15 tips for Ranger School

A friend of mine shocked the hell out of me recently and told me he was not just going back into the Active Army (from the I.R.R.) but giving ranger school another try. He asked for advice. I thought I’d share it with the world.

Realize, I went through in 2001, so some stuff may have changed. I also went through in the winter.

1. Toward the beginning, they make you dumb all your bags and then stress you out as you repack. When I packed for ranger school, I had one stuff sack full of everything that was smaller than a fist, and I dumped it in a tight pile on the edge of my bigger pile. Made it easier to find things when they called for “chap stick,” or “sewing kit,” or whatever.

2. They allowed us to have neosporin for my class. I used the hell out of neosporin, rubbing it on my knees all the time to prevent skin infections. They also allowed generic lotions which I used on my hands, though they still cracked and bled a little.

3. I did the first part of ranger school twice (on my first attempt, I dislocated my knee). The second time, knowing the schedule made it easier. Knowing that I only had three more times in sawdust pit, two more times, etc, made it easier. So, learn the schedule before you go.

4. I think they tell every class that they are the worst ever, that they’re not going to pass whatever is next. This mind game is part of Ranger school. Focus on the task at hand. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time, one task at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow.

5. Staying awake is hard. Eating helped me stay awake. I would save something for my guard shift at night, and eat it real slowly.

6. Don’t steal food from the mess hall, dumpsters or anywhere else. It’s not worth the risk.

7. Remember, the RIs continue watching you AFTER your patrol to see if you crash and turn into a shitbag. They’ll fail your patrol if you do. Your body will want to crash.

8. Know the words “roger, Sergeant” and get used to them. There is no arguing/reasoning with an RI.

10. Memorize the Ranger Creed before you go to save yourself a little heart ache.

11. Don’t bulk up with muscle. Muscle takes a lot of calories to sustain itself. I think rucking with 40-60 pounds is a great exercise.

12. A good way to dry socks or wool gloves is with body heat. Tuck the ends into your belt, and dangle the socks or gloves into your crotch.

13. If it’s winter, bring ten pairs of wool gloves.

14. On one hand, you have to want the ranger tab very badly, because ranger school is extremely painful, and you need a lot of drive to get through the pain. I told myself the only way I was leaving without the tap was on a stretcher. Unfortunately, this came true on my first attempt. On the other hand, lots of great guys don’t pass ranger school. There are all kinds of stupid reasons why you might fail. If you don’t, you need to be able to walk away from it with your dignity intact. Some guys attach way too much self-esteem to the Ranger Tab. A patch that says “Ranger” is not what makes you a man.

15. When you’re in charge, *everything* is your responsibility, whether you can control it or not.