I’m a pretty fit guy. I’ve always gotten gold for my IPPT and I’ve always been physically active, playing sports several times a week.
That is until my first child was born. After 12 straight years of IPPT gold, I added some 50 seconds to my 2.4km run timing the year after I became a dad. The following year, I added another 30 seconds. Then another 30. These days I’m hanging at just under 12 minutes, but who knows how long that will last?
I’m happy to walk away with a silver, and $200. Not too shabby, as I still consistently score full points for my other four stations, but I think of myself as well past my physical prime (although my wife would beg to differ). The other 70% of my cohort don’t fare as well as I do, unfortunately.
But the new IPPT scoring system actually puts me among the fittest of the fit – I could potentially get a gold even under the commando/diver/guards standard… because even though my 2.4km run is pretty meh, I would totally kill at situps and do quite well at pushups. If the SAF wants to give me $400, I’m not going to complain about it,
Some people have said that the new regime is “going soft” and represents a drop in standards. There are even some semi-serious Facebook groups on the topic. But let’s consider the full ramifications of this change.
1) Resetting the mean. If the passing rate is skewed to only 30% (in my cohort) it becomes more difficult to measure the ends of the spectrum. How fail are failures? Many folks who know they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell (because of a critical weakness in ONE station) will show up for the IPPT, then proceed to fail every station (even those you can pass) because, well, WHAT’S THE POINT? Sign up for RT and be done with it.
The new system actually gives most guys a fighting chance. And that means more fight.
2) A recognised standard. The US military and Korea already use pushups as part of fitness tests. It’s not like we’re going off into new territory.
3) Better incentives for incremental improvements. I never bothered to try and put those 2 lost minutes back on my 2.4km run. The effort needed to hit 10:30 reliably was just WAY more than I could afford, but now, every 10 seconds earns me a point, and I can bust ass at situps, instead of stopping at 43 and resting the last 15 seconds. I can aim for 55 now without wasting energy.
4) The financial cost? What about that FCC equipment? A full set of test equipment for one of our FCCs costs millions of dollars. Sure, we could still use two out of five stations, but there would be quite a bit of waste. Also, more people passing and getting incentives means more money paid out, but on the flipside, more people passing means fewer resources being wasted training unmotivated soldiers in RT, and paying them their rank allowance to go through the motions.
5) Bragging rights. I get to start every mention of IPPT with the words “back in my day”. I can make up stories about how impossible everything was and how much we suffered, like how all good soldiers do about crap that doesn’t involve actual warfare.
I’ll miss the old stations, but I’m eager to give this new system a whirl, especially when there’s an extra couple of hundred bucks in it (and a chance to put that old badge on my uniform again)!