Preparing for Air Force Basic Training and What to Expect

Posted by American Uniform Sales on Jul 1st 2024

Congratulations on deciding to start what is sure to be a fulfilling career in the Air Force! The first step to kickstarting your career is basic training, where you’ll learn about what it takes to be an Airman, go through drills, and start preparing for your job after boot camp.

Basic training is meant to push you to your limits, so you don’t want to walk in not knowing what to expect. Preparing beforehand can make it easier to confront the different challenges you face, which is why we’ve created this guide to help you start your career on the right foot.

Location and Length of Air Force Basic Training

Your journey in the Air Force starts in San Antonio, Texas at the Joint Base San Antonio Lackland. Compared to other basic training for the other branches, the Air Force has one of the short boot camps of seven and a half weeks. In most cases, you’ll arrive on a Tuesday and you’ll graduate from the program weeks later on a Thursday.

What You Should Expect at Air Force Basic Training

Boot camp is split up into seven different weeks where you’ll learn and train for your future career. Air Force basic training generally uses the following schedule:

Week 0

Week 0 starts the moment you step off the bus, where you’ll be assigned a squadron and Military Training Instructor (MTI). Consider week 0 your orientation, since you’ll need to complete some basic requirements and activities to kickstart your training. For example, this is the week you’ll get your haircut and immunizations, get your dorm, start physical training, and begin running drills.

During this week, you’ll learn the structure of your day while you’re at basic, which includes:

●Wake up

●Reporting for meals

●Class attendance

●Break times

●Free time (if any)


You’ll follow this same general routine or structure while you’re at boot camp, though the content of your training may change from week to week.

Week 1

Week 1 is where things start to ramp up, and you’ll really dive into what it’s like to be in the Air Force. This week, you’re focused on military etiquette, details regarding rank, and the Air Force lifestyle. This is also when leadership positions are assigned, such as dorm chief and squad leaders.

Some of the drills you’ll be running in the first week include individual and flight drills. You’ll practice reporting and saluting procedures, start learning how to march, and participate in physical training. There are also appointments to attend during the first week, including medical and dental, educational briefings, professional lessons, and more.

Week 2

As you start learning more about the history and culture of the Air Force, your drills will start to become more challenging in week 2 since you’ll start your weapons handling and maintenance drills. On top of your drills, you’ll also be introduced to classroom procedures, learn about weapon handling, develop an understanding of Air Force principles, receive your ID card, and more.

Week 3

Once you reach week 3, you’re in the thick of your training. You’ll start feeling a lot stronger and developing important skills for your career, such as leadership and teamwork. This week is also when you’re learning the appropriate way to conduct yourself on and off base according to Air Force standards, which include when and how to wear the uniform, how to maintain your appearance, and what behaviors you should avoid while you’re in the military.

Week 4

Now you’re getting to the halfway point of your training and the finish line is in view. Once you reach this point, you will start learning the more specific skills required for your career, which will vary depending on what you’re doing after basic. Additionally, you’ll learn more about the standards you need to live up to so you can be an efficient and productive Airman.

You’ll keep running through drills with weapons handling and maintenance, practice combat techniques with your weapon, participate in physical training, and learn more about the lifestyle and regulations of the Air Force.

Week 5

Week 5 is when you start preparing for the possibility of combat, which means understanding the role you play in national security, the laws of combat, and how to handle stress. You will have to undergo a drills progress test, weapons progress test, and the BMT fitness test, but you’ll also participate in combat arms training, Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), and other relevant training.

Week 6

Week 6 is considered to be the most intense week of basic training in the Air Force. This is the week you’ll be in a simulated deployment environment and where you’ll practice and refine what you’ve learned in the weeks prior. You’ll work alongside your fellow trainees to practice different combat scenarios. You will also need to take an end-of-course exam to prove you’ve learned the necessary information and skills to progress your career in the Air Force.

Week 7

You’ve made it to the final week of your training, and this is when you’ll be celebrating the accomplishments you’ve made during your time at boot camp. Your marching skills may be tested, evaluated, and ranked against other squadrons. At the end of the week, you’ll graduate while your loved ones watch you become an official member of the Air Force for the U.S. military. After basic, you will head to tech school to receive advanced training specific to your job in the Air Force.

How to Prepare for Air Force Boot Camp

Before you head off to basic training, you’ll want to do some prep beforehand so you and your family are ready. Use the following tips to help you prepare for basic training so things at home run smoothly while you’re gone and you feel better equipped to handle the different challenges you’ll encounter at boot camp:

1. Communicate With Your Family

You’ll be gone for seven and a half weeks when you’re at basic training, so you want to take some time before to prepare your family for your absence. You generally won’t have a lot of time or opportunities to communicate while you’re away at basic, so you need to let them know ahead of time to ease the transition and reduce anxiety for your loved ones if they don’t hear from you often.

