Safety Precautions

Instructors must always be alert to safety. They must take every precaution to minimize injuries as soldiers go through obstacle courses. Soldiers must do warm-up exercises before they begin. This prepares them for the physically demanding tasks ahead and helps minimize the chance of injury. A cool-down after the obstacle course is also necessary, as it helps the body recover from strenuous exercise.

Commanders should use ingenuity in building courses, making good use of streams, hills, trees, rocks, and other natural obstacles. They must inspect courses for badly built obstacles, protruding nails, rotten logs, unsafe landing pits, and other safety hazards.

There are steps which designers can take to reduce injuries. For example, at the approach to each obstacle, they should post an instruction board or sign with text and pictures showing how to negotiate it. Landing pits for jumps or vaults, and areas under or around obstacles where soldiers may fall from a height, should be filled with loose sand or sawdust, All landing areas should be raked and refilled before each use. Puddles of water under obstacles can cause a false sense of security. These could result in improper landing techniques and serious injuries. Leaders should postpone training on obstacle courses when wet weather makes them slippery.

Units should prepare their soldiers to negotiate obstacle courses by doing conditioning exercises beforehand. Soldiers should attain an adequate level of conditioning before they run the confidence course, Soldiers who have not practiced the basic skills or run the conditioning course should not be allowed to use the confidence course.

Instructors must explain and demonstrate the correct ways to negotiate all obstacles before allowing soldiers to run them. Assistant instructors should supervise the negotiation of higher, more dangerous obstacles. The emphasis is on avoiding injury. Soldiers should practice each obstacle until they are able to negotiate it. Before they run the course against time, they should make several slow runs while the instructor watches and makes needed corrections. Soldiers should never be allowed to run the course against time until they have practiced on all the obstacles.

CONDITIONING OBSTACLE COURSES

If possible, an obstacle course should be shaped like a horseshoe or figure eight so that the finish is close to the start. Also, signs should be placed to show the route.

A course usually ranges from 300 to 450 yards and has 15 to 25 obstacles that are 20 to 30 yards apart. The obstacles are arranged so that those which exercise the same groups of muscles are separated from one another.

The obstacles must be solidly built. Peeled logs that are six to eight inches wide are ideal for most of them. Sharp points and corners should be eliminated, and landing pits for jumps or vaults must be filled with sand or sawdust. Courses should be built and marked so that soldiers cannot sidestep obstacles or detour around them. Sometimes, however, courses can provide alternate obstacles that vary in difficulty.

Each course should be wide enough for six to eight soldiers to use at the same time, thus encouraging competition. The lanes for the first few obstacles should be wider and the obstacles easier than those that follow. In this way, congestion is avoided and soldiers can spread out on the course. To minimize the possibility of falls and injuries due to fatigue, the last two or three obstacles should not be too difficult or involve high climbing.

Trainers must always be aware that falls from the high obstacles could cause serious injury. Soldiers must be in proper physical condition, closely supervised, and adequately instructed.

The best way for the timer to time the runners is to stand at the finish and call out the minutes and seconds as each soldier finishes. If several watches are available, each wave of soldiers is timed separately. If only one watch is available, the waves are started at regular intervals such as every 30 seconds. If a soldier fails to negotiate an obstacle, a previously determined penalty is imposed.

When the course is run against time, stopwatches, pens, and a unit roster are needed. Soldiers may run the course with or without individual equipment.

Obstacles for Jumping

These obstacles are ditches to clear with one leap, trenches to jump into, heights to jump from, or hurdles. (See Figure 8-l.)

Instructors must explain and demonstrate the correct ways to negotiate all obstacles before allowing soldiers to run them.

These obstacles are usually mazes of posts set in the ground at irregular intervals. (See Figure 8-2.) The spaces between the posts are narrow so that soldiers must pick their way carefully through and around them. Lane guides are built to guide soldiers in dodging and changing direction.

Safety Measures For Exercising
Figure 8-1

OBSTACLES FOR DODGING

lanes to guide change of direction
mazes to cause change of direction

Figure 8-2

Obstacles for Vertical Climbing and Surmounting

These obstacles are shown at Figure 8-3 and include the following:

• Climbing ropes that are 1 1/2 inches wide and either straight or knotted.

