Pass Ranger! Earning the Tab.


(Today's update: Passing the Ranger Land Navigation Course!)

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!

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.

Packing List for Women in Ranger School (and Pre-Ranger)

The official packing list for women attending the WTC Ranger Training Assessment Course is not out, nor is there an official list for women attending Ranger School (although there is a standard packing list).  That said, we can look to other packing lists such as that for West Point Cadets or Sapper School students for insight.

1)  Three sports bras.  The first few days of RTAC are physically very strenuous, as is RAP week at Ranger School.  Rangers have to run frequently, overcome numerous obstacles, and get smoked almost non-stop.  For that reason, female attendees should plan on packing at least three sports bras.  Why three?  First, you will get very sweaty no matter what the temperature is outside.  Second, you will likely get wet and muddy a few times, and things take a while to dry.  The bras will likely need to have the minimum amount of spandex possible and will have to be black or brown.

2)  Extra baby wipes.  As a matter of hygiene, male attendees have it easier, given the way we're build below.  Female attendees will likely use significantly more baby wipes for hygiene reasons, so I expect the packing will allow for more to be brought.  Remember, however, that you should not bring a gargantuan bag of them -- it is better to bring smaller units that are sealed.  They will pass inspection more easily and will be less likely to dry out.

3)  Menstrual pads.  Face it -- this will happen while you are at school, so you will need to be
prepared.  I highly doubt tampons will be allowed because of the risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome.  The packing list will likely require unscented individually wrapped pads sufficient for one menstrual cycle, and the PX will provide a restocking opportunity during each phase.  Medics will likely be provided with some pads just in case, but you should always try to pack for your own needs.

4)  Medication for during menstruation -- very doubtful.  The West Point Camp Buckner packing list allows this, but I doubt it will be allowed for female attendees.  I'm also 100% certain that no female attendee will ask for it, but I added it to this list for the sake of completeness.

If you have any other thoughts of what female Rangers need to pack, please mention them in the comments section.  If you have some thoughts about why women shouldn't attend Ranger School, please write them on a piece of paper and put them in your pocket.

RLTW!

ROTC LDAC and the Road to Ranger School

For many young Soldiers, completing the ROTC Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) is a critical step towards the eventual completion of Ranger School.  In this post, I'll talk about why LDAC is so important to future officers who want to earn the Ranger Tab, and also give some hints and ideas related to the packing list, TACSOP, etc.

What is LDAC?

There is plenty of information on the web about LDAC, stating its purpose is to "train U.S. Army ROTC cadets to Army standards and to develop leadership and evaluate officer potential."  Much more important to those who want to earn the coveted Ranger Tab is the next part:  "this is accomplished through a tiered training structure using light infantry tactics as the instructional medium."  Think of LDAC as a baby step towards Ranger School -- a chance to develop light infantry basic skills, get experience leading a group of Soldiers you just met, and identify early weaknesses to work on before you head out to your Officer Basic Course.

Also, stop for a moment and think about how you'll actually earn a slot at Ranger School.  As an officer, your best chance by far is by branching Infantry.  To maximize your chance of doing that, you have to get higher in the ROTC Order of Merit List (OML).  And to do that, you have to earn high rankings in your ROTC Regiment. 

See how it all fits together?  Now let's dig into the details.

The Packing List

Here is an example of an ROTC packing list.  "Isn't that list a few years old?"  Sure is -- Cadet Command seems to hide the packing list each year, but luckily it doesn't change much.  There are a few basic things you'll definitely want to get, so why not buy items you can also use when you get to OBC and then Ranger School?  I have already posted the Ranger School packing list with plenty of hints and suggestions, so head over there to check it out.  Pay particular attention to items like the headlamp, gloves, etc. -- these are items that should last you years.  If you order any items from Amazon, you should sign up for the Student Amazon Prime program -- a good deal that is only available if you have a .edu email address.

