Junior Soldier (JS) Bradnam is a new recruit at the Army Technical Foundation College, Winchester (ATFC(W)). In his first blog, he recalls his experiences of the first two weeks of Junior Entry Phase 1 Training.
The first week of training was one of the most nerve-racking – yet exciting – times of our lives. The anticipation levels felt throughout the Troop could be sensed, as we all gathered into the gym for opening addresses and completion of paperwork. After the first night in our 10-man rooms we began to realise how we were going to fit in together. It really started to hit home what we had all signed up for. They call week 1 the “shock of capture” for a reason – the late nights and early starts were enough to put anyone off. But not us hardy warriors!
Although a shock to the system, the first week was enjoyable. Many of our lessons were fairly relaxed and about getting to know each other, and our strengths and weaknesses. The military swimming test on day 4 and the RMTs on day 5 looked at our physical abilities, and our mental attitudes towards physical fitness. One person in particular sticks out in my mind. Even though he was scared of deep water, he still jumped into that swimming pool. The determination in his face captured the spirit of the week, and certainly gave me a standard to aspire to.
On the Saturday night, 13 Troop descended upon the training area at the rear of the camp, to undertake Exercise ICE BREAKER. This exercise gave us an insight into what sleeping out in the open is like, and was also a chance for the Troop to get to know each other. In the evening we gathered in a Troop Shelter and sat around a fire. Each of us stood up and talked about themselves – the good and the bad! This was an interesting night as we began to get to know each other in greater detail, and we began forming friendships based on common interests. The Troop Commander then talked us through the 6 core values of the British Army – courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment. All of these are crucially important.
When week 2 got underway we all began to notice the gradual increase in discipline and standards expected of us. We were also introduced to a thing that most of us teenage boys never knew existed – tidiness! Our first ever locker inspection was carried out, and to our untrained eyes they seemed immaculate. However, the Corporals were soon quick to point out that they were far from perfect. The second week was made even more memorable as we were introduced to weapons for the first time. Weapon handling lessons were conducted daily and we all began to get a feel of what soldiering is really about. There was also more physical training – swimming and introductions to various types of exercise will remain wedged in people’s minds for along time, in particular the introduction to boxing. It was hard, but many volunteered for boxing afterwards. The week flew by and before we knew it week 3 was upon us, and the anticipation of what was to come was beginning to build again.