Back to school: Five months on the Artificer’s course

Sgt Griffiths
Sgt Griffiths

I am Sergeant Jonathan ‘Griff’ Griffiths, I have been in the REME for 14 years, during which I have been an Armourer and Metalsmith, completing two basic courses and two class one courses. I am currently training to become an Artificer*

More assignment work

After being on the course for five months and settling into the daily routine, the course demands are beginning to move up a gear.   The course has just completed level 3 maths and science exams, which for me personally is a major hurdle that is a milestone in the course.  The obvious jump in workload is through being given a lot more assignment work to complete.  I find the majority of it fairly straightforward, but have had assignments that have been confusing to understand the task requirements. To get them completed I have had to sit with the instructor that issued the assignment. Ensuring a good working relationship with your instructors is definitely advisable.

Life within the company is also quite demanding at times, alongside the increase in course related work, the regimental demands often complicate an already packed timetable.  Such demand just have to be accepted and got on with. The issues with the requirements of work at a company level or for the sergeants mess is that it is issued with complete ignorance to what is occurring in the course timetable.  This can result in, for some, going on an exercise in a quiet period of the course meaning they can focus and perform well. If you are unlucky enough to have to go on an exercise during a hectic time of the course this can result in having very little time to prepare and rehearse, resulting in a huge increase in stress and pressure that has a wide effect on your performance on all aspects of the course and personal goals during the working week, such as basic things like being able to get time to do PT, squeezing it in.  Also not forgetting contact time with family and friends on top of all of this.

Share the workload

During high-pressure phases of the course there is little that can be done other than muddling through the best you can, although if something is going to be severely affected it is best to let instructors/company staff know.  There are many opportunities for carrying out a sport during the course, funds are available to aid you to do this.  This should be taken full advantage of if it is possible to do so.  One thing to bear in mind is that it is wise not to take on too much, especially if you are the kind of person that will struggle academically. Whist it is easy to take things on and people will be more than willing to pass responsibility on to you, it is worthwhile considering if the workload would be overly excessive resulting in course work suffering and people being let down.  A solution to this is to find a few guys interested in a sport and go into it together, so you can share the workload.

Five months down

Mess life within the unit is good. The forecast of events is always full and the majority of events are well organised.   In fact the only negative with the mess is that most of the functions occur during the week which means staring at a white board for 7 hours the following day means you can’t take full advantage of taking part fully as traditionally expected, as trying to learn after having a few ports and pints of beer is painful.

PT is on a Monday which is good timing for the lesson as it breaks up Monday.  It is a shame and a disadvantage only having one lesson in the week.  I have tried to overcome this disadvantage by getting in the gym on a Tuesday and Thursday evening and going for a longer run on Wednesday sports afternoon.  Of course when the pressure increases during the course and assignment hand-in dates approach, the only thing you can do is decrease the gym time, which is annoying.  I always start the week planning to go, and try hard to get there, or it would be easy to stop going and fall into the trap of just doing a single PT lesson on a Monday, which is obviously not enough to maintain fitness.  Five months down and I’m “good to go”.

*Artificers receive advanced training in their trade and are able to pick up a range of further qualifications such as the BTEC Higher Diploma, HNC, HND or BSc degree. Artificers are then able to progress even further up the ranks with successful completion of the intensive Artificer course leading to Staff Sergeant and the opportunity to then progress to Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1).  Being an artificer can also lead to an Officer’s commission and leadership training at RMA Sandhurst, after which it is possible to become a Chartered Engineer.

More at this link: www.army.mod.uk/reme/career/18066.aspx

Back to school: First steps to becoming an Artificer

Sgt Griffiths

Sgt Griffiths

I am Sergeant Jonathan ‘Griff’ Griffiths and I’ve been in the REME for 14 years, during which I have been an Armourer and Metalsmith.  Completing two basic courses and two class one courses.  This has meant that I have spent long periods of time in trade training.

I began my Metalsmith course in Jan 1998 and after long stand downs due to the training facilities being upgraded to health and safety standard I completed Metalsmith trade training in December 1999. I joined 6th Battalion REME, based in Tidworth garrison.  As a Lance Corporal, I was posted to 7 Transport Regiment RLC in September 2003.  Soon after my arrival, I was returned to SEME to complete my Metalsmith class one course from February to July 2004.  I was then promoted to Corporal on posting to 16 Tank Transporter Squadron.  In October 2005 I attended my PAAB and passed first time.

After being selected from ASCLB in 2007, I began re-trading to Armourer and completed a basic course followed soon after by my Armourer class one course –  both courses covering the period April 2007 to September 2008. On completion of my class one I was posted  to 4 Close Support Battalion REME, whilst in this post I was selected for Artificer* loading and began my course in August 2011.

Back to school

On arrival to 10 Training Battalion to get booked in at the RDO, the enormity of the course ahead begins to sink in.  On the first day the course is quite rushed as the first task is to move to Arborfield to attend Artificers Command and Field Course part 1.  It is definitely worth pre-empting this by packing to attend the REME Arms School before you arrive in Bordon. 

At REME Arms School, the course begins immediately leaving little time for organisation.  On first glance of the way of life of the REME Arms School, it is clear that you must adapt to a life of being in an Army training school very quickly. The course goes very quickly and includes a PFA on the first Wednesday; some pre training is a must, and work to getting at least 30 seconds below your time as the Arborfield course is  hard.

The ACFC course content has a civilian feel to it as you go through the week, but the content goes towards the HND and is essential for gaining the qualification. There is a trip to DE&S at Abbey Wood, Bristol. It is a good trip and refreshing to  escape the classroom.  This trip is also an opportunity to get to know some of the contacts there for your Artificer project.

On returning to Bordon getting into daily life happens quickly: block 1 maths, science and engineering materials go past very quickly.  At a similar time you will be settling into routine of the Battalion.  Before you arrive, I recommend not studying Maths and Science in detail, because you will do that here, but, definitely get reacquainted with the laws of maths, such as transposing formulae and refreshing SI units, conversion factors and practicing converting units, as these simple things can cause you to fail questions in exams.

In our time here I have tried hard to get into a daily routine as much as possible.   But be aware that during the working week and even during your working day things will come up to disrupt that routine, it is just a question of adapting to the environment and getting on with it.  

Our first exam was hard and required focused revision.  They are doable, you just have to put the time and effort in, it is as simple as that.

*Artificers receive advanced training in their trade and are able to pick up a range of further qualifications such as the BTEC Higher Diploma, HNC, HND or BSc degree. Artificers are then able to progress even further up the ranks with successful completion of the intensive Artificer course leading to Staff Sergeant and the opportunity to then progress to Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1).  Being an artificer can also lead to an Officer’s commission and leadership training at RMA Sandhurst, after which it is possible to become a Chartered Engineer.

More at this link: www.army.mod.uk/reme/career/18066.aspx