Happy Joe is launching a new article category called Military Tips where our veterans and their spouses can share valuable advice and tips that they’ve learned while serving in the military. We thought it would be fun and helpful to offer our community something a little bit different to read on an ongoing basis. Today I want to share advice for those of you who might be thinking about joining the military or are getting ready to go to bootcamp for the first time.
Surviving a Shark Attack in Bootcamp
Those who have already made it through bootcamp can likely remember the first time they stepped off of the bus and into the “blood infested waters” patrolled by the swarm of angry Drill Sergeants ready to devour all the new recruits crazy enough to enlist. For those of you who have never served in the military or are just preparing to go to bootcamp, this is what is known as The Shark Attack. It’s a hellacious (and somewhat comical) shock and awe experience that indoctrinates you into military life.
The Shark Attack is ferocious but simple; find the weak recruits and feed on them first.
Drill Sergeants single out recruits for a variety of reasons and then launch into a verbal assault to break the recruit down. It’s mean, nasty, and overwhelming. Sometimes half a dozen Drill Sergeants will gang up on you and be absolutely relentless. Some people will cry. Despite the deeply unpleasant experience, it does serve an important purpose — preparing troops for stressful situations including combat.
As a new recruit, your objective is to avoid being the minnow. Everyone will certainly pay but if you can minimize the target on your back, the better off you will be! I’m going to share some tips with you that can help you survive the shark attack in bootcamp.
Keep eyes front and center.
If you’re standing in formation and the Drill Sergeant starts to circle you, DO NOT make eye contact with him or her. It’s like starting into the eyes of Medusa. The moment you do, you’re dead meat. Get used to staring off a thousand miles into the distance. This is your safe spot!
Refrain from showing any fear.
While you might be at the point of pissing all over yourself, don’t freak out. Drill Sergeants smell and feed on your fear, so the more you bleed the more they will attack. Remain calm, listen to instruction, and take action. If you do what you’re told you can reduce confrontations.
Move with absolute speed.
If you’ve ever watched Zombieland, you know the #1 Rule is Cardio. In the same way, Drill Sergeants attack the slow recruits fastest and hardest. You must always move with an absolute sense of urgency. Never be the last person off the bus, in formation, at training, or in the shower.
Never laugh or smile.
Personally this was the most difficult challenge for me. My uncle was a Drill Sergeant and he gave me a lot of advice before bootcamp, but that didn’t stop me from having the Cheshire Cat grin on numerous occasions. It definitely cost me. As much as you want to laugh at situations, bite your lip and keep in inside.
Don’t lose your gear.
In the all the chaos of a shark attack, it’s easy to lose track of everything around you, especially your gear. There will be times your canteen, bag, Kevlar helmet, headgear, or other belongings will get tossed by Drill Sergeant, but that is nowhere as bad as you forgetting or losing gear yourself. It’s a cardinal sin. Don’t do it.
Remain in control of your emotions.
You’re going to be tested to the extremes and it’s always in your best interest to control your emotions. Never be aggressive towards your Drill Sergeant or lose your cool. Take those emotions and channel that energy into the training and PT you will be a part of. It will make you better.
Remember it’s not personal.
There will be things said and done to you that will challenge you mentally and physically. In most cases it’s nothing personal. Your Drill Sergeant is investing his or her time into making you the best recruit you can be. They want to see you succeed at the mission and actually care for your well being.
Shark attacks in bootcamp are brutal but you can survive.
Joining the military and serving your country is not easy. That’s why so few people are willing to undergo the challenges to serve. If you go in with the best mindset possible and do what is expected of you, it will be a way better experience overall. Stand tall, stand proud, and follow these pieces of advice. It will help you survive and thrive as a Soldier, Marine, Airman, or Sailor.