One of the first challenging events that recruits face in boot camp is the Marine Corps Obstacle Course, also called the O-Course, or the Tarzan Course.
It looks difficult, at first, but there’s a technique to it.
Your drill instructors will show you how to navigate the course, and then you’ll run through it. Twice.
Every O-Course in the Marine Corps is similar.
Marine Corps Obstacle Course Breakdown
The obstacle course alternates low obstacles with high obstacles. Between every obstacle is a low log, about three feet high, to set the pace.
The course starts with clearing a low log. Just bound over it.
High Bar. A steel bar suspended at about eight feet.
There are two methods for clearing this obstacle.
“Chicken wing” one arm over the bar, kicking the other leg to provide momentum, or—
“Ricky Recon”, a swinging pull up where you kick your legs up and over the bar from the backside, flipping your body over the bar and flinging off it like a ninja.
The recon method is the fastest.
Incline Bar and Traverse. Climb on top of the low log, use one leg on each bar, push yourself up, then travel down the slope until you reach the log.
Then climb on top of the log like a balance beam and continue forward.
At the bottom of the traverse is a high log, you’ll jump chest to log and swing your legs up and over the top.
Wall Climb. It’s an eight foot tall wall that you need to clear. You’ll have to jump, do a muscle-up to get on top of the wall, then swing your legs over the top.
High Log. This one is chest height. About five feet.
Weavers. This is a series of high logs. Drill Instructors usually want recruits to pass these alternating sides. At each log you send your legs to the right, then the left, and so on. There are four logs.
Double Bars. This is another high bar obstacle, but with two bars.
You’ll have to use one bar to pull up to the second bar, pull your body over both bars, then down the other side.
Sprint to Rope Climb. The Marine Corps Obstacle Course ends with a 20′ rope climb. At the top, recruits must touch the top log, then shout their name and Platoon.
When done, recruits will run back to the beginning and jog in place until it’s their time to navigate the course again.
Marine Corps Obstacle Course Ran by an OCS Instructor
There are three Marines in the video, all instructors at the Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. They train the men and women who will lead Marines in training, on deployment, and in battle. This is one of the best video breakdowns of the obstacle course.
You’ll get a feel for the length of the course and also the number of obstacles. Although this Marine flies through it with ease, what you don’t see are the years of training he’s done to get to this point! Your first experience may be quite different like mine was.
Every officer goes through OCS, the same way every enlisted Marine goes through Recruit Training. Even the next Commandant of the Marine Corps will have gone through OCS.
These instructors are some of the fittest Marines around, so who better to show how to fly through the Marine Corps Obstacle Course with ease?
Watch how the first instructor flies past his peers by utilizing the “recon roll” over the first high bar obstacle.
Curious about Marine Corps Recruit Training? Check out these frequently asked questions: