Creating your own Exhibition Drill Uniform

Military-type exhibition Drillers around the world are looking more and more into developing their own uniform.

Creating your own uniform sounds great- after all that is what I did!

Copying a military service, law enforcement or firefighter uniform is perfectly acceptable. Many law enforcement and firefighter dress uniforms are based off of military dress uniforms. However, wearing a service’s uniform without being a veteran or cadet of that service would be frowned upon. Caution: Wearing a specific service’s uniform, without being a member of that service or service’s cadet program, is highly frowned upon. That is not to say that, when you wear a uniform that you have created, you will not be mistaken for a “soldier” of some sort. That’ is OK. Remember, wearing any kind of uniform may create some kind of question as to who you are or what you do. Explaining the situation and not wearing the uniform at any other time except for performances will work the best.

Think “uniform” and not “dress shirt and slacks” because it will look like you are wearing a dress shirt and slacks. You’re not just “dressing up,” you are dressing for the part. “Sunday-go-to-meetin’s” is not dressing for the part.

Here are some ideas of work-type uniforms. If you go with a 511 set of blue “BDUs” (for instance, the pant and the shirt), this is something that is easily recognizable as a uniform and is nondescript  It may not be what you are thinking of, but it is along the lines of a military-style uniform and this is the style you are looking to pull off to create the military flavor (click here for an article on Military Flavor) look of the performance.

Look for official dress- or ceremonial-type uniforms here: Lighthouse Uniform Co. and Marlow White.

Here’s an idea, create a persona- this is easier for a soloist, tandem or tetrad, but can be accomplished for a larger team. Create a routine that uses a special uniform on purpose (WWII, law enforcement, gangster, cowboy, etc.). Uniform also equals costume. Not necessarily a story book costume, but something that enhances the persona that you want. But remember, military flavor.

What makes a “uniform”? Trousers, a shirt, (optional- a jacket/blouse), shoes and a cover/hat. It’s about design and color. For great insight on this, I’d like to introduce my friend, Brent Becker, a uniform designer for marching bands and drum and bugle corps, has done extensive research into what makes a uniform and the history of uniforms (read an outstanding article of his here: RE-Defined: A New Look At Uniforms).

Brent BeckerBrent designs for musical ensembles, but the door is wide open for military uniforms. As a matter of fact, did you know that the Air Force Honor Guard wears a different uniform from the rest of the Air Force? Slight changes in design and material, but these are hardly noticeable. The contract for making the USAFHG uniform was awarded to DeMoulin, another uniform company that makes marching band and other uniforms just like Standury, the company that Brent works with.

Exhibition drill is ripe for uniform design for teams across the country. My hope is that teams begin to explore the opportunities an exhibition performance uniform creates.

Here is what he has to say on our subject of creating military-styled uniforms:

From my perspective, you’re absolutely on the right track. So much of the literature I’ve read on this matter refers to these garments as “Military Costuming.” This can be a bit of a head scratcher, since even today, the term “costume” is frowned upon even in more theatrical venues. However, your notion of developing a persona is an intriguing one, as it opens itself up to a physical manifestation of said character portrayal through wardrobe – this is the essence of theatrical costuming design and as such, where we encounter a relatively undefined zone in the philosophy of uniforms.

Speaking mainly from the standpoint of musical groups, much of my philosophy revolves around this idea that, a) uniform purchases are tremendous investments and that they should be, b) based upon the intrinsic values and performance demands of a specific unit within their given time and place.
Again, this is kind of an “easy out” and it doesn’t define anything per se, but it lends certain academic credence to your statement concerning costuming.

Perhaps more important here is the facet of “how” the articles of clothing in question are worn or presented. In the earliest records of European military-issued uniforms, they were part of a compensatory package – a “perk” if you will, of joining up – a man who enlisted received an overcoat emblazoned with colors and markings significant to his master or nation/state. For an impoverished peasant, this was a tremendous and cherished offering! King/Country was literally putting clothing on his back – and very often, that garment would be the absolute finest article that that man would ever wear – hence the long-standing tradition of men marrying in uniform! So dressy without being too flamboyant. Refined and mature without appearing stuffy and droll.

Uniforms in the European military tradition were also seen as something of a extension of the Colors – banners, standards, and other symbols representing Divinity, Ruler, Nation, City, Unit, etc. As a representational extension of those institutions, it is approached with utmost reverence and honor. Hence, to be referred to as “a disgrace to the uniform” is to accuse its wearer of disrespecting that which the uniform represents. So, without directly taking a serviceman’s uniform and copying it, let’s think about what those colors and symbols mean to the people who wear them and the citizens they defend. I’d recommend a sort of, “reverse engineering” of government issued attire – think about the image those uniforms create and for what they stand [emphasis mine -DM]. What can a military Driller assemble on their own to present that same-said essence?

