Air Force Pararescue Physical Ability And Stamina Test (PAST)

Battlefield Airmen PAST Standards

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Does jumping from planes, swimming in the ocean, and patrolling behind enemy lines to save a downed pilot interest you? How about augmenting into other special operations units as the combat medic specialist and perform some of the most secret and dangerous missions within the Special Operations Command? If yes, the job you are looking for is the Air Force Pararescuemen. But first you have to get TO the training in order to get THROUGH the training.

This means you have to ace a highly competitive physical fitness test in order to qualify. 

What is the Air Force PJ?
PJ’s is the nick name for the Air Force Special Operations Command's Pararescuemen. PJ’s are Air Force Special Operations Combat Medics and Rescue Specialists that are specifically trained and equipped to conduct conventional or unconventional rescue operations. Rescuing downed pilots (combat search and rescue) as well as augmenting into Navy SEAL platoons and Army Special Forces units as the combat medic are a few of the many roles Air Force PJ’s play.  PJ’s can fulfill this role in humanitarian and combat environments using air, land, or sea tactics.  The Air Force Pararescue Motto: 

                   "These Things We Do, That Others May Live,"

If you seek to become one of the best trained combat medics and extraction specialists in the world, the Air Force Pararescue profession may be something to consider.

As part of the Air Force Special Operations Command, candidates have to be of above average physical abilities. Being a good swimmer, but also competent in the water is critical to making it through training as saving personnel in the water is a requirement of the job.  Also running, rucking, lifting, and high repetition calisthenics are required to get through the physical challenges on top of the medical training course load.

The following Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST) is for recruits seeking Pararescue. 

Air Force Battlefield Airman PAST Requirements

In the Air Force, the special ground combat units are known as Battlefield Airmen. In fact, after Basic Military Training, all members of the group will attend a newly commissioned Battlefield Airmen Prep Course for 8 weeks. Each will have events that will prepare them for the follow-on selection program. The following chart demonstrates the PAST requirements for each of the Air Force Special Operators:

Pararescue (PJ), Combat Controllers (CCT), Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) Instructor, Special Operations Weather Tech (SOWT), and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). 

This test must be conducted in a 3-hour time frame and in the order listed below. There is one pass/fail event and five point-scored events. The candidate must receive a combined total of 270 points, and pass the pass/fail event in order to pass the PAST.

The Physical Ability and Stamina Test is as follows:

Underwater swim P/F P/F P/F P/F P/F P/F
500m swim<10:0711:42 not tested14:00200m/ 10:00not tested
1.5 mile run10:1010:1010:4710:1011:0011:00

To be competitive the following scores are recommend for PJ Training Candidates:

500 meter surface swim - Any stroke but back stroke.  Closer to 8 minutes is recommended.

1.5 mile run - Run with shorts, shirt, shoes.  Closer to 9 minutes is recommended

10 pull-ups – It is recommended to be in the 15-20+ zone for pull-ups to be competitive with those who graduate training.

54 push-ups – It is recommended to be in the 80-100+ zone for 2 minute push-up tests.

52 sit-ups – It is recommended to be in the 80-100+ zone for 2 minute push-up tests.

Scoring the recommended competitive scores above will place you in the top ten percent of candidates well over the 270 point mark. *Note:  These scores are recommended by the author, not the Air Force specifically.

Training to just meet the minimum standards for the AF PJ PAST is not recommended as the training itself is highly competitive to join.

 Plus, once students get into the selection and training program, they will be required to push students both physically and mentally.  Having a higher level of fitness and fitness foundation will serve students well in the challenging 18 month (plus) long training pipeline.

Considerations to Training

If you are seeking to become a Pararescueman,you have to get accepted into the program first. To get accepted into the Air Force PJ program, you have to first focus your training routines on the events listed above:  Swim, Run, Pullups, Pushups, and Situps.  Consider this your entrance exam. If you are not a fast runner or swimmer or have significant muscle stamina to be able to do higher repetitions of calisthenics than the average military person, your chances of getting excepted into the program maybe limited. Most people who succeed in these challenging fitness tests and follow on selection programs, will run and swim 5-6 days per week focusing on fast pace.  Also, the upper body calisthenics requires three days a week (every other day) at a high volume.  However, these workouts should be progressive to your current fitness level in order to avoid injury. 

Getting through the training will build upon the above fitness foundation focusing on more strength, longer distance endurance (longer swims with fins, longer runs, long rucks) and skills in the pool such as treading, drownproofing, buddy breathing, and other pool and SCUBA diving competency tests. 

For More Details See 

Making The Cut video 

Air Force Pararescue

US Air Force Pararescue Facebook Page

Also E-mail to be contacted by a Special Tactics Recruitment Liaison.