Top 9 Pieces of Advice for The Basic School

Headed to TBS? This advice is for you from a recent TBS graduate. Enjoy!

Congratulations and welcome to the gun club.  A few things.

The Big Suck

1) TBS is a lot of fun, but also more challenging than OCS. Make sure you get away from the barracks as much as is reasonable. Otherwise, you risk burnout. Go to DC, Annapolis, Alexandria, wherever just get away and don’t be someone who just sleeps in the barracks on the weekends.

LandNav is Continuous

2) If you fail a land nav practical, you do a remediation course on the weekend. This severely (up to 9 hours) cuts into your weekend and recovery time. As much as possible, do your due diligence to master land nav. I was a consistent 100% land nav candidate at OCS and have struggled with all but the first land nav at TBS. So, your performance at OCS land nav has little to no bearing at TBS.

Get your patches out in town

3) ASAP, go to Quanticos Best or Jennys in Q-Town and order the TBS package. It has all the name patches, kill patches, etc you will need for your gear during the POI. I think it’s about $60. Quantico’s best has slightly better quality and turnaround times.  Bring your Kevlar cover and LBV and they will sew name patches on them.
When the platoon sergeant asks for volunteers at TBS

Range week will tax your endurance

4) Range week has been by far the hardest part of TBS, for me. Your body isn’t really ready for the weight or hiking. And that’s with preparing for hikes and doing a lot of lower body lifting in the months prior to TBS.  Short people and females tend to struggle as the SPCs race each other back to the barracks from the range. The individual movements to and from the range aren’t hard but the volume of hiking really wears on you. This is also true for TBS as a whole. It’s a marathon. On the plus side, the 3, 6, and 9 mile hikes are really easy after range week. I was barely breathing hard on the 9 mile with about 50 lbs more than what we carried during range week.

Costly gun club membership

5) TBS is surprisingly expensive. No real way to prepare for this, just be aware that you’ll be spending a lot more money than you planned just to pay for things you need for TBS.

Take care of yourself and each other

6) Know yourself and seek self improvement, but also know how to take care of yourself. The same was true for OCS, know what you will need to stay grounded and be ready to give your 100% in training. TAKE CARE OF THE MARINES AROUND YOU. Sooner or later, you will all start to feel the length and difficulty of the POI. It becomes very obvious to the SPCs and the other platoons, which platoons are taking care of each other and like each other. Especially as the POI continues, this will make life easier on you and your peers. Don’t be petty and encourage others when they are struggling. You are all grown men/women, act like humble professionals and help each other become better officers.
rite in the rain for TBS
Click for the favorite Rite in the Rain kit

Invest in helpful gear

7) Regarding supplies, order a laminator, printer, Ranger Joes protractor (for land nav), and foam roller. Other recommended items, are a mattress topper and good pillow (the beds suck), bed linens/blankets, external monitor (orders writing is a lot easier with two screens), Larger rite in the rain notebook (I recommend No 980T size and cover C980). Liquid IV or drip drop will help you hydrate better than gatorade, especially when its hot. Try other performance snacks like Sport Jelly beans, Clif Shot blocks, GU etc.

Be a friend

8) Make friends with the Brown baggers (students with families that live off base) and they will let you use their houses to meal prep/hangout. Also, you may have Warrant Officers in your platoon. They are a awesome resource and you should rely on their expertise. But, also help them because they also struggle at TBS, especially with PT events.


In the end, TBS is the foundation for a long career. Doing well at TBS will help you with future promotions, and essential relationships for the rest of your career and beyond. Take it seriously, build a good reputation and be a giver. You’ll have no regrets.

2 thoughts on “Top 9 Pieces of Advice for The Basic School

  1. I found myself spending 100-200 dollars a weekend on things I NEEDED at TBS. One weekend it’s tactical gloves and a leatherman multi-tool, the next weekend it’s IR glow sticks and a GPS.

    No shame in sleeping in the barracks either, drinking 3-4 beers and playing Mario Kart with the boys will cause you less pain in the following week compared to the guys who went to decades. Your wallet will thank you too, DC is expensive.

    Last advice is carry a PRC-117 whenever you can. Being good with the radio is a big skill, you get very good at making reports and battle tracking in the field this way. It can get heavy, but it will make the graded hikes a breeze, and you’ll feel free as a bird on the endurance course.

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