Updated: Dec 24, 2021
Most Recruits know they must take a swim test and finish the Crucible to graduate from Marine Corps boot camp, but most don't know there are other events you must also pass to become a Marine. Of course, the character and general mindset of a Marine is necessary to earn the title, yet these things are not gradable, they must be ingrained in the hearts and minds of Recruits and Marines.
Today, we will give you some general information listing the eight key training events that are integral to the training and indoctrination process. Passing each of these eight events is required to graduate boot camp. Failure to do so will result in a Recruit being redesignated, known as "dropped", to a different company to attempt the requirement again. If a Recruit continues to fail, the Recruit will be sent home from boot camp for failing to pass the event.
The water survival test is composed of a tower jump, 25-meter swim, 25-meter pack swim, four-minute water tread, and a shallow water gear shed. Recruits who experience difficulties with these events are provided in-depth training from certified swim instructors so they may meet the standard. The training for these Recruits is known as "Iron Ducks." Iron Ducks will get at least four opportunities to pass the swimming test before they are dropped. Each Recruit who successfully completes swim training will earn a Water Survival Basic (WSB) qualification. Recruits who are projected to enter MOSs with a high risk of aquatic dangers are required to complete an enhanced evaluation or risk reclassification to another MOS.
Recruits will receive over 28 hours of martial arts instruction during the training cycle. This training will culminate in a test which Recruits must show proficiency in at least 80% of the techniques they are taught. Prior to this test convening, Recruits will be provided ample time to remediate each technique with their DIs. Recruits will be broken down into small groups and dispersed across an area for testing. DIs will come prepared with clipboards listing each technique instructed during training. They will go down the list and require Recruits to properly execute each technique, to include choosing the appropriate weapon if required.
Physical Fitness Test (PFT)
The Physical Fitness Test (PFT) is completed by Recruits to test individual strength and endurance. The PFT consists of three events: 3-mile run, 2 minutes max set of crunches, and max set of pullups. Each event can earn an individual 100 points, for a total maximum score of 300 points. Recruits have the option of planks in lieu of crunches and pushups in lieu of pullups. Recruits will complete two PFTs during their training. An Initial PFT will familiarize Recruits with the conduct of events and the route of the run event; the score attained is a benchmark for future development. The Final PFT will prove Recruits can meet the minimum metric on each component event.
Pullups: 4 / Push-ups: 42
Crunches: 70 / Plank: 1:03
Pullups: 1 / Push-ups: 19
Crunches: 50 / Plank: 1:03
Combat Fitness Test (CFT)
The CFT is another test of Recruits’ strength and endurance. The CFT consists of three events: movement to contact, 880m run, 2 minutes max ammo can lift, and a maneuver under fire. The movement to contact is an 880m sprint conducted on a track or a road course. Ammo can lifts are an overhead press utilizing a 30-pound ammo can, typically filled with sand and rock, which is weighed before the event. The maneuver under fire is a tactical-oriented shuttle run which includes sprints, buddy carries, and a grenade toss. Recruits will complete two CFTs during their training. An Initial CFT will familiarize Recruits with the conduct of events, with emphasis on learning the maneuver under fire course; the score attained is a benchmark for future development. The Final CFT will prove Recruits can meet established minimums.
Movement to Contact: 3:45
Ammo Can Lift: 62
Maneuver Under Fire: 3:17
Movement to Contact: 4:36
Ammo Can Lift: 30
Maneuver Under Fire: 4:53
Recruits get their first opportunity to fire their service rifles during marksmanship training known as Firing Week. All Recruits will fire hundreds of rounds either at slow, regular intervals or in quick, timed-constrained bursts from multiple positions. Recruits will fire from various ranges from the 25-yard line, up to 500 yards. At the completion of this event, Recruits will earn shooting badges to be worn as prescribed: Marksman (lowest qualification), Sharpshooter, or Expert (highest qualification).