• Vertical poles 15 feet high and 6 to

8 inches wide.

Horizontal obstacles may be ropes, pipes, or beams. (See Figure 8-4.)

Figure 8-3

OBSTACLES FOR HORIZONTAL TRAVERSING

Obstacles for Crawling

Obstacles for Vaulting

These obstacles may be built of These obstacles should be 3 to large pipe sections, low rails, or wire. 3 1/2 feet high. Examples are fences (See Figure 8-5.) and low walls. (See Figure 8-6.)

OBSTACLES FOR CRAWLING

Figure 8-5

OBSTACLES FOR VAULTING

Soldier Balancing Rope Images

Beams, logs, and planks may be used. These may span water obstacles and dry ditches, or they may be raised off the ground to simulate natural depressions. (See Figure 8-7.)

OBSTACLES FOR BALANCING

planks or beams

Figure 8-7

CONFIDENCE OBSTACLE COURSES

Confidence obstacle courses must be built in accordance with Folio No. 1, "Training Facilities," Corps of Engineers Drawing Number 28-13-95. You can obtain this publication from the Directorate of Facilities Engineering at most Army installations.

Confidence courses can develop confidence and strength by using obstacles that train and test balance and muscular strength. Soldiers do not negotiate these obstacles at high speed or against time. The obstacles vary from fairly easy to difficult, and some are high. For these, safety nets are provided. Soldiers progress through the course without individual equipment. Only one soldier at a time negotiates an obstacle unless it is designed for use by more than one.

Confidence courses should accommodate four platoons, one at each group of six obstacles. Each platoon begins at a different starting point. In the example below, colors are used to group the obstacles. Any similar method may be used to spread a group over the course. Soldiers are separated into groups of 8 to 12 at each obstacle. At the starting signal, they proceed through the course.

Soldiers may skip any obstacle they are unwilling to try. Instructors should encourage fearful soldiers to try the easier obstacles first. Gradually, as their confidence improves, they can take their places in the normal rotation. Soldiers proceed from one obstacle to the next until time is called. They then assemble and move to the next group of obstacles.

Rules for the Course

Supervisors should encourage, but not force, soldiers to try every obstacle. Soldiers who have not run the course before should receive a brief orientation at each obstacle, including an explanation and demonstration of the best way to negotiate it. Instructors should help those who have problems. Trainers and soldiers should not try to make obstacles more difficult by shaking ropes, rolling logs, and so forth. Close supervision and common sense must be constantly used to enhance safety and prevent injuries.

Soldiers need not conform to any one method of negotiating obstacles, but there is a uniformity in the general approach. Recommended ways to negotiate obstacles are described below.

Red Group

This group contains the first six obstacles. These are described below and numbered 1 through 6 in Figure 8-8. Belly Buster. Soldiers vault, jump, or climb over the log. They must be warned that it is not stationary. Therefore, they should not roll or rock the log while others are negotiating it. Reverse Climb. Soldiers climb the reverse incline and go down the other side to the ground. Weaver. Soldiers move from one end of the obstacle to the other by weaving their bodies under one bar and over the next.

Hip-Hip. Soldiers step over each bar; they either alternate legs or use the same lead leg each time. Balancing Logs. Soldiers step up on a log and walk or run along it while keeping their balance. Island Hopper. Soldiers jump from one log to another until the obstacle is negotiated.

RED GROUP

Soldier Balancing Rope Images
4. hip-hip 5. balancing logs 6. island hopper

This group contains the second six obstacles. These are described below and numbered 7 through 12 in Figure 8-9.

Tough Nut. Soldiers step over each X in the lane.

Inverted Rope Descent. Soldiers climb the tower, grasp the rope firmly, and swing their legs upward. They hold the rope with their legs to distribute the weight between their legs and arms. Braking the slide with their feet and legs, they proceed down the rope. Soldiers must be warned that they may get rope burns on their hands. This obstacle can be dangerous when the rope is slippery. Soldiers leave the rope at a clearly marked point of release. Only one soldier at a time is allowed on the rope. Soldiers should not shake or bounce the ropes. This obstacle requires two instructors--one on the platform and the other at the base. Low Belly-Over. Soldiers mount the low log and jump onto the high log.

