Pass Ranger! Earning the Tab.


(Today's update: Pushing Your Limits.)

Whether you are a Private or a Colonel, you're here to find out how to earn your Ranger tab.  This page will give you all the info you need to start off on the right foot and to finish Ranger School with a first-time GO.  Here you'll find:


And for when you graduate and earn your tab:
  • Great gifts for new Rangers
  • Books and movies about US Army Rangers past and present
  • And more . . .
Good luck, God speed, and RLTW!

Pushing Your Limits


Everyone loves to say that Ranger School will push you to your limit, but we don't often get into what that means. So let me share a secret -- Ranger School will push you to your limits, again and again, until you fail or succeed.

Many people who attend hit their first limit in the first day or two. Although we can all run the 5 miles, or do the CWST, or crush a buddy run, it becomes a lot harder when each event is back-to-back, with little opportunity for physical or mental rest.

The first limit comes when you say to yourself, for the first time, "what have I gotten myself into." It is a mental limit, and one you can easily overcome by remembering why you are there and what you hope to be by graduating.

The second limit is when you feel deep and genuine exhaustion for the first time. Until Ranger School, I had never been so sleepy deprived that I would pass out while standing up. I never hallucinated from being so tired, believing that a guy pulling a black garbage back out of his ruck was playing with a dog. I never rucked and then suddenly found myself walking into a tree, barely remembering the past few minutes (or was it hours?). You will get there, and when you do it is far harder than simply being burnt from too many pushups. Your body and mind want to shut down, and will sometimes do so without your permission. Just accept it, and drive on. Remember that all you have to do, in the end, is put one foot in front of the other.

The third limit is, for many, the hunger. I lost 35 pounds in Ranger School, and remember how hard it was to stay warm without anything in my system. You could smell the ammonia of everyone's muscle tissue burning up, and licking out the MRE bag was perfectly normal. But food will come -- you'll get the occasional golden walk with some extra chow, or you'll starve through 5 days and make it back to those Mountain blueberry pancakes. Just remember that everything is temporary except earning the Tab, which you'll have for long after the hunger.

The fourth limit, and the worst at times, is the mental game. Can you shut up and let someone else lead? Can you be a team player even when you have no patience left? Can you follow a nonsensical plan? And can you do it all without pissing off everyone else in your squad? When you get overwhelmed enough, and tired enough, and hungry enough, your deepest self will start to show through. You may not like what you see, and it may distract you from the task at hand. Remember that part of mental toughness is being able to set aside a temporary emotion to focus on the larger goal.

In the end, Ranger School will push you to multiple limits multiple times. Every time you feel yourself hitting that wall, just put one foot in front of the other and it will pass. Once it does, take a deep breath and think to yourself "okay -- ready for the next one." Make it to the end, and you'll find that most "limits" are self-imposed.

Fight Harder! A Run for the GallantFew.

Here at Pass Ranger, we firmly believe that earning the Ranger Tab is both an honor and a commitment: an honor to join such a select group, and a commitment to always "be a Tab bearer, not a Tab wearer." Once you earn the Ranger Tab, you must always set the standard and live the Ranger Creed.

We believe that this doesn't end when you leave the military either. A Ranger's dedication to service, to excellence, and to "never leave a fallen comrade" extends to helping other veterans. Over 200,000 veterans a year leave the military, and many of them face significant personal challenges. Some have been physically injured, some have faced mental trauma, and some just don't know how to make the move back to civilian life.

That's why we're excited about Fight Harder. Don't know what this is? Click through, check it out, and consider making a donation to help support your brothers and sisters.

GPS Watches for 2017

Okay -- let's be super-clear up front. NO GPS WATCHES ALLOWED AT RANGER SCHOOL! Do not show up with a GPS watch, or any other GPS device, at Ranger. At the very least, they will take it away from you and you won't see it until the end. Worse, they may consider that you failed to follow instructions, or didn't read the packing list, or didn't get your ruck checked by your unit -- all of which could lead to a Major Minus or to you being sent home.

With that out of the way, you should definitely be running and rucking to prepare for Ranger School, and a GPS watch can help you to track your distance, times, total mileage, and routes. With that said, here are some recommendations:

BUDGET:

If you are looking for a decent GPS watch for under $100, the Tom Tom Runner is a great choice. While it doesn't come with a heart rate monitor, you can buy the additional heart rate monitor strap for less than $30. Again, this is a budget model, but it will take care of your needs and will track you as you move, maintain records of your runs, is waterproof, and will even track you on indoor treadmills.




PRICEY:
Next up is the Garmin Forerunner 230 for a bit over $200. More money pays for the better screen, link to your cellphone for notifications, and a battery life allowing active GPS tracking for up to 16 hours. Again, this device requires a separate heart rate monitor strap unless you want to upgrade to the Garmin Forerunner 235 for an additional $100, which provides an optical heart rate monitor built into the watch.






FITNESS TRACKER OPTION:

If you want an overall fitness tracker, the FitBit Surge is an increasingly popular choice for just over $200. Although you certainly won't impress anyone with the way this device looks, it incorporates GPS tracking, built-in heart rate tracking at the wrist, and will measures metrics all day such as steps taken. The biggest negatives are the appearance of it and the critical fact that it isn't waterproof. Although it should be able to handle day-to-day moisture from running, swimming is a no-go.



A GPS tracker is absolutely not necessary for you to prepare for Ranger School. It is just another tool you may consider using in our preparation. Remember, however, that a Ranger's greatest tools are the heart and the mind -- everything else just makes the job a bit easier.

Tips for Passing Land Navigation in Ranger School

Worried about land navigation during RAP Week?  Here are some things to keep in mind as you
prepare for school:
  1. Stop cheating at land nav now. You know exactly what I mean -- following the trails of other cadets, listening for that one loud Specialist who is good at land nav and will give a cough when he is at the point, or even seeking out the fireworks of red lenses that cluster around the first find of the morning. Just stop. Treat land navigation seriously by talking to Soldiers who are good at it, listening during hip-pocket training, and actually trying to do it the right way.
  2. Do some trail running. Unless you have no idea what you are doing, you have been running quite a bit in your train-up for school. (If not, better head over to the PT Prep page now.) Most of this running is probably not on foot paths in the woods, or uneven construction roads. Get some time in your boots running in these conditions. Doing so will build your confidence, strengthen the supporting muscles in your legs (reducing injuries), and get you ready to run the land nav course. Wait -- what?!
  3. Run the land nav course. You read that right -- run the land nav course. You don't have time to simply step it out and hope you make it. The points are far apart and require some significant travel to get between them. You will need to run from area to area, and then use the extra time you've earned to search out your points. Ask some recent grads, and you will hear stories of Ranger students who had all their points but miss their time. Guess what? They usually get to do it again -- and then are so tired after that they fall out on another event. You need to focus on a first-time GO in every Ranger event, and for land nav that means running.
  4. Plan then go. When the start time comes, use your first minutes to orient to the map, plot your points, and make a plan. Any Ranger course is going to make you think, and now is the time to do it. Decide what order you'll go in, how you'll travel from point to point, and actually think about what the map means. Could there be a swamp there? Does that one point look easy at first but is actually buried deep in the brush? Which points can I get closest to off reference points rather than bushwhacking for 600 meters? Plan your work, then work the plan.
  5. Darkness is for movement. You will begin the course before the sun comes up, meaning dark dark dark. If you are lucky, full moon and clear. If not, try not to fall into the swamp, holes, ravines, drainage ditches, etc. That said, don't waste your dark hours trying to find your first point. Using your plan, identify the farthest point you need to hit, and start movement. Move quickly but move safely. If you have great illumination, you can actually jog pretty quickly. On other nights, slow down but keep a good speed. You need to burn up that darkness getting to your critical point. If you do it right, you'll start getting the benefits of sunrise as you are
    seeking your second point (if not sooner).
  6. Don't trust the roads on the map. If you're plan sounds like "I'll run to the first intersection, go left, then next intersection, go right" you will fail. If you add in "I'll run 400 meters at 45 degrees to the first intersection, which I know is at a 90 degree angle, then I'll go right at 135 degrees for 800 meters to the next intersection, which . . ." you have a better chance. No matter what, stop at every intersection, drop down to the ground, and do a map check. Does the distance seem right? Do the roads intersect the way you expect them to? If not, make a decision and drive on. There are false intersections on every land nav course -- confident use of your compass and map, combined with trusting your plan, will defeat them every time.
  7. Don't cheat.  Remember point 1 above? You will get caught. Will RI's pretend to be another student and ask you for help? Yep. Will you get dinged if they told you not to use white light and you use it? Yep. Can they see you in the dark? Uh.....yep. Do not cheat at land nav. Even if you are freaking out, stay calm, trust your plan, and find your points. Now let's be clear. Not cheating means "do the right thing." But if you are near your point, look up, and see three red headlamps near something? You should probably check it out. Saw a guy looking for his point a few minutes ago, and now he is booking away like he found it and is off to the next one? Maybe you should head in the direction he came from. The purpose of point number 1 above is to get you good enough that people want to follow you -- but don't be an idiot. Find your point using every fair way you can.
  8. Know when to stop. Anyone who has done land nav knows the feeling of being "so close" to their point, and getting sucked into the search. That obsession can be your downfall at Ranger School. If you are circling and circling and cannot find it; if you have retraced back to the road and recheck your azimuth but the point is nowhere to be found; if you know you have spent way too long searching for one point, count it as a loss and give up. Further, do not, under any circumstances, believe that getting a major plus from finding all your points is worth it. What is worth it is finding your points, getting back, and having your GO. Ranger School continues to have the coordinates on the points, so you'll know when you have them. Go back and take whatever breather you can get.
Have more insights on Ranger School land nav? Post them in the comments below!

Ranger School Pushups!

Why do so many Ranger students fail the pushup portion of the Ranger Physical Fitness Test? Often, it is because they haven't been properly graded for most of their time in the Army. Many Soldiers who claim to do "true pushups" would be surprised with their score at Ranger School -- and perhaps be angered to be sent home after hearing "1 . . . 1 . . . 1. . ."

The fix is simple, but you don't need an article from me -- trust Command Sergeant Major Dennis Smith and watch his video here.

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