5 things you need to know to become a Marine HRST master

Recruiting videos and Hollywood blockbusters often feature the thrilling image of a helicopter hovering over a building as soldiers or Marines quickly dismount via ropes into an austere environment. If you’ve ever wondered who is behind this ingress, you are not alone.

Marine Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques (HRST) masters are the ones responsible for all aspects of these maneuvers. They shoulder a serious burden in that the Marines who fast rope or repel from their lines very literally entrust them with their lives.

Here are a few tips from a former HRST master instructor on how to live the dream showcased in those high-speed commercials.

Related: 7 tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors

1. Attention to detail

This may seem to be a little obvious but it cannot be emphasized enough: Do it right every time. Your Marines’ lives are literally on the line.

Repelling Marines

Now lean back, let it happen. (Image via Cpl. Jodson Graves)

2. Order of operations matters

There are many knots to know and, when anchors are tied inside helicopters, the order in which they are tied is just as important as how they were tied. Distribution of the load is paramount and can only be achieved if done in order.

HRST anchor knots

Primary, secondary, and tertiary, we’re trying to go home soon. (Image via Cpl. Jodson Graves)

3. Speed and accuracy

Get it done faster! When you take your knots test, instructors will give you times as short as 15 seconds to to put together perfect knots with pigtails (rope left over at the end of a knot) no longer than 2-4 inches.

HRST knot test

Bro, hurry up. (Image via Sean Dodds)

4. Hatch-side manner

Not everyone you send down is cool with heights. Maintain a certain level of confidence as the HRST master and it’ll bleed over onto an individual, terrified of heights, who may be living their nightmare right now.

HRST masters

Oh sh*t… I told him not to grip with his guide hand, right? (Image via Cpl. Jodson Graves)

Also Read: They started at the bottom, now they are billionaire veterans

5. Complacency kills

No matter how dynamic or exciting, eventually everything becomes routine. Believe it or not, even flying around and repelling out of helicopters can become just another Tuesday and, thus, become a breeding ground for complacency. Fight that sh*t. Do your job right and get the mission accomplished with zero casualties.