Category Archives: Drill Teams

Information for drill teams of all kinds

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

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…

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.

A Graph of Military Drill

A Graph of Military Drill

Over the years, I’ve been asked by high school students for information on drill teams so that they could write speeches, research papers or something similar. This article is just another step in that direction. See also, What is a Military Drill Team? ,The Seven Parts of an Exhibition Drill Routine and Where’s the Power? plus many more.

This is a visual representation of where military drill began and its development into different branches.

At far left we have Regulation Drill, it then develops into Ceremonial Exhibition Drill and then Armed and Unarmed Exhibition Drill. Step and Stomp is next and then we see (Marching Band) Color Guard and Winter Guard. Notice the thin grey line of Regulation Drill at the bottom that is at the basis of each discipline. Where the grey Regulation Drill line stops is shortly after the beginning of color guard now that it is purely a dance-oriented discipline. So the graph ranges from pure Regulation Drill at left to pure dance at the right.

The lines of each discipline overlap since there really isn’t an absolute delineation between disciplines, their styles overlap somewhat.


exhibition drill, regulation drill, military, drill team, jrotc

exhibition drill, regulation drill, military, drill team, jrotc

Drill is Life! Or is it?


We can put, dance, color guard, music, skateboarding, surfing, skiing, wrestling, etc. in the place of “DRILL”, below. All of the words that are in bold all capitals, are a fairly standard saying or at least thought process.


In different ways, thousands of people “drill”: honor guard units, JROTC cadets, etc. and for many, it is an activity that is enjoyable and one that teaches hard work, discipline, teamwork and many other life skills.


I can see how this could be a feeling that you may have, but your activity is NOT your sole identity, it is part of it, but only on the surface, meaning that this is what others see; your outward appearance. What is your identity? You character, integrity, morals, principles and values. You were created in God’s image. He knew you before the Creation and can live in your heart.


I know that some mornings you’d rather pull the covers back over you and roll over, but we push through each day because God has a purpose for each of us. We may not understand it, especially when a teenager, but there is a purpose. There is much more to life than drill, wrestling or dance.

For a time (usually during the time of high school and even into college) we can devote many of our waking hours to practicing our hobby which, for some, could turn into a life-long enjoyment or even a job, and that is a great thing! But to obsess on one area of our life continuously for any length of time can be dangerous, we have family, friends, school work, a job and many other activities that need our time and energy.


Our activity (let’s concentrate on exhibition drill), can teach us the skills that we can use in many other areas, keeping the influence of an activity in which we once participated, or are still participating, and having that positive influence affect our lives on a daily basis is a good thing!


No, it does not. Everything you do, the people who are around you, help define you- on the outside. There is so much more that we have already discussed.

Practice and compete- it’s fun and can be so beneficial to you. Just don’t let it take over your life.

Drill is Life, drill team, exhibition drill, regulation drill, jrotc

Grammar Rules and Exhibition Drill “Rule” Equivalents

grammar (1)A routine is like a document that contains words, sentences, paragraphs and, finally, a “story.” We communicate through writing and we communicate through our actions as well. One aspect of exhibition drill is clear communication. Here we take a look at how to effectively communicate.

Grammar Rules and Exhibition Drill “Rule” Equivalents

Above, the word, “Rule” is in quotes because, in this context, we don’t necessarily have strict rules like the rules listed in a drill meet standard operating procedure (SOP), this is more like guidance. However, this guidance can really help you understand the concepts of creating a more effective routine for your drill team or yourself.


You may not realize how spelling can work here, but let’s take a look the words, their, there and they’re. While these words have completely different definitions, it is the sound on which I want to concentrate. What is the exhibition drill parallel? The same type of move that can be performed in slightly different ways, for instance, the Ninja. Today’s known variations are the . Here is a video of a friend of mine performing


Variations of different moves are great! Variation keeps a routine alive and fresh.

Unfinished Words

I see this in many Drillers who are new to exhibition drill. While some people seem to speak without finishing their words, no one would ever want to write like this:

“Thi natio, unde God, sha ha a ne birt o freedo.”

This is actually a line from President Lincoln’s Gettybserg Address, “This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” But it is unrecognizable; communication is lost. Exhibition drill is about communication: clear, effective communication.

Many new armed and unarmed Drillers fall into this mistake in their drill. While performing one move, their concentration shifts to the next move and they never complete the current move and the same with the next move and the next, etc.

Run-on Sentences

Again, some people tend to speak this way and it is extremely difficult to understand them, but it is virtually impossible to understand the following sentence.


This is very similar to the unfinished words, above, but speed takes over here. The Driller does not complete the movements and articulation is non-existent. The sequence of moves becomes ‘unreadable,’ the performance looks sloppy and visual communication is degraded considerably. You even need a certain level of articulation in flow sequences.

For military drill we can define articulation as:
clarity in the production of successive movements.

Punctuation (i.e. periods, commas and exclamation points)

This is similar to Unfinished Words, above. This problem is when move after move after move is performed without appropriate transitions. You need to have visual pauses and breaks. These come in the form of stops (foot, arm or any other part of the body) and also. This is different from what we call “flow.” Flow, is a segment in a routine that is smooth with the rifle passing from one side of the body to the other, up and down, back to front, etc. with smooth, clean effortless movement without stopping.

Awkward Transitions

When we write effectively, one paragraph needs to seamlessly transition into the next by having the last sentence of a paragraph contain the idea that creates a bridge to that next paragraph. When transitions don’t exist or they do not fit very well, then reading becomes difficult. The same goes for exhibition drill. (<—that’s the transition sentence to the next paragraph.)

A big culprit in destroying a routine’s effectiveness is the lack of appropriate transitions as I mentioned above. But, what is an “appropriate transition”? Let’s take a look.

GrammarFacing movements are some of the worst moves one can perform in a routine. Field coverage is part of the score, yes. But relying on a facing movement to move to another part of the field shows a lack of creativity. Now, when a Driller/team is first beginning, basic movement is expected, but with experience, should come growth as well. Let the rifle guide you around the field. Which way are your shoulders facing when you finish that toss or flow segment? That is your new direction. Don’t want to go that way? Change your entrance into the move or during the move if you are able or even create a way to move that does not include a basic facing movement to change the direction in which your body is facing.