How to Get Started in Real Rock Crawling Competitions

real crawling

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Rock crawling is an extreme form of off road driving using a vehicle. Drivers drive highly modified four-wheel-drive vehicles such as trucks, jeep and buggies over the very harsh terrain. Driving locations include boulders, mountain foothills, rock piles and mountain trails.

Rock crawling competitions range from local event to national series.You win rock crawling events by running the course perfectly, and placing every wheel where it is needed to pass through a series of gates with the fewest number of penalty points. These courses are outlined with flags to mark the path and are covered with cones identifying the gates competitors must pass through on each course. During rock crawling events, proper sportsmanship is required. If a competitor or team member (including crew) promotes unsportsmanlike conduct, they and their entire team may be disqualified from the current event or future events. The event Marshal may penalize a team for unsportsmanlike conduct at any point in the competition, including prior to registration and after the award ceremony.These three areas will help you kick off your rock crawling career perfectly:

  • Equipment preparation
  • Ways to practice
  • Emotion preparation

Equipment preparation

If you build your rig yourself, you are much better equipped to handle challenges such as broken parts or electrical malfunction. This doesn’t mean that you cannot pay a shop to put your rig together for you, it simply implies that you will have a good general understanding of how each component on your vehicle is assembled. Rock crawling can be dangerous, the risk is minimized if done right and with the proper equipment on board. Therefore, you need to understand how your equipment works and how to fix it if it breaks. Here are some tips on equipment preparation to get you started.

Air Down: Your tires will need significantly less air than what they require at street pressure. The specific pressure varies from rig to rig because of the tire size, wheel type, and tire type and vehicle weight. For technical crawling with an average-sized rig is 10 to 13 psi.

Armour up: Installing items like rock sliders, skid plating and heavy-duty steel bumpers will give you an added advantage in rock crawling.

Carry spares: No matter how well equipped your rig is, breakage is simply a fact of life in rock crawling scenario.

Ways to practice

real crawling

It takes more than just a built vehicle to scale tough rock trials, whether in a capable 4×4 such as off-road evolution’s jeep JK, a UTV, or a specialized buggy, there’s no way to know how much skill and fitness it takes to crawl up a mountain unless you’ve tried it for yourself. Keep this rock crawling fundamentals in mind while practising.

Trust your spotter: A spotter is someone stationed to minimize the rate of accident or injuries. A good spotter must know the vehicle’s capabilities and know how to communicate important information to the driver.

Try to keep all four tires on the ground: Not only must you clear the differential, you also need to visualize how to best keep all of the tires on the ground. As soon as one side of the tires loses contact with the ground, the vehicle becomes imbalance and if you hit any rock at that point the vehicle may tumble.

Pick lines not fight: As with any vehicular sports, rock crawling comes with a general expectation that those involved will act with respect and courtesy towards one another.

Cross with care: In rock crawling, it is inevitable that you will encounter streams or rivers to cross. If the water is too deep or moving too swiftly, plan a different route or cut the trip off early.

Slow Down: There’s a reason they call it crawling. If you’ve never driven on rocks before, know that excessive throttle application almost always results in misfortune.


Emotion preparation

Emotional pressure is not new to rock crawlers as they may experience a wide range of emotions from fear and anxiety. Emotions can easily be heightened by pressures of competing especially in a dangerous sport like rock crawling. For most rock crawlers especially beginners, the idea of participating in rock crawling activities triggers a strong, dissuasive fear response. But for some, pushing the limits of their minds and bodies is a challenge they can’t deny. Here are some tips to help prepare your emotions.

Fear is our Friend: Fear is healthy, fear keeps us alive. Our fear response is an evolved mechanism that serves to deter us from taking unnecessary risk. In extreme sports like rock crawling participants choose to confront their fears and transcend them, channelling them towards succeeding in the race. Researchers have found solid evidence that extreme sports and dangerous activities can boost your mental fortitude.

Adrenaline: Extreme sports participants aren’t lunatics, they’re experienced adrenaline junkies who revel in pushing themselves just a little further with each outing. While humans have evolved a drive for self-preservation, the human brain is also equipped with reward mechanisms that are activated when subjected to extreme situations.

Redefining risk: The risk involved with a specific activity can vary from individual to individual. The risk is redefined by participants ability and experience. As a beginner in rock crawling, your experience and confidence level should always be in check, don’t try to outdo yourself just because you see some other guy doing it. Take your time and slowly but steadily you will become a professional crawler.

Safety precautions in rock crawling

The judges have the right, but not the responsibility, to advise drivers of unsafe acts. Any act deemed unsafe by a judge is to be immediately discontinued. Failure to comply can result in an immediate point out. Here are some safety precautions.

Seat belt: Seat belts must be worn at all times while driving or riding in a vehicle during an event.

Helmets: All competitors must wear an approved helmet while competing, even official must wear head protection (soft materials not allowed). Helmets that continue to below the ear are highly recommended for drivers.

Fire Extinguisher: Two completely full fire extinguishers must be mounted on the roll cage on both the right and left side of the driver. Extinguishers should not be mounted close enough to fuel cells or potential fire hazard areas that would make it dangerous to obtain.

Medical conditions: Officials must be alerted if a competitor has any medical conditions (seizures, diabetes etc…) that could affect their ability to perform or become a concern during the competition.

First Aid: First aid kits containing medical tape, gauze, band-aids and wrap are recommended in each vehicle.



Rock crawling is a dangerous but interesting sport and it is obviously not an easy off-road sport for beginners but, with the right attitude, dedication, information and of course slow and steady practice, then it’s only a matter of time before a novice turns professional.



Thanks for reading

Writer: Chrixtopher

Editor: Carlos, your webmaster

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