Watch “Exhibition Drill Opener 2014″ on YouTube

This was a sample I wrote for the Norwich Shock Platoon. It is the opening drill sets up to the report-in.

Exhibition Drill Opener 2014:

Programming, Continued

Dropping the BaseApparently “dropping the base” can have something to do with describing how one creates a routine and, while that may have some sort of relevance at the moment, this description could very well have lost its meaning in a short time. I’ll stick with terms that designers have used for decades.

Below, are the Seven Parts of and Exhibition Drill Routine from the article I wrote of the same name. See that article for an in-depth look at each part. This will help you break down a routine in the creation process.

  1. The Opening Statement
  2. Up to the Report-in
  3. After Report-in
  4. The Routine Body
  5. Before Report-out
  6. After Report-out
  7. The Closing Statement

See also the article, Where’s the Power and put the two pieces of information together for a better understanding of what should happen and when.

Note: being able to only enter and exit from one specific area severely limits the mixing of the above identified seven parts and the power areas of the drill deck (area, floor, pad).

Variety in Programming Creates Intrigue/Excitement
A routine that has one tempo will not hold the audience for very long. Visually speaking: highs and lows; excitement and rest are necessary to create effectiveness in your routine.

There are three types of effect (from The WDA Adjudication Manual):

  • The intellectual aspect of effect is reflected in the range and quality of the design.
  • The aesthetic aspect of effect involves the ability to capture and hold the audience’s attention through the manipulation of familiarity and expectations (think: “surprise”). Aesthetic effect may resonate with a larger percentage of a general audience.
  • The emotional effect is the planned response to stimuli that is designed, coordinated and staged for the purpose of evoking a specific, planned reaction.

When, where, how and why effects occur successfully, involves:

  • Manner of presentation (how the effect was created — equipment, staging, movement alone or combined)
  • Pacing (the “when” factor of planned effects. How far apart, how often, how large is the effect?)
  • Continuity (the development, connection and evolution of planned effects)
  • Staging (where each effect is placed on the stage–highlighting, focus, interaction of effects, etc.)
  • Coordination (how all elements work together to heighten the effect)
  • Impact points (the beginning of important visual ideas)
  • Resolutions. (the completion of important visual ideas)

There is so much more to programming that everyone should know, pick up a copy of The WDA Adjudication Manual and read, read, read! Educating yourself will give you the edge you need to create the most effective routines!

What Base Honor Guard Members Need to Know: Uniform Trousers

Base Honor Guard After Posting the Colors at Rhein Mein in 2010
Spangdahlem Air Base Honor Guard After Posting the Colors at Rhein Mein in 2010

The Air Force Base Honor Guard (BHG) uniform is a modified standard USAF uniform. Stripes, an aiguillette, BHG arc and sewn creases are added like in the picture at right (that’s me, second from the left).

You may notice that the right rifle guard’s stripe on his trouser leg is slightly bunched. This is a rampant problem with BHGs around the world. Have a look at the picture below. That looks extraordinarily poor.

Screwey BHG Stripe

The stripe is supposed to be as smooth as possible, like the left rifle guard’s stripe in the picture at the top. So, why is this happening? Those who are sewing on the stripes are pulling the trouser leg much too much while sewing on the stripes. This causes bunching of the stripe as pictured above.

The Fix is in
The BHG member in charge of issuing uniforms and the NCOIC/Superintendent all need to visit the seamstress/tailor where the uniforms are altered and explain exactly how the uniforms are put together and how to obtain the perfect look. That is, if it hasn’t already been accomplished.

When I was on the BHG at Spangdahlem (as a retiree, mind you), we knew our seamstress and her coworkers by name and had an excellent relationship with them. When we graduated a T-Flight, we would escort all of the graduates over to the tailor shop and ensure all was squared away for each graduate individually. Yes, this takes time, but the outcome is as close to perfection as one can come.

All the best to my brothers- and sisters-in-arms and especially my fellow Ceremonial Guardsmen.

How to Restart a JROTC Drill Team

drill team traiing: XD Cover 2AExhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team
The First Book for Drill Team Training: XD Cover, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team

I received this question over the summer of 2014. It is always relevant, though!

Question: I’m a freshmen going into my sophomore year, also to my let 2 year in JROTC. I was wondering if you can give me tips and/or advice for starting up an exhibition team. Because in my freshmen year, at my school’s drill meet, I conducted one routine for alternative arms. It was OK, but I knew we could have done better. It was very last minute, unorganized and stressing. My team only practiced for not even a whole week, and the meet was on Saturday. Yes, I know… But that’s why, I was wondering that, maybe with your help and expertise, you can maybe help me start up exhibition again in my school. By the way our JROTC program hasn’t seen a drill trophy in years. Seriously, anything you say will help.

DrillMaster’s Reply: You have this summer to prepare for this coming school year and three more years of school which is perfect! Here is what I recommend.

1. Always first is educating yourself and your teammates.
2. You must have a plan to effectively move forward with your individual and team progress.
3. Put that education into practice. You must begin much earlier in the year.

