Alpha training


I attended a condensed Alpha (7 consecutive days) recently and below are some thoughts on my experience that I hope will help anyone in the future.


You arrive on the Friday but your week starts on the Saturday. Each day you’re up from approximately 0530 for an early breakfast then lessons, Drill and Phys throughout the day before finishing around 2030. You then have to iron and revise for the following day so you are working HARD throughout the week. There is almost no downtime.

Main areas covered:

SAA (Skill At Arms) – the aim of the week is to get you to pass the WHT (Weapons Handling Test) by the end of the week. This means lots of lessons on the SA80. Main areas covered: NSP (Normal Safety Procedure), strip the rifle, function test, preparing to fire and unloading safely. It is simple but you need to listen and continually repeat the procedure you are taught. You must pass the WHT to progress to Bravo, I believe there is an intensive weekend you can do should you be unable to pass that week.

Phys: First day you redo your tests from Selection (2K run, mid-thigh pull, medicine ball throw). Remaining lessons are to introduce fundamentals such as correct dress (iron shirt and shorts), circuits, high intensity aerobic exercise and finally the TAB. TAB is just a practise but try to keep up with the Troop regardless of how intense the terrain is. TAB caught a few really fit guys out, as marching fast with weight isn’t something people normally practise.

General Army lessons: sat in a theatre learning CDRILS, cold/hot injury, discipline procedure, etc. Take notes – don’t fall asleep!

Overnight exercise: One night under a poncho to introduce you to field administration. You’ll learn basics of my weapon, my kit, myself. Try and stay dry and get some sleep.

Drill: Before you arrive try and force your unit to teach you: coming to attention/stand easy, marching in formation, right/left turn and coming to halt. Most of us didn’t know this and a good way to make a positive impression on your Sgt is to know some basics.

General notes

Alpha is an introduction to Army life so they do scream and shout when you don’t listen, however as they point out, it is not your dad’s Army, so no doing push ups in the pouring rain because one of you left your socks out. I really enjoyed my time and got on well with my Section, but it is HARD work. By day five or six you are feeling the fatigue in your body (especially if you’re an old man like me) and overarching tiredness due to lack of sleep.

Main motto for the week is: right place, right time, right kit. Follow those three rules for every lesson/session and you should be fine. I believe only the WHT is pass/fail and Bravo dependant so the remaining is an intro. Go in with the right attitude and you’ll be fine!

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