Recruit Horrix is currently undergoing Phase 1 training at the Army Training Centre Pirbright (ATC(P)). Upon successful completion of the 14-week course he is set to start training at Blandford Camp as an Electronic Warfare Systems Operator.
I was born Terry Dean Horrix in Slough, Berkshire and have lived in and around London for the majority of my life. I had been working in London for the previous three years as a recruitment head-hunter for the investment banking sector. It was a good career but I felt that I wanted more from life and to challenge myself more than I currently was. Fitness has always been important in my life, I represented Arsenal FC as a schoolboy and have Boxed since I was 13. I was looking to find a career which encompassed fitness, travel, new experiences and a job where I would be making a difference. The British Army to me amalgamated all of these ideas and I decided to go for it.
Week 8 – ‘a Four Mile tab’
So week eight is here and we have our halfway exercise. This is an exercise I have heard a lot about, good things and bad. We started the Monday morning with a four-mile tab, I guess it is just to get the blood going prior to deploying on exercise on the Tuesday morning. The tab was hard going and you need to grit your teeth, but everything comes to an end eventually. We then spent the afternoon preparing our exercise kit and ensuring we had everything required.
Early rise on the Tuesday morning, get a good breakfast down and then get your exercise head on. We deployed about 10 am. When we got there it was straight into the exercise, loading up with ammunition, getting into a defensive formation and camming up. We then walked up to our harbour area. This felt like about a two-mile walk up some pretty steep hills. I’m sure the training team wanted to test our mental strength even before we got the harbour area. After ensuring the harbour area was safe we started to dig our beloved shell scrapes. After about four hours’ hard graft, they were complete. After this, the rest of the first night was spent getting into routine and completing rotations on stag.
This was definitely the stuff I joined up for
Early rise on Wednesday morning, completing our morning routine and ensuring we completed this within the hour allowed prior to our test the following morning. This was a pretty intense day, where we were taught many different things which we were to be tested on the next day. These included; fire and movement, observation, target indication, judging distance and camouflage and concealment. This was a really good day as you were learning really important soldering skills, and that you know you would utilise throughout your career. We were taken on a patrol in the evening and taught how to complete this properly, which was really good. This was definitely the stuff I joined up for. Following this was evening routine and more joyous stag!
Thursday is test day on Exercise HALFWAY. First test was our morning routine where we had an hour to get ourselves and our rifles combat ready, i.e. clean. Completed this fine and passed first time which is always a big relief. We then had our test on fire and movement which was intense. Again I passed first time but it was really hard work and you definitely exert a lot of energy. Following this, we had our judging distances, observation, target indication and camouflage and concealment tests. These were all fine as long as you had paid attention the previous day, although you don’t find out until the Friday if you have passed or not.
We went on another patrol in the evening, learning more patrol formations and learning how to get over obstacles as a section, i.e. roads etc. This was really good fun and something which really gets you going. When we got back it was late at night and we went straight into routine. After about an hour we got out first contact, where we had to ‘stand to’. We had about a 30-minute firefight with an ‘unknown enemy’. Once this stopped we were re-issued ammo and told to get some rest, although everyone was on edge waiting to be attacked again. The inevitable happened about four in the morning where was were attacked with some force. We returned a heavy amount of fire and then heard the words ‘prepare to move’. This means our harbour area has become compromised and we need to move. We packed the harbour area up whilst still in a fire fight and ‘bugged out’. We had to run with our full bergans up a steep hill to our hasty harbour. Everyone completed this successfully and it definitely gets the blood pumping.
Once secure in the hasty harbour, we went into morning routine and then went to clear out the old harbour and see how much kit had been left. To everyone’s surprise, hardly anything was left behind so the training staff were happy. The last thing we completed on the Friday was section fire and movement, where you are moving in two pairs opposed to one. This was good fun and a good way to end the exercise. We had some lunch and then marched back down to our pick up point. Back on barracks we cleaned all of our exercise kit and slept. I’m struggling to think of a time I have been more tired, I feel like I got about six hours’ sleep over the four days. Halfway exercise was hard, but enjoyable!
Week 9 – Respirator Testing
Back to reality this week with being on barracks, although it was a strange week as on Friday we were breaking up for a two week summer leave. However, before this we had an appointment with the respirator testing facility and this was only going to end one way, with me hurting!!
Monday started with a BCD lesson, learning how to deal with bleeding, dislocations and breaks. This was a really important lesson as it’s not just about passing a test in weeks to come but stuff which could enable you to save someone’s life in the future. Then we had circuits where we got worked pretty hard, doing pure circuits and combat conditioning. We were then on the DCCT range in the afternoon completing tests at 100m, 200m and 300m, in preparation for live firing on Wednesday. This went really well, my shooting is really coming on well having been consistent over the shoots to date, but I need to carry this on into our Annual Combat Marksmanship Test (ACMT) in week 11.
How many fingers?
Tuesday was the day everyone was apprehensive about, this was the day we were going in the chamber to be exposed to CS gas for the first time. Prior to this though we had our first outdoor assault course lesson. This was good fun, but I know this is going to get a lot harder when we have to tackle it with all of our equipment on.
