229 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 3
- At last! After a tough first two weeks adjusting to the military way of life and what many felt an eternity in the foundation block we were moved into the ‘grots’ (Accommodation Blocks). Many people would turn their noses up at having to stay in a room with 6 of their colleagues, but not us. As soon as we walked in we loved it, 6 beds, military lockers in between “pit” spaces and civvy lockers above the bed. It is a simple lay out, but it is OUR simple lay out. Well at least that’s what we thought, until we got a shout to the landing and were given a firm ‘gypsies’ from the Training Team to let us know in actual fact it was the Training Teams accommodation, not ours, until we earn it.
The week was kicked off with a locker inspection by the Drill Instructor and members of the Training Team at 0700. The purpose of this was to ensure that we hadn’t done what most young lads would do and launched all of our scrunched up clothing into the lockers to make the move from foundation to the grots quicker. Straight away, as it has been continuously drilled into us from the get go, the standard was meticulously high, and despite our best efforts they found plenty of errors; cue press ups, and a lot of puddles from the dregs of emptied water bottles. Clothing and equipment to be cleaned to a standard that many of us didn’t even know existed proves tough to adapt to, but as each day comes to a close we are one step closer to getting it.
3. At the moment we are one of only two troops currently going through the Gymnasium process. Running parallel with this is a PTIs course so as luck would have it, we are the troop that has to be used for their assessments. This translates to a lot of double IMF sessions, killer! IMF stands for Initial Military Fitness. Carried out in trousers, issued trainers and a t-shirt, IMF is a peculiar blend of strength and cardio conducted with a mix of circuit training and running designed around preparing our muscles and joints for the upcoming weighted training when we move towards the bottom field. As well as this we also practice rope climbing; technique is everything. Rope climbing starts off with a teaching session, which has a steep learning curve like everything here. By the end of the session, most of the lads are either half way up the rope or the full 30 feet up in the air. It looks fun when given the demo, until you get half way up the rope realise you still have a long way to climb, and the only thing stopping you coming off the rope is correct technique. It rapidly changes from fun, to realising there’s a long drop underneath you. IMF sessions are also put in place to promote uniformity (another thing that has been hammered home to us) and attention to detail, with every inch of every individual being critically observed by Physical Training Instructors known as strikers, and any errors in our movement or technique being corrected immediately. It can be quite daunting when you see a unit charging towards you like he’s going to knock you out because you aren’t pushing your shoulders back far enough, these problems are quickly ironed out.
- Drill is another massive part of our week in this early stage. Drill is seen as an integral part of training, again promoting the same things that we have to adhere to in the gym, uniformity, attention to detail and discipline. Prior to every drill session, uniform is thoroughly inspected to make sure that enough personal admin has been done in preparation for the session and the high standards seen throughout the Royal Marines are kept up. Attention to detail is crucial, a belt being placed a centimetre too far to the right or left so the buckle doesn’t line up with the pocket could have you in the mire. There’s a 3 strike rule with your uniform, 3 minor or one major error will have you removed from the troop during the inspection, to the flank. The flank is the last place you want to be. Fortunately, we are covered by lumi tabs which give us a bit of saving grace the first three weeks of training and are what all new Troops wear for their initial 3 weeks of training. But yeah, back to the flank. If you get flanked for anything, it’s not good. It’s where you get remedial training as a correctional process to make sure you get things right. If half the Troop gets flanked then the whole Troop gets it. Meaning you have to report back to the parade ground at 2000 to be re-inspected. Time is gold at CTCRM so anything that can be avoided like this is crucial. On the inspection, 6/7 lads got collared for not shaving, 1 chose to lie and make out that he had just shaved “poorly”. Integrity is a massive part of the Royal Marines values and something that most serving Commandos point out as one of the most important. With this being said, it turns out there’s only so much a ‘shield’ can cover you from, we learnt this the hard way.
- Thursday and Friday were dominated by enjoyable weapons handling lessons, allowing us to get familiar with the makeup and handling of our rifles. Crucial lessons like being taught how to clean and maintain your weapon along with, fire rates, different types of ammunition and the necessary safety drills. This is something everybody enjoys because that’s what everyone imagines themselves doing when signing up to join this force.
- Following a good two days from the troop we were met with an unbelievably welcome shore leave, and a Sunday off. A chance to have a few pints with the boys, bond, laugh the week off and just relax. Well I say that, but Sunday being off is probably the wrong term. I don’t know if it’s possible to have a day off here, any days off have to be used to catch up with all the things you might have not had time to do in the week, which basically means a full day of admin. Next for us is Exercise First Step next week, our first night out with a weapon on Woodbury Common, potentially our biggest challenge yet.
229 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 4
- Week 4 began promptly on Monday with a thorough room inspection and despite working hard there was still a number of pick up points that needed rectifying before reaching the required standard. Gym has been ramping up steadily and has now peaked with a double IMF session consisting of various body exercises such as press ups, sit-ups and pull-ups, not to mention the notorious rope climbs. These soon took their toll and resulted in us leaving the gym rather worse for wear physically, but mentally stronger than ever to overcome a challenge of greater intensity.
2. Tuesday included Exercise FIRST STEP on none other than the infamous Woodbury Common where we expanded our knowledge on maintenance of kit, sentries, and taking cover- which was undoubtedly the best part of the exercise. It felt good to satisfy the crave for the type of training we all joined up to do, namely the basics of soldering.
3. It’s the middle of the week now and the weekend is in sight acting as a light at the end of a long tunnel motivating us to grit our teeth and smash the double IMF session that every lad loves to endure. The real reason for the seemingly insignificant and sometimes tediously strict rules in the gym has become apparent as the commando spirit can be seen growing in the lads (provided that they put in the effort on their part). With that in mind, having been “in our places for camp circuits” we then moved onto our places in the stances with the chosen weapon of the Royal Marines, the SA80 A2. This culminated by completing our weapons handling test on Friday preparing us for our Exercise Quick Cover the following week, but not before a rather typically gruelling swimming session. The Troops cohesion is starting to gain momentum at this point and its dawned on everyone that nothing short of digging out blind with 100% effort will satisfy the, with what seemed at the time, impossibly high standards of the Training Team. As each day progresses however these standards have been met and our limits redefined which was visible on the drill square having received positive feedback from our drill instructor.
- It’s the weekend at last after a hard week and nothing says this more than our aching muscles having endured a march back from our exercise leading on to an IMF session the following day. After a relaxing and well earned night out we spent the Sunday preparing for our next exercise. The mood is light hearted and the morale high but I can’t help but feel this is calm before the storm looking forward to next week.