They grasp over the top of the log with both arms, keeping the belly area in contact with it. They swing their legs over the log and lower themselves to the ground.

Belly Crawl. Soldiers move forward under the wire on their bellies to the end of the obstacle. To reduce the tendency to push the crawling surface, it is filled with sand or sawdust to the far end of the obstacle. The direction of negotiating the crawl is reversed from time to time.

Easy Balancer. Soldiers walk up one inclined log and down the one on the other side to the ground. Tarzan. Soldiers mount the lowest log, walk the length of it, then each higher log until they reach the horizontal ladder. They grasp two rungs of the ladder and swing themselves into the air. They negotiate the length of the ladder by releasing one hand at a time and swinging forward, grasping a more distant rung each time.

This group contains the third six obstacles. These are described below and numbered 13 through 18 in Figure 8-10.

High Step-over. Soldiers step over each log while alternating their lead foot or using the same one. Swinger. Soldiers climb over the swing log to the ground on the opposite side. Low Wire. Soldiers move under the wire on their backs while raising the wire with their hands to clear their bodies. To reduce the tendency to push the crawling surface, it is filled with sand or sawdust to the far end of the obstacle. The direction of negotiating the obstacle is alternated. Swing, Stop, and Jump. Soldiers gain momentum with a short run, grasp the rope, and swing their bodies forward to the top of the wall. They release the rope while standing on the wall and jump to the ground. Six Vaults. Soldiers vault over the logs using one or both hands. Wall Hanger. Soldiers walk up the wall using the rope. From the top of the wall, they grasp the bar and go hand-over-hand to the rope on the opposite end. They use the rope to descend,

Black Group

This group contains the last six obstacles. These are described below and numbered 19 through 24 in Figure 811.

Inclining Wall. Soldiers approach the underside of the wall, jump up and grasp the top, and pull themselves up and over. They slide or jump down the incline to the ground. Skyscraper. Soldiers jump or climb to the first floor and either climb the corner posts or help one another to the higher floors. They descend to the ground individually or help one another down. The top level or roof is off limits, and the obstacle should not be overloaded. A floor must not become so crowded that soldiers are bumped off. Soldiers should not jump to the ground from above the first level.

Jump and Land. Soldiers climb the ladder to the platform and jump to the ground.

Confidence Climb. Soldiers climb the inclined ladder to the vertical ladder. they go to the top of the vertical ladder, then down the other side to the ground. Belly Robber. Soldiers step on the lower log and take a prone position on the horizontal logs. They crawl over the logs to the opposite end of the obstacle. Rope gaskets must be tied to the ends of each log to keep the hands from being pinched and the logs from falling.

The Tough One. Soldiers climb the rope or pole on the lowest end of the obstacle. They go over or between the logs at the top of the rope. They move across the log walkway, climb the ladder to the high end, then climb down the cargo net to the ground.

BLACK GROUP

19. inclining wall
22. confidence climb
20. skyscraper

23. belly robber

21. jump and land

21. jump and land

23. belly robber

24. tough one

Rifle Drills

Rifle drills are suitable activities for fitness training while bivouacking or during extended time in the field. In most situations, the time consumed in drawing weapons makes this activity cumbersome for garrison use. However, it is a good conditioning activity, and the use of individual weapons in training fosters a warrior's spirit.

There are four rifle-drill exercises that develop the upper body. They are numbered in a set pattern. The main muscle groups strengthened by rifle drills are those of the arms, shoulders, and back.

Rifle drill is a fast-moving method of exercising that soldiers can do in as little as 15 minutes. With imagination, the number of steps and/or rifle exercises can be expanded beyond those described here.

EXERCISE PROGRESSION

The rifle-drill exercise normally begins with six repetitions and increases by one repetition for each three periods of exercise. This rate continues until soldiers can do 12 repetitions. However, the number of repetitions can be adjusted as the soldiers improve.

In exercises that start from the rifle-downward position, on the command "Move," soldiers execute port arms and assume the starting position. At the end of the exercise, the command to return soldiers to attention is "Position of attention, move."

In exercises that end in other than the rifle-downward position, soldiers assume that position before executing port arms and order arms.

