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Old 06-01-2017, 00:33   #1
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
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Question "Outside" Training courses/ "experience"

I have a simple question (at least, I hope it'll be simple)

The short version of the background here is that I've been working myself up to talk to a recruiter about an 18X contract. Still figuring that part out due to some personal concerns. (serious girlfriend, probably going to need at least one waiver, etc etc) but I have some questions before I even get that far. This is just one of them for now, and I can hopefully find the answers to my other questions in due time.

The question proper takes a bit more dissection. For starters, I am and will for the forseeable future continue to be a gun nut. For my own personal benefit and education I'm interested in taking a distance learning course on "Advanced AR-15 Armoring" while I try to get myself in better shape. I just completed my fourth AR15 build, so I figure I might as well learn all the ins and outs instead of just winging it some more. I'm also somewhat interested in taking a pistol course from a pretty good local guy, also for my own personal benefit. I like shooting pistol and I've shot some steel IPSC type matches at a local range a few times. I'm by no means great but I quite like practicing and it's one of the few solid interests I've kept up since I was an anklebiter. It's good fun (except when it's -15F or less, then it's just better than watching the tube).

I have read and heard that many professional/government organizations view applicants seeking out this kind of training as a big red flag. I don't want to be "that guy". Whether I succeed or fail at making it through the 18X pipeline, if I get into it at all, I'm just interested in learning this stuff for me. I'm also a bit concerned because I have had an interest in amateur pyrotechnics and the chemistry of energetic materials.

I know that knowing this stuff is in no way comparable to what the Army would actually want to teach me, but I'm concerned it would muck up my odds by presenting a disqualifying red flag. Does anyone have any insight in to whether having certs or experience related to this stuff beforehand is viewed as a +/- or just not even considered? I'm not planning on mentioning it (I really really want to avoid being "that guy") but I could see it coming up.

I've had similar thoughts about my intention to try to pick up a language (French specifically, due to it's commonality).
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Old 06-01-2017, 02:52   #2
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Good grief, what a long drawn out question.

Learn what you want before you join but remember - you will be expected to perform as you are taught in the course.

Some instructor tells you how to do something and you reply with "Well, I'm a ......" and your stay might be shorter than you think.
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:56   #3
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^^James, that's solid advice right there. There's tons of civilian courses that are somewhat aligned with military courses. Try never to tell the military instructors you're "already qualified because..." Perfect example would be civilian skydiver vs MFF, or PADI/MAUI vs CDQC.

But as I'm sure you already know...focus on the 25m target first....enlist and try to pass Basic.
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Old 06-01-2017, 12:46   #4
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No matter how many guns you built and how much knowledge of guns or explosives (although fun) before you go in will not help at all. They will tell you what they want you to know. At least you are showing an interest in things that will help and most guys want to know..

If you are worried about waivers already you will probably have a difficult time because you may not be able to commit. There will be so many trip wires along the way through basic, AIT and jump school that you need to have a driven focused attitude toward commitment.

Go and see what the recruiter says. After a few tests he might say you should be an officer or something on the enlisted schedule. It s hard to say unless you have some concrete scores down from testing. Then decide your next step.

Until then, don't shoot yourself in the foot.
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Old 06-01-2017, 15:01   #5
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Get off of your ass and talk to the recruiter. Would/coulda/shoulda don't count for squat, just like all of that weapons training pre-military as it will not help you at all if you do not sign up and make it over all of the hurdles in the real training.

Talk to the recruiter before you do anything else.
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Old 06-01-2017, 15:13   #6
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Taking firearms training from reputable providers is never a bad thing, but is almost immaterial to your success or failure through the 18MOS pipeline. For an aspiring 18X, it's really not important in the grand scheme of things. Other than providing a very general comfort level with firearms. Something you'll be trained to acquire anyway... if you make it to an ODA. As with personal competence in Martial Arts, while interesting and useful, firearms expertise has little relevance for the task at hand... making it through SFAS/SFQC.

As a long serving former 18B, I assure you that nobody really cares about your kitchen table gunsmithing skills, AR builds, or tactical courses taken. Not unless you are a nationally ranked gunsmith, competitor, or trainer. I can teach a monkey to both wrench on and competently shoot an AR or a handgun.

Taking training from (or hanging out with) wingnuts who are on LEO or Federal Watch Lists is a definite red flag. The military frowns on association with extremist groups of any flavor and the determination of your future security clearance might hang in the balance.

Explosives? Yeah, that's a red flag in terms of associations (unless you have some bona fide current civilian job that involves blasting/demolitions). Again, it's not familiarity with such, it's the likelihood of your getting involved with others who might lead you astray. Try getting a waiver for previous charges involving "hobby" experiments with explosive devices or materials.

Language? French in particular? Absolutely. SF cross cultural abilities and language skills are critical. If you speak, read, and write in a foreign language (to any degree)... you are well ahead of the power curve. Regardless of current rankings for "demand" languages, French is a perennially valuable one in the SF arena. Used in all kinds of interesting places where we work. Africa. SE Asia. Parts of S. America & Caribbean. Europe. Competent French speakers in SF are typically scarce. Which can lead to some interesting assignments for those who are handy with that language.


1. Take whatever firearm courses appeal to you; preferably from well-documented pros. Stay away from anything or anyone that remotely smacks of illegality, military posing, or extremist politics.

2. Stay away from hands-on explosives dabbling. Too many bread crumbs that attract attention from folks like DHS, ATF, etc. Read about it all you want.

