After an Oct. 21 test, Spc. Benjamin Ritchie became the third soldier in the Army to hit a perfect 600-point score on the ACFT — and the first basic training recruit to do so, according to service officials.
Right now, a trainee must pass the ACFT to graduate from basic, with one event waived to 50 points, according to U.S. Army Training Center spokesman Michael B. Pond. But it’s still early in the roll-out process.
“We are still collecting data, and the sample size is too small to gain any significant insights,” Pond told Army Times. “With over 40,000 Trainees graduating into Soldiers at Fort Jackson every year, we’ll need 6-9 months to really see the impact. And all the Battalions transition from familiarization to the test of record after January.”
“So far, we are getting turf installed and have all the test equipment," Pond added. "Drill Sergeants are trained. We know we will have some bumps in the road as we transition, but so far the most significant material hurdles are cleared.”
Ritchie, who hails from San Antonio, Texas, is assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, according to a service news release. His battalion was one of two on Fort Jackson, South Carolina, participating in the Army’s pilot test that has recruits take the ACFT during the ninth week of training.
Two other trainees in the battalion scored above 590, according to the service release.
Ritchie, who graduated basic on Oct. 24, is headed to Fort Benning, Georgia, for Officer Candidate School.
At first, he was actually unable to max out the legacy Army fitness test that is in the process of being phased out.
Over the course of nine weeks at Fort Jackson, “he performed regularly scheduled physical readiness training according to the BCT program of instruction and ate the regular meals provided by the dining facility and by the end of basic training, he was able to max both the APFT and ACFT,” the Army release reads.
A senior drill sergeant overseeing Ritchie’s unit said that training hasn’t changed much this cycle.
“There were no special fitness coaches, diets, or focused ACFT workouts,” Staff Sgt. Joshua Delgado said in the release. “Hard work and motivation — that’s our ‘special sauce.'"
Regiment commander Lt. Col. Randall Wenner said that his unit has tested more than 2,800 trainees with zero injuries.
“There are naysayers out there about the new test, specifically due to injury,” Wenner said in the release. “Ritchie’s performance along with the performance of other trainees also sends a message — excellence in the ACFT is attainable for everyone."
“We proved that when we asked trainees, who have been focusing on the APFT for graduation, to take the ACFT in week nine,” he added.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.