How to Make It Through Military Boot Camp

Do you want to learn what it takes to make it through military boot camp/basic training while avoiding the negative attention of Drill Sergeants? It's the first crucial first step towards getting you through the grind of camp and on your way to being a full-fledged soldier. Start at Step 1, and you'll be coasting with flying colors in no time.


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    Listen and pay attention. This might sound easy, but Drill Sergeants will deliver many commands to you in a short time period. Naval Sea Cadets, JROTC or Civil Air Patrol can help if you are in high school. Also, when you first meet your Drill Sergeants, there will be a lot of activity around you. Some recruits will be doing push-ups and others will be running in place. Make sure you are only listening to your Drill Sergeant and not other recruits. Some recruits pretend like they know what the Drill Sergeant wants and will command other recruits to follow them. Do not listen to them, only listen to your Drill Sergeant.
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    Act with confidence in everything you do. If your Drill Sergeant asks your rank, don’t whisper your rank. Instead, take a quick deep breath and let your answer "explode". Drill Sergeants like motivation and confidence; it exemplifies a person’s strength.
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    Don’t show signs of frustration. Drill Sergeants are going to give you tasks that are designed for you to fail. When you fail, you feel broken, and when you feel broken, they are able to build you up again. Essentially they are breaking down your civilian attitude and building you into a soldier. That doesn’t come easy, at least in the U.S military. Even if you're facing the ground about to accomplish what seems to be your 500th push-up, continue on and sound motivated.
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    See the entire picture. If you are about to leave for basic training, all of this advice might scare you- do not let that happen. Boot camp/basic training is a jarring experience, but not a long one. Completing your basic training will fill you with a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.
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    Drill Sergeants are human too and, believe it or not, are there to help you. They are charged with turning you from an individual citizen into a member of your country's fighting forces. Drill Sergeants themselves go through a rigorous training program just to become Drill Sergeants. They already have been broken down many more times than you will ever be in basic training, so they know what it feels like.
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    Do not aspire to be a Drill Sergeant's friend. If a Drill Sergeant does his job right, you will leave basic training without ever knowing if he liked you or not. Do not get on a Drill Sergeant's bad side. He will turn your own recruits against you. Without your fellow recruits to help you through basic training, your next couple months are going to be lonely.
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    Do not attempt to try on a Drill Sergeants hat. This should be blatantly obvious. You don't want the punishment you would have coming to you, no matter how fun it looks.
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    It helps if you are a "Military Brat", since you'll be used to military life at an early age.


  • Do not lie, ever, to anyone. All you have in the military is your word. All it takes is one untruthful statement or action and your fellow recruits will never trust you again.
  • Just keep your head up and try not to cry no matter how much you want too.
  • Do not make eye contact with the drill instructors unless directly spoken to. (In Airforce BMT eye contact is recommended.)
  • When walking by any drill instructor, have a look of determination on your face and again, do not make eye contact. Always look like you're about to kill something and always attack whatever they tell you to do as if it's going to get you home if you complete it.
  • If you are weak in any area of your training (i.e. physical fitness, marching and facing movements), manage any time given to improve.
  • Go to church services. Drill instructors are generally not there, and neither is the military training environment. Even if you're Wiccan, they have a service for you. It's a break, use it.
  • When running-and there's a lot of it, take deep breaths and pay attention to the length of your strides. Never look down. Find the horizon if you can, think about home, and breathe. If you practice that, by the end of the second week, you can run as far as you want.
  • Everyone should have a job. Find who is best at boot shining, and that person does the boots for everyone. Find what recruits can make a bed and assemble a team that's responsible for that. Find who can fold underwear in six inch squares etc. This is what builds honor graduates.
  • Don't sign up unless you know what's in store for you. Remember that they are teaching you about killing and/or surviving in the big picture; now not having done it yet it can't be prepared for fully just understand that combat often involves horrible violence and accept that so you don't come back to the world a jumpy unpredictable puddle.
  • Do not let them psyche you out. They do not "own" you. There are ways to get out if you just can't hack it. Other than medical reasons, usually if one is determined enough and just doesn't mind being yelled at for a few days straight before they give in, you can get out. Its not easy. If you make it through basic and still want out, fail your technical schooling. That works with minimal stress and brow-beating. If you pass technical school and still want out after you get to your first base, fail your five-level training. That will get you out too, but after two tries.
  • When you feel like you can not continue, like you are going to collapse, remember that that moment is temporary and will pass. Remind yourself that every moment passes but whether you failed or succeeded will be with you forever. That will give you the determination to keep going.

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Categories: Careers in the Military