to transport the weakest members across the course even in the worst conditions. Sometimes the soldiers will be required to run the course while loaded down with the gear they are likely to carry in combat; this adds yet another challenge to the already difficult course.

Some assault courses are designed to be quite short but more intense for training. Such a course is usually built if a limited amount of space is available, or for training purposes that prepare a person to run the longer course. Courses that are not designed for military use tend to be somewhat less difficult and often shorter, though this is not always necessarily the case. Some courses may involve high ropes activities that require the runner to wear a harness, though this type of course is generally referred to as a high ropes course rather than as an assault course, and high ropes courses cannot be completed as quickly as assault courses can.

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