You should also let them know about the Red Cross, which is an organization that can help your loved ones get in touch with you if there’s an emergency. The Red Cross will verify this emergency and contact your command to authorize emergency leave.

2. Take Care of Your Finances

If you’re enlisting in the Air Force fresh out of high school, it’s unlikely you’ll have any expenses or debts to worry about. However, if you’re older, you will generally have finances to consider, especially if you’re married with kids. If you have bills to pay for or people to support, you need to take some time before you’re sent off to basic to prepare your finances since you won’t be able to do much when you’re away from home.

Some methods for handling your finances before boot camp include:

●Creating an organized list of bills, payment amounts, and due dates

●Trusting a loved one to pay your bills and access your accounts

●Setting up automatic payments for your bills and debts

Taking time to arrange your finances ahead of time prevents late payments and hits on your credit score. It’s especially important to maintain your financial security and stability if your job in the Air Force requires you to have a security clearance.

3. Prepare for the Physical Challenge

Air Force basic training is physically demanding, and you will need to push your body to its limits in many cases. You don’t want to show up to basic training in poor physical condition as this will make the next seven and a half weeks exhausting and more challenging than necessary. It will also be harder to pass the required physical fitness test. Start by checking the current weight standards for the Air Force, evaluate where you are, and determine how you can get where you need to be.

The Air Force physical fitness test at basic training requires you to:

●Complete a timed 1.5-mile run

●Complete one minute of sit-ups

●Complete one minute of push-ups

Ideally, you’ll want to start working out and getting fit before you make it to basic. Try to start working out at least six weeks before you leave, but anything will help. Getting your body used to physical activity and muscle strain will make it easier to adapt to the more challenging levels of physical activity you’ll experience at boot camp.

4. Care for Your Body

Your body can only perform its best when you’re taking care of it, and basic training will be physically demanding enough that you want to start on the right foot. Before you go to boot camp, set up a routine where you’re:

●Getting enough sleep.

●Eating a healthy diet.

●Drinking enough water.

●Avoiding smoking and drinking.

Once you arrive at basic, try to maintain a similar routine as much as possible so your body can recover from each day of training.

5. Start Preparing Mentally

Basic training won’t just be a test of your physical fortitude, but also your mental strength. You will need to learn how to handle stress, including the stress of being away from home and deviating from your usual routine. You will need to keep up with different drills, take stern commands, and engage in demanding exercises.

It’s important to remember that basic training is intentionally designed to be difficult and grueling. Boot camp is meant to prepare you to handle the challenges you’ll encounter during your career, so it’s important to go into basic training with the right mindset. You will likely have some difficulty adjusting and miss being away from home but trust that basic training will adequately prepare you for the days ahead. The first week will be tough, but it starts to get better every week after.

6. Pack the Right Stuff

Making sure you have the right items before you leave for basic can save you a lot of headaches. You want to make sure you’re bringing the items that support your training. Some of the items you want to bring include:

●Travel-sizes toiletries

●Approved undergarments

●Mandatory paperwork

●Mandatory banking materials

●Basic civilian clothing

The Air Force has created a helpful, comprehensive packing list to help you better prepare for the seven and a half weeks of basic training. The Air Force will also provide items that you don’t need to bring, including some toiletries, classroom supplies, and storage containers. You can find a full list of what’s provided and what you need to bring in the Air Force packing list.

7. Look Into the Military Lifestyle

Before you ship off to boot camp, you should take some time to learn about the military and its lifestyle. Your recruiter would be more than happy to answer your questions, and you can even look at online forums for current and former Airmen. If you have loved ones who served or are currently in the Air Force, you can ask about their experience and what you might expect when you go to basic and start your career. Knowing what you can expect can help you feel more prepared to tackle the challenges you’ll encounter during and after basic training.

Use AUSI as Your Trusted Air Force Uniform Supplier

While you’ll be issued uniforms at basic training, you’ll likely need to replace different components or add extra uniforms to your closet. You can find what you need for your Air Force uniform here at American Uniform Sales. We offer everything from AFI-compliant OCPs and rank insignia to footwear and gear. Make sure your uniform stays within regulations and meets quality standards when you choose what you need from us. Get started by checking out our entire selection, or contact us today with your questions!

Free Ground Shipping On Orders Over $150*
*Shipping within CONUS.  A shipping charge will apply to APO/FPO, HI & AK addresses.