Fusilier Stephen Johns is a recent recruit to the British Army. He is currently undertaking the Combat Infantrymans’ Course at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick. In his first blog he summarises his experiences of the first few weeks.
The first few weeks at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick go by quickly as there’s a lot to do. It can be a shock to the system at the start as you begin the process of going from civilian to solider.
Week 1 can be a bit boring, as there’s a lot of waiting around. There’s a lot of administration and paperwork to do. Everyone is nervous as they begin the introduction to the Army way of life.
Some people get a bit homesick – especially the younger recruits, as they have not lived away from home before. The shock of introduction to Army life goes away after the first couple of weeks, once you get used to the routine.
Towards the end of week 1 and the start of week 2 the pace picks up. There’s a lot to learn in a short space of time. Everything you learn is progressive and as the weeks go on all the information you learn is built upon and you can see the progression.
The first exercise is good fun as you learn the basics of living in the field. When we did it there were high winds and it was raining. But it was still good fun, except for doing sentry duty in the pitch black. You cannot see anything!
After Intro Ex 1 the pace of life continues to increase, there are more lessons in the classroom learning various things such as military law and there are also rifle lessons which are always good fun. The standards expected of you in your locker lay out and standard of dress also increase with each passing week.
In week 4 you have your weapon handling test to see if you are competent with the rifle. Intro Ex 2 is a chance to improve on the skills you learned in Intro Ex 1 and you learn more fieldcraft too. You also get to fire your rifle for the first time which is great. We did fire and movement, which was tiring but also good fun.
After Intro Ex 2 the focus switches to the week 5 drill test. You need to pass this to gain your regimental beret and also get a long weekend at home. It involves a few late nights and early morning as you need to prepare for the OC’s inspection. We passed both his inspection and the drill test and it was a great feeling to get the beret and relax on a long weekend.