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99.9% Need Not Apply

It’s a state of mind. Throughout 2008 Royal Marines Commandos where engaged in some of the fiercest, bloodiest battles in the Afghanistan campaign. All of their action, antics and sadly loss was daily fed right back into the news in the UK in particularly the 5 o’clock news on ITV, Just in time for a certain 15 year old to return from school and absorb everything in real time.

Couple the fact that Op Herrick was on going and a stellar tv documentary by Chris terril called on the frontline following 924 troop through training and subsequently into action I was hooked and had made up my mind. Waiting till precisely 15 and 9 months old I took my first step into the armed forces career office and announced I wanted to be a Royal Marine! To my naive surprise I was laughed at and told to piss off (looking back now I don’t blame them). I was determined not to be shaken by this and carried on persisting that they where wrong and to sign me up. “8 pull ups and I’ll sign the forms“ said the angry Warrant officer who was probably 40 years older than me. Looking up at the bar dressed in some shoddy pri Marne trousers and superdry coat I jumped up and smashed out the required pull ups, my first step to being a green eyed death machine was complete and know body cared especially not the bloke in uniform who was now signing my forms to allow me on to the next step, bloody bloke was chewing a wasp whilst doing it.

Step 1 complete 8 pull ups tick, now on to the psychometric test and interview. Looking around the room there was 10 other candidates, all older than me by the looks of them stronger to but as it turns out not as smart as there was to be only 1 who came out of that interview and test with a recommendation for the final part of the application phase. On to what was known as the Pre Joining Fitness Test and medical. This one required me to take the morning of school and catch the bus to the gym in my school uniform, not something that the examiner was expecting I’m sure. Timberland Boots off crappy school clothes off and into a fetching white T-shirt and shorts with my Adidas running shoes I was ready for what was about to come so I thought. “2.4 km warm up in 15 minutes with 2% incline on the treadmill followed by 2.4km best effort must be done in under 10 minutes with 2% incline“ said the examiner. It turns out that most people at this stage have trained for it, a minor error on my part and my first lesson in prior preparation. This pass or fail test literally was for what ever reason one of the hardest physical tests I have ever done. (Nowadays I could probably walk that test faster but not that day). With a lot of grimacing, dark thoughts, all round numbness and instant regret I dragged my 15 year old carcass over the line in 9 minutes 55 seconds Step 3 pass on to the medical. Quick grab off the balls by the doc and some unhelpful banter about my shit performance on the treadmill I was off to school for an afternoon of science.

Step 4 is the big one the most feared one and the bit that fills any ill prepared individual ie me with complete fear. The Potential Royal Marines Course or the PRMC was 5 days at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines being scrutinised every minute of the day by the finest fighters in the world. This one required my mum to sign me out of school for the whole week and also get me a train ticket to Exmouth in particular the train that goes straight to CTCRM.

This was the most daunting thing I had ever done in my whole life (ha nearly 16 years of it) I was absolutely bricking it and completely un prepared. I hadn’t done any running no weighted training nothing. After a short train journey we where met by a Royal Marine Commando instructor instantly hurling abuse as other civilians who where just on there way to Exmouth looked on. Grabbing my poorly packed bag I rushed as fast as I could to get in line and follow on with the men who where actually here to pass. We where in the cathedra, the home of Spartans the lions den and I could feel the misery and excellence that this place installed and thrived upon. Im in 2 minds here to either give the full run down of the PRMC and the tests involved or brush over it and move on with step 5 or the final step. Given that the Marines have decided to remove the PRMC it doesn’t hold any value to potential recruits or interested young individuals. In a nutshell this week was horrific comprising of a lot of fitness tests, getting thrashed around Woodbury Commons endurance course and a moment that has been etched into my mind For life, the fail rate on this course was huge and those that made it through truly earned the right to be there.

It’s no spoiler to say that I passed this week and was sent on my way on Friday morning with my newly earned black military boots and blue T-shirt that proved I’d passed the hardest entry test In to the British military. This made the last few months of school very interesting as I was just counting down the days till I had to take that train journey once again but this time it would be to undertake 32 weeks of the hardest basic training in the world ran by some of the scariest blokes I had ever seen.

I have bloody Chris Terril and ITV news for pushing me on this path and inflicting all that pain and suffering at such an early age. So cheers for that now on to finishing my last week of school followed by Saturday at home then Sunday on the train to Lympstone into the lions den again and this time I was checking in for the full experience.

If you’ve managed to get through all that waffle next Monday I intend to go through my experience of recruit training and all the problems that arose from that. Next weeks blog I hope will be off some benefit to potential Royal Marines although training is always changing and my experience is 12 years old, the fundamentals of sucking it up and always winning remains the same. In my mind I do still believe that 99.9% need not apply and I hope to share why that is with you in the future.

Until then train hard and achieve everyday. If you guys and girls are enjoying the blogs if you could subscribe to my website and social media (see my other blog for this story jeesh) that would help me grow massively, and feel free to comment below with any questions.

**Commando on the front line by Chris Terril is a must watch**

Goonigans HQ out.

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Great blog Steve, now I know a little of what you were doing when you were just a wee laddie dating my daughter! I'm impressed you had the energy to do both!!

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