Columbia Falls, Montana
When Andy Stumpf chooses a course, good luck knocking him off it. Born and raised in Northern California, Andy knew as an 11-year old that he would become a Navy Seal. He didn't choose that career path because he thought it would be easy, but because he knew it would be difficult. In 1996, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the Navy and completed BUD/s training soon after. Andy was assigned to SEAL Team 5 and quickly proved himself a highly capable leader and operator, later joining SEAL Team 6, a small unit tasked with our nation's most critical missions. On one of those missions, Andy was shot by an Iraqi insurgent at close range with an AK-47. Doctors told him it would take years to be ready for combat again if it ever happened at all. He was back to work in six months. In his 17 distinguished years as a SEAL, Andy completed 10 deployments and executed hundreds of combat operations. He retired to the forests of Montana in 2013 but had no desire to rest on his laurels. Instead, he took up extreme sports, setting a world record for distance traveled in a wingsuit and raising money for his SEAL brothers and their families in the process. You can listen to Andy talk with other badasses on his podcast, Cleared Hot.
You live a fast-paced life. Do you ever kick back? How?
Andy: I’m certainly not aiming for a fast-paced life, it just seems like the activities I enjoy lead me down that path. In my early years, I was all about training and slamming as much into a 24 hour time period as possible. Now, the focus of my training is recovery, and I’ve learned to enjoy each moment instead of looking forward to the next. I’m fortunate to live in a place with all four seasons, and plenty of activities during each. I do my best to get outside and into the elements whenever I can. It’s the single most effective reset button for my mind and body.
As a SEAL, you put a ton of time into preparation. Is there anything you learned about prep that carried over into civilian life?
Andy: Preparation is key. That can’t be overstated. Success on target at my old job was directly linked to the preparation done prior to arrival, period. Once I understood the impact that preparation has on performance in moments that matter, it became a staple in my daily life. I do my best to never be surprised, physically or mentally. I treat most things that I do like a military operation, meaning I take a structured approach to planning and execution. I write out the desired end-state, list the steps necessary to achieve it, then dive into the details and preparation that will make success possible.
Anything you’d never leave home without? What are some things that commonly ride under your DiamondBack?
Andy: There are quite a few things that I never leave home without, more now that I have a secure way to store them. On any given day in Montana, it’s possible to find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to be your own first responder, or someone else’s. At a minimum, I have a tool kit, tow kit, and first aid kit in my truck at all times. Depending on the season, I’ll add waterproof or cold weather gear. All those items live in the Cross Bin, and are safely secured and accessible at all times.
After moving to Montana, was there a moment that you felt like “this is home”? Why?
Andy: That moment has happened many times. Honestly, there probably isn’t a day that goes by without me audibly saying, “I can’t believe I live here.” I love the space, topography, seasons, and the wildlife. I was not built to live in a city, and I can’t think of a single reason that would ever entice me to return to one.