If you’re in Fayetteville, go to a used boots store and ask for the ‘SOPC’ Special. SOPC means Special Operations Preparation Course. It’s the course “X-rays” go to before they take a shot at selection. That course is a kick in the nuts. It is rucking and running intensive and these boots were designed for SOPC students.

Eventually, other selection attendees realized SOPC grads would take off and blaze through ruck challenges. It’s almost funny. When the rucks start every “X-ray” sprints and everyone else starts walking. It’s in part to their preparation and the boots that facilitate faster movement. Most people think “X-rays” are nuts for this reason.

Putting on the “SOPC” boot for the first time is the closest thing to walking on air I have experienced. I was accustomed to those uncomfortable boots the army sells. They’re rigid, take forever to break in, and the heel and toe inserts can be painful over time. The “SOPC” sole is cosmetic surgery to get rid of all of that. You’re still wearing an army boot – but without the baggage.

It’s done all around town in Fayetteville. Most used boot sellers are well aware of the ‘SOPC’ variant. Some argue that it removes the ankle stability and puts your toes and heels at risk. Except you won’t be working heavy machinery or at a construction site while at Selection. You’ll be moving long distances and the most important tool you bring is your feet, then your boots.

The SOPC special, as it is also called, removes the toe box and heel insert and replaces the sole with a thinner and lighter variant. You might lose some traction depending on the sole you choose. But your feet will thank you. They’re more like robust tennis shoes than those stupid, painful army boots you wear in basic training.

I promise you – if you’re thinking about going to Selection. You need to toughen your feet up, now.

Here’s a trick: After a ruck march when your feet are raw rest them in Isopropyl Alcohol. Let them sit in there for awhile. Maybe ten minutes or so. Alcohol is a drying agent and helps to toughen your feet and the calluses you’re building. Having your calluses in place and hard before selection makes a big difference. It impacts your performance in the long run.

Returning to the SOPC boots. I don’t know when the SOPC alternate began. I feel like it predates the Nike and other boots that are out there, today.