The project we're participating in is called One Day in the Russian Special Forces
. It's a commercial venture (around $500 for each participant) but everyone must first pass a psychological test to check their mental endurance. Whoever fails this test gets their money back and leaves the group.
Despite this, there was a real freak in our group - there always is - doesn't matter if you're in the real military or enrolled in a training program. He was called Pyotr but we nicknamed him "Berserk" as each time he sparred or trained with someone he roared like a crazy orc from Lord of The Rings. He claimed a previous military tutor in St. Petersburg taught him first aid by slashing his own leg with a knife and then sewing up the gash himself...
Here I was, standing shoulder to shoulder with this guy, wondering if someone was going to get a bullet in the head the moment he picked up a gun.
Not a gunshot but a shout gets our attention:"Run! Run! Ladies, two minutes until combat training," the officers yell at us.
We rush out of the bus and onto a freshly cut field where an actual Crimson Beret, an elite Russian National Guard officer, is waiting for us. "The training you're about to pass is not as hard as the Crimson Berets endure day to day. You'll run eight km instead of 12 through a forest. In the Army, soliders only stop fighting until they're knocked out - and they only stop shooting AK-47s when their arms are too tired to hold the rifles," he explains.
The group stands still. No one dares interrupt the thickset soldier with the ice-cold eyes of a trained killer.
"Your biggest enemy today is yourself and nobody else. You'll have to fight not with the guy next to you, not with the instructors, but with your fears and beliefs that you're not able to do something," he tells us.