A U.S. Army Ranger School instructor calls out commands to Soldiers during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., April 21, 2015. Photo by Sgt. Paul Sale, courtesy of U.S. Army.
Feeling groggy because you lost an hour of sleep this morning due to the start of Daylight Saving Time? If you’ve never been through Ranger School — the U.S. Army’s premier leadership course — you probably don’t know what real sleep deprivation is, or how to overcome it. So we reached out to a former Ranger Instructor who knows firsthand what it takes to keep going no matter what!
“Back when Ranger School was hard and students could have dip, putting tobacco juice in their eyes was a technique,” said a former RI, who is still serving and agreed to speak to Coffee or Die on condition of anonymity. “At one time, putting Tabasco sauce [from MREs] in their eyes was a thing, too.
“These days they can’t do much but chew gum, and that supply is limited,” he continued, “so they chew it until it’s rock hard and then swallow it to take up space in their stomach. However, we do teach them that if you see your Ranger buddy falling asleep, punch him. Hard.”
But sometimes the simplest task is the most effective — just standing up is one of the most popular ways Ranger students use to stay awake. Of course, they run the risk of falling over.
“In terms of sneaking in a nap but trying to maintain the appearance of alertness, students would prop up their heads on a buttstock so it looked like they were pulling security,” the former RI said. On one occasion, the instructor recalled having to backtrack in the woods to find a student who fell asleep while taking a knee.
Curious as to what happens to sleepy Ranger School students? “If an RI catches somebody sleeping,” said the former instructor, “they risk getting blown out of the patrol base — basically, prepare to be woken up by artillery simulators.”
So, if your eyelids are heavy from skipping the clocks one hour forward, instead of being roused from an impromptu afternoon nap by an attention-seeking child, pet, or your manager at work (side note: we need to implement siestas into American work culture), try asking your coworker to punch you awake instead. Maybe even try the Tabasco-in-the-eye route if you really want to send a don’t-fuck-with-me message to your colleagues or kids.
Or just, ya know, drink more coffee … like a normal person.
Katie McCarthy is the managing editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. Her career in journalism began at the Columbus (Georgia) Ledger-Enquirer in 2008, where she learned to navigate the newsroom as a features reporter, copy editor, page designer, and online producer; prior to joining Coffee or Die, she worked for Outdoor Sportsman Group as an editor for Guns & Ammo magazine and their Special Interest Publications division. Katie currently lives in Indiana with her husband and two daughters.
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