Junior Soldier Bradnam is back in training at the Army Technical Foundation College, Winchester, after the Christmas Break. He blogs here about the latest week of training which has included the much-feared Drill Test. How did they do?
Week 9. Fresh back from Christmas leave, 13 Troop were eager to get back into training and crack on. The severe weather before Christmas led to the drill test (which should have taken place in week 6) being postponed. As a result it was now scheduled for the end of the week, so any relaxed attitudes after Christmas leave were quickly eradicated as training went full steam ahead!
Our first day back in training was our first full day on the ranges. The aim of the day was to practice our marksmanship skills before we zeroed the weapons. We also were taught how to correctly do the targets and the scoring system and we also had confirmatory periods on how to fill out our shooting record books. I have quickly come to realise that shooting is now my favourite part of training so far, and I cannot wait for the range week in a few weeks’ time.
On Wednesday we had various lessons such as functional skills – however the main lesson of the day was a drill practice in the afternoon. We ran over the test countless times until every last detail had been tuned to near perfection. We all felt ready for the test on Saturday morning.
Thursday saw another day on the ranges and this was the important day as it was the time to zero all of the rifles. If this process wasn’t done correctly then the rifle sights would not be in line with where the round actually goes, and this would cause significant problems when trying to hit the target. Running concurrently with the range were basic life support (BLS) lessons (how to correctly perform CPR) and more drill. We needed to learn BLS in a short space of time because we had a test on it the next day. Drill practise was again in readiness for Saturday’s drill test, to make sure everyone knew exactly what they had to do to pass. The weather was horrendous – the rain and sleet came down hard all day long making each task just that little bit harder.
Friday came and our first lesson of the day was battle physical training (PT). This was our first such session since before Christmas and although it was difficult it was thoroughly enjoyable. It was our final indoor lesson and meant that from now on we would be using the outdoor assault course. I was aching after PT and was glad when I saw we had another functional skills lesson in which I could sit down in however my slight comfort was short-lived as I had boxing selection afterwards! In this we would find out who would make up C Squadron’s boxing team, and so 100% effort was needed. I gave it my all for another hour and a half of intense boxing PT. The hard work paid off and me and 2 others from 13 Troop made the cut! It was a great feeling to be told after weeks of boxing training that I had succeeded and would now stand a good chance in competing in the upcoming boxing competition on 16 February.
Saturday morning was soon upon us and the nerves and aching muscles from the previous day’s training had certainly set in. The drill test took place at 0800 and as we formed up ready we all braced up and prepared ourselves for what was to come. We marched onto the main parade square as a Troop and were inspected by the Adjutant and the RSM (in other words, a very scary man!) Points were awarded for the standard of dress and points deducted for any problems picked up. During inspection and throughout all drill you must remain perfectly still, at attention. However when the Adjutant stood in front of me ready to inspect me he reached for my belt to check its tightness and I mistakenly took it as a hand shake! I reached forwards to shake his hand and then realised the monumental error I had made. The look of disbelief on my Sergeant’s face said it all. Needless to say I was rather embarrassed. Next we marched around the square as a troop and then halted ready fro the individual phase. We marched out in threes and saluted to the right, front and left in front of the RSM, who was marking every individual for his standard of drill. As soon as the individual phase was over we had a debrief from the Adjutant and the RSM who told us that we were the best troop they had ever seen in their time here at ATFC Winchester. Obviously this was an amazing achievement and we were all massively proud. 13 Troop achieved a 100% pass rate, which is nearly unheard of and for the RSM to say what he did is even rarer. The drill test was now complete which allowed us to wear our regimental cap badges and march around on our own.
The final part of the day was the time to award the first of the junior ranks out. I gained junior lance corporal and I was absolutely ecstatic about that and was definitely one of my proudest moments to date.
Week 10 is next. We no longer dread what’s in store, as the new-found belief we have in ourselves after passing the drill test is making all the difference.