Recruit Greenhalgh recalls the first 3 weeks of British Army Phase 1 Training in his first blog from the Army Training Centre, Pirbright.
The first week at basic training was easier than I expected. In the first few days we had a lot of admin to complete – including vaccinations and a blood test (which were very daunting, due to my needle phobia!) We also had haircuts and our kit issued. All in all, we were kept extremely busy.
On the morning of day 3 we had our first physical training (PT) lesson and no-one was looking forward to it. This was a sinister 1.5 mile run. I achieved a respectable time of 10.22. It was followed by our first drill lesson. Luckily I knew how to march from my time in the Cadets when I was younger. That evening our section commanders showed us how to get to the shop and to the WRVS (Women’s Royal Voluntary Service). Finally we were issued with bergens and webbing, and shown how it goes together. I found it tricky, but I got my head round it in the end.
Day 4 began with an introduction to circuit training. I found this pretty tough but managed to keep up. Day 5 included our first endurance run, around the barracks. They are much larger than I thought! Everyone was reasonably exhausted – but most found it easier than the 1.5 mile run, me included!
That night we had our first field exercise. We were taught how to build different types of bashers and shell scrapes, which was very interesting. This was all followed by a good night’s sleep, apart from the lumpy ground and the fact that the issue sleeping bag was like a sauna!
Finally it was the weekend – this meant some time to myself and an opportunity to get to know those in my section a bit better. The Sunday church service was excellent – the best I have ever been to. The rest of the day was spent ironing clothes, sorting my locker and polishing my 3 pairs of boots ready for the first inspection – wish me luck!
The first inspection went reasonably well. We then proceeded to PT, followed by Skill At Arms (SAA). Then we got to SA80 A2 rifle. I’ve used one before – but the one I had used couldn’t fire automatically. Still, everything that I had been taught came in handy. Drill was brilliant – they taught us some more basic movements that I already knew but it was really useful to refresh my memory. Everything is starting to fall into place and I am feeling more and more at home.
It was a swimming test on Wednesday. I’ve always been a strong swimmer, but wasn’t expecting to have to wear overalls in the pool! Fortunately I still managed to do what was asked of me. We played volleyball on Friday. It was really good fun playing as a team, but that didn’t stop my serve from being very poor. I didn’t manage to score any points, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Saturday brought a few lectures about heat and cold injuries. These were strangely interesting! The presentation that we were shown had a few nasty pictures of injuries – this nearly turned my stomach, but luckily nothing happened!
I spent Sunday sorting my kit out, along with the other recruits. We were also ironing our uniform and drill dress, (which looks really smart I must say). On top of that we were polishing four sets of footwear, which took a long while! Once I had finished, I had just enough time left to chill out in the TV room and watch a really good film before getting my head down for the night. Platoon Sergeant’s inspection on Monday… I hope that he finds my locker and bed space up to standard…
We had a physical injury prevention lecture. It covered common injuries and prevention. Afterwards our section commanders took us on a map reading exercise. I found this absolutely fantastic as it was a chance to use my skills in map reading. Holding, aiming and firing in the prone position was up next – this was excellent although there were a few little niggles with the position that I was in, but after a while I managed to get comfortable.
Tuesday was awesome. We went through the firing drills for the rifle which was really exciting. Then it was on to marching and halting, which we had already been taught, but we still needed more practise! Next up was battle PT/gym agility. This session was designed to ready us for the assault course – which everyone cannot wait for. I too think that it will be an awesome experience!
Wednesday brought another lecture – this one was about nutrition. It basically taught us to watch what we eat and explained what we need to eat in order to replenish our energy levels. It was very interesting. More drill afterwards. We just practiced what we had already been taught – halting, saluting to the front, eyes left and right, about turns and changing step whilst marching. Then SAA again. I love these lessons about the rifle. This was just a practise period, although it was still brilliant. We just recapped on everything that we have been taught up till now.
Circuits were super hard but I managed to keep up with my partner. I was totally and utterly drained afterwards though, but after a while started to feel good that I had managed to complete the session.
On Thursday we had a swimming lesson. I don’t think that I’ve ever been so tired after swimming – they had us doing every style apart from butterfly (which I can’t do anyway – so I suppose I was lucky!)
In SAA we were firing from combat/battle positions this was absolutely brilliant fun. We went through the different positions that we might use whilst on out on exercise – ie the kneeling position, the squatting position, the standing position and the sitting position.
Finally a really tough endurance run. I found it really hard to keep up with the group but I wasn’t the only one. Afterwards, I felt really good that at least I had managed to finish. This was followed by a lecture about military offences, and what to do about them, I found this quite interesting. Next up was SAA again – this consisted of the mechanism; immediate action and stoppage drills – this was brilliant and continued with aiming of and alteration of sights. Within this lesson we had to purposefully move the weapon then realign the position so that we were able to fire and hit the target and also change the sights so that my shot would be perfect – or as perfect as I could get!