RECRUIT DIARY WEEK 19 – 166 TROOP
1. Week 19 is commonly known as Bottom Field Crash-Week – the preparation phase for Week 20’s Bottom Field Pass-Out. It consists of intensive daily doses in tackling the high ropes, carries and obstacles of bottom field (carrying the full test weight). Every session is an examination of resolve and strength, something that becomes very apparent by your 4th lap of the assault course! The concept is simple: train hard, fight easy – intensity of training establishes familiarity with the techniques, weight and attitude required for success, making the test itself one of the easier Bottom Field sessions that you’ll complete. The favoured method to achieve this intensity was to rotate through the assault course, a fireman’s carry and a climb of the 30 ft rope – over and again for as many rotations possible within 45 minutes. This is then the target to beat on the following day – an utterly exhausting undertaking.
2. The week isn’t all PT: the military training focuses on the tuition and instruction of General Purpose Machine Gun – the standard Section support weapon for a light-role Troop (a medium calibre machine-gun). We therefore spent long hours practising the loading, firing, and stoppage drills with our Section Instructors. The Troop really enjoys these practical lessons, learning by hand a weapon which has been a mainstay of the British Forces for almost 60 years. It took a while to adapt the skills and drills we have become accustomed to with our SA80 rifles, but once we were confident, we got our first experience of the weapon firing live. The noise and firepower it produces makes it really satisfying to operate. We’re now really keen to get some hands-on experience in the field (even if next time will only be blank rounds!).
3. Between GPMG and Bottom Field were various other tactical lectures, like OBUA (Operations in Built Up Areas) and Principles of Defence. With each passing week the training gets more tactical and we feel more like trained amphibious infantry. But then on the flip side, as Duty Recruit Troop this week – the chores and administration we completed after work also served as a reminder to ensure we remained grounded!