Soldier under Training (SuT) Alastair Byrne writes from the Army Training Centre, Pirbright, about his third week of Phase 1 with the British Army. He writes about a noticeably higher intensity of training…
The past week has seen a step up in the pace of our training. With each day that passes you get a real sense of having started your Army career. We have been given lessons in a wide range of subjects and the intensity of the course has increased – including our physical training (PT) sessions. We had an enjoyable session on Saturday morning (always good to wake you up!) and we have been doing circuit training to build up strength. We’ve also had a series of lectures on heart rate, training zones and injury prevention which were interesting and no doubt will be useful. I’ve also had the opportunity to try out some new activities such as vaulting and rope climbing – both were tough, but enjoyable.
We have, of course, been doing lots of other things too, especially drill. This week we have learned to put ourselves into open and closed order, mark time, about turn and salute on open and closed order. It’s always great to see the movements come together when we work hard as a Troop.
The main focus of the lessons we’ve had this week has been skill at arms (SAA). We covered various drills on the SA80 rifle to enable us to operate it safely and effectively, and we now know how to strip and clean it too. We also studied the firing positions and rates of fire. I found it very interesting to learn how to get into the different firing positions – there’s more to it than you might think! The SAA lessons are always of a good standard and I’m looking forward to putting the principles into practise on the ranges.
We’re continuing to have locker and kit inspections daily, and so we’re always ironing and polishing like mad. We also have to work together to get our block jobs (communal chores) done on time and to the required standards, which are very high. It can be tough going, but we work hard and get there in the end. Before I came to ATC Pirbright I was quite concerned about coping with less sleep than usual. So far, however, I am fairly happy – although it is never a pleasant experience getting up in the small hours of the morning. We all have to work hard, even when tired, to make sure everything is ready in time. If we are late we know we will be corrected on our timings – so it is very important.
We also had a session this week where we were asked to give our opinions on a number of aspects of training. This was very useful and it was interesting to hear the opinions of other SuTs on issues within their Troops. All in all, it has been a busy week and we all know it will only get busier. I am however having fun and I am definitely glad to be here. Training to be a soldier is not easy but I know that I have an interesting career ahead of me. Hopefully the coming weeks will be as interesting as this one.