First you and your team MUST download and read the latest edition of your service drill and ceremonies manual. Go to my website,, and click on the Downloads tab. There, you will find all kinds of downloads, including all three of the latest D&C manuals. You and your team must perfect regulation drill, unarmed and armed. Once you have accomplished that, then move into exhibition drill.

There aren’t any exhibition drill manuals except for my books. which are here, I do have many articles for drill teams on how to create effective routines, what to do and what not to do when it comes to marching, but the books have so much more. This summer I’ll be publishing two more books specifically on how to train others in regulation drill and color guard- you are actually the first to know about these two books!

The Joint Military Service Club replaces AFJROTC in Coatesville

A 36 year tradition was cut short last year, after the Coatesville Area School District withdrew it’s funding of the Coatesville Area Senior High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC program, the only AFJROTC in Chester County.

In it’s place the Joint Service Military Club (JSMC) was started.

According to science and biology teacher Denim Kurtzhals, who is currently going on his 19th year serving as an Air Force reservist, there are 43 students signed up. On average 25 to 30 students show up at the afterschool sessions held weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


Cadets run through drill exercises, team building exercises, military history lessons and other informational sessions lead by recruiters from all military branches.

“It’s a great way to use my knowledge and give something back to the community,” Kurtzhals said.

Bob Knecht, senior teacher advisor for the JSMC, said the program opens doors for scholarships and teaches students about different skill sets in the military.

“I think it’s really important especially based on the fact that we lost our JROTC program. One of the best things about it is that the program really provided someone who is interested in going into the military. It provided you with the extra pay grade and also the opportunities to get ROTC scholarships,” he said.

As a senior teacher advisor, Knecht said he provides general supervision, but the military recruiters are a key component in making this program successful.

JSMC Group Staff, which is made up of upperclassman, are responsible for the operation of the club, training and overseeing the cadets. They plan the two-day activities and make sure the cadets are in tune with the programs purpose — to provide training and information to students who might be interested in joining any branch of the military.

Not all who sign up for JSMC or even JROTC are interested in joining the military, Even then, the skills are valuable in settings outside military branches.

According to Paul Draper, JSMC Deputy Commander, the program also teaches cadets’ skills that can be used in professional careers.

“One of the best aspects of the program is leadership opportunity … there is military training leadership aspect of it to but there is the administrative, operational and the people-to-people leadership skills,” Draper said. “You can take these to other places then the military.”

Friends of the PA 771, a nonprofit parent created organization fashioned to help raise funds for the program, were unable to keep the program going. Then an idea sparked to form a club instead of a school-funded program.

According to JSMC parent and area resident Coleen Beckershoff, former Superintendent Richard Como told parents the program would be reinstated for the 2012-13 school year if the group manages to raise $157,000 in two months.

The deadline arrived and the group fell $20,000 until donations came in last minute to help the group meet its goal, Beckershoff said.

Unfortunately the lack of funding for the 2013-14 year, a financially unstable school district the retirement of both AFJROTC instructors of both U.S. Air Force recruiters didn’t play in the program’s favor.

“At the end of the 2012-13 school year both of our instructors resigned. The Air Force, who the school district had a contract with, our school district did not put it in the budget and the Air Force felt that they have a contract with the school district, not with PA 771,” Beckershoff said while the JSMC cadets lined up in the 9/10 Center cafeteria. “With the unstable situation in our district at the time, they did not see fit to uproot instructors, bring them here when they wanted a two year commitment.”

According to Beckershoff, they would have to wait at least five years to reinstate the program because there is a waiting list for other schools across the U.S.

“The Air Force did give us a commitment if we get it back in the budget we don’t have to wait those five years,” she said. “We can try to get it back for next year. If it is in the budget they will commit to bringing the program back.”

Follow Daily Local News staff writer Kristina Scala on Twitter @Scala_Kris and Facebook at


See on Scoop.itDrillCenter eMagazine

The Guidon’s Two Different Salutes

While each service (Army, MC/Navy/CG and AF) has a slightly different way of having the guidon render a salute while in formation, there is another salute rendered by a guidon that each service requires when outside of a formation when the guidon bearer is on his/her own.

The only authorized giudon bearer salute  when in formation for each service ends up looking like this:

Guidon Salute

When a guidon bearer is not in a formation (either walking somewhere or standing and holding the guidon) and is approached by an officer, there is only one authorized salute, which is different from the salute pictured above. This salute is not authorized while in formation.

Guidon Bearer Individual Salute

Flag Pole Height Chart and Maritime Flag Arrangements

Flag Pole HeightFor our purposes, flagpole means a permanent pole cemented into the ground and flagstaff is one that is carried.

For flagpoles a general rule of thumb is the height of the flag should be 1/3 or 1/5 the height of the flagpole (the pole should be three or five times the height of the flag). Here is an example.

For a twenty-five foot flagpole:

  • 1/5 of twenty-five is five.
  • 1/3 of twenty-five is eight (rounded down).

Flying a flag that is larger than recommended could result in damage to the flagpole, halyard and/or hardware.

Standardized Military Flag Sizes:

These are the only authorized flag sizes flown from military flagpoles for each service.

