What’s British army training like?

Army training is intense. Find out why, how it works, and what you can expect.

What does army training do?

Basic military training is designed to get you to leave your old life behind and start a new life as a soldier. It:

  1. Gets you to follow orders without question;
  2. Makes sure you will kill another person if ordered to; and
  3. Teaches you a soldier’s basic skills.

What’s army training like?

  1. When you arrive to train, you are made to look like everyone else – you all have the same uniform and haircut, and you’re not allowed to use first names. If you’re joining aged 16 or 17 you’re also not allowed to smoke.
  2. Your mobile is taken off you. You’re not usually allowed to see your parents or friends from home for the first six weeks, but you can call/email them after work.
  3. The army controls everything you do from morning till night – there are right and wrong ways to stand, make a bed, polish boots, and fold a t-shirt. Expect to be shouted at.
  4. Training is supposed to wear you out – you’ll lose sleep and at times you might not be allowed food or shelter.
  5. You’re punished if you fall behind. Sometimes the whole platoon gets punished for something that only one person has done. This is how the army ‘weeds out’ people who don’t fit in – a lot of recruits leave the army during training, or are thrown out.
  6. On the other hand, everyone in the platoon is supposed to help each other, so you can make some good mates.
  7. If you accept what you’re told and you don’t fall behind then you’ll be praised for being a good soldier.
  8. Towards the end of basic training, you have to be able to kill another person at close range with a blade. This is called bayonet drill. See below for a short film of bayonet drill at Catterick. 
  9. By the end of training, you know exactly how to fit in with the army – how to salute, march, use a rifle, throw a grenade and advance on an enemy target.