To become a Ranger, apprentices must go through five years of vigorous training to bring them up to the high standard required of King's Rangers. During these years they are know as Rangers Apprentices
Apprentices are personally chosen by Rangers who have held the Silver Oakleaf for at least a few years to ensure they are experienced and mature enough to take on and adequately train an apprentice.
The Ranger will observe a potential apprentice discreetly to discern whether or not they would make a good Ranger. If they meet up to the standard then the Ranger will propose the prospect, and if they accept, they will be trained.
Apprentices initially learn the history of the Rangers Corps from its formation during the reign of King Herbert. They are then taught about the various weapons which are used by Rangers such as the bows, saxe and throwing knives, and strikers.
They are taught about tracking, camouflage and concealed movement. After being taught the basics in these areas they will be given a mottled camouflage cloak and taught how to utilize it in their movements.
After a few weeks of this training they will be granted a specially-bred Ranger horse, taught to take care of and bond with it, and learn the different signals and routines which will help the apprentice when they are fully qualified.
Generally after a year (though Will's case was a little different for he started 3-6 months after the last gathering) of initial training the apprentice is then taken to the Gathering Grounds to be assessed by other Rangers to decide if the apprentice is ready to be granted his or her Bronze Oakleaf which indicates they are ready for further, more intensive training.
The assessments involve things like demonstration of archery techniques using an apprentice Recurve Bow, knife skills, concealment, etc. If they pass, they will receive the Bronze Oakleaf and will begin further training upon return to their respective fiefs.
From then on the Ranger's training steps up a pace, they learn the secret codes used by Rangers and Couriers to communicate, battle tactics, leadership skills and more besides.
They also need to develop a high level of fitness and learn to push themselves, a mentality which is needed for the rigors and challenges of a Ranger's life.
When they are ready, the apprentice will be given a longbow in place of their recurve bow. Up until this point they are not physically strong enough to handle the draw weight and size of a longbow. From then on they will work their way up to stronger longbows. Most fully-fledged Rangers use full-sized longbows with incredible draw weights.
During their time training the apprentices will gradually be given more and more responsibility and join their mentor on missions throughout the Fief, and on rare occasions, outside the fief or even abroad. They also help their mentors with paperwork that needs to be completed, a less glamorous, but still important aspect, of life as a Ranger.
Rangers must be able to use several weapons very well, most importantly the bow, first the recurve and then the longbow. As this is a weapon that takes years of dedication to learn how to use well, Rangers are not usually able to learn how to use other weapons such as the sword. Gilan, however, was trained from a young age to use a sword, and continued to incorporate this into his Ranger training and career.
Rangers also learn how to use strikers, saxe knives and throwing knives, as well as unarmed methods of self-defense and offense.
List of Ranger weapons:
After an apprentice's training is complete, normally a period of five years, they are granted the Silver Oakleaf by the Ranger Commandant, usually at at the annual Ranger Gathering, symbolizing their full graduation into the Corps.
The Commandant plays down the ceremony to stop the apprentices from getting a big head at the last minute. Crowley does this in Erak's Ransom to Will and in The Kings of Clonmel to two new Rangers. He normally pretends he has lost the "silver trinket" but then when the new Ranger looks, he finds a huge crowd congratulating him, and then presenting him with the Silver Oakleaf.
Rangers receive the Gold Oakleaf when they retire. They either stay in the fief that they were positioned in, or move to Castle Araluen to help the Commandant with their business. In The Kings of Clonmel, Alun retires, and goes to work at Castle Araluen with Crowley. However he will still fill in for Gilan at Whitby Fief if Gilan is absent.