  • Storm Flag: 5’x9’
  • Post/Base Flag: 10’x19’
  • Garrison Flag: 20’x36’

Flagpole and Equivalent Flag Size Chart (1/5)

15’: 3’x5’
20’: 3’x5’ – 4’x6’
25’: 4’x6’ – 5’x8’
30’: 5’x8’ – 6’x10’
35’: 6’x10’ – 8’x12’
40’: 6’x10’ – 10’x15’
45’: 8’x12’ – 10’x15’
50’: 10’x15’- 12’x18’
60’: 10’x15’- 15’x25’
70’: 12’x18’ – 20’x30’
80’: 15’x25’ – 20’x38’
90’: 15’x25’ – 20’x38’
100’: 15’x25’ – 30’X60’

Maritime Flag Arrangements

Maritime Mast

For the most part, the provisions of the Flag Code are manifest in the traditions and customs for the display of the Ensign ( American flag) by seamen. The following provisions are made for the display of the flag on a mast located on a base.

1. Single Mast (no Yard or Gaff)
” Ensign is flown at the truck (#1).
” All other flags are pennants flown below Ensign.

2. Mast with Yard:
” Ensign is flown at the truck (#1).
” Organizational burgee (flag) is flown at the starboard (right) yard arm (#3).

3. Mast with a Yard and Gaff:
” Ensign is flown at the gaff (#2).
” Burgee is flown at the truck (#1).
” Flags at #3 and #4 vary depending on the activity at the organization.

It is display #3 which causes the most confusion. This puts the club burgee in a higher position physically, but not above that of the Ensign symbolically. By the normal Flag Code provisions, this would seem to be an incorrect display. The tradition of the seas, however, is to hold the gaff as the position of honor; thus, the intent of this tradition and display is to give proper respect to the flag.

Where a yard is involved, rules provide that when a foreign ensign is displayed, the Ensign is flown at #3; the foreign ensign at #4; the club burgee at #1; and other flags at #2.

The gaff extends aft (to the rear), and a mast on yacht club grounds is faced seaward. Therefore the gaff will (or should) be directed toward the land. The observation point then becomes a point somewhere on the sea side of the mast. This then makes the placement of the Ensign in regard to the foreign ensign conform to Flag Code provisions.


Perfect Drill Team Rifle Tosses

The picture, below, is of a winter guard (a marching band color guard that performs indoors, see WGI) back in the 1980s. In the picture you can see the rifles are at the exact same angle while in the air and the arms, legs and bodies of the guard members are very close to being the same. 

Drill Teams: this is what you want. You want to be as close to exactly the same all throughout the performance. But how can you do this? Technique. This is for both unarmed and armed drill teams.

Here is how we can describe technique. Where you put your hands on the rifle, angles of your head, arms, legs, feet and torso.

Perfect Rifle Toss, color guard, winter guard, armed drill team

Techniques need to be the same for each of the members of your team, they have to be the same. If they aren’t your audience will notice right away. It also impairs the effectiveness of synchronous movement like marching, hand and arm movement and rifle movement, just to name a few.

Drill Team Technique

Rifle and arm angles

Drill Team Technique

Arm positions and rifle angles

Drill Team Technique

Rifle angles along with body and arm positions

Drill Team Technique

So close: Foot angles

Drill Team Technique

Arm positions and hand angles

So, now you can see technique is extremely important in all you do out on the competition field or any performance. Technique begins with initial training and must be reinforced through consistent revisiting that initial training. Without that reinforcement, techniques will begin to vary over time.

The Flagpole with Two Halyards and the Intended Direction of Display

Flagpole 2 HalyardsWhen I travel, I am usually aware of flag displays and other ceremonial aspects that many people don’t recognize. In the two pictures above, you can see three flags displayed on a flagpole that has a two halyard system at a rest stop where my wife and I had lunch.

I am posting this to educate people, not call out any one person or a state. The individual(s) who put up these flags had the right idea, but as you can see this is not the way to display the flags. I am standing on the side of the intended direction of display. Notice the American flag on the left side of the pole and the POW/MIA and state flags on the right- but below the American. This is OK, but improvements can be made.

You can see in the picture below how to display flags from a stationary flagstaff/flagpole that has two separate halyards/ropes. The intended direction of display (even if the pole can be seen from 360 degrees) dictates where the flags go. These two illustrations show an intended display in your direction with the AMerican flag to the viewer’s left.

Flag Pole with Two Halyards- Close

The picture above shows the POW/MIA flag flown directly below the American flag. Any flag flown below the American flag on the same halyard can actually be attached to the American flag’s bottom clip.

Flag Pole with Two Halyards- Space

The picture above shows the POW/MIA flag flown with random space below the American flag. There isn’t a rule that dictates whether space is needed or the amount of space.


Australia’s Federation Guard Precision Drill Team – Fort Queenscliff Open Day 2012 – YouTube

Australias Federation Guard Precision Drill Team (PDT) conduct a parade for the 2012 Fort Queenscliff open day which was also the day the Soldiers of the Aus…


See on Scoop.itDrillCenter eMagazine

Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

%d bloggers like this: