T.A summer basic training course


Its highly likely now ill be participating on the basic training course on july 12th... which lasts 5 weeks. Does anyone know if its 5 weeks straight or do you come home for weekends or do you have some kind of break?

If its a Summer Challenge you are refering to, then its all the way through with the odd day off if you're lucky. It all depends on the programme, which has changed since last year.
Walterz_biz said:

Its highly likely now ill be participating on the basic training course on july 12th... which lasts 5 weeks. Does anyone know if its 5 weeks straight or do you come home for weekends or do you have some kind of break?

WTF is this all about? I've never heard of a basic course for TA lasting 5 weeks and I'm just re-joining now. More info from anyone would be appreciated! Thanks :)
yeah im doing it, but its 7 weeks. summer challenge wales.

oldcolt, its basically you go away for certain number of weeks and do all your training in one hit instead of the weekends.
Summer challange is 5 weeks infantry, 7 weeks non infantry
4 Div RTC (Malta Barracks) is not running a Summer Challenge this year however they are running one of thier regular 9 day (Non Inf) and 14 day (Inf), TSC(A) camp starting on Friday 24th July
There are definitley still places available for the Non Inf which is the equivalent of weekends 1-6 in one hit!
I think the time differs for different areas. I've heard Midlands Challenge is 5 weeks and Welsh is 7. I don't think it really matters if you're going to Infantry or not.

I'm going on Welsh Challenge hopefully.
Inf is 7 weeks,
Other arms is 5 weeks ,
I've been a DS on 2 summer challenges and the Inf CIS course has to be longer due to the extra stuff covered.

And no you do not get weekends off- You'll be lucky if you get any days off.
Adventure training for 2-3 days then phase1 ,phase2 then CMSR.
The sylabus is the same as the weekends but it is back to back.
Take a sense of humour 'cos you will need it. also keep a perspective on it. it is a long time but once its complete you are a trained soldier.
It all depends on whose running it.
Midlands Challenge is 3 weeks long - the basic course ie Phase 1 training. With CIC starting the day after, and running for 2 weeks. So it is actually 2 seperate courses. But lots of people do them all in one long stint.
summer challenge is a 7 week course for everyone.

first 4 weeks are basic training that everyone does

week 5 is a "relaxed" week of adventure training

weeks 6 + 7 are your "trade traning" eg someone joining RA does his/her guns course, someone joining inf does advanced inf course etc

This is going by what happened at last years summer challenge Scotland. I presume any other courses will may vary for example Shamrock Challenge in Norn Iron is only 4 weeks and only consists of basic training.
(Insert jokes about planting potatoes and digging for peat here)
I did Shamrock last year.


Do it, speak to 2 R Irish. I would give you the number, but I'm not sure I have the publically available one. Google them or Yell.com and get yourself on that course! Best way to get the job done!


**Edited for shocking spelling and punctuation.**
homer4president I think the SC one is five weeks, at least it was last year. Well for INF at least, it was a week shorter for Support Arms. Can't big it up enough guys its a good way to get everything done at one go if you can get the time off and the mates you make are damn good aswell.

The current format for 51 (Scottish) Brigade’s Exercise Summer Challenge is I believe (for Infantry):

Week 1: Basic Military Skills (Skill at Arms, Fieldcraft lessons, First Aid, Map Reading, CBRN theory, basically all your MATTS training). This will culminate in one non tactical night in the field to practice harbour drills and the like.

Week 2: Range Package up to APWT standard, with concurrent activities in the form of Respirator testing, a Navigation Exercise etc…

Week 3: A three day tactical Field Training Exercise focusing primarily on patrolling skills and section level tactics.

Week 4: Pre Combat Infantryman’s Course week, further honing of skills and drills in preparation for Phase 2 Training.

Week 5/6: Combat Infantryman’s Course, TA CIC instructors come up from ITC Catterick to take the recruits through their Phase 2 Training, after which they will pass out as Trained Soldiers.

Week 7: Adventure Training at Rothiemurchus in the Cairngorm National Park.

Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJU0lKnDsNQ

An excellent account of TA Summer Challenge 2007 by one of the recruits that had taken part was featured in the Royal Regiment of Scotland Journal last year. It will no doubt be very useful for those interested to learn more about what is involved in the course and indeed what you get out of it, so have considered it worth quoting the article at length:

Two words to sum it up: “An adventure”. There have been a lot of reports and write-ups on how much of a success the TA Summer Challenge was over the summer of 2007. A great many of them seem to have been written by officers discussing how recruits pass their training. However a rather limited amount of them have been written by any of the recruits that took park on Summer Challenge 2007.

So when I was asked by my OC to write a report on my thoughts about Summer Challenge, I jumped at the chance. I have been in the TA for just under a year now. The reasons why I wanted to join the TA are much the same reasons as are mentioned in the television adverts; looking for an adventure and a break from everyday mundane civilian life. I also wanted to join the TA because I am a people person, rather than a paper person. I have previously worked as a life-guard and a Door Steward working in a team as well as for the public, and I love the uncertainty day to day events of both jobs.

When I was 16 I had a job in an office as a junior in administration. I saw my hot warm summer fly past me while being stuck in a wee stuffy office. I vowed from that day that I would never work in an office 9 till 5 when I could be outside having fun. Ever since then I have been looking for jobs that are different. I wish to have a career in the Police and I thought the TA would be great as a building block to get in and help with my chosen career. A chance to brush up on my communication and leadership skills, and run about all day getting fit, and get paid for it… what more can anyone ask for?

The time came round again in early 2007 to start looking for a summer job, and once again joining the TA was sitting in the back of my mind. However being a full time student studying Law at university, I did not think I had time to do the training that was needed to become a soldier. While working one Saturday night, I was talking to a client of one of my pubs. He turned out to be an ex regular soldier. At first our conversation was based on his time in the Army and the operational theatres that he had been in, and it then it moved onto what I wanted to do. I told him that I was interested in joining the TA to get a feel of what the Army has to offer however my long term goal was to join the police.

This is when he informed me that Summer Challenge was on this summer in Inverness. I realised that I could be living in the field, training in first aid, firing weapons and getting fit, but most importantly I would be getting paid for it. Another bonus was that I would be staying in barracks and so I would not have the stress of finding accommodation and food. I went home from work at 4 that morning, straight on to my computer and found more about Summer Challenge 2007. I read the advert; it sounded amazing and just what I was looking for. Being out side in the summer and getting paid to keep fit and get a tan. So I applied. Unfortunately, whether I applied very early in the recruiting scheme or whether I just kept on missing the phone calls, it seemed like ages until I herd anything about Summer Challenge. And I began to get quite anxious as I needed some sort of money to get me through my final year of university, plus I had the added stress of exams looming.

However I finally received a letter from my local unit asking me to go in for an induction day. I did not know what to expect so I thought I would go in with a fresh hair cut and a suit to impress. I am sure that there were many sniggers as every one else was in casual clothes. We spent the morning listening to Sergeants telling us about life in the TA and what we could expect our futures to be if we joined. I remember my eyes just getting wider and wider thinking why on earth I had never thought about this sooner. This was me through to the bone.

I was asked that day if I would like to be sworn in and start my TA life that day over a good lunch of mince and tatties, which was the best I had ever had. I could not wait, so after my medical I jumped at the opportunity and swore my allegiance to the Queen in front of the Major. It was a proud moment for me. However before I went on Summer Challenge I had to complete my TAFS (TA Foundation Scheme) one and TAFS two. And even before that I had to finish off my 3rd year Law exams.

Fortunately my exams finished just 3 weeks before Summer Challenge was about to start, so there was little hanging around for me. It did mean that I had the added stress of making sure I passed my TAFS to go on Summer Challenge. The TAFS one weekend went with out a hitch so to speak. My Sergeant Major instructed the small group of us on how to march, then salute, then march and salute at the same time, which saw me almost fall on my face a good couple of times. The TAFS 2 weekend was at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh and actually made me think about not wanting to continue my training. All I can remember doing is marching, marching and more marching. One day it was hot and then the rain came. Soaked through to the skin, with boots that had not been broken in so I also had blisters but I remember thinking that this is them testing you.

The Big Day

The Big Day came and I got up early in order to make it into the TA barracks. I was sharing the taxi with a friend I had already met in the TA and who is now one of my best friends. He was slightly younger than me but in the same boat, anxious and nervous about the next 7 weeks and what it would have in store for us. However I wasn’t as anxious as him, as I had been living away from home since I was 17/18 so leaving to stay in barracks away from home did not bother me.

We arrived at the barracks and met the rest of the guys who would be joining us from our unit for the next 7 weeks. They were all a good bunch of guys. On the bus there were many anxious faces, as there was about a dozen of us from the same unit heading up, some of whom I had never met before. I think most of us were anxious because we did not really know what to expect in Inverness. We were all bricking it to an extent. However we made one pact. No matter what happened we would look out for each other.

I suppose that was one of the best things we could have done. As one of the older boys, I was able to help from time to time some of the younger ones who found it tougher than us living away from home. When we moved into Cameron Barracks, I had my mate with me on my left sharing my locker and a lad that I had become mates with on TAFS two to my right so I felt quite comfortable. However it was a daunting task for many having to share a locker with someone you did not know. This put a lot of guys off at the start especially in a room of 22. But that was a part of Army life, “character building” as we would always be told by our superiors. We were stuck with it and just made the most of it.

That day we were also introduced to our Colour Sergeant and Sergeant Major, we were told what to expect over Summer Challenge. The Colour Sergeant was a small man, but well built, and was slightly fiery. I knew just looking at him and listening to him that he was going to be a good guy, a good joker. However the Sergeant Major was slightly more worrying, slightly younger that the Colour, slightly taller as well but twice as wide. I remember thinking to myself to watch out for him. Then we saw the RSM and a lot of faces turned white immediately. This man was tall and built like a tank, he had a piercing stare that made you sit or stand upright. He had a fantastic presence over us all. We felt like true recruits.

Later that day we were split into our sections and introduced to our Sergeant and Corporal. My Sergeant was a Highlander, an excellent teacher, very open and told it straight. He seemed to get on with everyone in the camp and he took us for skill at arms classes, which were always a good crack. He was also very big in to discipline. He went out of his way to make sure that we were happy and adjusting to the new life. As well as this he was also a very experienced soldier, who spent the next couple of weeks letting us into all the little secrets of living and surviving as a TA soldier. As well as our Sergeant we had a section Corporal.

The Corporal in charge of our section was from my unit back home which made things easier in the first couple of days. He was also a fantastic teacher and very laid back, so respect for him immediately flourished, similar to that for an older tougher wiser brother. We got on well with our Corporal so much so he and another Corporal would frequently come in asking for equipment, the odd pen or the odd iron, or just sit on the ends of our beds telling stories. To this day we are still very good friends.

There were a lot of younger lads and they came from all walks of life. Some of them were students like me. They tended to stand out more in the crowd, as they were more confident than the other lads, as well as sometimes more arrogant. There were also a lot of guys who had just left school and they were learning to stand on their own two feet for the first time. I remember the infamous 6 section. This was a group of mismatches that never seemed to grasp the concept of good admin; they would always be running out of the accommodation block late, dressed in the wrong kit or running in the opposite direction from the classroom. The days seemed to last for ever.

We were up early in the morning for breakfast and going to bed late, and within a couple of days I found that I was full of energy. I felt that this life was better than the student and work life that I had been living. I was, for the first time, truly excited about everything I did; I was learning new skills, getting fit and getting a tan. I remember looking at my account for the first time after the pay went in and I was amazed at how much I had been paid, for doing what felt like relatively nothing because I was having so much fun. There were rifle classes, first aid classes, CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiation and Nuclear) training as well as PT sessions. It was amazing and exhausting fun. And then came section attacks.

Section Attacks

Section Attacks were one of the best bits of Summer Challenge, apart from bayonet training which I will mention later on. We were introduced to section attacks at the end of the first week. I remember they were in a big cows’ field full of what cows do best, and a bog. We were guaranteed to get wet just walking through it as in some places mud was up to our knees. With mud and water everywhere, firing blanks from our rifles and using smoke grenades and drill HE grenades, it was amazing. We did section attacks all day drying off in the sun watching the other sections.

We went back to the field to do them several times through Summer Challenge. I remember with my Corporal, I was usually put as the grenade man, which I felt was the hardest job of them all. It involved me moving round with the Corporal as he laid a fire base, then crawling through all the mud and muck in the field to throw a grenade in the enemy trench and then open fire. It was always hard work and with a Corporal screaming at you to keep on going, whilst out of breath and with the adrenaline pounding, crawling through smoke and mud, it was amazing. Another good lesson I remember was being gassed by CS gas, which makes you cough, splutter and your eyes water like nothing ever has before.

No matter what anyone says and how to prepare your self, it does not help much the first time when you get gassed. I remember taking off my gas mask and being asked my number, rank and name. I took a deep breath and did not
feel anything. However I could taste something, an almost smoky taste. I thought nothing of it; it was easy I thought to myself. Perhaps I was one of those in a million who does not feel the effects of it. I opened my mouth to speak still thinking there was nothing to it. Then BANG I was knocked for six, almost instantly as I began to speak. I started coughing and my eyes
were burning, my nose was running down my face and I struggled to say everything. Then I was thrown out of the hut to allow the wind to blow off the gas and to try and work out what had just happened. I loved it.


The Combat Infantryman’s Course instructors came up from Catterick at the end of week 4. The first thing they did when they arrived was to take us into the classroom and make us all resit our tests. After that the Captain told us to pack up our kit as we would be moved around in the barracks. We were not happy with our section being changed. However looking back on it, it was
probably for the best as it brought into our sections those lads who had joined the rest of us for the two weeks just to do their CIC.

My section was reassigned a new Corporal. Luckily for us he was another Highlander. He started off with the rest of the CIC staff being cold as ice; however we later were able to warm him round. We spent 4 days out in the field where we were taught more advanced survival techniques. This was absolutely mind blowing. The amount of knowledge that this man had was amazing. And the stories that he would come away with would make everyone laugh.

The best part of CIC by far was the bayonet training. All of us were looking forward to it. However we did not expect what actually happened. We helped set up the training area at Fort George and then were told to start running. We first of all started running round the ranges and then crawling. Then we were taken over the road to the beach that was covered in large pebbles. Then to the sea. And we went in it, a good couple of times.

After that we were taken back to the training area to start stabbing sandbags as though our lives depended on it, shouting “Kill, Kill, Kill” and working ourselves into a frenzy. It was very scary looking back on it, but no less enjoyable. Before we knew it was the end of CIC, and we were all stood to attention as the Captain congratulated all those who had passed. Then something happened that I will remember for the rest of my TA career and beyond. Our Section Corporal called us over and shook all of our hands, congratulating us for passing CIC and wishing us good luck in our careers that followed. And then it hit me; I was now a trained Private soldier in the Territorial Army.

Looking back

Looking back on Summer Challenge 2007, I am amazed that I had not undertaken something like that sooner. It was by far the best experience of my life so far. It gave me a great sense of achievement and insight into life in the Army and what it has to offer. There was an overwhelming feeling of pride which I still feel today being part of the TA. I am still in the TA, training to become a Mortarman on the 81mm mortar. As well as this I am hoping to go away with the TA to Poland in the summer and possibly do a tour with 3 SCOTS in Afghanistan early next year.

Pte Martyn Coulter, 51st Highland, 7th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland (7 SCOTS).

Also for those looking for a heads up with respect to Exercise Summer Leader, there was also an article in the Journal about Ex Summer Leader 2007, written by one of the Officer Cadets that took part:

Personally I found the transition from civilian to military life a reasonably comfortable one. Being a student, the early mornings were a bit of a shock to the system however within a few days of Summer Challenge I felt right at home. I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 weeks at Summer Challenge in Inverness where I completed all my basic training. From not knowing the first thing about soldiering, I became proficient in areas such as weapon handling, map reading, first aid, CBRN, and I also noticed a vast improvement in my fitness and endurance.

After completing Phase 1 training on Summer Challenge, I went directly on to Summer Leader in Aberdeen to complete Modules 2 and 3 of Officer Training, which lasted just over 4 weeks. Thinking back, a couple of phrases stick out in my memory: “a sense of urgency” and “stop monging it!”. It just so happened that my Platoon Sergeant, Sgt McClellan from the RLC, was also a PT Instructor. So if anybody messed up they were in for a lot of phys!

