Hansol's Guide to CF BMQ
Here's an interesting read on the Canadian Forces Basic Military Qualification
Hey all. Yes, it's me again. I'm here on my last week in St. Jean, and finally have enough time to post here. It's a Saturday morning with not much going on, so I'll try and list as much as I can about life in Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School.
Once you are given a course start date, you fly off to Montreal. A cab will take you to the "Mega" (slang for the CFLRS building) where you are ushered into a classroom and your course instructors will check your bag for knives or contraban. This is a good chance to discover what your upcoming weeks will be like; if your instructors start yelling at you and jacking you up, it could be an interesting time... If they are fairly mellow, then you might be luckier.
Next you are taken to your quarters. Depending on where you are, you either have a room to yourself, or you live in a "cubicle" type setting. You immediately notice the impersonal nature of everything. At first, all of this will be extremely overwhelming. Just take my word for it that after a while, you get used to it. And once you are shown where you are bunking, you are left to yourself for the rest of the weekend.
In my experience, these first two days were the hardest. I arrived on a Friday afternoon, and had the rest of the day, all Saturday, and moist of sunday to think about what the hell I had just signed up for. I was ready to "Voluntarily Release" right then and there. Everything was so crazy, you don't know anybody, everything is unfamiliar, the Sgt's scare the crap out of you, the beds are uncomfortable, it is intense. Just tell yourself you'll get through one more day, and if it doesn't get better, then maybe you can quit then... (it always gets better.) Anywho, at the end of the weekend, you will meet your platoon 2 i/c. S/he will explain your timings for the next week, what the plan is, all that fun stuff. You finally get some direction, and that will calm your mind.
The next week is mostly all administrative stuff. You march around (yes, march. You march everywhere) in civi clothes, getting forms filled out, or receiving kit. There is a process to everything, and if everything goes smoothly, by the end of the week you will have about 140 pieces of kit.
Weeks 2-4 are when you start getting in the groove of things. You now have a shiny uniform, and you start learning drill. You will no longer look like an idiot when the Sgt tells you to "halt". You also sit in classrooms very similarly to a university classroom learning about the military. You learn rank structure, fire drill procedures, military holidays, WHMIS, all sorts of crazy stuff. And yes, you will write tests on these lessons, so pay attention when your instructor says "you may see this again..."
At the end of week 4 you do your drill test. You march around as a platoon, halting, saluting on the march, blah blah blah, and if you don't look like complete idiots, you get your cap badge. You will feel very proud and look fairly sharp, and you now have to salute officers whenever you see them. Remember to always be on the lookout for "bars".
Week 5 you receive your rifles, and begin rifle drill. It is just a continuation of what you have learned in the past 5 weeks, and you will catch on pretty quick. Week 6 is more of the same, and then we come to week 7.
Week 7 is known as "Kill Week". You have a whole bunch of exams, and this is normally when people mess up. As long as you are confident and have paid attention, you should be good to go. The army will drill things into your head over and over, so when it comes time to the tests, you will know most of the things anyway. Don't stress too much.
Week 8-10 are the field portion of your training. You head out to Farnham, where you learn very basic field skills. Week 8 is spent living in barracks, eating at the mess, and doing a few marches around and learning radio procedures and stuff. Fairly simple stuff, and you will quite enjoy week 8. The food is better in Farnham, and they actually have hot water.
Week 9 you live in "hootchies." They are little tarps the you tie to trees, and they act as a tent. Anyone who has camped before should have no problems with this. You are starting to pull guard duty, and you won't get a lot of sleep. Just keep your sense of humour and work hard, and this shouldn't be too tough. You learn more field work, and start to learn about section attacks. You also do the 13km march this week,
Week 10 is when it all comes together. You live in a "fire base" in what is dubbed "scenario week". You take all you have learned and put it together in simulated, relevant scenarios. You maybe be attacked by locals, you may have to man a vehicle checkpoint, etc etc. This week is a lot of fun. You sleep in heated tents on cots, and depending on your instructors, you may get a lot of sleep, or maybe not.
Week 11 is grad week. You are extremely excited this week. You are practicing a lot of drill and getting a few administrative things done, and at the end of the week you will be flying out to your SQ or whatever it is your next course is. So there you go
So there is the 11 week course in a condensed format. I've been told that they are switching to a 13 week format, so things might change a bit. Hopefully this clears a few things up for people. Now on to a few other things.
INSTRUCTORS: Don't frig around with your instructors. In the beginning, keep everything "Yes, Sergeant. No Sergeant. Thank you Sergeant." After you've tested the waters for about 4 weeks and are comfortable, then maybe you can simmer a bit. Always keep your mouth shut, and if you don't know how to do something, ask. If you are told your boots are crap and your locker looks like a company of dust bunnies, don't take it personally. Fix it, and move on. The instructors are just helping you out.
PT: Get here in the best shape you can. It is really tough on you, AND the platoon, when the platoon has to loop back around to pick up the stragglers. It turns a nice 5km run into a 7km ***-kicker. Get in the best shape you can, and the old acronym of "5km in 25min" is a good goal to strive for.
TEAMWORK: Work together. There is no way you can do everything yourself. While on course, you are in charge of both your own personal stuff, as well as a "Station job". This could be either keeping the toilets clean, keeping the hallways mopped, the cleaning supply locker supplied, etc etc. And if you have a guy taking a big dump in the toilet the morning before inspection and leaving skid marks all over the toilet, and then just buggers off, well, then the Sgt comes in, says "what the frig is that!" and takes away your weekend leave. You have to work together as a team to make sure you aren't screwing the guys whose job it is to keep the toilets clean. If that means "shutting down the bathrooms" 30 minutes before inspection, that's what you do. It makes things easier on everyone.
SHOWERS: This comes up a lot, so i figured I'd post it. Your showers are little stall thingies, and there are about 4 of them on a wall. Yes, they have curtains and walls, so you have privacy. The gym showers, those are a different story. Those are communal, and it was fairly interesting the first time the whole platoon had to get naked. But soon after you don't give a damn because you have all of 4 minutes to get your uniform back on before the whole platoon starts doing pushups.
GETTING JACKED UP: Yes, you will screw up as a platoon, and may have to be "motivated." Its true they can only give you 25 pushups, but they can give you their own type: going up as slow as they can, and back down as slow as they can. It's quite intense. Just give it your best, and show that you are trying. Don't collapse at 13 pushups and start whining. Keep trying to get yourself back up, and you should be okay.
VR's AND LOSSES: Voluntary releases are fairly common. If you want to quit, fill one out and you will go to PAT platoon for about two weeks and then you will go home. We lost about 12 guys to VRs, and a few more to tests and such. We started out with 60, and will finish with about 38. Apparently we lost a lot more than is common, but can't say for certain.
SCREWING UP: If you screw up, such as leaving your kit unlocked or forgeting your gloves or such, you get a "counselling". They are basically an administrative action saying you messed up, this is why, and fix it. If you get 8 counsellings, you are put in front of some heavy duty warrant officer, he says "what is wrong with you?" and your fate is decided. You could either be sent, home, re-coursed, or something like that. It takes a lot of effort to get 8 counsellings, so yes. Enough said.
MEDICAL TROUBLE: You go to a place called the MIR. its a hospital where the check you out, tell you whats wrong, give you a "chit" saying what you physically can and can't do, and you go from there. Now, this is just me talking, but unless you have a shattered femur, stay away from the MIR. They usually slap conditions on you that say you can't do drill or runs, and if you miss so many drill classes you get re-coursed. And if you miss more than a day of classes out in Farnham do to an injury, you get re-coursed. Stay away from the MIR. There is a difference between pain, and actually being hurt.
So there is my BMQ rant for all of you. Hopefully it answers a few questions for some of the new recruits. As for myself, the course went very well. Everybody seemed to like me, I wasn't a crap pump, and I could get the instructors laughing at times. I will be finished this week, and then I'm back west to do my SQ. I still don't know which PPCLI battalion I'm in, but oh well. Thanks for everything, and I'm sure I will be on the site here soon. Cheers -Hansol