3. Learn French. Or any other 2nd language you demonstrate a natural proclivity for.

#3 is actually the most important and useful "outside" skill you could bring to the table.

Last piece of advice: We've all been in relationships, most SF guys are married, and many manage to join the Regiment with a spouse in tow. But it makes it a lot tougher... for both you and her. Figure out what "serious girlfriend" really means. 'Cause if ever there's a time in your life for being solo, it's while attempting the SF Pipeline. If you love her and mean to marry her, then decide that, act on it, and try the 18X route anyway. A strong & supportive fiancee or wife can hold things down while you make the attempt.

But there is no room (zero) for SFAS/SFQC candidates with less than rock solid relationships. If your personal life isn't in order, it's no place for you.

It's not a game, you are expected to have your shit together and your mind focused. There ain't no time for long distance girlfriend drama. Nor will any previous civilian firearms/demo "experience" count for anything while in the pipeline. Language skills might (in terms of preferential future Group assignment).

Last edited by Astronomy; 06-01-2017 at 18:34.
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Old 06-01-2017, 15:42   #7
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Originally Posted by Astronomy View Post
2. Stay away from hands-on explosives dabbling. Too many bread crumbs that attract attention from folks like DHS, ATF, etc. Read about it all you want.
This is good advise. have you ever been arrested or detained because of your curiosity?

If so it could directly effect your security clearance screening for many jobs not just SF.
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Old 06-01-2017, 23:35   #8
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I stopped reading at "serious girlfriend".........

We are at war. Its time to decide what your priorities are.....
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Old 06-02-2017, 03:55   #9
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"I stopped reading at "serious girlfriend"........."

Well, the Q Course has been known to cure a lot of "serious girlfriend" back home issues.

As well as new wife at her first Army Post.

Ya' gotta' live it to love it and love it to live it.
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Old 06-02-2017, 13:43   #10
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I've never been arrested or detained for that. I've mostly read as much material as I can find, and have been doing so for several years. Other than that, I have a singular speeding ticket. I have carefully avoided wingnuts. Hopefully no one thinks I'm a wingnut

As for the girlfriend.... It's a personal thing. I'm going to keep physically preparing, and in the meantime hopefully can sort out some logistics and details with her. She has her own plans and I in no way see my relationship with her as a zero sum game for what I'm planning out here, but I can understand the concern that that statement probably brings out.

I'm not going to go on a rant but I'm aware of what's going on in the world and I don't like it. I want to do this because it seems like one of the few things that might really make a difference. For now I'm just trying to figure out what's worth pursuing in the immediate future, and what could fuck up my chances in what will probably be at least a few months. I'm fine with taking my time to get there as long as I actually get
there.The french seems like a win/win, so for now I'll just focus on that and my own physical fitness. I really appreciate the advice.
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Old 06-03-2017, 12:18   #11
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Keep focused on the 25M target, first things first. Sit down with the recruiter, see if you even qualify for a waiver. Take it from a former recruiter, not all waivers are worth doing. Then if you are pre-qualified, take the ASVAB.
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Old 06-15-2017, 14:54   #12
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OP, it wasn't an issue for me, for what its worth. The SORB recruiter said to include hobbies in the packet's essay, mine is shooting. I have taken a number of courses and went into a little detail about them, mostly selling the point that a five-day course had a wide variety of personnel in attendance to include foreign SOF and police. My packet was accepted, so I can't imagine anyone on the board was overly concerned about it. And it won't hurt to be familiar with the technical aspects of with the M4, as long as you don't try to flaunt that knowledge. No one is going to care that much.
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Old 06-16-2017, 07:49   #13
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Originally Posted by Pete View Post
"I stopped reading at "serious girlfriend"........."

Well, the Q Course has been known to cure a lot of "serious girlfriend" back home issues.

As well as new wife at her first Army Post.

Ya' gotta' live it to love it and love it to live it.
I'm sure things have changed, but I remember the SFAS cadre as being fond of stating that the only things you needed to attend Selection were an SF Physical and a copy of your divorce decree.
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Old 07-09-2017, 20:06   #14
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Follow up question:

can someone direct me to the current recommended workout for pre-SFAS? I've searched around, and it seems that the current workout is THOR, but I can't find an actual explanation of WTF that means or where to find even a description of it.

in the meantime I'm still doing some exercises, but I can tell I need to go harder and faster. I'm very lucky to know or at least have contact with current and former SF out in meat space. Mostly a former PJ who later did some OGA work whom I've had the privilege of getting to know very well. Based on some of the longer conversations I've had with the PJ it seems as though the primary aspect of my prep should be rucking, rucking, rucking and focusing on refusing to quit no matter how crazy shit gets. Based on what I've read, I know I need to be doing more upper body strength stuff, which is what I seem to be struggling with so far.

I've got some of my own oddball ideas about exercises, but I know enough to know I don't know enough and I'm hoping someone has a clear reference or some suggested reading on the subject. I've heard people drop "Get Selected" and another book on general fitness and exercise techniques focused on MIL/LE, the name of which is escaping me, but if there's a free and actually recommended exercise plan I'd rather start from there and adapt.
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Old 07-18-2017, 04:45   #15
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Judging by how many we reclass to tank mechanics and cooks before they even leave Sand Hill, I'd recommend Push-Ups Sit-Ups and the 2-Mile Run. If you can't get a 240 on the APFT your Selection dreams are going to end before they start. The Army Recruiter is just filling a vacant 18X slot.
So climb inside your metal coffins, with eye pro that you'll never need.
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