There are three phases in boot camp. Each phase concentrates on education in history, customs and courtesy, and drill. They also teach everything in between that a United States Marine needs to know.
Boot camp runs 12 weeks plus the very first week which is called “forming.” This is a time when you are gearing up for your training to begin.
Prior to the first phase beginning, the “receiving phase” is introduced. This is where new recruits will learn how to stand at the position of attention (POA), be recited certain articles from the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and issued their clothing, filling out all the necessary paperwork, and perform their Initial Strength Test (IST) before they are dropped into their platoons and introduced to their drill instructors.
Phase One in duration is about four weeks long. In this phase, the recruits are broken of their civilian habits. They are put through a jarring experience that is designed to test their mental and physical discipline. This can be quite shocking for many recruits and often the recruit will initially question their decision to join. It is at this point that each recruit will pre-determine their outcome of success or failure in Marine Corps boot camp.
Recruits will no longer be distinguished as individuals. They will not be allowed to speak of themselves in the first person. Instead they will be required to refer to themselves as “this recruit.” This is part of the psychological disassembling that happens right before the training begins to rebuild them into Marines.
Recruits are also issued their rifle. They are expected to guard it with their lives and at any time if they leave it anywhere, the recruit can face punishment. Recruits will be briefed on the weapon safety rules. Recruits will also learn how to drill.
At the close of Phase I, recruits will know how to march in a platoon, react to orders and PT properly. Recruits will also be expected to pass combat swimming. Failure to do so can result in the recruit being dropped and cycled back into training with a newer platoon.
Phase II focuses on field training. Recruits will learn how to fire and qualify their rifle during the two weeks they will be rifle training. There is also field week and the Crucible.
The first week of Phase II is called “grass week.” This is where recruits will learn about marksmanship and how to shoot. Recruits will spend a lot of time “snapping in” or practicing how to point their rifle effectively at their target without live ammunition.
In the second week, recruits will actually qualify for marksmanship with live ammunition. All recruits must successfully qualify their rifle at distances of 200, 300, and 500 meters. They must do so in three positions; sitting, kneeling and standing. There are three levels of marksmanship and recruits must qualify under one of them: Marksman, Sharpshooter or Expert.
Once the rifle range qualification is complete, recruits will take part in field week. This is where they will learn the basics of how to use their gas masks, night fire, field first aid, biovac, and field movements. This is all in preparation for the Crucible.
In Phase III, recruits will review everything they have learned including drill, knowledge and basic skills. They are also fitted for their uniforms. The recruits will also be tested on their Marine Corps Martial Arts Program where they will earn their tan belt.
Phase III is also where the recruits will participate in team week. This is supposed to be considered one of the more pleasant aspects of boot camp. Recruits will help out in the chow hall, laundry and anywhere else additional labor is needed.
Once team week is over, the recruits will participate in final drill. This competition stretches beyond the performance of each recruit. It is also a test of skill of the drill instructors. It is considered to reflect heavily on the performance of how well the drill instructors have trained the recruits.
The final uniform inspection is also conducted in Phase III. In this inspection, each recruit is tested on their knowledge of their rifle and overall knowledge and bearing.
Additionally, the recruit is gearing up to graduate so all final preparations are made such as issuing their identification cards and packing. Graduation is the culmination of training proceeded by Family Day when each recruit has the opportunity to spend several hours with their family.
Source: Personal experience