Month: July 2015

Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVII – FTC

My friend and fellow Not Operator author, Kilroy, said he was joining the US Army last year. We realized that his experiences would make for an interesting read, especially when there are so few online writings about what it is like, emotionally and physically, to experience modern basic training and beyond. He agreed to keep a journal of his time, and that we would publish it to Not Operator.

Kilroy tends to write his personal journals with pretty purple prose, so with his permission, I’ll be editing and paraphrasing his journal a bit to make it an easier read, with the help of my other friend and fellow Not Operator author, Michael. I’ll also be adding comments of my own in bold brackets [like this] to provide some extra context when necessary. If there’s large enough demand for it, we will post the full, unedited, version of Kilroy’s journal. To avoid making Kilroy’s experiences one giant wall-o-text, the journal will be broken up into an ongoing series of articles where it makes sense to do so. Plus, with Kilroy still in the Army, the journal is far from complete.

All entries in the Kilroy Joins the Army Series can be found here.

Without further ado, welcome to Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVII – FTC.


Day 151

The flight out from home was yesterday at 1 PM, landed at 9 PM EST, and caused me to lose three hours with the time change. By the time I was on a bus headed back to South Carolina, it was already 10 PM. We arrived at the node after 1.5 hours of driving, but once there it was another opportunity to sit and wait. It took over 3 hours to get us all processed back in and make it to the barracks.

An hour and 45 minutes of sleep later, I am waiting for my urinalysis. Conflicting feelings about being here aren’t so obvious this time around. The return was an eventuality; something that had to happen in order to continue. The lack of sleep wears on me less these days, conditioned by the wear and tear that somehow has just become another part of life.

Day 156

A day that was otherwise unremarkable became a bit arduous. Having discovered I have a typewriter, the Drill Sergeant on duty decided to indulge his photography hobby and used me and my typewriter as the subjects. We spent a fairly large amount of time photographing the machine in various places and conditions. The whole experience was strange to me, a long series of moments that had me in the uncomfortable position of having my picture taken. Seeing the world underneath the theater is interesting; the perspective I’ve gained changing the core character of the experience.

Day 161

I’ve made progress finally. Today, I finalized my movement into the 1st part of 2nd platoon. With my new assignment comes new responsibilities for PT and a new colored belt, as well as new NCOs directly in charge of me.

Progress feels good. For now I’m simply trying to do better and be better.

Day 162

A hectic day capped by annoyance and a significant change of pace. The vast majority of my day was spent dealing with problems that weren’t my own.

After breakfast, a couple of us volunteered to go with a friend who was being reentered into training, carrying his things to help him get there. Instead of a clean drop off, we were stuck with him as paperwork messes occurred that required us to bring him back to the company, then lug stuff there, and then back again.

The crux of the issue rested on a nonexistent brigade policy memo that required his packet to have the leave form that let him go on Christmas leave. Checking in with brigade proved fruitless and then a few hours later something cleared it up. After dropping him off at his new battalion, it wasn’t long until I was called again to be on the post flag detail to learn the ins and outs of the ceremony before we assume duties on the coming Monday. The whole selection for this duty seems like an egregious waste of time, about as useful as greeting cards.

After a short period of personal time, the night was filled with yet more work. One of the DS staff requested my help with an online college course - Native American History - allowing me stay up until 2 AM to help him complete that. Hopefully the work I continue to do will net me a few favors here.

Day 168

Sleep remains elusive. The duties I’ve been assigned have robbed me of my time at both ends of the candle. Earlier wake up takes away my sleep, and duties as Student 1SG make it so my own down time throughout the day is filled with obligations rather than time to decompress.

Coming back into more difficult exercises leaves my body aching, but I can deal with it. Healing up is my priority.

Day 188

My recovery is progressing well; the range of movement in my injury side is close to how it should be. Sitting cross-legged has become easy again, and the strength in my leg is definitely improving. The only issue for the moment is my balance, but that will get better with practice and time.

The day seems to be full of annoyances. Trying to exchange my boots has left me stuck waiting at Reception.

Day 197

Today began with a cold that ate at our souls. The morning clocked in at 18° F.

My follow up appointment is today. I’ll be moved back to a status that will leave me cleared to run again. What a long road this has been. Soon enough I’ll be back into training and on my way outward and upward.

Day 203

My illness has progressed; I have a hacking cough and the feeling of mucus in my lungs to complement it.

Morning workouts and classes had an intensity that wore me down today. Even spin class, which normally comes as the most fun I have during the week, came across as a chore.

The high point of the day came in the discussion of the research CSF2 [Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness] is doing. They’ve taken my BCT journal and said that they want to include selections as part of an academic paper they’re working on with respect to the psychology of Basic Training.

