Thursday, August 03, 2006

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

24 Comments:

At 8:51 AM, Blogger brent said...

hey hansol, thx for the info. its really appreciated man, im going in for bmq in june, i live in toronto and im leaving for st. jean in not too long...one lil question though, im a sleeper and if i dont get my sleep i tend to crash, what can ai do to take control over my sleep? and what could i do to prepare myself for bmq???

 
At 1:22 AM, Blogger Oleg said...

Hmm some administrative differences between my experience, on the 3rd week we started weapons and the whole weekend course was expected to barely 10 weeks.

Would be nice to know if there were any other tips and tricks to make life on the bmq easier as I am currently undergoing it now.

 
At 10:50 PM, Blogger Etrius said...

Hi, I'm due to be in St. Jean for BMQ for July 7th.
I'm a little worried though, I was in really good shape - training everyday etc. but my mom passed away a few months ago and I've gone all to hell.
I know they have remedial, will it be a problem if I'm in poor physical shape or just barely meeting the minimum requirements. What can I expect?

 
At 3:12 PM, Blogger pteszym944 said...

going through BMQ, you need to be fully aware that you are no longer a civilian. that everything you do from the point you walk through the doors of St.Jean or Borden, needs to be performed to your best ability. nothing that you do is EVER perfect from an instructors point of view, but you need to show that you care and that your willing to follow orders. you need to be sure that you are both physically and mentally prepared. keep telling yourself that you can do the training (only 5 weeks to go!) be positive!!. yes its going to be hard for the first couple of weeks however you do get used to it. they are going to make you do all kinds of crazy stuff, wether its push-ups or changing parade..your platoon is all you have, learn from eachother and help eachother out. LISTEN to your staff, learn from them, they are very smart people. they yell at you because its their job to do so, never take it in personally because they dont really hate you, its all a game, so learn to play it. if you do something wrong, dont cry over it, fix it!. once you get there make sure that you get things done right away, cuz if you slack off things are not going to end well..to prapare yourself for BMQ, try to go for a run at 5 am every morning, not only will it be easier because your mind and body will get used to it, but also when you train at BMQ, PT(physical training) will be much easier than you thought..dont be an individual (someone who thinks they can do the training all on their own), again your platoon is like your family for 13 weeks.

for the females going for BMQ (talking from experiance): because its common that we cry to express our emotions more than men,
Whatever you do, DO NOT break down in front of the BMQ staff. that shows that your weak and that you cannot handle the training, be brave, be positive, you are becoming a soldier. BE PROUD OF YOURSELF.

 
At 10:12 AM, Blogger Rej said...

Good advice, nicely put. Wish someone had passed this on to me 28 yrs ago when I went through boot camp at CFRS Cornwallis, it would have made a heck of a lot easier. Cheers

 
At 2:21 PM, Blogger P3T3R said...

I think everything here that I just looked at will help me a lot and make me ready. I know I can push my self for the physical part but I would just like to know about the test layouts are they esays or fill in the blanks kind of deal

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger P3T3R said...

I realy like the info that you have shared with us I believe it will help me out a lot I would just like ti know how are the test like in class what the layout like

 
At 1:37 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

Hey Hansol, great blog. My question has to do with age....I'm 34....how ancient am I gonna feel ancient?

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Will said...

Hey Hansol, I leave for BMQ in 3 weeks. Your blog really helped answer all of my questions! Thanks a lot for the great info.

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Hey Andrew, I'm 34 as well and turn 35 in a few weeks. I was worried about the same thing. Already feel less ancient.

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Phil said...

thanks for this useful information.
how much do u actually get paied for bmq ?

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Phil said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger twominuteplank said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger twominuteplank said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger twominuteplank said...

Hey Hansol, good advice!

I would add three things:

1) do EVERYTHING with a sense of urgency. I know from experience that Staff HATE waiting. As loing as you are putting your back into every task - from tying your boots to digging a shell-scrape, they'll leave you alone even if you're not the most competent person in the Pn.

2) The Staff aren't there to fail you; they're there to pass you. Although it might seem that all the c*ck you're receiving is to make you fail, it's done to show you that you're able to accomplish tasks even under stressful conditions. The are there to show you how. Listen to them, and go with the flow. Don't resist, and don't give up. You and the instructors are all on the same page, with the same objective - to make you a soldier.

3) I did my BMQ at age 43 and with a lifetime of misadventure-related injuries (and laziness) making the PT a challenge for me. But I did it. And if I can do it, any of you 20 year olds can do it, too!

 
At 5:02 AM, Blogger Aragorn12152 said...

