Soldier under Training (SuT) Thomas is our new blogger from the Army Training Centre, Pirbright. She’ll be writing regularly about her experiences of Phase 1 Training. In her first post, she looks back at the first 2 weeks…
After getting through a tough selection and impatiently waiting, some longer than others, we were eager to start Basic Training. Nerves were showing and for some it was their first time away from home. Much of the first few days were spent getting paperwork completed, medicals, injections (with a few queasy reactions!) and settling in. We finally got our kit on the third day and there was an instant lift in spirits. Instead of feeling stuck out like sore thumbs we suddenly felt like we all belonged in the British Army.
Proud, and in our new kit, we began to learn how to march, something we had seen troops doing around camp, slick and impressive, unlike our first attempts! The Section Commanders are fantastic – firm but fair, gradually building us up and keeping us on our toes.
Everyone was worried about running and press-ups, understandably so, and our first press-up ‘wake-up call’ came from the physical training instructor (PTI) when we forgot to take off our watches for the first fitness assessments. We were all on the ground doing press-ups whilst shouting “I will not wear my watch to PT”! We will not make that mistake again!
The first week finished on a high with us watching live demonstrations on the shooting range, marching to the woods and camping out overnight. It was our first insight to living in the field and an opportunity to get to know each other better. Personalities started to show and we couldn’t wait to do more.
Week 2 saw the start of our Skill At Arms lessons, and we were quite excited. Having been issued with our rifles to use during training we were straight into lessons. Suddenly we all realised how much there is to learn and how important both our knowledge and our actions are when it comes to handling dangerous weapons – the most important piece of equipment we have. Lessons included part names, safety precautions, dismantling and re-assembling, cleaning and maintenance – with a lot more to follow. Our competitive sides came out as we all tried to be the quickest to dismantle and re-assemble our weapons. The learning environment here is very different and being switched on all the time is vital. It can be hard when you’re up at 0530hrs every morning, but we’re getting used to it. For that split second when your eyes wander and something catches your eye out of the window, don’t look – it will be the one time the instructor sees you…
Our physical training sessions increased and although everyone loved the tough circuit training, the interval running session on the track was hard. 6x300m followed by a fast 200m then a flat out 100m – all of us suddenly trying to run like Usain Bolt! Of course we were told this was the final thing – then 5 minutes later we were doing a flat out 400m! Lactic acid is not nice! We played a volleyball match later in the week, which was a great team effort but nothing was more spectacular than the serve that sent the ball over the net and straight into the basketball net at the other end of the court! Well done 1 Section on winning – but remember it is only week 2!
Drill lessons are going well, good enough to let us practice on the main drill square. The first rule of Drill Club – do NOT walk on the Drill square, the second rule of drill club – do NOT walk on the drill square – march or do press-ups! At this rate we will all look like Kelly Holmes by week 14!