Day 204

The day began as aggravatingly as predicted. I was tired for the morning workout, my illness preventing me from performing at full capacity. I ran my first consistent mile today since arriving at FTC. I feel accomplished but also paranoid. The pain has returned, like it did a few months ago, and it makes me think back to that research I read the other day. Apparently my injury is prone to bone death occurring in the affected bones, which would be catastrophic.

Day 214

I’ve passed my PT test. I’m still in pain though, and orthopedics wants me to have some more downtime before sending me back into training.

They want me to wait two weeks and then we’ll see if I can move on. I’m surprisingly not worried about it now.

Oddly enough, there’s no joy in this success.

My body is better now, still in pain, but capable of more than I was before. They say the pain will fade and my recovery will be guaranteed. For once I’m believing them.

With my success on the PT test, I’ve found good cause to relieve myself of the duties of Student 1SG. In truth I haven’t actually been doing it for terribly long, but I’ll be gaining a lot of personal time by not having to be responsible for those duties anymore.

Moving on from here will be interesting. At the latest, I will be dumped back into week 5 of BCT. That leaves 3 weeks of real training and another of out-processing.

My goal for the time being is the same: get to language school.

Day 219

The weekend has arrived, and there’s a feeling of mild anxiety for those of us who have passed our PT tests. We were told to pack and be ready for anything. I don’t know exactly what’s in store for me, but my order from orthopedics should prevent me from being shipped for at least another week or so.

Day 221

Today was a run day for PT again and my speed was hampered by the odd feeling of the pins in my legs during the run. I need to do it more to get the results I want, but the individual development of my pain seems to hold me back.

Thankfully, after PT we got some free time.

Day 228

I had my doctor’s appointment in orthopedics this morning. I received my RTD [Return to Duty] from orthopedics and was told to wait out the rest of the week. The other fun point of this trip to the hospital was reuniting with a friend. The day was otherwise nothing to write home about.

Day 234

The weather has become our greatest, seemingly psychotic enemy. The temperature fell below freezing overnight, causing tensions to rise throughout the company and ended up with one of ours running amok and going AWOL.

He ran away from the battalion area and across post to his old BCT unit. Apparently he had some sort of mental break.

Day 236

The majority of my day has been spent attempting to avoid things and duties, running around finding various tasks to keep me away from my usual activities. The graduate status has given me more leeway to do things.

A trip to sick call to pick up a simple pack of seasonal allergy medicine instead turned into a medical examination. It led me to discover that my problem with hypertension has returned and now the military will be paying to cover it.

Day 238

Exercise feels good most of the time now, and I enjoy the work outs we do.

My problem comes with the medication they’ve placed me on. It prevents me from raising my blood pressure for exercise, which has killed the effectiveness of my cardio and causes me concern. I know I can pass, the problem is that I’ll need to abandon the guidance from the PAs [Physician’s Assistants] to do so.

Spin class was made supremely miserable by this complication. The rest of the day was spent without much action.

Day 245

I’ve been told that there won’t be any more clinic activity for me. I was instructed to stop attending clinic based exercises. I’ve also been told that I’ll be reentering training tomorrow.

So it begins again.

My preparations should take me through to the end, and this time the challenges I face will be familiar to me.

Going back again will be a strange feeling – as I’ve been told by the CSF2 folks, I’m almost an outsider to the entire process now. I’ll continue to document and write for reporting.


This ends Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVII – FTC. The next entry in the series will have Kilroy back at BCT for his second round. Stay tuned for Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVIII – BCT 2.

ZAUF: Types of Rifles

Earlier in this series, we established the separation of firearms into three very broad categories: rifle, shotgun, and handgun. Each firearm category has its own purpose and role to play in the spectrum of usage. Let’s continue by taking a more granular look at the different types of rifles.

The rifle category is defined by the lands and grooves carved down the interior length of the barrel, as well as the fact that the weapon is meant to be fired from the shoulder. These lands and grooves, called “rifling”, serve to impart a spin upon the projectile as they leave the weapon, making it more accurate at distance with the proper projectiles.

In the broadest sense, the category of rifle is broken down by specific types of actions: e.g. bolt action, lever action, pump action, semi-automatic, and various types of single shot. In the current civilian market, the most popular rifles are generally within either the bolt action or semi-automatic category. Further expanded, rifles are also split up by their purpose, with common categories including hunting, sniping, assault, battle, and other terms entrenched in common parlance. These terms will be further explored in a future ZAUF article.

bolt right hand left hand bolt

Bolt action rifles are defined by their action; a manually operated bolt that is opened and closed to cycle a cartridge in and out of the chamber. Bolt action rifles may be loaded with an internal or external magazine, and may come in the form of single shot rifle with no form of additional feeding. Variations of the bolt action operation usually come in the type of handle the bolt uses: left, right, or straight pull. Because of the particular way bolt action rifles operate, along with the greater overall strength of the mechanism, this type of rifle is able to reliably handle much larger and more powerful cartridges than other types of action.