These movements are done without command and need not be precise. Effective rifle exercises are strenuous enough to tire the arms. When the arms are tired, moving them with precision is difficult.

RIFLE DRILL EXERCISES

The following exercises are for use in rifle drills.

Up and Forward

This is a four-count exercise done at a fast cadence. (See Figure 8-12.)

Fore-Up, Squat

This is a four-count exercise done at a moderate cadence. (See Figure 8-13.)

Fore-Up, Behind Back

This is a four-count exercise done at a moderate cadence. (See Figure 814.)

Fore-Up, Back Bend

This is a four-count exercise done at moderate cadence. (See Figure 8- 15.)

This is a four-count exercise done at moderate cadence. (See Figure 8- 15.)

To start, hold rifle downward, and put feet together.

Swing arms forward and upward to overhead position.

Swing arms forward to shoulder level.

Recover to start position.

To start, hold rifle downward, and put feet together.

Swing arms forward and upward to overhead position.

Swing arms forward to shoulder level.

Move to first position.

Recover to start position.

Figure 8-13

FORE UP, BEHIND BACK

COUNT:

To start, hold rifle downward, and put feet together.

Swing arms forward and upward to overhead position. Exhale.

Lower rifle to back of shoulders. Inhale.

Lower rifle to back of shoulders. Inhale.

Move to first position. Exhale.

Recover to start position. Inhale.

Figure 8-14

Figure 8-14

Log Drills

Log drills are excellent for developing strength and muscular endurance, because they require the muscles to contract under heavy loads.

Log drills are team-conditioning exercises. They are excellent for developing strength and muscular endurance because they require the muscles to contract under heavy loads. They also develop teamwork and add variety to the PT program.

Log drills consist of six different exercises numbered in a set pattern. The drills are intense, and teams should complete them in 15 minutes. The teams have six to eight soldiers per team. A principal instructor is required to teach, demonstrate, and lead the drill. He must be familiar with leadership techniques for conditioning exercises and techniques peculiar to log drills.

AREA AND EQUIPMENT

Any level area is good for doing log drills. All exercises are done from a standing position. If the group is larger than a platoon, an instructor's stand may be needed.

The logs should be from six to eight inches thick, and they may vary from 14 to 18 feet long for six and eight soldiers, respectively. The logs should be stripped, smoothed, and dried. The 14-foot logs weigh about 300 pounds, the 18-foot logs about 400 pounds. Rings should be painted on the logs to show each soldier's position. When not in use, the logs are stored on a rack above the ground.

FORMATION

All soldiers assigned to a log team should be about the same height at the shoulders. The best way to divide a platoon is to have them form a single file or column with short soldiers in front and tall soldiers at the rear. They take their positions in the column according to shoulder height, not head height. When they are in position, they are divided into teams of six or eight.

The command is "Count off by sixes (or eights), count off." Each team, in turn, goes to the log rack, shoulders a log, and carries it to the exercise area.

The teams form columns in front of the instructor. Holding the logs in chest position, they face the instructor and ground the log. Ten yards should separate log teams within the columns. If more than one column is used, 10 yards should separate columns.

STARTING DOSAGE AND PROGRESSION

The starting session is six repetitions of each exercise. The progression rate is an increase of one repetition for each three periods of exercise. Soldiers continue this rate until they do 12 repetitions with no rest between exercises. This level is maintained until another drill is used.

START POSITIONS

The soldiers fall in facing their log, with toes about four inches away. Figure 8-16 shows the basic starting positions and commands.

Right-Hand Start Position, Move

On the command "Move," move the left foot 12 inches to the left, and lower the body into a flatfooted squat. Keep the back straight, head up, and arms between the legs. Encircle the far side of the log with the left hand. Place the right hand under the log. (See 1, Figure 8-16.)

Left-Hand Start Position, Move

This command is done the same way as the preceding command. However, the left hand is under the log, and the right hand encircles its far side. (See 2, Figure 8-16.)

Right-Shoulder Position, Move

This command is given from the right-hand-start position. On the command "Move," pull the log upward in one continuous motion to the right shoulder. At the same time, move the left foot to the rear and stand up, facing left. Balance the log on the right shoulder with both hands. (See 3, Figure 8-16.) This movement cannot be done from the left-hand-start position because of the position of the hands.

