Skip to Content

How To Get Military Training Without Joining

If you’re a tough nut who wants to experience military training first-hand, you’ll first have to gather some information. Before you can jump out of a helicopter fully equipped, let’s first go over what options you have.

Civilians can’t get genuine military training without enlisting. However, you can get training similar to basic army training by joining a military school or a private military-style course or academy. Additionally, you can find SMEs to teach you abilities like shooting, survival, and endurance.

The rest of this article will go over some essential information about obtaining military training as a civilian. We’ll go over all of your available options. If you want to join the military, I’ll also cover the easiest and hardest boot camps.

Cartoon Drill Sergeant Pointing

Getting Military Training as a Civilian

Look, joining the military just for some basic combat training is a horrible idea. Once you’re in boot camp, you can’t leave freely – at least, not without becoming a deserter and facing severe punishment.

Thankfully, there are many ways to get military training without enlisting any consequences.

The trick is to look for tactical training classes or subject-matter experts (SMEs) to teach you essential combat and survival skills. Doing this is what a former army winter warfare instructor suggests, so I’m pretty confident this is a good way to go.

You can also look for a local veteran or former military instructor to provide you with authentic military training.

Here are a few forms of training that you should look for if you want military training:

  • Firearms
  • Tactical combat
  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Hand-to-hand combat
  • Military free fall (MFF) – this covers HALO and HAHO jumping techniques
  • Survival and bushcraft

Before you join any military-style program, you should ideally be able to meet the army PFT minimum requirements first. They are:

AgeGender2-Mile (3.21 km) RunSit-upsPush-ups

These requirements aren’t exactly a walk in the park. However, you should be able to meet them without much issue if you’re a regular gym-goer or athlete.

Of course, you can join private military programs even if you don’t meet or exceed the minimum requirements. However, even the basic courses are demanding, so be ready.

If you want to learn how to shoot like a soldier, go to your local gun range and look for an instructor.

When you’re confident that you can handle a gun, look for close-quarters combat instructors in your local area. Any tactical training for civilians will be immensely beneficial.

The skills you learn will apply to real-life situations as well. For example, you’ll know how to protect your family if somebody breaks in.

One of the easiest courses to find is a survival course. You can find various hardcore survival and bushcraft programs wherever you go. They’re often similar or even more thorough than plans found in the military.

When it comes to hand-to-hand combat, mixed martial arts training is the best option – and it’s also the most similar to U.S. military training.

Related 9 Excellent Survival Courses in the US (Find One Near You).

Is There a Boot Camp for Civilians?

Several People Doing Situps While Being Timed by an Instructor

There is no state-run boot camp for civilians. However, there are hundreds of private military-style training programs that you can join without any legal consequences. Professional instructors will prepare you for close-quarters and tactical combat, endurance, and survival.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any authentic boot camps for civilians. If you’re looking for the real deal, you have to enlist.

But, as mentioned above, leaving the army without any major consequences is challenging. The easiest method is to get discharged due to “failure to adapt to the military environment” – and even that may take longer than you like. 

So, your safest bet is to join a private “boot camp.” They’ll treat you similarly to how they treat NAVY SEAL recruits.

Alternatively, you can go for a basic fitness boot camp that mainly focuses on strength and endurance.

Best Ways To Get Private Military Training

The best way to get private military training is to join a course that follows a strict plan.

Army basic combat training (BCT) is 10 weeks. However, if you fail to meet established goals for any given week, your stay will be longer.

You should look for a course that has a similar duration. Alternatively, you can also consider joining a program that only teaches you specific skills that you care about.

That’s the beauty of private military training – you don’t have any of the stress that recruits go through. You’ll pick up various skills like discipline, leadership, and perseverance by joining a private military program, and you can also look for an option that is tailored to your preferences.

Let’s look at a few great alternatives to boot camps.

Related 9 Ways to Serve Your Country Without Being in the Military.

Warrior Poet Society

The list of WPS training courses is extensive. Their main focus is on realistic tactical combat.

So, if you like the appeal of special forces training, you’ll love their courses. 

The instructors will teach you how to clear a room on your own, protect yourself in hand-to-hand combat, and how to fight in complete darkness.

You should check their schedule of events to see when, where, and what kind of training you can get.

You can attend various shooting events with rifles and pistols or only opt for specific classes like EDC combative.

For a better idea of the type of training that civilians will go through, take a look at this video from Warrior Poet Society’s official YouTube channel:


As the name suggests, Gunsite Academy’s main focus is on armed training. They offer hundreds of classes for:

  • Pistols
  • Carbines
  • Rifles
  • Shotguns
  • Special weapons

They even offer training that’ll teach you how to become a firearms instructor. Additionally, they can teach you how to handle special situations, and they also have range days for various gun types.

The only things you need to bring with you are perseverance and money. Most courses start at or about $2,000, which may be expensive for some people.

They offer various weapon rentals, ammo packs, and other equipment.

Another big plus for Gunsite is that they offer training for children aged 12 – 16. The course teaches kids how to handle a pistol safely and responsibly.

GoRuck Events

If your idea of military training is endurance first, firearms second, GoRuck is for you. It’s arguably the next best thing after a real military boot camp. 

Endurance training with a couple of 20 lb (9.07 kg) weight plates in your backpack and heavy gear gives you a glimpse into what recruits go through daily.

You can find GoRuck events all over the continental U.S. on their official website.

You can opt for their tough challenge events if you want to push yourself to the limit. However, don’t underestimate even basic GoRuck events – these can often last over five hours.

What’s more, the events are surprisingly affordable. Basic events are only around $62.

Halo Jumper

If you’re getting ready for the U.S. Air Force or want to experience a unique adventure, Halo Jumper is for you.

They’ll teach you how to skydive and use a parachute or wingsuit correctly. These skills are tremendously important for special operations forces.

Halo Jumper is tailored to healthy individuals who want to learn how to jump from extreme altitudes.

As expected, their courses don’t come cheap. So, only join if you’re absolutely serious about becoming a professional skydiver (or you’re able to afford the attached price tag).

Can a Civilian Get Special Forces Training?

United States Army rangers during a military operation

Civilians can get special forces training by applying to join the U.S. special operation units. However, this requires you to join the army, so it’s better to look for a private course. There are similar private options similar to real special forces training, and you can apply as a civilian.

You can enlist for special forces as a civilian. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be accepted.

The special forces of any military branch in any country are the best of the best. It’s in your best interest to look for a private special forces course instead.

That said, you can apply for a tactical combat course instead. While you won’t leave at anywhere near the level of real special forces, you’ll at least have the option to train like a real S.O. combatant.

However, there are drawbacks, including the lack of teamwork and cooperation. Special forces are always taught to work as a team. That takes a lot of effort, time, and patience, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any private military course that forces team synergy.

Additionally, special forces use classified techniques and equipment that the public has no access to. So, you won’t get to experience that either.

Can I Join the Military Without Doing Basic Training?

You can’t join the military without doing basic training. The only exception is if you’ve completed basic training recently and have been honorably discharged. Otherwise, everyone has to go through basic training before moving to the job they applied for.

It’s basically impossible to skip basic training if it’s your first time joining the military – even reclassification and reenlistment require you to go through basic training again in most cases.

Trying to skip basic training is generally frowned upon, so be careful.

If you’re a civilian who wants to join the army, prepare for basic training. You must be healthy and reasonably fit to succeed. I recommend hitting the gym at least 6 months in advance.

What Is the Easiest Military Branch Training?

The Air Force has the easiest military branch training. The Air Force boot camp lasts for about 8 weeks, which is the shortest. Additionally, Air Force personnel don’t have to be as physically fit as marines and navy personnel. That said, the Air Force boot camp is still fairly challenging.

Honestly, just looking at the duration of each boot camp will give you a good idea of what to expect. BCT is 10 weeks, marines train for 12 weeks, and the Air Force only has 8 and a half weeks of basic training.

However, this doesn’t mean that the Air Force boot camp is easy to complete. All forms of recruit basic training are extremely demanding. They require a high level of fitness, mental toughness, assertiveness, and perseverance.

You’ll still be swimming and crawling through mud-ridden terrain. You’ll just do less of everything because you don’t have to be at the same level as the ground units.

What Is the Hardest Military Branch Boot Camp?

The Marine Corps has the hardest military branch boot camp. The Marine Corps boot camp lasts for 12-13 weeks, longer than any other recruit basic training. So, marines have longer, more extensive drill training where they learn advanced combat techniques.

Becoming the world’s deadliest ground combatant won’t be easy. You must take extensive care of your bed, uniform, and equipment.

The first phase in both army and marine boot camp is pretty similar – you’re taught the basics, what’s expected of you, and how to behave.

It’s really the extensive hand-to-hand and close-quarter combat combined with challenging endurance training that makes all the difference.

Another important difference is that instructors simply get to spend more time on each individual in the Marines. They give you specific, useful feedback that helps you become a marine.

Is Marine Boot Camp Harder Than Army?

Marine boot camp is significantly harder than Army boot camp. While the initial stages of training are similar, it gets progressively much harder. Since the Marines spend more time in boot camp, they learn to become better soldiers. The difference in duration also makes it more challenging mentally.

Crawling, swimming, running, shooting, and exercising are everyday routines in both boot camps.

Marines are taught how to shoot accurately and consistently. In the Army, you only go through the basics. You’ll hardly get any tips that’ll help you shoot better.

When it comes to physical fitness, Marines go above and beyond here too. Pretty much any healthy, fit individual can go through Army boot camp without breaking a sweat. For the Marines, physical training is taken to a whole new level. They need to do more of everything and do it for longer.

Final Thoughts

The best way for a civilian to get extensive military training is to join a private military-style course. There are thousands of different programs available, allowing you to only focus on specific skills like shooting or survival.

If you want to join the army instead, you must go through basic combat training. It’ll turn you into a tough, battle-ready soldier. Of the military boot camps, the Marine boot camp is the most difficult. It’s longer than any other boot camp, and more is expected from every individual.

For more, check out 10 Best Places to Practice Bushcraft and Survival Skills.