Category Archives: Drill Teams

Information for drill teams of all kinds

The Little Honor Guard Members

I have been scouring the internet for many years learning about the differences in military drill around the world. One thing that isn’t different is the interest that many young men and women enjoy in the hours of work it takes to present a superior drill team (called an “honor guard” in Asia) performance and in some cases, age does not matter.

2010071500341This little boy, Ryan, in the picture at right, lives in Taiwan. This picture is from 2011 when he was just three-years old.

He loves honor guard in Taiwan, so the Taiwan military has allowed him to perform with their drill teams for several years now. This video is from 2012.

Ryan even changes uniforms! A video from 2015.

One question that I posed was, why does Ryan do everything in the opposite (opposite shoulder, Port to the right) from the members of the drill team? The answer I received was that he learns by watching and mirrors what he sees. I don’t think it will be that difficult to have Ryan switch when the time comes- who knows, he may very well be Taiwan’s greatest exhibition Driller in the coming years.

Click here to see Ryan’s Facebook page.

 

 

If I remember correctly, this little boy back in the early 2000s, loved what his uncle did at an Air Force Base in Southern California so his mother made him a tiny Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial uniform.

Little Boy in USAF Ceremonials

Just like children taking an interest in music or other arts, this is a positive influence on these very young men. If you would like to encourage the children you know in military drill or even marching band color guard, you make your own rifle out of wood: go to the Downloads page and find the DrillMaster iDrill Rifle and also the iDrill Rifle Jr!

Exhibition Drill Injuries

Before we begin: I am not a medical doctor. This article is not a substitute for obtaining professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Minor InjuryNow, on to the article.

Many exhibition Drillers (you are not an “exhibitionist” unless you remove your clothing while spinning the rifle) have spent some time dealing with an injury or six.

At your JROTC unit, it is a very good idea to have a first aid kit available during practice. At home, it would be a good to have the same thing or something similar.

Repetitive Use Strains
Doing the same move over and over is the way to finally get it perfected and the best way to strain certain muscles and tendons.

When you have a strain, remember “RICE”: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Ibuprofen or natural supplements to reduce swelling is also a good step to take.

Click here to read a great article about Repetitive Strain Injury. At the site, Clay Scott, explains everything you need to know, including pictures of two very helpful stretches.

Cuts
Prevention is the key here, but you will still receive an abrasion or cut eventually. Removing both sights and the stacking swivel from your rifle is going to help to significantly reduce opportunities for the rifle parts to cut you.

Cuts still may happen, especially if you drill bladed (Got Bayonet?). If receive a minor cut, clean the wound and cover it with a bandage that has a small amount of tea tree oil or honey (must be real, not the processed junk) on it.

Click here to read about some excellent natural methods to treat cuts and abrasions.

The JROTC Instructor and The DrillMaster

DSCN0479I have heard at times from cadets that I say the same thing as their JROTC instructors. That is a good thing. It shows that the JROTC instructors are on the right track of creating a solid educational foundation for their teams (color guard and drill team). The instructors may not teach just like me, but different approaches offer fresh training experiences. But, what if the instructor does  not say the same thing that I do when teaching?

Not everyone in the military knows drill and ceremonies inside and out. As a matter of fact, that is the norm. Most JROTC instructors are senior NCOs who have been away from the marching scene for ten or even fifteen years or more. They were managers in their career field and were not anywhere close to a military formation- for the most part. There are exceptions, most definitely, as evidenced by several JROTC teams that are top-notch for drill.

Civil Air Patrol, US Navy Sea Cadets and the Army-based cadet programs that are across our nation are sometimes better than JROTC units at drill and ceremonies, however, in my experience, all cadet programs are about the same.

Problems? Go back to Competitive Regulation Drill
Many issues can be eliminated by revisiting Competitive Regulation Drill (CRD) training and

Competitive RD is very different from the standard RD that one learns in Basic Training for each service. Regulation Drill moves a military formation from point A to Point B; it teaches teamwork, leadership, etc. Competitive RD goes much beyond that helping the team understand the mechanics behind taking the first step, each subsequent step and how to apply the principles of CRD in the exhibition drill program.

Herein lies the issue: most adults who work with cadets, including JROTC instructors, do not understand what goes into creating a training program that encompasses CRD. In walks The DrillMaster.

What does the DrillMaster offer?
A fresh perspective at training cadets for those units that already have a top-notch team. Basic, intermediate and advanced training information and techniques for everyone else. Books on every aspect of military drill: RD, XD and CD (Exhibition Drill and Ceremonial Drill).

I visit JROTC and other cadet programs for a minimal tuition fee depending on the length of training and help with transportation and lodging. I teach for an afternoon, a weekend or even a week or two.

DrillMaster University
This is the umbrella under which I offer the following courses:

  • DrillUp! (for cadets and instructors)
  • Drill Team Improvement Seminar (for instructors)
  • Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard (click here for more information– offered every summer)
  • Certification programs for instructors/coaches and

Visit the Downloads page to download information sheets about the above-mentioned courses.

Follow The DrillMaster on Periscope!

I teach in various locations around the United States of America and with the advent of Periscope, the application for smart phones, I can now share live training moments when working with law enforcement, firefighters, EMS and cadets!

Download the free app from your phone’s store and start watching. Broadcasts begin the first week of August 2015 at the Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy!

DrillMaster Periscope

The JROTC “Feeder” Program

Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy

If your JROTC unit does not have a plan on how to recruit at the local elementary schools that feed your high school, then you need to implement a strategy this school year!

JROTC programs need cadets, that we know. If 8th-grade students are unaware of the benefits of JROTC (leadership, organization skills, drill team, etc.), then those students will probably not sign up for JROTC. One of my favorite sayings is, “Education is key!” Applying that phrase to this situation means that you, as a cadet, can help ensure that 8th-graders are aware of JROTC and how it can impact their life whether they join the military or not. But, how do you do this? I’m glad you asked.

Self-promotion is a leadership and political skill that is critical to master in order to navigate the realities of the workplace and position you for success.”
― Bonnie Marcus

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion
I am not talking about telling everyone how wonderful you are or how amazing your units is. That is not the point. The point is to help students understand how much fun they can have and all of the different things they can learn just by being in the program.

Create a team that has can visit different places (schools, community events) that sets up a table with flyers with information and a tri-fold display board complete with pictures of cadets in all of the different activities.

During the high school open house, ensure that the PT, drill and rocketry teams all get a chance to show off their skills. Have the color guard present the colors to begin the night.

  • Raiders– run to the elementary school and do PT with the students.
  • Drill Team and Color Guard– perform at the school. March in as many parades as possible.
  • Reveille or Retreat– perform for the cadets in all of the different ways that you can.

Note: You must ensure students and their parents are fully aware that JROTC does not come with a commitment to the military. Junior ROTC is a citizen building program only, about 14% (it varies slightly by service) of cadets join the military either by directly enlisting or by attending college and commissioning.

Your JROTC unit needs to be prepared and the Public Affairs cadet(s) should put all of this into motion in conjunction with the team commanders. Educate the incoming students and the people living near the school by putting your best foot forward.

#drillstrong, the Fundraising Competition

#drillstrong, the Fundraising Competition

DrillStrongFollowing For the Art (FTA) Clothing Company’s lead.

A member of the Military Drill World (MDW) is in serious need. Constantine Wilson created New Guard America many years ago with the goal of having the first professional civilian-based exhibition drill team that performs with bayonets. He did it and NGA has toured the world with performances all over the USA, Europe and Africa.

Constantine and I met at New Mexico Military Institute in the mid 80s. After we left the school, we lost touch only to have exhibition drill bring us back together in 2006 when I began my groundwork for The DrillMaster. We eventually worked on Pro America together creating some great competitions. And there are all kinds of stories that many, many Drillers can share about how he has impacted their life, either directly or indirectly.

New Guard AMerica 2013

Constantine needs help. Diagnosed with cancer in 2013, he has been fighting it with unconventional therapies that have worked- until now. He is going to begin conventional therapy soon, if he has not already, and that is where you and I come in. FTA started the ball rolling with the sale of the really cool glow-in-the-dark #drillstrong rubber wrist bands and that is a great beginning. We can do more and we will. What do we, in the MDW, do best? Compete!

#drillstrong is the competition. It will be similar to Pro America, but with additions. No entry fee, but donations will be accepted by competitors and audience members. I hope to enlist help from others in the MDW and make this a spectacular annual fundraising event. When Constantine heals, we can turn our focus onto other needs for a fellow MDW member. Right now, all I have is ideas and will make phone calls and send emails to those whom I think can help in certain ways. I want to record the competition, create a DVD and offer it for sale with 100% of the profit going to the cause.

If you have something to offer for the competition (video or audio setup skills, DVD creation knowledge, etc.) please contact me by clicking here and sending me a message. Let’s get started.

God bless you, Constantine. #drillstrong

The Terror of the Dropped Rifle

See these related articles: How Drops Affect Scoring & Learning to Drop.

woman-screamingSalute!
Imagine this: you are a judge at a JROTC competition assigned to judge one of the exhibition drill categories. During a performance, a cadet drops his rifle, comes to attention, salutes the rifle, picks it up and continues on with the performance. The “Face-Palm” action would be inappropriate in this situation.

Saluting a dropped rifle has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. There is no reason for it and, to me, makes the Driller look less than intelligent.

It was started decades ago as a way to make a cadet who dropped, look silly. The embarrassment was meant to help you not drop- which it never did. It’s absolutely ridiculous to salute a dropped rifle. When you do, you are telling everyone, “Hey, I just dropped the rifle and I’m not going to try to minimize the effect that the drop has on my performance. I’m going to look stupid and salute an inanimate object.”

