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How to Better the Chances of Graduating From Ranger School

by Maria Scinto, studioD

Forty-five percent of all Ranger School candidates never complete the course, and half of these failures occur the first week of training. Even if you make it through the initial phase, you're still not out of the woods, as 25 percent of those who do complete the first week are dropped from the course at a later date, and a third of all graduates have repeated at least one of its three phases. Prepare yourself physically and mentally ahead of time so you can join the thousands of men before you who have proudly earned the Ranger tab.

Prepare Your Body

Ranger School includes a includes a physical fitness test which requires, at a minimum, that you perform 49 push-ups and 59 sit-ups within two minutes for each task. You'll also need to run five miles in 40 minutes or less, and two miles in less than 15 minutes and 12 seconds. To increase your chance of success, though, you should train to a higher standard. Practice until you can perform 80 push-ups and 90 sit-ups in two minutes, and complete a five mile run in 35 minutes or less. Expect to lose a few pounds while training, so pack on an additional five to ten pounds before you go. Do it smart, though -- ten pounds of flab from junk food won't give you the stamina you'll need to survive the grueling weeks ahead. Stick to lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.

Practice Ruck Marching

Training week includes a 12-mile ruck march carrying a minimum of 35 pounds which must be completed at a pace of no more than 15 minutes per mile. Throughout the rest of the course, you'll be almost continuously marching over rough terrain with a full ruck on your back. Prepare yourself by marching several times a week. Begin with a three-mile march carrying 25 percent of your body weight, and work up to 12 miles carrying a load of 35 percent of your weight or 60 pounds, whichever is heavier. Use proper ruck marching technique to avoid injury, as this can also get you dropped from Ranger School. Make sure to keep your body weight centered directly over your feet, and lock your knees at every step to rest your leg muscles. When you are unable to march, you can still condition yourself by doing squats with your rucksack. Aim for five sets of 100 reps, and squat only to the point where your knees bend at a 90 degree angle.

Land Navigation

During Ranger School you will be evaluated and graded on your performance of 27 Ranger Common Tasks. One of the more important tasks is land navigation. Make sure you can use a straight edge or compass to locate unknown points on the map by both intersection and resection, and be able to use terrain association to determine location. Land navigation is crucial for patrolling, troop movement and establishing landing zones.

Leadership Skills

Ranger School was designed to produce leaders, whether officer or enlisted. Although no ranks are recognized during the course, you may need to operate as a platoon sergeant, so you should understand the duties that go with this rank. Be prepared to requisition and distribute supplies, develop a mass casualty plan and secure the base. Understand how to produce operation orders warning orders and fragmentary orders. You should also have a working knowledge of troop leading procedures. Realize that there will be times you will need to delegate and supervise activities instead of trying to do it all yourself.

Mental Preparation

No matter how physically fit you are, you'll need to be mentally tough in order to survive everything Ranger School throws at you. Do not give in to negative thoughts -- other soldiers are persevering no matter how hard it gets, so promise yourself that you can hang in there, too. It helps if you don't think of Ranger School as a 61-day ordeal, but take it one phase, or even one event, at a time. Congratulate yourself on each success, no matter how small, and remember that each day you make it through puts you that much closer to your goal of graduating. Memorize the Ranger Creed and recite it to yourself when the going gets tough. Vow to display the intestinal fortitude to complete your mission, and remember that you aren't doing it for yourself alone. Rangers are all about teamwork, and the skills you're learning in Ranger School will help keep your fellow comrades alive in a combat situation.

About the Author

Maria Scinto has been writing since 2004 on sports, nutrition, health, parenting, real estate, education and other topics for publications including "Northern Virginia Magazine," "Montgomery Gazette" and "Fairfax Times." She has coauthored two books, "The Takeout Cookbook" and "Savvy Convert's Guide to Choosing a Religion." She has a master's in library and information science from the University of Denver.

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