Lever action

Lever action rifles are defined by the lever, usually wrapped around the trigger guard and grip of the firearm, which is used to cycle the action. This style of action is not as strong as its bolt action counterparts and suffers, generally, from an in-line magazine which runs underneath the barrel. The particular quirk of this type of firearm means that most lever action rifles, unless fed by a box magazine, will only be available in calibers with flat-nosed or round nosed bullet loads in much lower overall strengths. This is because sharper nosed bullets line up in a tube have the unfortunate possibility of accidentally setting off the primer from an adjacent round.


Pump action rifles use a pump to cycle the cartridge through the rifle in the same manner as a pump action shotgun. This type of action generally uses the same under-barrel linear magazine as their lever action brethren, though there are models which utilize a detachable box magazine. This type of action tends to be rarer in the rifle category than it is in the very common pump action shotgun category.

semi Automatic

Semi-automatic rifles are defined by their action self-loading the next available round through various means of recycling the energy created by firing a round, as well as by the fact that they fire only a single round every time the trigger is pulled. This is the key that differentiates a semi-automatic rifle from a fully-automatic rifle, as the latter is capable of sustained fire from an ammunition source with only one pull of the trigger. This category of rifle covers a very broad range of firearms available historically, as well as in contemporary production. Earlier historical examples tend to be fed via stripper clip into a fixed internal magazine, while modern production semi-automatic rifles generally opt for a removable box magazine for feeding.

break actionSharps_1852modern black powder

Finally, more niche single shot rifles come in a variety of actions such as break action, falling block, and various types of muzzle loaded rifles. Break action rifles are generally single or dual-shot firearms that are loaded by breaking open the action at the breech (toward the stock) end. Cartridges in break action rifles are loaded and removed by hand with some amount of spring assistance. A falling block action is generally actuated by a lever underneath the action (usually wrapping around the trigger guard), but requires manual action to extract and load any following rounds. Finally, muzzle loaded rifles hearken back to the days of the musket wherein powder, wad, and shot are loaded from the muzzle (business end) of the rifle and jammed back into the breech. Modern black powder muzzle loaders continue to remain popular for hunting.

This provides general overview of the types of rifles in some broad subcategories separated by their action types. There are many more distinctions that are available amongst rifles that will be covered later on.

Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVI – FTC

My friend and fellow Not Operator author, Kilroy, said he was joining the US Army last year. We realized that his experiences would make for an interesting read, especially when there are so few online writings about what it is like, emotionally and physically, to experience modern basic training and beyond. He agreed to keep a journal of his time, and that we would publish it to Not Operator.

Kilroy tends to write his personal journals with pretty purple prose, so with his permission, I’ll be editing and paraphrasing his journal a bit to make it an easier read, with the help of my other friend and fellow Not Operator author, Michael. I’ll also be adding comments of my own in bold brackets [like this] to provide some extra context when necessary. If there’s large enough demand for it, we will post the full, unedited, version of Kilroy’s journal. To avoid making Kilroy’s experiences one giant wall-o-text, the journal will be broken up into an ongoing series of articles where it makes sense to do so. Plus, with Kilroy still in the Army, the journal is far from complete.

All entries in the Kilroy Joins the Army Series can be found here.

Without further ado, welcome to Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVI – FTC.


Day 123

I’m up at midnight yet again, pulling a CQ shift. Just waiting for it to be over.

Today they did an inspection of our personal items and lockers, checking to see if we had contraband in our possession. My personal notebooks received extra inspection; the senior drill sergeant read the rough draft of my letter to the commander concerning the mass punishment of the company. [Kilroy drafted a letter to the commander in response to the company having had their personal books taken away. He didn’t send it since they ended up giving them back their stuff]. The reactions on his face were amusing, shifting between states of surprise and shock. Now they know that there’s someone who is taking note of their own policy memos and actions with a higher level of detail.

Day 124

Our exercise today was conducted with 2nd platoon; it was the first time we had Pool PT. My swimming form has slipped some since high school, but even with my injury I still do pretty well in the water.

All of us are looking forward to the few days we will have off for Christmas leave.

Day 125

It’s Wii Wednesday again and I had my first physical therapy clinic session today. I’m actually drained for once, physically. The variety of exercises I did yesterday have left me pretty sore and tired.

Day 126

Someone hired me to write something that compares Alice in Wonderland to being in the Army.

Day 127

Things are different today. We’ve been shuttled out to the Joe E. Mann center to purchase our flights home. Thankfully the military system has better pricing this time around; I’m flying out in the morning for less than I thought I would be paying.

The cost of taking a shuttle from base to the airport and from the airport to my house, and all of that back again, will rack up expenses, but thankfully my savings continue to build in the meantime.