I guess my point in all this comes back to my contextual/art & design stance – When is a uniform “military” in nature? Certainly when it appropriates physical accouterments of government-issued apparel. Sight lends itself to immediacy in the mind of most observers and as such, a visual suggestion of militaria immediately connects such a uniform to the armed forces and service organizations. But I would think the underlying motive driving one’s choice of military costuming must be considered – and this ties right back into your earlier notion about developing personae – in other words, if going with a military-inspired outfit, why? Is the Driller in question presenting an outward manifestation of honor, duty, sacrifice, patriotism, strength, precision, loyalty, etc.? If so, what kinds of lines, shapes, colors, or existing symbols can be used to suggest those otherwise intangible elements? Again, I know it’s subjective, but I would honestly leave this more open on the grounds of individual preferences within their given context. Perhaps advise striking a balance between a very standard military image and creating a unique, lasting impression, especially when adjudication is a factor.

Must read articles by Brent: Uniform Rumination.

So, dress for the part. Otherwise, you might look like you’re just headed off to church and took a wrong turn.

What is “Flow”?

Flo_from_Progressive_InsuranceThis is Flo

Her name is right there on her name tag. However, we are talking about, “flow” in armed and unarmed exhibition drill which is broken into two different types.

This is not Flow

Before we get into the two types of flow, let’s quickly go over what flow isn’t. Flow is not a sequence like this:

Port Arms to Right Shoulder into a Shoulder Roll/Drop catching the rifle behind your back and bringing it to Order.

All of those movements require completing the movement and providing what is called, articulation.

See also: Grammar Rules and Exhibition Drill “Rule” EquivalentsThe Seven Parts of an Exhibition Drill Routine, Routine Design Considerations, The Opening StatementProgramming, Programming, ProgrammingWhere’s the Power?How to Write a Military Drill Routine: Routine Mapping ToolsHow to Switch from Regulation Drill to Exhibition Drill,

Yes, the above is quite a bit of reading, but then you will be that much more educated. Now, let’s get into the “flow.”

1. Vertical Flow. This first definition is about the smooth work of a piece of equipment and/or body movement.

The word, vertical, is used to describe the brief usage of flow in the performer’s equipment or body work. This flow is only in a short segment and there can be more than one segment.

When using a piece of equipment, flow centers around continuous spinning and the Here is an example:

Unarmed exhibition drill vertical flow is more difficult as the performer’s footwork, hands, arms and body all play a part in continuous smooth movements over a short amount of time. I have judged military drill for over two decades and can only remember seeing one true flow segment and that was when I marched in high school back in the early 80s. My teammate, Russell Fryman, created an amazing unarmed routine that had large segments of flow using his arms and footwork that I have not seen duplicated since. I wish we would have recorded his performances!

2. Horizontal Flow. The second definition takes the whole routine into account.

Logical progression best describes Routine Flow. This is when there are smooth transitions between segments of drill. This flow is from the beginning to the end of the routine encompassing all movement, body and equipment.

Watch any routine and pay specific attention as to how segments fit together. This can be difficult because it is normal for us to only react to a performance in the form of liking or disliking it. You have to train yourself to not be entertained and react to those feelings (probably 90% or more of how drill has been judged for decades) and look further into the performance. Try it with this video:

exhibition drill, rifle drill, jrotc, drill team, rifle team, armed drill, rifle spinning

For Officer R. Orlando


I keep getting returns for the emails I send to the address you gave me. Here is what I have:

I called Marlow White, unhelpful. Called Bates, they searched through their inventory and did not find what you need.
Here are some possibilities. You may have to go with a standard leather oxford and shine them to a high gloss. I have an article, Shoes for the Driller and How to Shine Them, that gives you different options.

This is a great site, for $119 you can custom make your shoes. Standard leather, though.
Sorry that I couldn’t get you exactly what you need.

Have you wanted to Write for the Military Drill World?

Drill team training and honor guard training at its best!
Drill Camps, Honor Guard Academies, Drill Team Training & Coach Certification

In 1990 I began my first book, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team. I didn’t know that it was going to be a published book, I thought I’d write out a few drill moves and offer it to whoever wanted a copy- for free. However, in 2009, with a big shove into the unknown from my wife and my daughter, I finally published what I call XDI. I never considered myself a writer, how was I to know?

Fast forward to 2014 and I have written over 1000 articles and am working on books 8-12. So, I guess that qualifies me as a writer now and maybe you are in the same boat; you have an idea, but don’t really know how to get it out there. Well, that’s where I come in.

Under the name/title, The DrillMaster, I have created education, training and certification programs for members of the military drill world and here is another program: guest writer for this blog.

A guest writer would write on any topic that is within the realm of military drill: regulation, exhibition, ceremonial- or maybe you have thought of another tie-in on one of the above subjects that has not been covered here, something new and you have wanted to reach Drillers each day around the globe.