The TACSOP

You will be carrying your TACSOP with you during your entire time at LDAC, and you'll most likely refer to it oftent during your MS IV year while training the other Cadets.  Why not prep it up to last by giving it the same treatment you'll give your Ranger Handbook? I give a good overview on the best methods to use here.  Not only will the TACSOP last longer, but you'll also become familiar with this method and figure out your own tricks as you go along.

The Terrain Model Kit

Just like at Ranger School, you'll need an LDAC Terrain Model Kit.  You'll use it to plan out operations and brief the other Cadets, and you'll be able to save most of the pieces to reuse at OBC and Ranger.  Even if you think you'll lose everything, now is your chance to figure out what works for you -- which pieces are important, do you want to use chalk or not, etc.  Here is an entire post on the kit.

The end?

If you follow the advice I've already put together, I'm confident LDAC will just be the next step in your path to Ranger School.  Remember:  train as you fight.  Treat LDAC (and every other military experience) with the seriousness it deserves, and the fun will come along with it.  Next thing you know, you'll have great skills, great memories, and great opportunities ahead.

Ranger School Chin-Ups (Not Pull-Ups)

Looking good -- bar at collarbone level.  But watch those feet!
The Ranger Physical Fitness Test (RPFT) has four events:  the push-up, the sit-up, the 5-mile run, and the chin-up.  Although only one or two people fail to achieve the 6 chin-up minimum each cycle, that shouldn't matter to you. This is what is important:

  • Practicing the chin-up will make certain you have no stress about that event
  • If you work on chin-ups, you'll be stronger at rope climbs
  • The chin-up will help you with rappelling in Mountains
  • You'll be doing chin-ups before each meal in garrison
  • The chin-up will help you when you get to The Wall on the first field day of Mountains
  • The chin-up strengthens the back, balances your chest muscles, and will reduce injuries overall
So, pretty important, right?  Let's break down this exercise and how to do it right.

First thing first:  you will fail the chin-up event of the RPFT if you don't do them strict.  Strict means that the Ranger Instructor (RI) will stand about six inches in front of you and will direct your movements.  The only part of your body that should move is your arms.  So here is the breakdown:
  • When the RI says "mount the bar" (or "get the f**k up on the f'in bar"), mount the bar by jumping up and grabbing it with your palms towards you (palms away would be a pull-up).
  • Hang completely slack so you are fully extended.
  • When the RI says "up," pull-up using just your arms -- no movement of your feet, knees, or abs.  A good trick here is to tense your lower body slightly and point your toes downward. At the end of your pull, the bar should be right at the level of your collarbone -- not just below your chin.  Get comfortable -- you'll be there for a second.
  • When the RI says "down," lower down in a controlled way to a full dead hang.  Again, slightly tensed body with toes pointed downward will keep you from swinging.  Get comfortable again -- you're on the RI's schedule.
  • At this point, the RI will either keep directing you or will just tell you to continue.  Do not rush this -- straight up with just arms, brief pause with the bar at collarbone level, controlled downward to full dead hang, brief pause at bottom, then back again.
  • After your sixth chin-up, go to a dead hang and wait.  The RI will tell you "dismount" or "get the f**k of my g*ddamn bar, Ranger." 
  • Congratulations!  You just passed the RPFT and you're officially in the class for RAP Week.
The takeaway?  Forget the guys in the gym doing 1,000 chin-ups.  Forget the awesome kipping and butterfly pull-ups you're learning at the CrossFit box.  And forget going fast to build your numbers.  Get on the chin-up bar and work like you're doing the RPFT.

What do you need?  Nothing but a bar:
  • Here is the basic bar I used -- hangs from any standard door and doesn't need any bolts or screws.
  • Here is a super-fancy bar -- same price, but I've never used it.
Chin-up Time!
But guess what?  You probably have a playground near you -- and that means there is probably  playscape with a horizontal ladder ("monkey bars") or even a set of pull-up bars ready to go.  Just don't be creepy -- go in the morning when kids aren't there.

Follow Me

About me

Ads 300 x 250

Recent

Instagram

Video

Flickr Images

Facebook