Junior Soldier (JS) Bradnam writes about his eleventh week of Phase 1 Training at the Army Technical Foundation College in Winchester.
Immaculate lockers and a sparkling barrack block marked the start of week 11. It feels as though we have been here for such a short time – yet we’re already fast approaching the half way point. The range week is coming up along with the shooting test, which meant that practice was crucial. On Monday morning we headed to the DCCT (Dismounted Close Combat Trainer – an indoor laser range). We practiced our marksmanship skills and honed in on our weaknesses, taking advice from the Corporals. The DCCT took us through til lunchtime and in the afternoon we went to the tailors to be fitted for our number 2 dress – which isn’t too exciting but it has to be done.
On Tuesday we took a trip to our Phase 2 Training establishments to look at what we would be doing after successful completion of basic (Phase 1) training. I went to the Royal School of Mechanical Engineering at Minley to find out about what combat engineering entails and the things that I should prepare myself for. It was also an opportunity to ask any questions that we had about our chosen trades. I had to put down a posting preference. The majority of the others put down that they wanted to apply for Germany, hoping they would get out there before the British Army withdraws from the country. But I set myself a challenge and said that I wanted to go to 24 Commando Regiment, which is the engineer support group for the Royal Marines. I am really looking forward to Phase 2 as it is hard, however there’s a lot more freedom and personal time than in Phase 1. Also who wouldn’t be looking forward to blowing things up!
Wednesday brought us our first time on the assault course. We were shown how to correctly tackle the obstacles before going on to do a full circuit. The obstacles included a 12-foot wall, a rope walk roughly 10m in the air, a cargo net roughly 10m high, monkey bars, cat walks in the sky and a lot more. Luckily there had been a frost the night before so the ground wasn’t sodden – so I suppose the cold weather has its advantages sometimes. We also had the football match in the “Sir John Moore Competition”. We achieved joint last position which was disappointing – however I scored the only goal so it wasn’t all bad!
We had yet another session on the DCCT on the Thursday and also a lesson on how to give and receive fire control orders. On the Friday we had a lesson on prisoner handling techniques, which showed us how to deal with captured persons and how to search them properly etc. Physical Training strength and conditioning was also on the agenda and we had a circuit with only 3 stations each of which solely focused upon our arms, abs and legs – each station lasting 10 exercises. I think it was fair too say that it was exhausting and I ached unbelievably afterwards.
And so the week’s work was done and the weekend was ours to relax. But the relaxation will soon fade away as week 12 is around the corner. The range week is extremely important because we cannot pass out of basic training until we pass the shooting test. Fingers crossed that it does not come to that!