Rifleman Kirsty Rustman, of the County Durham-headquartered 8th Battalion, The Rifles (8 RIFLES), completed her Combat Infantry Course (CIC) earlier this year.
The 34-year-old said: “I’m always trying to set myself new challenges, trying to push my body to the extreme, fitness-wise, which the Reserve absolutely offers.
“I’ve completed marathons and triathlons, but this is by far the biggest challenge I’ve done, mentally and physically. But the three weeks have been really enjoyable.”
The new Rifleman, who balances her Reservist role with a civilian job recruiting for a healthcare firm, finished training at Catterick’s Infantry Training Centre (ITC) in April.
The three weeks have been really enjoyable Rifleman Kirsty Rustman
She said: “The biggest highlight was the exercises, where everything we learnt in the classroom, such as navigation, weapon handling, and section attacks, all came to life.
“I saw four different seasons in one day on the training area! Trying to get warm after laying in a ditch full of cold water during an ambush, that was probably the most challenging part for me.”
The Reservist, who lived in Essex before moving up north, was thankful for the support shown by both her civilian employer and the Army before and during the CIC.
She said: “I’m really grateful to work for an employer who allowed me to take time off for training. It’s great to know I have that job security.
“If someone was thinking about joining the Reserve, I would tell them to get in contact with their local Army Reserve Centre. If you enjoy pushing yourself then I would say it’s the best decision you will ever make.”
Rifleman Rustman will now move on to take a full part in activities with 8 RIFLES, which is paired with 2 RIFLES, a regular Army unit based in Northern Ireland.