POC Diary (20th-23rd November)

Discussion in 'POC Section' started by Mr J, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. Mr J

    Mr J Royal Marines Commando

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Posts:
    20
    Morning gents,

    I thought I'd write a quick diary up for the POC I attended about a week ago. This forum has been very helpful to me throughout a number of different applications and I thought it might help others who are thinking of applying.

    I'll try not to just list the events and what they comprise of. Chances are if you're looking on this website you already know what the BFT is, what the RMFA consists of, etc etc. This will be more to provide some tips that I think would benefit others and potentially alleviate a bit of stress in your build up to POC.

    Sunday Evening:

    Mega chilled, people seemed to arrive throughout the evening and I think I was pretty much the last person to arrive. CTC has its own train station but also has a carpark opposite if you intend to drive (it's not the kings squad car park, it's a little further up next to an astro turf on your left). I showed up in a suit to be safe, but was only guided to the accommodation block on entry and given some bedding by the hall porter. Head up to your room, and get your kit sorted. I'd advise hanging all your kit up and laying it out in the cupboards around you. Timings to get changed are mega tight and the last thing you want is to be digging around in your bag. Timings will be provided for breakfast and your first detail. Breakfast was at 0645 for us I think. Time's your own on Sunday evening, get to know the other lads and try and ease the mood. CTC is a tense place and everyone needs to do their best to take their mind off it. Get your head down pretty early, chances are you won't be able to sleep all that well but the beds are comfy and the block's quiet so do your best.

    Monday:

    So it begins. Don't wake up two hours early. You literally just have to shower, shave, and get a suit on then get downstairs. Head down, eat big, drink lots. You'll have a brief after breakfast with OC POC who will outline what's expected of you and any key details he feels you need to know over the next few days. Each day has a duty student who is tasked with ensuring everyone on course is in the right place with the correct kit for that day.

    First thing is the BFT. March over there, have a quick warm up (ours was pretty straightforward, but on a previous PRMC we did a fair amount of sprints, carries, etc etc - assume the worst) then crack on. Shouldn't come as a surprise to any of you. The course is relatively flat and all concrete but they've ripped up patches of it for repairs so watch your footing - now isn't the time to get injured. Keep in time with the step and take in where you are for the return stretch. Once the first half is done you've got time for a quick piss then you're off. Dig out. Don't worry if people sprint past you into the distance - people have different tactics for this and everyone sets off at a different pace. Chances are you'll probably feel tired after the first 400 metres - I know I did. It'll pass, it's just your body getting used to the faster tempo. Run the same route back in reverse, you'll see the "500m to go, it's only pain" sign - dig out more. Have a sprint finish. Compose yourself and make sure you shout your name and number so they can record your time. DON'T high five each other, make cheering noises, collapse on the floor, or anything like that. You're supposed to be tired but remain composed. My time was 8:57.

    Straight back, quick shower, into suits, down to the POC building. The two groups (red and blue) will then do the team planning exercise and an essay in their groups. We did the essay first. Unlike what I'd expected we were just given a single title and told to write our essay - there was no number of choices. It is what it is, so just do your best. They're not looking for an incredible breadth of knowledge and deep insights into the area, they just want to check you can spell, punctuate and write a coherent, well structured essay. The captain advised us to use a PEA method for our paragraphs: Point, evidence, analyse. If he gives you advise - use it. Don't assume you're Tolkien and a master of writing. Our question related to recent global events and UK foreign policy so it was good and broad and everyone who hasn't lived in a cave should be able to form some sort of argument.

    The planning ex. was again a simple poster presentation which demonstrated a bit of knowledge of the Royal Marines. Make sure everyone chips in and is sure of what they're doing when they present it. Again, they're not looking for some hoofing speech that is hilarious and witty, they're just checking you can present ideas, speak clearly and loudly in front of an audience. Don't sweat it. A quick Q&A follows afterwards with Qs from both the other lads and the staff. If you're asking questions don't see the other blokes off by asking mega hard questions to make yourself look smart, ask something simple to keep the flow going. If the staff ask you a question you're not overly sure about then don't blab. Say what you know and leave it at that. Try really hard not to end sentences with "or something.." or "that kind of thing" - it was highlighted that this basically shows you haven't got a clue and undermines your credibility.

    I think we had a quick interview next as well. Literally 5 minutes. Obvious questions like what you do currently, why the marines, why an officer, what can you offer, etc. Whilst these are obvious questions I actually find them some of the hardest to answer as there's so many reasons I want to join the corps. Try and nail down a good answer prior.

