154 Troop Diary – Week 19
This week started off with some intense physical training (PT) down on the Bottom Field. We continued to work on our timings over the assault course, up the ropes and the regain. Along with the PT we had our introduction to fighting in built-up areas and the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). Included in our GPMG training were the safe weapons handling drills, how to strip and clean it along with an introduction shoot.
The week is more affectionately known as “Death by Bottom Field” just because of the amount of time we spend down there. In previous sessions we have built up from carrying nothing to then our basic 10lbs of webbing, then introducing a rifle until finally we were carrying the full 21lbs plus the rifle. This is the weight that we would be required to carry on Bottom Field pass-out, the culmination of all our Bottom Field training. And although the gradual increases in weight did not seem like much they make a big difference when your throwing yourself over the 6 foot wall or climbing the 30 foot ropes.
In most sessions we started off with a good 10 minute warm up, slowly jogging and doing press-ups and squats to loosen the joints off. The rest of the session usually follows the routine that we will conduct the Bottom Field pass-out assessment. We would put all our kit on and it would stay on for the rest of the session, our rifle slung down our backs so we have got both arms free. Then we would start with the ropes, doing a couple of full and half climbs. Next would be the assault course which we would normally conduct a circuit style evolution incorporating the obstacles and climbs. Next would come the hardest part, the fireman’s carries, 200m of lung busting pain as you carry your partner across the Bottom Field with you both wearing all your kit. Last but not least we would perform the regain over the water tank. This involves shimmying across a horizontal rope until you are suspended across the tank and then dropping off to a full hang before getting yourself back up on to the rope and along to the other end. If you do not get it right you end up going for a swim. We worked hard with the aim of the high intensity workouts being to force the body to adapt to working at this level so when we completed the Bottom Field Pass-out, our final physical assessment, we would find it much easier.
Half way through the week we were introduced to the GPMG. We practiced and carried out the weapons handling drills, just as we had done with our personal weapons, before doing a weapons handling test and a live shoot at the end of the week. Now that we have fired and can safely handle the weapon we will be taking it on exercise and some of us will have the pleasure of carrying all 10.9kg of it! Friday finally consisted of getting to grips with the GPMG for real on the 25m range on camp. This consisted of an introduction shoot firing off a number of bursts and completing all the drills like we have been taught. This went well and was enjoyed by the entire Troop and now we are looking forward to using it on exercise.
Overall this week has been physically hard on the Bottom Field but it has been enjoyable as well. It has boosted the Troops confidence battling through another tough week in Royal Marine training and we will all be recovering over the weekend ready to take on our Bottom Field Passout.