Navy SEAL training is long and hard. It’s not a program that gets you into shape – it’s training you do after you’re already in the best shape of your life.
Here, we’re going over the five steps you’re required to complete in order to successfully finish Navy SEAL training: Navy PST, Navy Boot Camp, BUD/S, Parachute Jump School, and SEAL Qualification Training.
Navy SEAL Training Program
There are five steps to the Navy SEAL training program and it starts with the Navy SEAL Physical Screening Test (PST). You must pass this test to even be considered for Navy SEAL training.
Navy SEAL PST Requirements:
|500-yard swim (breast or side stroke)||12:00||10:00||9:30|
|Two minutes of push-ups||42||79||100|
|Two minutes of sit-ups||50||79||100|
|Two minutes of pull-ups||6||11||25|
There are a few things to note about the PST. All military candidates must pass a version of this test. There are different requirements based on age and gender and those who are hoping to qualify for Navy SEAL training must “level-up” and exceed the minimum standards.
While at the Recruit Training Center, SEAL Candidates will also do the run portion of the PST in boots and long pants and must complete 1.5 miles in 11:30 or less.
To better your chances of making it to BUD/S, which we’ll talk more about later, it’s best for recruits to meet the optimum standards listed in the table above. But as long as you meet the minimum requirements, you’re technically allowed to enter Navy SEAL training.
Navy SEAL Boot Camp
After you pass the Navy SEAL PST, you’ll be eligible to enter boot camp in Great Lakes, IL. The Navy has a system which nationally ranks all the PST scores of incoming recruits. There are a limited number of spots for those on the Navy SEAL pipeline in boot camp, so only the best PST scores make the cut.
This ranking system is called the Navy SpecWar Draft and it’s used as a way to encourage the candidate to train more before boot camp if they’re unhappy with their ranking and to discourage the candidate from finding employment elsewhere.
After boot camp, you’ll then be entered into a pre-BUD/S program which includes seven to nine weeks at Apprenticeship Training Division School (A-School).
Since future Navy SEALs attend their boot camp with all the Navy recruits entering the various sectors of the branch, Pre-BUD/S is meant to better prepare you for what’s to come in BUD/S since boot camp can somewhat “decondition” you from the Navy SEAL training program.
Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S)
Once you get accepted to participate in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S), it’s time for the real deal. Navy SEALs deal with some of the most unthinkable conditions that test not only your physical limits but your mental limits too.
When people think about SEAL training, they’re usually talking about BUD/S. It lasts for six months and develops all the skills you’ll need when deployed as a Navy SEAL. BUD/S is broken down into three phases, each seven weeks long, but starts with an indoctrination period that goes over the requirements and lasts three weeks.
Phase One of BUD/S is also known as Basic Conditioning. During Phase One, you’ll undergo continuous physical training, small boat seamanship, and hydrographic surveys and charts.
The third week of Phase One is known as “Hell Week.” It consists of five and a half days of continuous training and candidates sleep only about four hours the whole time. This week, you’ll run more than 200 miles and do physical training more than 20 hours a day.
“Hell Week” is so intense that every candidate receives two medical checks in the 24 hours afterward.
So many people drop out during Phase One of BUD/S using what’s called a Drop On Request or DOR that it’s become a tradition that if you take a DOR, you drop your helmet liner next to a pole that holds a brass ship bell, ringing it three times. What a dramatic surrender…
Phase Two of BUD/S is also known as the Combat Diving Phase. Here, candidates learn SCUBA skills, open and closed circuit combat diving, and long-distance underwater transit dives.
Phase Three of BUD/S is also known as the Land Warfare Phase. Phase Three is all about land navigation, small unit tactics, rappelling, military land and underwater explosives, and weaponry training.
You’d think with how intensive and rigorous BUD/S training is, that would be the end of it. But, there are a few more hoops to jump through after BUD/S and before you can call yourself a Navy SEAL.
After completing BUD/S, you’ll go through a three-week accelerated Parachute Jump School, sometimes known as Airborne school. There you receive both static line and freefall training at Tactical Air Operations in San Diego, CA.
Then, the final step of SEAL training is SEAL Qualification Training (SQT). It’s a 26-week course where candidates learn the core tactical knowledge they’ll need as a SEAL that takes them from a basic understanding of Naval Special Warfare to a more advanced level of training.
It includes advanced weapons training, close-quarters combat, demolitions, cold-weather training in Alaska, and more.
Finally, graduation from SQT earns candidates the coveted Navy SEAL Trident and the SEAL classification. They’ll be assigned to a SEAL team in either Coronado, CA or Little Creek, VA where they’ll begin advanced training for their first deployment.
It seems the training never stops for Navy SEALs.
Navy SEAL Training Success Rate
Not only do the Navy SEALs have a high standard when it comes to accepting candidates, even those who qualify often don’t become Navy SEALs. Here are the statistics of success for every step of the way toward becoming a Navy SEAL.
Only 79% of those who meet with a recruiter are eligible to be signed for enlistment in the Navy SEALs. Only 58% of people graduate from recruit training (Navy boot camp). Impressively, 90% of those who graduate boot camp make it through pre-BUD/S training and 85% make it past BUD/S indoctrination and into Phase One.
Once recruits enter BUD/S, their resolve is truly tested. Only 33% of candidates make it through Phase One. But getting through Phase One seems to mean a lot because 87% of those will get through Phase Two and 96% pass Phase Three.
But keep in mind, although 96% of people who make it through Phases One and Two of BUD/S also make it through Phase Three, only 10% of those who originally set out to become Navy SEALs will complete Phase Three and graduate from BUD/S.
From there, 100% of those who graduate from BUD/S complete Parachute Jump School school and 99% will complete SEAL Qualification Training. At that point, it’s pretty clear that you’re cut out for the job.
Therefore, the odds are, if you make it through Phase One of BUD/S, you have a much better chance of becoming a Navy SEAL. It just goes to show that “Hell Week” is truly the most grueling bit of military training out there.