Welcome to the Army – a soldier’s story

Candidates snatching sleep whenever and wherever they can on BMQ 2301

Article written by Private Nicholas Popp, who recently graduated as the Top Candidate on BMQ 2301

Westmount, Quebec – 07 April 2023: Hello, I’m Private Nicholas Popp, and I was awarded top candidate of the recently completed BMQ 2301 course. Being born and raised in British Columbia I grew up exploring the forests and mountains of my hometown near Vancouver. After attending university in the Maritimes and working across Canada, I moved to Montreal two years ago to start my career as a spacecraft thermal engineer for a local aerospace company.

Floods and fires broke out near my hometown while I was trying to find a local Montreal-based organization to volunteer with. When I heard that members of RMR went to BC to aid my hometown with these disasters I knew that the Canadian Army Reserves and RMR in particular was an organization I’d be proud to join. I enrolled with RMR as an NCM candidate in September 2022 and began a part-time BMQ course in October.

In addition to the basic military skills taught during BMQ an unforeseen benefit from this course was that as an “anglo” my French improved a lot. As a bilingual BMQ course, French and English were both spoken and the staff would always answer in a candidate’s preferred language. Seeing the “franco” and “anglo” candidates practicing English/French with each other was a common sight.

Another large impact on my experience of BMQ was its schedule. Some of the instructors who themselves went through part-time BMQ warned us candidates that it would be a grind. This is because even though this is a 23 day course the part-time BMQ option spreads this throughout 11 weekends over four and half months. Between working full-time Monday to Friday and attending BMQ Friday to Sunday, the part-time BMQ course felt like a drawn out boxing match compared to the full-time BMQ course’s 23 day sprint. I found this schedule was reminiscent of the more intensive semesters during my
university studies.

Given the prolonged nature of this schedule and the nature of BMQ in general, one of the main lessons we learned as candidates was how to mitigate stress. We learned to put our tasks in order of priority and execute then in this order. This allowed us to make the most of any time given.

For example during our final BMQ weekend after a six hour daytime navigation exercise we returned to the shacks with 25 minutes to spare before the six hour nighttime navigation exercise. Since these two exercises are similar changing our kit only took a couple minutes, and after cleaning our weapons we found we had 15 minutes left! So each member of our section came to the same conclusion for our next course of action: a power nap. Feeling like new men and women we donned our kit and continued our training.

This mindset has carried over to my civilian career and I find myself being much more stress-free in general while still retaining a good work ethic.

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