Day 128

This is the final Saturday before my leave begins. Meanwhile, I’m working a shift of staff duty for four hours of the morning.

A point of interest: we had a SHARP investigation occur. [SHARP stands for Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention].

There was an FOB Chinese guy in the barracks who had been taking a bunch of notes on how he was being harassed by another trainee. That night, the trainee who was doing the harassing did something that sent the Chinese guy over the edge.

Consequently, the Chinese guy reported him to the EO/SHARP representative, which caused the investigation to take place. They took the accused and moved him out of the building.

I was questioned, along with other witnesses, by the battalion SHARP representative about the various incidents that were reported. The ones I witnessed were the accused helicoptering his penis at the Chinese guy in the locker rooms during Pool PT.

The next day I was interviewed again by a 1LT that had been pulled in to be the investigating officer.

A week later, the 1LT came back and told me that the accused had accused me of lying in my statement, so I had to fill out more forms reasserting my statements.

Since there was such a large body of evidence against the accused trainee, they ruled against him and that was the end of it with regards to my involvement.

Day 129

The cold has reached a new extreme; a chill swept through that barracks that was so cold that it woke us all up.

We’ve been given our phones back and offered the chance to come to a Christmas concert. Like a fool, I accepted the offer for a change of pace. Luckily, the actual concert was a bit of a treat. With a performance by the 282nd band, the higher ups wished us a good leave and sent us on our way.

Day 130

Most people are preparing themselves for the upcoming break with checks of uniform and luggage. They tell us that we need to take an assault pack, but since we haven’t been issued one we must buy our own. However, some of the DS staff claim that our bags may be appropriate. The entire affair is a mess, like most military issues, making personal management an impossible affair.

I had my first spin class today – for those that don’t know, it’s a cardio workout that involves stationary bikes being led by one of the cadre staff. It was hosted in a racquetball room with the lights turned down and music blaring under the hypnotic flashing of dance lights. In all, it was an enjoyable experience but intense in its own strange way.

Day 131

It’s been an aggravating day, mostly with regards to miscommunication.

After morning PT, we were forced to wait behind a company that was still processing through because of some issue. That delay rolled us into being late for more appointments, but before I could even go to those, someone informed me that my CQ shift had been swapped.

Back at the company, someone informed me that someone else would relieve our shift so we could go attend our appointments. After heading over to the therapy center, we found no one waiting and had to go to battalion HQ to see if the briefing was still happening.

As soon as we got to battalion HQ, the student leadership told us to go back to therapy and come back in an hour. An hour later, we were back at battalion HQ and we were told we needed to wait for 30 minutes prior to going to a briefing concerning our leave.

Some bureaucratic craziness has changed our dress for leave into dress uniforms, something I consider to be obnoxious. Setting up the uniforms has been its own kind of a pain, mostly concerned with getting little shiny bits aligned with arbitrary dimensions.

Day 132

A Wii Wednesday, though a bit different from the rest. Since much of the staff is winding down for the upcoming break, many of the previously hurt people rejoined us for our usual cardio goofiness.

Day 133

Break is so close I can almost taste it. Our scheduling has become different, with more people joining the injury platoon for morning PT. My follow up at orthopedics brings good news and progress. I hope to be better healed come the new year so I can drag myself out of this hole. Our bay has begun accepting additional people now with more to come as the day wears on.

Day 134

Operations have already begun shutting down. Those who were leaving by personal vehicle are gone by noon. In their absence, the rest of us are organized into different ‘chalks’ scheduling our departure.

We are reshuffled from a mass formation and dragged into the barracks I was previously staying in, landing me on the far side of the room from where I was before.

During the organizational formation I took a knee to relieve discomfort in my hip only to be called out by a 1SG , and then I was accosted by a SSG regarding a profile they insisted was expired. [The profile in this case refers to Kilroy’s medical profile which determines what he’s able to do physically].

Despite my protests, they told me to stand, but acquiesced a few moments later when one of the staff from FTC told them about my condition.

Day 135

Finally, it’s the day we head home for break.

We are double checked and put in a room to wait for our bus rides out to our travel hubs.

The hub itself is within the main gym at the Solomon Center, where there’s a massive logistical planning effort to slowly trickle us all out to coach lines to our respective destinations.

My airport ends up being an hour and a half away in North Carolina. The flight leaves me with the time to suck down and enjoy the first coffee I’ve had in a month, while trying to avoid the dog and pony show of the USO filming the festivities.

I seem to have adjusted to the military sleep scheduling once more, barely sleeping during the night and barely sleeping on the flight home. Maybe I’m simply anxious to get out of my dress uniform and be home.


This ends Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVI – FTC. Next we’ll wrap up with Kilroy’s time in the Fitness Training Company. It will be a bit different from previous articles in that it won’t be a continuous block of days, but rather a series of highlights from his next few months in FTC. Stay tuned for Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVII – FTC.