Following the assault course was the chamber. Our corporal seemed to be looking forward to this very much. I was put in the last detail to go in the chamber, which meant there would be more CS gas in the chamber meaning we get it worse. We also, got to watch people coming out the chamber coughing and claiming they were blind, which was amusing but I knew my time was coming. So into the chamber I went. Our corporal made us do some dancing in there, to give us confidence in our kit and then it was time to take off my gas mask. Off it came, I got my regimental number out, the corps I was joining, then I took a deep breath. This was when I started choking and couldn’t open my eyes, but the corporal made me tell him how many fingers he was holding up before letting me out – what a gentlemen my corporal is! Coming out of the chamber I was coughing my lungs up and I thought I had gone blind. It wears off after about two minutes and you look back and laugh, but not with fond memories of when you first take your gas mask off! Was a fun day all in all though.
We completed our live firing 7 on the ranges on the Wednesday. This was live firing in different positions at 100m, 200m and 300m. I fired really well and got 159 points out of 180. That put me 3rd in our troop, so I was pretty pleased with that. Also, gave me more confidence going into my ACMT as long as I keep applying all the marksmanship principles. On Thursday morning we had a swimming PT session which was hard graft. You think it might be easier than circuits or a run, but it’s really not. We then had a lesson on BCD, and our map test. We had 40 minutes to complete it, which went well. Map reading is actually pretty good fun.
So on Friday morning we had our last hurdle before two weeks off. We had an outdoor PT assault course lesson. This was a lot harder than the first one, but really enjoyable. Takes you back to being a kid and jumping over things although you seem to have a lot more fear now. Once the assault course was completed we got changed and went home for a nice long two week break, oh and of course a nice few beers!!!!
Week 10 – Adventure Training
A huge culture shock upon coming back to Pirbright this week after having two weeks off and sunning myself in Spain. Coming back was good though to see all the lads and catch up what everyone got up to. Also, I was looking forward to this week as we were going to Wales (Soldier Development Week) for a weeks adventure training. This is spoken of as a good opportunity for us to get to know our troop staff better in a more relaxed environment.
After a four-hour coach journey we finally arrived in Sennybridge, South Wales (After stopping off for a Burger King of course). When we arrived we were shown around the camp and shown to our living accommodation, which encompassed all of Mather Troop sleeping in one room. The rest of Monday was relaxed, not really completing any activities apart from preparing for our hill walking the next morning.
Our first activity was hill walking which was walking ten miles across the Brecon Beacons in our group of five with a corporal. This was a really hard but really enjoyable day. We walked up some of the biggest hills I have ever seen (and down them luckily). The day was very relaxed, but had a serious undertone in map reading to ensure we could all navigate effectively. We even got treated to a burger at the end of the walk so as they say every cloud has a silver lining.
On Wednesday, we completed a day of abseiling and rock climbing. These was two activities I was looking forward to but a little apprehensive about due to the heights. Firstly, we abseiled in the morning. We had to go down the rock face backwards, blindfolded and change the karabiner which attaches us to the ropes. To incorporate the Army’s core values we had to put trust in a fellow recruit who had to direct us how to change the karabiner, whilst I obviously couldn’t see anything. This was massively nerve racking even if you know the instructor has a separate rope holding you. Eventually my feet touched the floor again and I must say I was pretty relieved.
Leap of faith
In the afternoon we moved on to rock climbing. We had three different routes to scale the rock face, all pretty difficult. After trying and completing all three we had to blindfold our partner and direct him up the rock face. This was interesting to do as they can not see and some parts of the climb you need to jump up or across, which meant they fell off the rock face. Overall, was a good day of activities. Wednesday evening was ‘skit’ night. This is where we completed skits on our training staff. Skits are taking the mick and role playing any situations we have found funny or any mannerisms they have. We performed two which were well received although my corporal did say ‘hope you look forward to Final Fling Horrix’. I sensed a little sarcasm in his voice! Thursday we went caving. This I was looking forward to but had never done it, so was interested to see what it was like. We had to move through the caves in ridiculously tight spaces, going down rivers in the caves and turning our lights off and working as a team to get to a point even though it was pitch black. The tightest space was called the letter box which looked too small to fit anyone through, but we all did even if we had to exhale to compress our chests. Caving was really good fun even if it is a little hairy at times.
Friday our group was on camp completing the high ropes and orienteering. The high ropes we worked as a team to get up different ropes and logs, whilst having someone blindfolded and assisting them up. This was good but pretty hard. We then had to do a leap of faith, by climbing up about 20 meters and jumping to grab a bar and hang onto it. This was fairly scary due to my fear of heights, but I was glad once I had done it. We then completed our orienteering in the afternoon which meant running around the barracks in pairs for an hour trying to navigate to twenty points and get the numbers. This felt like an hours PT sessions, but was well needed. We got 5 points off the main score and got 16/20 markers.
Overall a really good week and we enjoyed seeing a different side to the training team and having a good laugh with them. Also, really good to do some Adventure training and push my boundaries to do things I had never done before. Now back to the real training and a lovely five mile tab on Monday to get us back into the swing of things.”