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Week 10: So Blue Without Our Blues

“No stripes for you!”

Cadets in the Drill Hall


Our first attempt at the Blues challenge has come and gone. Yes, that's right: the first attempt, meaning we did not get them. Or rather we got them (picked up from the tailor shop) we're just not allowed (worthy enough yet) to wear them. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! Although we have not yet earned the right to wear the lovely blue pants with the yellow stripe (which are much more flattering than the fatigues) I did want to try mine on just to make sure they fit. It's a good thing I did because would you believe they made them too short yet again. It's only the sixth time this has happened! I'm beginning to think that they're going for military sizes around here: either too big or too small. I'm convinced they want me to look like Urkel - all I'm missing are the big glasses and the suspenders!

Also completely baffling is the fact that the beavertail on a pair of my pants is too short! [Ed.’s Note: Beavertail is a slang term cadets use to describe a large belt loop at the centre of the back of the uniform trousers, designed to hold the Operational Belt in place.] It doesn't fit over the duty belt, and apparently this has happened to many others as well! I asked myself (and others) how it's possible to get that wrong, we all have the same duty belt?! Anyway, I try not to focus too much on the possible logic or reasoning behind these phenomenons. I imagine it would be similar to attempting an explanation of crop circles or other mysteries - it's just too brain-clogging.

In other news, we have recently started getting into shotgun manipulations in Firearms. I must say it's quite the experience - somewhat different from working with the pistol. For one, the shotgun weighs more. It actually has the ability to throw you off your feet, render you hard-of-hearing (if you’re not handling it properly) and it's entirely manual with fewer rounds! In addition to this, I did not realize that there were so many different kinds of ammunition for this beast, and each one with a different kind of damage.

Also new in Firearms: FATS (Firearms Training Simulation) sessions. In these classes we have the opportunity to hone our observation skills and work on our reactions and timing. Because it's a simulator you have the opportunity to test your judgement capabilities and the questions always remain: “What will the subject do next?” and “Will I respond appropriately?” The great part is you can rewind and try again. Although it's the same scenario, the outcome may change depending on your course of action. It's kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure book but acted out.

While on the subject of action and reaction, the troop had their “Rings” session in PDT this week. Everyone was hyped up and many were stressing about our little version of Fight Club. Personally I found it to be no more nerve-racking than any other PDT class - I guess some still haven't realized that everything around here is always new. You just have to accept it, rather than losing sleep over it. For “Rings” the set up was similar to that of a boxing match: a ring, two fighters and a noisy audience - in this case - of troopmates and a number of facilitators (from a variety of the disciplines). I think something we all learned is to keep our hands up to protect our face and any other breakables!

Another important skill we worked on this week is the art of fingerprinting. It’s like many skills we learn around here: harder than it looks and quite time consuming for jittery cadets. Although serious business, as these prints need to be flawless in order for the computer to be able to read them (hence the art reference), I still make my usual jokes: I call this finger painting for criminals. Similar to the kids version, it makes a mess of your hands and more often than not, lots of ink seems to miss the paper, especially for those clumsy individuals. Just as long as we don't get any ink on our uniforms, especially before a Drill class, we're in the clear!