Recruits will begin the week by completing a zero of the weapon optic to ensure they hit center
mass of their target no matter what the distance. They will then spend days practicing each distance with no pressure to receive a score. On a set day, Recruits will fire the prescribed course of fire known as pre-qualification, or pre-qual. Pre-qual will allow Recruits to receive a score to see how they may perform on qualification day so they may make final adjustments. If Recruits show enough proficiency to get the score of an Expert qualification, they may not be required to fire again on the qualification day.
On qualification day, Recruits will again fire the same course of fire as on pre-qual to earn their shooting badges. The Marine Corps recognizes some individuals have difficulties with marksmanship, so Recruits who fail to qualify will be provided another opportunity to do so. Those who continue to fail will only be dropped after a second attempt. Any Recruit who commits a safety violation may be removed from the range and dropped back to another company to remediate safety training.
This final test is composed of a written component and a practical application evaluation. For the written component, Recruits will be expected to show proficiency on topics to include the Code of Conduct, the M16A4 Service Rifle, Marine Corps History, and Marine Corps Organization. This test is completed on a traditional Scantron form. Recruits must pass this test with at least an 80%, but Drill Instructors will expect 100% proficiency in knowledge they provide their Recruits.
For the practical application portion, recruits will be assembled outside a room and be provided instructions. They will enter the room in groups of around ten recruits, then be directed to a station. Each station will have a dummy with a simulated injury on the ground and a variety of placards attached to the walls with velcro. Recruits will be required to treat the casualty and describe the method which they utilized for the wound. They will then need to match placards of uniforms and ranks on the walls which will display proficiency in identifying the items represented. This portion also requires 80% proficiency to pass.
The Crucible is 54 hours of grueling physical and mental endurance. In just over two days, Recruits will travel over 50 miles on foot and endure some of the most difficult conditions they have ever faced, whether heat, cold, or rain. There are slight variations depending on which depot a Recruit attends, but the following lays out the general layout. The Crucible begins around 0200 with a hike to the training area of about seven to nine miles. Recruits will then break into groups to complete a rotation of events. On the first and second day of the Crucible, Recruits will complete three daytime events, for a total of six-day events. These events will vary in their order, but they will include a casualty evacuation, body sparring, pugil sticks, leadership reaction courses, and a live-fire range.
Each night of the Crucible also has its own event. The first night is a night resupply hike. Each group will be provided ammunition cans between 30 and 50 pounds which they will transport over a three-mile hike route. On the second night, Recruits will complete another resupply mission, but this second iteration will simulate incorporation of movement through an area of possible enemy fire. Teamwork is key on both nights of events.
The third morning of the Crucible begins around 0300. Recruits will place their packs on their backs and sling their weapons for the longest, most arduous hike of Recruit Training. Their feet will hurt, their backs will be sore, and they will be hungrier than they have ever been. At the completion of this hike awaits a sweet prize: the title of United States Marine.
Battalion Commander's Inspection
The Battalion Commander's Inspection is held after the Crucible, shortly before Graduation, and it is the training company's opportunity to showcase the three months of hard work of Drill Instructors and new Marines have endured. It is expected that Recruits call on their experiences of the prior two inspections to present pristine uniforms, weapons, and living quarters to their battalion commander.
This inspection is typically held in the Service Alpha uniform. The Battalion Commander will not inspect each Marine but will randomly choose individuals to review. He or she will ask Marines questions about their background and their perspective of the training cycle. After the commander finishes with a platoon, a team of other inspectors will review the remainder of the platoon, their weapons, and the squadbay. This inspection is the final graduation requirement for all who attend Marine Corps boot camp.
Well, there you have it. Eight key events that hold the key to graduating Marine Corps Boot Camp. Some are well known, or are self-explanatory, but many others often occur in the background and are often excluded from common media. Nevertheless, these events all have their place in the process of transforming a civilian into a United States Marine.