    After all this you head back to the block, get some scran, then back into PT gear in preparation for the RMFA. The beep test is now done in the drill shed on a concrete, slightly dusty floor. I don't think it makes much difference but just be aware as it used to be run in the gym indoor. I won't outline what it is. First four levels act as a warm up, then you just dig out until your legs won't carry you. I was surprised how tired my legs felt after the BFT that morning, but it still should be straight forward to reach 11.3 if you've prepared. Don't just wrap when you reach 11.3 as it looks bad. I got to 12.2 but some machines got to 13.9 or something absurd. Once you've finished you're straight into the gym pretty much. You'll be briefed before you enter about rules. Ignore these at your peril. Before you enter, wipe all the sweat off, scratch anything you can, do your laces, etc etc because once you're in their you're either moving at lighting speed or as still as a statue - no exceptions. You should all know the technique and required repetitions before you head down. Don't underestimate the effect doing reps to a beep has. I can bang out 40 press ups in my own time no problem but only managed 50 to the beep. Achieved 67 sit ups, on these help your oppo out if you can. Quietly remind him if his reps are deteriorating in technique because if you get caught they'll just take five off your score or something. I got 10 pull ups on the beam, you get to wipe it. Listen to the instructions and don't move until the beeps. Chin over the bar. Don't drop off until you're told to even if you can't do another rep.

    I think that's the day done. Go back, shower, eat, rest, drink, stretch. All the usual stuff. Get your head down early, tomorrow is a big day.

    Tuesday:

    Black Tuesday as it is called by the candidates. Try not to overthink it, it's just phys and a bit of pain. Many of you will be tempted to have a small breakfast as the bottom field session starts pretty soon after. DON'T. Eat as much as you can of the right things, you don't need loads of protein so you can cut the sausages, bacon, eggs a little. Bread, cereal, beans, all that stuff is essential to keep you going. "The warm up" is pretty taxing. My tip would be don't even think of it as a warm up. The whole time you're down their is a bottom field session and there's no slightly easier bits to it. I was tired after 10 minutes probably. The phys you'll experience isn't like the phys you'll have done to prepare I guarantee you. This is more about mental toughness and muscular endurance than all out fitness. You won't be doing 400 metre runs, you'll be doing 50 metre drags, sprints, crawls, carries etc. Try not to save your energy, you're there to show you can perform when the going gets tough - sitting at the back and coasting won't get you through it with a good score and you'll still be exhausted. It pays to do things quickly, sprint up a hill? Sprint up it. If you don't chances are you'll have to crawl 3/4 of it instead of half. Those who are first get more rest waiting for the others, and those at the back get no rest because the next thing begins when they arrive.

    I won't go into too much more detail as I feel it makes people overthink it. It's tiring and painful, but if that's not what you're in for then you're probably in the wrong place. The assault course is actually pretty fun. Walls, jumps, ropes, nets, all the usual stuff. Do the technique exactly as you're taught, you don't know better and they will catch you out and maker you do it again thereby wasting valuable energy. Through all of it just encourage each other. No matter how fit you are everyone will have a dark moment when they question if their body can keep going or not. Put it out your head, it'll all end soon enough.

    Practical leadership task is all the usual stuff, get a log round the course. Lots of little rules and such and everyone is allocated at least one task, some are leaderless. Help each other out, speak up. The solutions to each obstacle aren't that difficult but I'm not going to tell you how to do all of them as that defeats the point of it. It's all about thinking when you're tired, just stay focused, you're almost there.

    Ours finished with a regain attempt - I'm in the RMR and have done regains before, but frankly my hands were so tired I could barely even manage the pull ups before you go into it. We all got wet. Had a sneaky suspicion that was the point.. ha!

    Back, change, shower, into your "why I'm interesting" lectures. Some of these were hoofing. Props to Richardson (if you're reading this) - his consisted of opera singing and various impressions. Mine was a bit dry and I probably should've prepared a bit better. Humour is very important so try and chuck a few funnies in there.

    Head back for lunch - again, eat big, drink big. Then off to the endurance course. Again, I won't lie - this is going to be tough. The overall route is something like five miles (I think) but it feels like 20. There's very little continuous running. Think of it like a wet circuit session, spread out over a couple of miles. Lots of the usual - drags, hill sprints, crawls, pays to be a winner. Hint: it does pay to be a winner. Obviously it's still about teamwork, but rewards come to those who reach the top first. If you're not the first and you have to do the same bit two or even three times, that's when the mental side of it comes into play. Keep going. By the end of this route I'd say everyone was in a pretty bad way. Two lads had gone down and the rest of us were spending the majority of our time with major cramp trying to keep up. As with all things, it'll end - keep going. All of a sudden you'll come into a clearing and know where you are and hopefully that'll get you through. Don't walk. Keep going.

    For both the bottom field and the endurance course I've tried to not go into too much detail about the exact elements. I genuinely feel like in some ways ignorance is the best way for this. As this was my second time (after a PRMC) around these I often felt worse as I knew what was coming. At the end of the day if you want a career in the RMs bad enough it'll be worth putting up with the pain for a Tuesday. After the endurance course is finished you'll bus it back and have about an hour to sort you life out before you head off into a discussion exercise. In this time I'd thoroughly recommend eating any food you brought down with you in you bag, your body is desperate for it. Drink lots, get some salt in and stretch.

    The discussion exercise is quite tricky as it really has no format. You're given a question then let loose as a course to debate it. How you deal with this is up to you. I tried to create discussion which occasionally meant "supporting" a pretty absurd view of things. It meant there were two sides to the argument at least, but it probably reflected slightly badly on me to seemingly take such a view. The discussion regularly goes miles off topic and I tried my best to steer it back to the original question when possible but that isn't always easy. As with all things, if you don't have a clue about something, don't show everyone that. Don't make hugely bold, opinionated statements either because you'll probably get rinsed for them (ask me how I know). Stay awake and make sure you contribute.

    Once that's done that's essentially the end of the testing. You'll have dinner, a couple of drinks in the bar (cash only), etc. Talk to the YOs. I found it very humbling that many of them took such a genuine interest in how our POC was going. Many of them can provide expert advise as what to expect and how to prepare for it. At the end of the day though they're all good blokes who can spin dits and have a laugh. Relax.

    Wednesday is just admin, cleaning the accommodation, handing back kit, and finding out how you did. Don't second guess yourself. There's nothing you can do now so just try to relax and enjoy the rest of your time there when the pressure is off. If you're successful good effort, it's a tough course and likely took you well outside your comfort zone. If you were unsuccessful take on the feedback provided by the captain. Don't make any irrational decisions about not coming back or anything as chances are you're pretty drained and not in the best state to do so.

    I'll just finish with a few key tips that will make life much easier throughout your course:

    Timings - Always be five minutes early to every timing you're given. This isn't just a good idea, it's expected. If you're four minutes early, you're actually late. It may seem small but it will reflect on you as a course. If you stick to details and get things done correctly there is no need for any additional correctional measures (if you know what I mean) and you can save yourself some energy.

    Dress - be immaculate at all times. You are attempting to become a royal marine officer and should therefore should look smart and presentable. Tie done up all the way, shirt tucked in, shoes polished, clean shaven, tidy hair. Again, they're obvious but if you rock up when you're tired and have your top button undone how are you going to react in the field when you're exhausted and have so much kit to look after?

    Converse and be polite - don't be afraid to speak to people. CTC is an intimidating place at times and a lot of people there (particularly around the mess) are high ranking officers. Hold doors open for them, refer to them as sir, if they ask you how your course is going tell them and thank them for asking. Thank the captain at the end of the course, he's provided you with valuable information that may help your application and has prepared a lot for you. Again, I think small things like this give off an overall impression to your character. All of these apply to the other lads of course as well. Some of these lads may end up in the batch with you and they will probably remember how you acted on your POC.

    Lastly and most importantly, PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAIL. One of the biggest lessons I've learned throughout my time in the RMR and it pays absolute dividends on POC. You will be given small bits of information almost constantly that you need to follow to the letter, often when you're fatigued. The more fatigued you get the harder it is to do that, and the less you do things to the letter the more you get thrashed, therefore the more you fatigue and the cycle GOES ON. Even the smallest things at Lympstone will be picked up on. On the monkey bars you'll be told to rap your thumb round the bar and not leave it hanging. It might seem small, but if you choose to ignore it at best you'll be made to do it again. Landed off an obstacle with one feet instead of two? back up the 12 foot wall and do it again.

    A combination of adhering to timings and attention to detail will make life much easier.

    I've done my best to prepare you for your own POC without giving away every single detail and making it any easier. It isn't meant to be easy and you're meant to be like a deer in the headlights. It's how you react to this pressure that they judge. I wish you all the best of luck with your courses. Keep digging out and it'll all pay off.

    I'm not on here very often but I'll try and check this occasionally if you have any questions.
     
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  2. Chelonian

    Chelonian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Posts:
    3,664
    Thanks for writing the diary and particularly the advice about etiquette and general conduct at CTC. Much appreciated for those that follow.
     
  3. telemark

    telemark Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2016
    Posts:
    84
    App Stage:
    Passed PRMC
    Thanks for writing this up. I'm not going for officer, but still very interesting to read about the experience. You mention that you'd done a PRMC before - how does POC compare to that?
     
  4. Quantumblade

    Quantumblade Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2016
    Posts:
    74
    App Stage:
    Awaiting selection after AIB pass
    I have my POC in February and this was extremely helpful! Thanks for writing this!
     
  5. Mr J

    Mr J Royal Marines Commando

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Posts:
    20
    I found it challenging in different ways. For my PRMC it was for the reserves, as a result the course was literally done in about a day and a half. Combined with having to sleep outside on bottom field and eating ration packs you got less chance to recover from exercise in comparison to POC.

    POCs individual aspects were much harder with greater expectations of you. There was also a greater desire to stand out (not in a bad way) so you were constantly pushing as hard as you could rather than grey manning it in the middle of the pack. Doing bottom field and the endurance course in one day instead of over two is certainly much harder. When you factor in the constant mental tasks and interviews between physical tests it was certainly much harder in general.
     
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