The question of whether or not you can pass Marine Corps recruit training is the number one issue that pops up when one considers enlisting into the Marines. Because of the USMC's image and reputation, most of you will make boot camp out to be something it is not.
Cut through all the hype and sift through all the bullshit exaggerations and you will clearly see that Marine Corps boot camp can be passed by anyone who ships to boot camp.
Despite reading what is on this page and despite possibly hearing from other Marines that boot camp is "overrated", most of you are still going to go into boot camp thinking that it is going to take a miracle to pass it. Since boot camp is structured to be passed and not failed and since the USMC isn't interested in weeding out the non-hackers, no miracle is going to be needed and most of you will graduate.
Let's take a look at what exactly boot camp is all about and let's examine what exactly makes it tough.
- HOW TOUGH IS IT?: Boot camp will be a new experience for everyone, so this in itself will make it a challenge. You will be busy from early in the AM to late in the evening and this will wear your ass out no matter who you are. Add in the stress you will be under and this will make any event seem tougher then it actually is. Rarely do I give my opinion, but in my opinion this is what makes boot camp tough. You are always doing something all day long with no rest until late into the evening and this makes you very tired. It's not the PT that is tough, it's not the obstacles that are tough, it's not the rifle range that is tough, it's not the daily drill that is tough; it's all of these events when crammed into 90 days that makes the entire adventure tough. On a toughness scale of 1-10 with 10 being the toughest, boot camp overall is barely a 6 and this is not an opinion. Of course since we are all different, how tough boot camp may seem will vary from person to person. The 6 rating is not how I rate my boot camp experience, it is simply a rating of how tough boot camp really is.
- GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS: To pass boot camp you must pass the following events: 1) You must pass your final PFT, 2) you must pass your rifle qual, and 3) swim qual, 4) you must pass your Knowledge Exam, 5) you must pass the Crucible, 6) you must pass the Battalion Commanders Inspection and 7) you must qualify in your martial arts/hand to hand combat class.
- RECEIVING (FIRST WEEK): You will spend between 5-6 days in receiving depending on what day you arrive at MCRD. Since this is your first taste of boot camp, it is going to be the most shocking part of boot camp and you are going to hate it. During receiving the DI's do not punish you as in making you do exercises for your fuck-ups. All they will do is yell at you, so don't panic. During these 5-6 days you will do a lot of paperwork, you will listen to many lectures, you will learn the rules and regulations expected of you, you will get your hair cut, get your clothing and some gear issued, get your dental and medical exams, get some motivating shots and you will take an IST to ensure that you can continue with your training. Basically during this week you are processed into the Marine Corps and there is no physical training done during this time. You usually do not sleep for the first two days or so and you are guaranteed to get very tired which makes for some interesting times. At the end of receiving week you are picked up by your DI's and taken to your squad bay and this is when your boot camp training actually begins. You can view a video of your first two hours of boot camp filmed in 2014 here: YOUR FIRST TWO HOURS OF BOOT CAMP VIDEO
- FIRST DAY IN YOUR PLATOON: Once you arrive in your actual platoon you will be given a lecture by an officer and he will then pass the platoon to your Senior Drill Instructor (SDI). You will be given a very motivational and intimidating speech by your SDI who will also introduce your other DI's. Once this speech is over you may want to run and hide. Ha ha! At this point you can expect all hell to break loose. The entire point of these first few weeks is to strip you of your civilian ways and to introduce the Marine Corps ways to you. This is best done by making you feel worthless and like a piece of shit and they will walk you through everything step by step including how to shower, how to shave and things like that. No matter who you are or how much preparation you have done, during this time you are guaranteed to be lost and to feel intimidated and you will fuck up. The stress and intensity levels will be through the roof and your days are going to seem very very long. It is very important that you understand that as the days go by, the stress and intensity will decrease which is why it is important not to panic during these first few days. During these first few weeks you are supposed to be lost and you're supposed to not know your right from your left. And during this time some of you will begin to doubt yourselves and you may question why you signed up for this madness. Just understand it does get a lot easier and all of boot camp is not what you will experience these first few weeks.
- PT-RUNNING: To avoid confusion we will define "PT" as you running a set distance in a platoon formation. You will only run maybe 7-8 times for PT while in boot camp and you don't run distances longer then three miles. Your runs begin at 1.5 miles and increase over time. You do not run fast and you are not made to run up hills or any crazy crap like that. You are not awakened during the night to go out on runs and you are not going to go for a run as a punishment. None of that nonsense happens while in boot camp. Running is one of the most overrated things about boot camp and it is often the most feared issue, but once you experience it you will see there wasn't much to worry about. You do not run PT on weekends and you never run on back to back days. And during the second and third months, you will run very little. Most of your running will take place during the first month. Important note: You may not be running for PT on certain days, but you can expect to run, jog, speed walk, march, or walk on a daily basis when moving from point A to point B. You will spend a lot of time on your feet which is why it will seem like you PT much more then you actually do.
- OTHER PT: You will usually do some form of PT five days per week. It can be an obstacle course, log drills, hand to hand combat training, running, circuit courses or some other form or mixture of training. Most of this PT is actually very fun and it is a good workout. It is not special forces training and you aren't made to do anything that is crazy or advanced. Trust me, it is very basic working out/training and your DI's will be right there making sure you are putting out max effort at all times.
- SWIM WEEK: Once again, this is very basic water survival training and you are not forced under water or any crazy crap like that. They do take the time to teach you, especially if you need help. If you can swim right now and are confident in the water, you will easily pass swim week barring you having a mental breakdown. Swim week is more about being able to move from point A to point B in a pool while wearing some gear/boots and it is not so much about learning swimming techniques. The following info is from the USMC website (2013) : "In an Olympic-sized pool, recruits are required to complete the course of qualification, which includes a 25-meter swim in both the shallow and deep water, four minutes of treading water, utilizing a waterproof pack to swim 25 meters and perform a 10-second gear strip while submerged. All of this is done while wearing a full combat utility uniform and a pair of combat boots." <<< That is what you need to pass in order to pass your swim qual at the lowest level. It sounds scary, but it is not. Your safety is their number one issue and they will watch over you very carefully, so don't fear swim week. If you can get into the water now to practice, then do so. Keep in mind you are not always allowed to try for the higher levels of swim qual. If your MOS demands a higher level, you will be allowed. But most recruits are done once they pass the basic level.
- O-COURSE AND ROPE CLIMB: You will climb a few monkey bars and you will walk on top of logs and you will climb a wall. Nothing hard about this. If you fall, then you get your ass up and try again. All that matters is that you give it your max effort. They will teach you how to climb a rope their way and that is that. You can either climb it or you can't. Not everyone will be able to climb the rope all the way to the top, so don't panic. All they care about is that you try your hardest. You are not abused or any crap like that if you struggle on these events and they do not make you practice these events during your free time so you can perfect them.
- RAPPEL TOWER: Fear of heights is a common issue, so if you do have these fears, understand you are not alone. You are not forced to rappel and you are not shoved off of the tower. Once again, your safety is the main issue here. Boot camp is all about gaining confidence and conquering your fears and rappelling is a great way to accomplish these things. You will be given a class on how to rappel and as long as you pay attention, you will be fine. You are checked and then double checked before going over the edge, so don't be thinking you are tossed a rope and then are expected to rappel. Yes it is scary that first time, but once you are done, you will want to do it again. Believe it or not some of you may not get to do the rappel tower or some other obstacles due to weather or some other unforeseen event.
- GAS CHAMBER: What can I say about the gas chamber. You walk into a gas-filled room wearing your mask and the door will be shut. You will be made to remove your mask for X amount of time and hopefully at this point you realize that holding your breath and closing your eyes is a good thing. After a few exercises to ensure you inhale some motivating lung-burning mucous causing gas, you then put it back on and do what you were trained to do with the mask. It's gonna sting and burn if you scratch and if you freak out, you are only going to make it much worse. Trust in your mask and pay attention to your gas mask class and you will be ok. It isn't going to kill you and the plus side about this event is that it will clear your sinuses. They don't spray you with gas and they don't make you have lunch inside the chamber, so stop worrying about it.
- DRILL - MARCHING: You are going to march daily and you will practice your rifle drill on most days if not all of them. Of course early on in boot camp you will suck at it, but as time passes you will or should catch on. You will practice your drill outdoors on the giant parade deck and indoors in your squad bay. Some recruits catch on quickly while others will be lost sheep. As always, just pay attention and try your best.
- RIFLE RANGE: This event will lasts two weeks. The first week will be classes on how to properly fire your rifle and you will practice getting into the proper firing positions over and over. The second week is when you fire live rounds at real targets. As long as you listen to your instructors and as long as you have confidence in your weapon and in yourself, you should pass. You will be using added sights to qualify, so there is no excuse for not being able to qualify these days.
- FIELD WEEK - HIKES: This stuff is nothing to worry about. You will train outdoors, eat some delicious MRE's, and you will get down and dirty. You get to fire weapons, do some land navigation and you get to act like Rambo. Hopefully it rains so you can really be miserable and hopefully the weather is either really hot or cold so you experience the entire package of what the Corps is all about. As for the hikes/humps: Well they suck! Not much you can do about them. Some of you will fall down while others will fall back and some of you wont even finish them. Humps will test you and they will show you what you are made of, or should I say what you are not made of. Just suck it up and don't be the one idiot who creates gaps in the formation which ruins it for everyone else.
- THE QUARTERDECK OR PIT: These two locations are the preferred locations where you will receive some much needed "extra" training either as a group or as an individual. Expect a lot of repetitions of various exercises and expect to sweat a lot. At the end of the day these sessions will only make you stronger, so in a way you should want to be frequent visitors of these two locations.
- FIRE WATCH: Yes it sucks, but get used to it because it doesn't end in boot camp. On a rotating basis you along with other recruits will stand fire watch. This is you guarding and watching over your platoon as they sleep. It will last all night. Sometimes fire watch is given as a form of punishment while most times it is on a rotating basis. You all will do it, so there is no escaping it.
- KNOWLEDGE: You will spend a lot of time learning everything you need to know such as the history of the USMC, your first aid, how to be a responsible Marine and a bunch of other bullshit. You will receive many periods of instructions inside an actual classroom which many of you will fall asleep in and as a result you will be punished. You will also study a lot during your free time or during study classes inside the squad bay. Learning your USMC knowledge is the one thing you can master before shipping to boot camp, so find a good source and study it.
- INSPECTIONS: You will have several inspections throughout boot camp conducted by your chain of command. You may have to perform a rifle movement in front of the inspecting Marine and they will ask you questions and you are supposed to know the answers. The questions are supposed to be about what you have learned, but they often ask general questions just to screw with you. Your uniform and appearance is also scrutinized. Inspections are all about maintaining your bearing, so if you are being inspected and are having issues, it is very important you do not panic and lose your bearing.
- DRILL INSTRUCTORS: Yes you are going to hate them, but in the end you will fall in love with them. Usually there will be 3-5 DI's per platoon and the one with the black belt is your Senior Drill Instructor meaning he or she is the one in charge. The SDI in many cases will treat you differently then the others, but if pissed off he or she will unleash their furry. The other DI's are basically the assholes and the ones who train you. They wear the green belts. These green belts often seem to posses magical powers and often seem to pop up out of nowhere which is why you should always assume someone is watching you. You are not abused physically or verbally while in boot camp. DI's are career Marines and they are not going to risk their career over smacking you upside the head or anything crazy like that. The DI's will make contact with you from time to time and they will speak to you in an unkindly manner, but these actions should not be mistaken for abuse. Just make sure you don't wander into a Drill Instructor's "special area."
- THE CRUCIBLE: I never experienced the Crucible, but it does sound like fun, so I wont try to comment on it. What I do know is that once you have passed the Crucible, you are given your Eagle, Globe and Anchor and at this moment you are officially a Marine. After this point boot camp is basically over and you have passed it. The Crucible takes place the end of the second to last week of boot camp and lasts 54 hours.
- SQUAD LEADERS - GUIDE: If you are wondering how to get one of these positions, the process varies from platoon to platoon. Early on in boot camp they usually assign these positions to anyone. Not to worry because these early birds will get fired. As time passes the DI's will notice who is squared away and who is not. They will pick you and that will be it. Many platoons will go through many squad leaders and a few guides until they find the right ones, so don't freak out if you get hired and then fired. And being in these leadership positions while in boot camp means absolutely nothing to your peers or to the USMC once you have graduated boot camp.
- THE SMALL SHIT: For those of you worried about all the other stuff like: the food, can you crap in front of others, will you laugh when being yelled at, how will I memorize my knowledge, will I be able to make my rack, what if I have to pee, how will I be able to understand the DI's, what if I get sick, etc etc, these things are a non-issue once you get there, so try not to worry about them.
- HOW BAD CAN IT GET?: The worst thing that they can do to you is this: They can punish you for no reason or for any reason by making you do various exercises over and over until you can't do anymore. That is as bad as it gets. And if you think about it, this form of punishment is only going to make you stronger, so suck it up. You are not deprived of sleep or food and you are not tortured or forced to do anything that is silly or crazy like you might be thinking.
- IS IT MORE MENTAL OR PHYSICAL?: It is actually a lot of both. Doing anything for 13 weeks is going to put a great mental strain on you and being busy from sun up to sun down will be very physically demanding for anyone. You will be pushed to your limits both mentally and physically at one point or another. This doesn't mean the physical aspect of boot camp is super intense. It simply means what I keep saying over and over. Being active from early in the AM to late in the PM is going to be a physical challenge.
- WHY YOU WILL PASS BOOT CAMP: At the end of the day the number one reason why you will pass boot camp is because you enlisted and you shipped out. You shouldn't be sitting there right now wondering if you can pass. Better question is why wouldn't you pass boot camp. What exactly is so difficult about boot camp that is causing you to think that you may not pass it? The answer to that question is that you are over-thinking it and you are probably making boot camp out to be something it is not.
So how can you fail boot camp: It is actually very hard to not graduate. They will do everything in their power including giving you multiple chances to pass any required event if you fail it to graduate you.
- If you are injured or get an illness and can't be healed, you will be kicked out. They do not kick you out just because you get injured or get sick. They only kick you out when your injury or illness cannot be healed to their standards.
- If they discover something that you didn't know you had and if this issue is a no go, you will be kicked out. You have no control over this issue, so don't worry about it. Many of you have medical issues that you may not know about and sometimes these issues are exposed while in boot camp. If this happens you will be evaluated and they will determine if you can move on or if you will get kicked out.
- If you repeatedly fail any of the required events, you will be kicked out. Keep in mind you are given multiple chances to pass these events if you fail them. They will even send you to a different platoon so you can try to pass if you are really having issues. So in the event that you just can't pass one of these events, then a Marine you will never become.
- If you flat out refuse to train, eventually you will be kicked out.
- If you fail your drug test or if they find out you lied during the enlistment process, you can be kicked out. Yes, as stupid as it sounds, some of you idiots will get high that one last time and you will fail your piss test.
- Of course there are many obvious issues that will get you kicked out. Just use common sense. If you attempt to kill yourself or to kill someone else, you will be kicked out. If you try to flee boot camp in the middle of the night, you will be kicked out. If you are just a problematic recruit who just can't adjust and is always getting into trouble, you can be kicked out.
You are not kicked out of boot camp because you might be a slow runner, or because you may struggle on the obstacles or because you are that one clumsy or slow recruit. As long as you pass your required tests and as long as you try your best, your performance doesn't really matter and you will graduate. Not every Marine who graduates boot camp will be a PT stud or a rifle expert, so don't worry about how you will perform. I cannot stress this point enough: The USMC tries very hard to graduate everyone who ships to boot camp.Future Jarheads has been dealing with poolees/recruits for almost ten years now. During this time about 6-7 recruits did not graduate boot camp. Only one of those recruits did not graduate due to not being able to pass a required event and this recruit struggled in the same event as a poolee. One recruit asked to be removed from boot camp (refused to train) and he was granted his wish. The others failed for things that were not in their control. And I often write to recruits while in boot camp and here are some of the common issues many recruits talk about in their letters to me.
- They talk about how much easier boot camp is then what they expected it to be.
- They talk about how not every recruit is giving it their 100 percent.
- They talk about missing their home life.
- They talk about how fun most of the training is.
- They talk about how they can't wait to move forward in their training after boot camp.
- They talk about how cool and motivating their DI's are.
As you can see they don't talk about how "tough" it is, or about the food, or about whether they can pass it or not. 99 percent of the stuff you all worry about now, you will not even think about once in boot camp.
I think many of you have these incorrect visions of what goes on while in boot camp which causes you to doubt if you can pass it or not. For example:
- If you are a slow runner, you are not abused to make you a faster runner and you are not dropped back in training because of this. All they will do is yell at you to motivate you and that is that.
- If you struggle during swim qual they wont grab you and force you into the pool until you figure it out. They actually work with you and will help you so you can pass.
- If you struggle on an obstacle, they don't force you up to the top in hopes that you fall and kill yourself.
- If you have issues memorizing your knowledge, they don't force you to stay awake all night so you can study.
- If you have to use the restroom, they don't deny you this privilege so you can crap your pants.
- If you fall and cut yourself and are injured, they don't yell at you and tell you to suck it up.
- If you drop your food in the chow hall you aren't forced to pick it up and eat it.
- If you are slow to learn your rifle drill, you are not slapped in the face with the butt of your rifle.
Your safety is their number one priority and you are not abused or tortured. I know we all want to think since this is USMC boot camp then it must be super hard-core, but it is far from that and this is the truth.There is no doubt that Marine Corps boot camp is the hardest of all the branches and no matter if you attend Parris Island or San Diego, you will go through the toughest challenge of your young life. But anyone can make it. All you need is heart and with that comes desire. Everything else that you bring with you such as athletic superiority, knowledge, and discipline is just a bonus that will vault you above your peers in your new world.
If you are undecided about enlisting into the Marines because of your worrying about whether you can pass boot camp or not, you really should disregard this issue and move ahead with your decision. As us Marines love to say, boot camp for many Marines will be the easiest thing you do as a Marine. Never forget that the "tough" part is what comes after boot camp and you can be kicked out after boot camp also, so don't go into this thinking you have it made just because you graduate a basic 90 day boot camp.
Come read all about this wonderful 90 Day Paid Vacation by clicking here. <<
- Not every Marine is a killer. Just because a person graduates boot camp, this does not mean he can kick your ass or kill you. Do not over-hype the USMC, because it makes us look bad. 90 days of boot camp makes you into a basic Marine and not into some mythical warrior who can leap through fire and conquer the world.
- Many people don’t join the Marines because of its hard-ass reputation. If you truly want to become a Marine, then don’t let that image scare you.
- The dropout rate in boot camp is near 10 percent and most of those are due to injuries. Remember, they do everything in their power to make sure you pass. If boot camp was as tough as you thought, don’t you think many more recruits would fail it?
- Boot camp is fun, scary, and at times very funny. It is an adventure that you will never forget. I can guarantee you that you are probably making boot camp out to be a lot harder and scarier than it actually is. It is a lot easier than you think. Part of what makes boot camp tougher then it is, is the fact that you make it harder by driving yourself crazy. Trust me; it is not as hard as you think. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a cake walk, but it is also not that hard. The purpose of boot camp is to pass you and to make you into basic Marines and not to fail you.
- To make boot camp easier and to suffer less while there you simply learn all the KNOWLEDGE that is given to you while in the DEP and you be in the best shape you can get into. And you must also accept the fact that you asked to do this, so don’t whine when you are made to play in the mud or when your feelings get hurt. You asked to enter boot camp, so man up and accept what you got yourself into.
- There will be recruits who are not in shape and there will be people who are in excellent shape. Just try your hardest. In the end it all evens out. EXAMPLE: I was not the fastest runner. So obviously that means I will stick out. But when it came to the rifle range I had the second best score while the fastest runner barely qualified. Like I said, it is about the whole experience and not one event. Some people excel in this area, while others excel in other areas. Just do your best and never quit.
- If you want to be a Marine then you are going to have to earn that title. Nothing is given and everything must be earned. Don’t worry about what others think about the USMC and don’t let its reputation scare you from earning the right to say, SEMPER FIDELIS!
- Boot camp is only 90 days. Do not forget to look past boot camp. The hard part begins once you graduate, so don't forget to think about the big picture.
- Once boot camp gets going, you will get into a rhythm and you will get use to your daily routine. It's not always going to be fast paced and chaotic. I cannot stress this point enough: As time passes boot camp becomes much more easier in every way.
Never ever forget that once you graduate boot camp, you still have a lot to get done. An entire enlistment/career is what defines you as a Marine and not some simple 13 weeks of a very basic boot camp. <<< Think about that and remember it!!