Need some advice - 33yrld male looking to join AF as PJ

Hi all,

A little back-story so you understand where I'm coming from - I am a 33-year-old male who is relatively fit; having to learn swimming (but will get a swim coach) and struggle with running due to knees and joints, but I'm assuming I just need to keep going and recover well and this issue will settle. Pushups, situps, and pullups are not a problem. I have been thinking of joining the Air force for the Pararescue route for a long time and only recently, after doing about a month of research and training, am strongly considering it. My situation is a bit unorthodox as I completed a bacheleors degree, masters, and doctorate degree in a completely unrelated field (only relation is leadership). I have been out of school for about two years looking for jobs, but with my career field it is very difficult to get a job and you have to be rather lucky or know someone or wait around until something pops. Due to a number of factors including the pandemic and support drying up from the family, I have been looking at other options...

Ever since I was 16 I wanted to join the Army Rangers, but at that time my family freaked out and said they would disown me if I were to join. Long story short, I was to go to college and that was the end of that. I learned about Pararescue 6 years ago and was immediately hooked - I aligned with their motto, drive, and never quit mentality. Every year or so I would come back to the idea of joining, but felt too engrained in my path and would eventually turn away. But it was always burning in my mind that I wanted to try out and regretting that I didn't - thinking I could really be useful on the teams and want to do something greater than myself. I just don't know if I should be leaving my career field and taking such a big chance to possibly not even be selected even if I make it through A&S. Regardless of this broad concern, There are three concerns I have that I would love people's opinion on:

1. As stated earlier, I am older and most likely would be turning 34 at some point during BMT or the Prep/A&S. Research seems to suggest that I need to be hitting the "grad standards" however this is for the old indoc way of doing things, correct? I've also heard through the One's Ready podcast and others that you should not "peak" too early and that your body can only stay in the red for so long... but some of the threads on here suggest that that is wrong and you should able to do high scores on the PAST test in your sleep and be super ready so that the physical part is no factor. There is a lot of information out there, but it's hard to tell what is current. What are the minimums and order of exercises for the current PAST test and what would people recommend I hit to be super ready for A&S? Should I be trying to do workouts where I am hitting pool, calisthenics, rucks, and runs for 3-5 hours a day, or is that too much? too little?

2. I know there is Open Enlistment now and you may not have a choice of your career field for AFSPECWAR, but what is the likelihood that I am able to choose pararescue AND if I am not selected or am discharged due to injury, does the Air Force just place me in another job outside of SPECWAR? If so, how long to be able to try for A&S again?

Before you say to talk with a SOR, I am... however, he is a bit slow to answer questions and I don't know how much I trust the answers... If I am to leave my career field that I have spent so long in, I want a fairly decent picture if this is even possible for me... I appreciate any advice and if you read this whole thing - much gratitude!

Thank you all for your time,
Guarnere
 
Hi all,

A little back-story so you understand where I'm coming from - I am a 33-year-old male who is relatively fit; having to learn swimming (but will get a swim coach) and struggle with running due to knees and joints, but I'm assuming I just need to keep going and recover well and this issue will settle. Pushups, situps, and pullups are not a problem. I have been thinking of joining the Air force for the Pararescue route for a long time and only recently, after doing about a month of research and training, am strongly considering it. My situation is a bit unorthodox as I completed a bacheleors degree, masters, and doctorate degree in a completely unrelated field (only relation is leadership). I have been out of school for about two years looking for jobs, but with my career field it is very difficult to get a job and you have to be rather lucky or know someone or wait around until something pops. Due to a number of factors including the pandemic and support drying up from the family, I have been looking at other options...

