We all know that the Elite Ranger School has changed and today it is more of a leadership school than a way to select infantry and combat MOS soldiers to be true Army Rangers. This is heartbreaking for some of us who earned our Ranger Tab because it meant a lot more back then. Now we even have different branches attending our school and wearing our Ranger Tab that never spent nor will ever spend a day at 75th Ranger Regiment or in a Ranger battalion. It used to be that you had to be in a true combat MOS such as 11b, 12 series, 18 series, or 19 series MOS to even attend. The Army has forgotten this is an advanced infantry school! The great things that I learned and the experiences that I gained allowed me to be very successful as a true Ranger with a Ranger battalion for many years, and these were some of the best times and memories that I have in the Army.
How to Prepare for Ranger School
Stepping away from my venting, let’s talk about preparing for Ranger School. The first thing would be find out what time of the year you are going so you can prepare for the weather and the critters. I was lucky with my timing, and I think the best time to attend Ranger School is March or September. I say this because the weather in Georgia won’t be unbearably humid yet in March, and the humidity and high heat in Florida won’t be as bad by the time you’ve finished unless you get recycled several times. If you start in September, it will be pretty much the same—not as humid and by the time you hit the Florida phase, it will have cooled off quite a bit, so you won’t see the snakes and spiders as much. You’re still going to see them and the alligators, just not as much.
The next step would be preparing your body. Hopefully you will know details about starting Ranger School far enough in advance to do this. The physical part involves lots of running, PT, obstacle courses, and lots of push-ups. I suggest by 90 days prior to starting you are able to do a minimum of 80 true push-ups and the same goes for sit-ups. The pull-ups also get a lot of people, so learn how to do at least 15 pull-ups from a dead hang each time, not from a bunch of kicking. This will not fly and the RTI will not go to you. The run is all up to you. I suggest that you be able to run 2 miles in 13:30 minutes or less and 5 miles in 48 minutes or less.
Packing for Ranger School
The next part is the gear and clothes. You want to first obtain a packing list, and do not deviate from the packing list ever! You will get recycled for having a simple skittle in your ruck. Here is a basic list of what you should bring:
- Boots: bring and break in 3 pairs of boots. They’re not as strict on requirements for boots as when I went through. As long as they’re 670 compliant, they will be fine. However, make sure they dry fast and that you can walk in them for hours at a time, if not days.
- Socks: these are by personal preference. However, make sure you have worn them before and rucked in them for at least a few miles. The blisters some people get at ranger school come from lack of preparation and showing up with a bunch of new boots and socks.
- T-shirts: be sure to get moisture wicking.
- Gloves: bring at least 3 pairs because you’re going to lose a few or somehow they just disappear. The same goes for eye and ear protection.
- Eye and ear protection: bring 3 pairs with all types of lenses.
- PC: bring at least 3. You don’t want to be wandering around in an ACH because you lost your last PC.
- Ziploc bags: bring large and small ones and the same goes for trash bags, but you don’t need a roll of 50 unless you want to carry it or share.
- A compass
- Multi-purpose tool
- Flashlight: this is another item that seems to grow legs, so bring 2 of these with all the correct gear, like red and green lenses.
- Duct tape and moleskin: bring this especially if you’re subject to blisters on your feet.
- The Ranger handbook and an extra in a waterproof bag.
Pack Your Positive Attitude
The best way to enjoy Ranger School and learn a lot is to bring a highly motivated, positive attitude with no complaining or whining. I highly suggest you read the Ranger handbook at least twice prior to attending. Know your weapons systems and how to use them. Another important part is land navigation. Know how to do this easily. A lot of people get recycled or fail out due to land navigation, so spend time practicing that day and night and not with some self-correcting WLC 600-meter land navigation course either. My last piece of advice is this: do not show up there so enthusiastic that you are running through the woods like Rambo’s cousin. If you’re not a team member, you won’t make it and you will get peered out quickly. That also goes for anybody who thinks they’re going to go sit in the back the whole time and at the day of graduation everybody says “hi, who are you”? You’re going to perform each position, including leadership positions at Ranger School. No matter which ones you’re assigned to, you better know everybody else’s and where you’re at and what you’re supposed to do when asked. The RTI will not hesitate to recycle you or your whole squad or platoon.
There is more that I haven’t mentioned, such as know tying and others skills, but these are just a few basic ways to prepare anybody for the Ranger leadership school. Go have fun and learn a lot. Do not get discouraged if you get recycled; it’s normal. Try not to do anything stupid like throw a grenade uphill or leave a weapon lying around and you will learn a lot. Most importantly, go back to your unit, then teach and utilize what you have learned.