Dozens of people from around the world read this blog each day. Depending on the time of year (the school year, specific holidays or ceremonial-type days), this blog, as of 2014 averages over 600 hits per day.

If you would like to, write. Use the articles here as a guide and provide a picture or two or even a diagram with your article. When you think you are ready to have it published on this blog, send me an email through my Contact page stating that you are interested and I will get back to you right away so that you can forward me the article(s) you have in mind.

Get paid to write?
Well, not exactly. But if I do feel that your article would be a good addition to the next edition of my book, Filling in the Gaps, then I will send you a copy of one of my books that you choose while giving you full credit in the book- your name will will be in print as a contributing author!

What are you waiting for? Get writing!

Need I say it? No plagiarism…

‘Spirit of America’ coming to Times Union Center in Albany – The Saratogian

ALBANY >> This weekend, a unique presentation called “Spirit of America” returns after a decade to the Times Union Center in Albany.



“Spirit of America” is part military drill and martial music exposition, part multimedia history lesson and, undeniably, part public-relations extravaganza and recruitment vehicle. Participant Sgt. First Class Christopher Hirt calls it, acronymically, a “PAO” — a “public affairs operation.”



Col. Thomas Palmatier is commander and conductor of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” one of the units that participate in “Spirit of America” each year.




“‘Spirit of America’ is an example of a major, major outreach effort,” Palmatier said. “We give an opportunity for people get up-close to their Army and find out what it’s all about. It’s a multimedia look at American history and the Army’s role in it. It’s kind of immersive. I liken it to going to the opera.”



Hirt, a member of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, perhaps captures it better.



“This is all about how the Army is part of America’s story, its history. We represent the musical heritage that is part of the Army,” he said.



“Spirit of America” involves a half-dozen performing and ceremonial units, including the century-old Army Band led by Palmatier. The fife and drum unit, of which Hirt is a member, and Continental Color Guard both garbed for performance in Revolutionary War regalia. There also is the Army Drill Team and two units most closely associated in the public mind with their ceremonial duties at Arlington National Cemetery — Caisson Platoon and Command-in-Chief’s Guard.



Palmatier and Hirt are both natives of the Capital Region. The colonel, an Albany native who grew up in Ballston Spa and attended Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School before heading off to SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, has been in the Army for 37 years, signing on as a military musician straight out of grad school.



Make no mistake, members of these “special bands” are soldiers first, going through boot camp and remaining in reserve for full-on field duty if needed.



“I have deployed twice to Iraq,” Palmatier said, “and had some exciting experiences there, but most of my career has been in some capacity with Army bands, performing in 49 different countries and all 50 states.”



Hirt, a Schodack native and Columbia High and Hudson Valley Community College graduate with family still living in the area, has been a musician all of his life and throughout his Army career, which began in 1994. In high school, Hirt was involved with the Village Volunteers Corps in Delmar, and first encountered the Old Guard at a drum corps gathering in Carmel.



“When I heard the Army had this opportunity to keep up with my fife and drum corps experience, I was all over it. We represent a unique period of music in America’s martial music heritage,” Hirt said.



That, in large measure, speaks to the purpose of the “Spirit of America” spectacle: to ground the Army in American history and shine it up for the public.



The performance includes narrative over re-creations by soldiers in period uniform of live-fire action on-stage — “everything from the Revolution to the winning of the west to contemporary combat,” Palmatier said — alongside musical interludes and the whiz-factor stuff like the drill team performing its precision specialty.



The Army Band does a marching segment and provides the pit orchestra accompanying the rest of the show, with one of the colonel’s assistant conductors taking the baton. Lest anyone imagine an Army band is all Sousa music, military music units also boast “world-class vocalists, and a fantastic orchestra,” Palmatier said. “We’ve got singers who have sung at the Met.”



The grand finale assembles all of the participants on the arena deck, and versions of the show even offer elements of comedy.



All performances are free — as taxpayers, after all, you’ve already paid for it — although reservations are required.




If you go

WHAT: “Spirit of America”



WHERE: Times Union Center in Albany



WHEN: 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday



TICKETS: Free, but reservations are required. For ADA seating, call 487-2084; for groups of 20 or more tickets, call 487-2100; for other ticketing information, call 487-2088 or visit


See on Scoop.itDrillCenter eMagazine

The Air Force Academy National Invitational Drill Meet 2015!

USAFAThe Air Force Academy‘s (USAFA) Cadet Honor Guard will run the 41st National Invitational Drill Meet (NIDM) this coming April (2015). This has been a big competition in the past, and the USAFA cadets want it to be even bigger from now on!

For 2015, NIDM is open to both JROTC and ROTC drill teams, color guards, small teams and soloists! Download the SOP for more information. If you need further help, join the Facebook group, Military Drill Professionals, to contact the cadet in charge of the competition.

Click here to download the 2015 NIDM SOP PDF.

Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

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