Module 2 began with a lot of classroom work where we were introduced to things like BATCO and the Orders and Estimates process or an officer’s bread and butter as we were so frequently told. The days were long and tiring, especially if we’d had the pleasure of one of Sgt McClellan’s inventive PT sessions, but at the same time we were enjoying ourselves and the atmosphere was always relaxed and jovial.

We also spent time in the field at Barry Buddon which I found the most enjoyable part of the module. Navigation exercises, night recce patrols, advances to contact, rolling platoon attacks were but a few of the many activities we managed to fit in. The module culminated in PRACTAC 1, which involved delivering your orders with a model you had to make yourself, to an examining officer. However it wasn’t all hard work. We managed to have a couple of theme nights in our mess which were organised by our own appointed mess committee. I remember the Port and Cheese night was a huge success and thoroughly enjoyed by both the students and staff. There were even a few mess games towards the end of the night and needless to say the students won every time.

After a well earned day off, we left for the Blackdog training area to the North of Aberdeen to begin Mod 3 – a gruelling 9 days in the field to be tested on everything we’d learned in Mod 2. The module started with an all night navigation exercise covering 23 km with a command task at each of 5 checkpoints while carrying full kit. It was bucketing down with rain and I was unfortunate enough to be carrying a 351 radio with spare battery along with all my soaking kit! My back was in a bit of pain by the end of it. By night we would do a recce patrol which involved “tabbing” for miles in pitch black ‘til usually about 0200 or 0300. First light was approximately 4.15am so once you’d done your stag duty you were lucky if you’d had an hours sleep! By day you would tab to an enemy position and conduct a platoon attack. Unfortunately the enemy position always seemed to be on top of a very steep hill covered in heather and fern waist deep, so by the time you got to the top, attacking an enemy position was the last thing you wanted to do.

Like Mod 2, Mod 3 finished with PRACTAC 2. It was then time for the end of course dinner. Everybody smartly dressed, plenty of alcohol, great company and good laughs made it a night to remember. And a game of mess rugby at 3am left me a few bumps and bruises to remember it by as well.

Summer Leader was without a doubt the most challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life. The exhaustion and sleep deprivation made it nearly impossible to operate and even think straight at times. There were times where I honestly thought I couldn’t go on any longer (as I’m sure many of the other students felt), however I just had to grit my teeth and get on with it. I feel I am a much stronger person for it and that there’s nothing I can’t achieve if I set
my mind to it.

The course itself in my opinion was a huge success due to the great efforts put in by Majors Fitzpatrick and Ward, and all the other staff that helped make the course possible. I would like to thank them for contributing in my training to become an army officer.

Ocdt Paul McGuiness, 51st Highland, 7th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland (7 SCOTS).
if anyone is interested i found out some more info the dates for it are , 26th july until 29 aug and to apply the number you fone is: 0800 7833222 apparently theres a big interest so you need to hurry up if ur thinkin of going for it, i think cut of date for enquiring is 16th may so get on fone asap, last i heard there was near 50 confirmed and theres 120 spaces. you need to get ur barb and medical done soon , i go for selection in june :D what corp you wanting to do?

good luck!!

EDIT: sorry forgot to say this was for chrisni and these dates and number is for shamrock challenge in ballykinlar, northern ireland.
From what I understand the Midlands, Welsh Challenges, etc are primarily student orrientated due to the 5 week summer commitment.
Don't know too much about the Midland Challenge but the Welsh one should be held at Maindy Barracks in Cardiff. The training team there are excellent however the facilities really aren't the best (especially compared to Pirbright or Grantham where you would normally do a 15 day 1C) - okay for a TA weekend on 1A and 1B but I wouldn't fancy 5 weeks!
Think this would be ideal if you want to squeeze it all in quickly however I know some South-East based TA Sigs and REME guys who did a 9 day 1A and 1B course in Aldershot then the 15 day 1C at Pirbright thats roughly 3.5 weeks rather than 5 weeks...

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