Figure 8-16

Left-Shoulder Position, Move

Chest Position, Move

This command is given from the left-hand-start position. On the command "Move, " pull the log upward to the left shoulder in one continuous motion. At the same time, move the right foot to the rear, and stand up facing right. Balance the log on the left shoulder with both hands. (See 4, Figure 8-17.) This movement cannot be done from the right-hand-start position.

Waist Position, Move

From the right-hand-start position, pull the log waist high. Keep the arms straight and fingers laced under the log. The body is inclined slightly to the rear, and the chest is lifted and arched. (See 5, Figure 8-17.)

This command is given after taking the waist position. On the command "Move," shift the log to a position high on the chest, bring the left arm under the log, and hold the log in the bend of the arms. (See 6, figure 8-17.) Keep the upper arms parallel to the ground.

To move the log from the right to the left shoulder, the command is "Left-shoulder position, move." Push the log overhead, and lower it to the opposite shoulder.

To return the log to the ground from any of the above positions, the command is "Start position, move." At the command "Move," slowly lower the log to the ground. Position the hands and fingers so they are not under the log.

LOG-DRILL EXERCISES

The following are log-drill exercises.

Exercise 1. Two-Arm Push-Up

Start Position: Right- or left-shoulder position, with feet about shoulder-width apart. (See 1, Figure 8-18.)

Cadence: Moderate. Movement: A four-count exercise; at the count of --

"One''-Push the log overhead until the elbows lock.

"Two''-Lower the log to the opposite shoulder.

"Three''-Repeat the action of count one.

"Four''-Recover to the start position.

Exercise 2. Forward Bender

Start Position: Chest position, with feet about shoulder-width apart. (See 2, Figure 8-18.) Cadence: Moderate. Movement A four-count exercise; at the count of --

"One''-Bend forward at the waist while keeping the back straight and the knees slightly bent. "Two''-Recover to the start position.

'Three''-Repeat the action of count one.

"Four''-Recover to the start position.

Exercise 3. Straddle Jump

Start Position Right- or left-shoulder position, with feet together, and fingers locked on top of the log. Pull the log down with both hands to keep it from bouncing on the shoulder. (See 3, Figure 8-19.) Cadence: Moderate. Movement A four-count exercise; at the count of--

"One''-Jump to a side straddle. "Two''-Recover to the start position.

'Three''-Repeat the action of count one.

"Four''-Recover to the start position.

Exercise 4. Side Bender

Start Position: Right-shoulder position with the feet about shoulder-width apart. (See 4, Figure 8- 19.)

Cadence Moderate.

Movement: A four-count exercise;

at the count of--

"One''-Bend sideward to the left as far as possible, bending the left knee.

"Two''-Recover to the start position.

"Three''-Repeat the action of count one.

"Four''-Recover to the start position.

NOTE: After doing the required number of repetitions, change shoulders and do an equal number to the right side.

Exercise 5. Half-Knee Bend

Start Position: Right- or left-shoulder position, with feet about shoulder-width apart, and fingers locked on top of the log. (See 5, Figure 8-20.) Cadence: Slow.

Movement: A four-count exercise; at the count of --

"One''-Flex the knees to a half-knee bend.

"Two''-Recover to the start position.

"Three''-Repeat the action of count one.

"Four''-Recover to the start position.

(NOTE: Pull forward and downward on the log throughout the exercise. )

Exercise 6. Overhead Toss (NOTE: Introduce this exercise only after soldiers have gained experience and strength by doing the other exercises for several sessions.)

Start Position: Right-shoulder position with the feet about shoulder-width part. The knees are at a quarter bend. (See 6, Figure 8-20.) Cadence: Moderate. Movement: A four-count exercise; at the count of --

"One''-Straighten the knees and toss the log about 12 inches overhead. Catch the log with both hands, and lower it toward the opposite shoulder. As the log is caught, lower the body into a quarter bend.

"Two''-Again, toss the log into the air and, when caught, return it to the original shoulder. "Three''-Repeat the action of count one.

"Four''-Recover to the start position.

Exercise 5: HALF KNEE BEND

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