Ever since I was 16 I wanted to join the Army Rangers, but at that time my family freaked out and said they would disown me if I were to join. Long story short, I was to go to college and that was the end of that. I learned about Pararescue 6 years ago and was immediately hooked - I aligned with their motto, drive, and never quit mentality. Every year or so I would come back to the idea of joining, but felt too engrained in my path and would eventually turn away. But it was always burning in my mind that I wanted to try out and regretting that I didn't - thinking I could really be useful on the teams and want to do something greater than myself. I just don't know if I should be leaving my career field and taking such a big chance to possibly not even be selected even if I make it through A&S. Regardless of this broad concern, There are three concerns I have that I would love people's opinion on:

1. As stated earlier, I am older and most likely would be turning 34 at some point during BMT or the Prep/A&S. Research seems to suggest that I need to be hitting the "grad standards" however this is for the old indoc way of doing things, correct? I've also heard through the One's Ready podcast and others that you should not "peak" too early and that your body can only stay in the red for so long... but some of the threads on here suggest that that is wrong and you should able to do high scores on the PAST test in your sleep and be super ready so that the physical part is no factor. There is a lot of information out there, but it's hard to tell what is current. What are the minimums and order of exercises for the current PAST test and what would people recommend I hit to be super ready for A&S? Should I be trying to do workouts where I am hitting pool, calisthenics, rucks, and runs for 3-5 hours a day, or is that too much? too little?

2. I know there is Open Enlistment now and you may not have a choice of your career field for AFSPECWAR, but what is the likelihood that I am able to choose pararescue AND if I am not selected or am discharged due to injury, does the Air Force just place me in another job outside of SPECWAR? If so, how long to be able to try for A&S again?

Before you say to talk with a SOR, I am... however, he is a bit slow to answer questions and I don't know how much I trust the answers... If I am to leave my career field that I have spent so long in, I want a fairly decent picture if this is even possible for me... I appreciate any advice and if you read this whole thing - much gratitude!

Thank you all for your time,
Guarnere
Guarnere,

1.The PAST is conducted as follows:
Pull-ups—8 minimum
Sit-ups—50 minimum
Push-ups—42 minimum
1.5 mile Run—10:20 max time
2 x 25m underwaters on a 3:00 interval
500m swim—12:30 max time

My PAST numbers prior to shipping out were nothing remarkable. I would not say that it is necessary to be at Indoc grad standards before you ship. There are many guys on my team that have never hit Indoc grad standards. Having said that, I do believe that you should be above the minimums on your cals, especially the pull-ups. You will consistently get weaker at pull-ups throughout BMT, Prep, A&S, and Pre-Dive. Or at least most people on my team did.
I would advise against training in the way you described above. 3-5 hours a day of rucks, runs, swims, etc. will do very little beside break your body down prematurely. You should train in the most anabolic way possible in order to minimize your chances of injury, which are already higher than they are for the average candidate due to your age. My strongest advice would be to hire a professional coach. I would contact Shawn at Team ST, who is endorsed by this forum, and who I trained with before I shipped (I don’t get anything for referring you to him, I just genuinely think it’s your best move). You will need to be especially careful and thoughtful in the way you prepare for this training.

2. I am not certain of how the SWOE process works currently as it was emplaced after I went through prep, but from my understanding, students at Prep declare their desired SW AFSC’s on a dream sheet before A&S. The ones that make it through A&S and get selected are then ranked based on performance and the ones with the highest rankings get their preferred SW AFSC’s and the lower ranking ones get whatever the AF needs. Keep in mind that Pararescue is the most popular career field so performance will need to be higher to get this field than CCT or SR. I do not know exactly what metrics are looked at to determine a candidate’s performance, but it’s probably a combination of physical fitness, water confidence, and peer and cadre evals.
I believe that all of the non-selects from my class were offered TACP slots, and many of the quitters got TACP slots as well. Some were offered a chance to assess for EOD and SERE as well, but these slots were harder to come by. If you do not wish to pursue one of these options, then you will be sent needs of the Air Force, with Aerospace Medical and Security Forces being the most common AFSC’s that guys seemed to be sent to. You will be allowed to reattempt A&S after two years if you are non-selected, however if you are dropped from A&S due to injury, you will be afforded another chance to make it through A&S much sooner than that, most often in the next class. I do not know if quitters are allowed to return to A&S.

Hope this helps. I know there are people in their 30’s that have made it through A&S and gotten selected.
 
BuffuloBrian,

Thanks so much for your detailed response. You are right in making sure to train smart since I am worried most about injury. I haven't done this sort of exercise before and even with an increase in running, I'm now having some pain in the achilles. I will definitely look into contacting Shawn. Thanks again for answering all of my questions!
 
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