Trainee recruits at Deepcut Barracks were left "running around" taking illegal drugs and drinking while under age, an inquest has been told.
Private Cheryl James, 18, was found dead from a single bullet wound at the Army training base in Surrey on November 27 1995.
Warrant Officer Sarah Ditchfield, who carried out her training alongside Pte James, described Deepcut as "chaotic" and said there was not enough supervision for the young trainees.
She told Surrey Coroner's Court on the fourth day of the inquest in Woking: "We were 17-year-old kids who had money in our pockets, there was nothing else for us.
"We were 17, there was a bar, we could get drinks - that's what we done.
"There wasn't enough NCOs (non-commissioned officers) to control the amount of recruits they had at the time," she added.
"Recruits were running about and didn't know what we were doing from one minute to the next.
"We would tend to ourselves, there was no accountability."
She said arguments and physical fights broke out between the young female recruits.
"Deepcut was worse than Leconfield - in Leconfield we had a day-to-day job to do but in Deepcut there was no ownership on us, we were just left," she added.
She admitted taking illegal drugs with her fellow recruits at a nightclub and said Pte James had taken speed, a class B amphetamine.
"If she went out she would take something, she would take speed."
WO1 Ditchfield broke down in tears as she recalled being told about the death of her friend.
She said Pte James's boyfriend Paul Wilkinson was "in bits" after hearing the news.
"Everybody was upset at the time, of course everyone was in bits. It wasn't just one individual - she was a friend," WO1 Ditchfield added.
She described Pte James, who was having a second relationship with another recruit, James Carr-Minns, as "fun-loving".
"I don't think she wanted to let anyone down, she was a fun-loving girl, got on with everyone and found herself in a situation where she didn't want to finish with one of them and end the relationship," she said.
Pte James was one of four young soldiers who died at the barracks over a seven-year-period, and a fresh inquest into her death was previously told forensic evidence shows she may not have killed herself.
A second inquest into the death of Pte James, from Llangollen, North Wales, is examining evidence suggesting she may have been sexually exploited by senior ranks shortly before her death.
High Court judges ordered the fresh inquest in 2014 after they quashed an open verdict recorded in December 1995.
Privates Sean Benton, 20, James Collinson, 17, and Geoff Gray, 17, also died from gunshot wounds at the barracks between 1995 and 2002.
The inquest continues.