The Journey To BUD/S With Recommendations

Students from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class 281 participate in rock portage on Coronado Island. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)

If you are considering the Navy SEAL route in your future, there are many steps in the process. Your first step should be to go to the official Navy SEAL website to see all the latest and updated standards and requirements. During this consideration process, you should be already in the PST preparation process. Learn how to take the PST! That is right, long before you even walk into a recruiter’s office, take the PST, and see where you are on the PST calculator scale.

In a related article, Ten Signs Prove You Are Ready to Serve, there are many recommendations, but at this point in the recruiting process, I personally recommend to go into the recruiter’s office when you can ace the PST with the passing to competitive standards. The reason for this recommendation is because, if you join the delayed entry program too soon having never passed the PST, you will spend your time in DEP focused on the PST. The PST is a test that gets you TO BUD/S, not THROUGH BUD/S. There are many other things you need to do administratively to get through the recruiting process (ASVAB, CSORT, MEPS, maybe waivers to submit, etc.) See official link for the administrative issues.

If you can show up crushing the PST on day 1, you can now focus the time you have in DEP on longer runs (4 mile timed runs), building up to longer swims (2 mile swims with fins), doing more load bearing work like lifting more weights, rucking, running with sandbags to prepare for boats on your head and log PT. These types of workouts will have to be done on your own for the most part, but some mentors in the districts get involved with this type of pre-training. Some mentors are stretched pretty thin and need to travel to do swim clinics and PST events for their region.

Once the ace the PST, the mentor will submit your scores into the nationwide draft process, where the Special Warfare Community selects the best scores from the recruiting districts of those who are qualified and ready to obtain a contract. Once you get selected, you will then be given a shipping date and will know when you go to boot camp. When you ship for boot camp, your PST should be an easy day to achieve the following scores: Sub 9 min swim, 80-100 pushups / situps, 20 pullups, 9 min run – this is to ensure there is no fear of failure at any point in the near future when your PST really counts.

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks long where you will learn how to be in the Navy. The recommendation for a future BUD/S student is to go to boot camp in the best shape as you can be and use boot camp as a taper or de-loading phase in your training. Physically, you will still have to take the PST, so do not get out of PST shape or you could lose your BUD/S billet if you fail at any point. Having killer PST scores so you are well above the failure mark is critical as you will have bad days (tired / maybe fighting a cold / illness) and you still have to perform within the standard.

After boot camp, you will be a bit deconditioned from when you arrived. If you can avoid getting seriously ill (bronchitis / pneumonia / flu) you are ahead of the game as recovery from these illnesses may delay your progress when you start BUD/S Prep. BUD/S Prep is a 6-8 week course where you will be re-built to perform at the expected levels of BUD/S standards. You will take more PSTs, an advanced PST with a longer swim (800 and 1000m with fins), longer run (4 mile timed), along with weight lifting, sprints, agility testing events. See SEAL TAP Test with extra events.

You will arrive at BUD/S and start BUD/S Orientation (BO) which is 3 weeks of administrative, check in, gear issue, and your introduction to BUD/S workouts. After BO, you start BUD/S Indoc, which starts the preparation for first phase. Many of the events you will be required to do in first phase will be taught and practice tested during Indoc. This is a 5-6 weeks cycle.

Finally, you start First Phase. This is what you have prepared the past year or more to get to. Now it is game time! “Be competitive and strive to win. You never think about quitting IF you think about winning!”

In conclusion, here is the Ten Step Check List to go from civilian to BUD/S Student / Graduate.

  1. Train Hard – Ace the PST
  2. Visit Recruiter (Do ASVAB, CSORT, Get through MEPS). Join the Navy / Delayed Entry Program.
  3. Crush the PST officially with the recruiting district SEAL / EOD / Diver / SWCC / AIRR Mentor – you can now be a SO rating (Special Operator) during DEP.
  4. Get submitted into the SPECWAR draft
  5. Get BUD/S Contract – Spend remaining time focused on getting THROUGH BUDS and working on any weaknesses. (water skills, running, rucking, lifting, swimming with fins, etc)
  6. Attend Boot Camp – Ace PST at boot camp (#1 goal - don’t get sick)
  7. Attend BUD/S Prep – Ace PST, TAP Test, Rebuild your body. Ace Exit PST (longer run / swim)
  8. Ship to BUD/S – Start in BUD/S Orientation (3 weeks)
  9. Start BUD/S Indoc – Indoctrination is a 5 week course that prepares you for the challenges of first phase.
  10. Start Phase 1 BUD/S – This is the toughest phase of the 6-month long course. In the first four weeks alone, the typical class will lose 50-75% of it’s size as the 4th week is Hellweek (120 straight hours).

Once you get past these first 10 steps, the real training begins as you will be introduced to combat diving in 2nd phase, and land warfare in 3rd phase learning many of the basic skills of combat diving, land navigation, patrolling, shooting and moving, communicating, and demolitions.

After BUD/S, you will attend SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) which is a six-month course that takes your current skill level and builds it up to a level where you are expected to be when you join your SEAL Team. SQT takes your current skills and build upon them as well as teaches you static line, free-fall parachuting, SERE school, advanced combat diving, land warfare, cold weather warfare, and more.

Related Article: Top 10 Things You Should Know Before You Join the Military

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