Ok...I'm in air cadets,I'm only 14 but I just finished a six weeks at the Vernon military base (VACSTC). I was in the Air Rifle Marksmenship Instructors Course. (ARMIC). Almost everyday it was 35•c or more and we were in full combats most of the time. We had to do a big ass march up to whatever range we were using for the day and let me tell you...it was a huge march up and it was all up hill. We were in bed around 22:00 and up at 06:00. We did PT every morning before we we were aloud to do anything else other than take our morning piss. When we got back we would have 5 minutes to make our beds...perfect our barracks and change from PT gear into combats before we would form up and march up for breakfast. So to answer your question, the best way to prepare for the lack of sleep is to find a bunk buddy who has no problem with early wake up times and don't get a bed with a window if you can because if you ever get extra time to sleep in the sun won't shine through at five in the morning and wake you up. Also if the kitchen staff are nice and serve coffee then take it unless your like me and don't like coffee...

 
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At 4:23 PM, Blogger dal c said...

god Canadian basic sounds like a breeze to what I went through in the u.s army

 
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At 10:29 PM, Blogger Si Tang said...

Can you provide a list of stuff to pack for BMQ?

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Aside from showing up ready to run, run and then do some running, be ready to run.
Kit-wise, in the first 5 weeks you'll be given everything you need.
The only stuff you'll need to have is maybe some comfortable underwear (3 pr will do as laundry is done every night) but they'll give you that too.
Socks - for running.
Running shoes - and something to pick the stones out of the treads with for inspection the next day.
Laundry detergent.
Lint brush. For berets.
Magic erasers (lots) for cleaning boot polish off of floors.
Dust brush (or mini hand held vacuum) smaller the better if you can get away with it for your floors after mopping....there's a rock quarry close to the base and dust is constantly an issue with morning inspection.
Lighter - if you're a smoker, you've got it covered but if not you'll need one for burn-shining your parade boots...not allowed but everyone does it in order to pass inspection. (Practice before u get there)
Advil - muscle aches or headaches...
Good razors 2 (one for inspection and one for actual use)
travel size shaving cream 2
travel size tooth paste 2
Travel size shampoo 2
Deodorant 2
Pens/pencils
Good alarm clock
Flashlight compact
4 combination locks with same combination
Baby wipes
Dish washing scrub brush for cleaning boots
Iron - a good one
Sewing kit with army green thread, black thread and white thread...smaller the needle the easier to use.
Permanent marker-pen
And then anything else you forget you can buy there - bring about $400 so you don't have to worry about it or have a bank card with that much on it (youd probably only spend 200 if you forgot everything on the list.
That gets you through the first 5 or 6 weeks - after that you can leave the base on weekends and will feel perfectly comfortable knowing what you need and what you don't.
First day; wear comfortable, non offensive clothing. Wear your running shoes not dress shoes. Might As well shave your head too (unless your a girl)

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Aside from showing up ready to run, run and then do some running, be ready to run.
Kit-wise, in the first 5 weeks you'll be given everything you need.
The only stuff you'll need to have is maybe some comfortable underwear (3 pr will do as laundry is done every night) but they'll give you that too.
Socks - for running.
Running shoes - and something to pick the stones out of the treads with for inspection the next day.
Laundry detergent.
Lint brush. For berets.
Magic erasers (lots) for cleaning boot polish off of floors.
Dust brush (or mini hand held vacuum) smaller the better if you can get away with it for your floors after mopping....there's a rock quarry close to the base and dust is constantly an issue with morning inspection.
Lighter - if you're a smoker, you've got it covered but if not you'll need one for burn-shining your parade boots...not allowed but everyone does it in order to pass inspection. (Practice before u get there)
Advil - muscle aches or headaches...
Good razors 2 (one for inspection and one for actual use)
travel size shaving cream 2
travel size tooth paste 2
Travel size shampoo 2
Deodorant 2
Pens/pencils
Good alarm clock
Flashlight compact
4 combination locks with same combination
Baby wipes
Dish washing scrub brush for cleaning boots
Iron - a good one
Sewing kit with army green thread, black thread and white thread...smaller the needle the easier to use.
Permanent marker-pen
And then anything else you forget you can buy there - bring about $400 so you don't have to worry about it or have a bank card with that much on it (youd probably only spend 200 if you forgot everything on the list.
That gets you through the first 5 or 6 weeks - after that you can leave the base on weekends and will feel perfectly comfortable knowing what you need and what you don't.
First day; wear comfortable, non offensive clothing. Wear your running shoes not dress shoes. Might As well shave your head too (unless your a girl)

 
At 4:31 PM, Blogger Mia S said...

This has really been helpful for me in making my decision. Thank you.

 
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