Snot all over our faces

Soldier under Training (SuT) Thomas writes from the Army Training Centre, Pirbright, about her ninth week of Phase 1 Training for the British Army. It’s been a particularly physical week – how did she do?         

SuT Thomas

SuT Thomas

This week was a very practical week, starting with the assault course. Tackling the 12-foot wall was much better than we expected. With some good team work we pulled together to get even the smallest girls over the tallest wall. We learnt to trust each other and commit to the task in hand – it took a few goes, but we got there in the end.

The swimming competition was a lot of fun. There were great efforts all round with everyone cheering on their teams and it was a close contest. The girls on the side of the pool practically became cheerleaders as the teams shouted support for each other. Well done to 2 Section on their victory!

A lot of the week was spent on the ranges. Now concentrating on purely hitting the target, and gathering a score depending on where the rounds hit. The standard improved again significantly. We fired from 100m, 200m and 300m. A lot of concentration is needed for 300m because the smallest error magnifies with distance and you can end up with a washout! We also rely on each other for our scoring system and feedback. It was a very productive week as far as shooting was concerned.

Tabbing was at the forefront of our minds this week as we experienced our first. With bergens packed to 11kg weight and with rifles in hand we set off in uniform and boots. Once we were in the swing of it we settled into a pace. As our fitness has improved over the weeks we were all pleased with completing our first tab without too many dramas. The best bit was our flat out effort at the very end, sprinting back to the block. The extra weight takes it out of your legs, but it was a good feeling!

Later the same day we experienced the Respirator Training Facility. After doing a ring-o-ring-o-roses a few times around in our respirators one by one we removed our masks and started answering the Corporal’s questions, in an atmosphere filled with CS gas. Some managed to say just one or two words and others managed a few sentences. Once our turn was over we were swiftly out of the door to get our breath back. With snot all over our faces we were an attractive bunch! For 30 minutes we couldn’t touch our faces or wipe our noses because it would cause a burning sensation. There were some entertaining reactions and we all had a laugh at each other.

The week finished with our hardest circuit class yet. Just when you think you’re getting fitter the lessons get harder. No pain no gain – or so they say! Like a bunch of sweaty tomatoes it was a love/hate relationship with the medicine balls –  the love mainly coming when the session had finished! So once again we were all exhausted but on a high – another week mastered!