IMG_2386What if (see the picture at right) the cadet picks up the rifle, brings it to the Order position and brings his left hand across for a salute? No, this isn’t any good either! This is not a salute for the rifle it is a salute that the Marine Corps and Navy still execute when at Order. It is one of three different salutes rendered between individuals when at Order or either Shoulder position. The Army ceased performing these salutes many years ago.

“Mutual respect”
Between the rifle and the Driller. [Buzzer sound] Wrong- thanks for playing! Respect is between people, respect from a rifle is impossible.

You will not find any kind of guidance like what you have read here in any military manual. Yes, you will be taught to fully respect your equipment, including your rifle, when in the military- that is a must. Your life and the lives of others depends on how well you take care of your equipment at personal and unit level. That is a completely different context, one that is not applicable to JROTC. After all the rifle with which you drill will not save your life- even if it is a Demil.

Lastly, it doesn’t matter whether you are practicing or performing, never salute a dropped rifle.

How to Teach Exhibition Drill

You may not “know the drill”…

If you have my books, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team, Vols I & II, you probably have an idea of the process of writing drill, (here is a simple “Boxes of Three” method for creating drill) but might not understand the application of taking what has been written on a DrillMaster Routine Mapping Tool (RMT, available for download here)  and then having your team actually march what was designed. The key to this is the grid that I developed and put on each of the RMTs. This helps us translate what is on paper to what is on the drill deck.

How to Write Drill

Read Here to learn the Eight Things Every Driller Needs.

Cones for Drill (2)Cones

Painting a giant grid on a parking lot at your school is not necessary, but you can do it. It is just as easy to create the, in this case platoon/flight, drill deck by using cones. When I teach, I use small cones that are designed for sports and if they get stepped on or run over, they just pop right up.

On the Drill Team (100′ X 100′) RMT, there are numbers across the bottom of the grid (1-20) and letters going up the left side (A-U). You will want to identify your cones with the same numbers and letters. You can use cones that are all the same color or, you can color-code certain areas of the drill pad to show where the “Power Section”.

Lay out your cones in a large L-shape. If you choose to use the color coding, you can lay the cones out like in this picture, below. The red ones on the side are a little difficult to see and I did not lay out all of the cones, but this is the general idea.

Cones for Drill (1)

Before the team goes out onto your practice area with the new cones laid out, go over the routine’s drill sets (each page is called a “set”) with the team so they have a general familiarity of what is happening. Now, go to the field and begin setting the team up to enter (read this article about The Seven Parts of an Exhibition Drill Routine).

Once at the entrance, being to set everyone up in their positions of the first set, march it a couple times. If an armed team, learn the drill unarmed first, then add the equipment (rifle, guidon, sword/saber). If unarmed, learn the drill first and add the body work (hand, arm, head torso, leg and foot work). If only the drill is written and the equipment/body work needs to be added to each page, as you create the equipment work, write it down.

Continue to learn each set learning the drill first, and then layering over it body movement and/or equipment

Are you a soloist, tandem, squad/element? The same applies to you.

Resistance to Change: Betrayal?

DSC_0443_963x2559I felt the need to follow up the article that published last week, Resistance to Change: The Five Monkeys Syndrome.

My help is sought out on a consistent basis from high school and college drill teams and also first responder honor guard units. I teach courses and, when asked, also give free advice over the phone, through email or on videos on any subject in the Military Drill World.

The picture at right is from my book, The Honor Guard Manual, I purposefully did not wear gloves for the pictures so that readers could see the exact positioning of my hands and fingers.

I also give advice to many others even when they don’t ask. Those results are 80%-20%. The 80% is people receive the advice in a positive manner, the 20% is the opposite. I don’t know if those numbers are exact, I haven’t accomplished a scientific study, it’s a guess, really- most people do receive the advice very well and sometimes it leads to a great conversation and then…

Not long ago, I had a brief conversation on one of my social media accounts with an individual. He was nice enough but presented the argument of, “We like the way we do what we do.” It was a small issue really, but one that I felt needed to be fleshed out, I don’t want anyone in the honor guard community to not look as professional as possible.

How the conversation went:

Indiv: So, we need to change just because you say so?

DM: No, not at all, just want you to be as professional as possible.

Indiv: That’s your opinion.

DM: That’s right and it is based on over 25 years of experience.

Indiv: There is more than one way to render honors.

DM: True and sometimes there is a better way.

Indiv: There is a nice way to approach it.

DM: And what way would that be? Advice can be seen as an attack. People are trained a certain way and feel it is best. Another says there is a better, sharper way and the person feels if he changes or even agrees he is betraying his trainers.

A national standard did not exist for first responder honor guard units until I published my book, The Honor Guard Manual, in 2011. Who am I to establish a national standard? I am just a guy who saw the need, that’s all. No one is forced to adopt every single movement described in the manual; the manual is there for use and if a team chooses to use all, some or none of it, that is completely up to them, it doesn’t bother me. I will always make suggestions, however, and whether those suggestions are adopted or not, is not my concern.

Besides the, “Well, that’s the way we have always done it” mentality, a sense of betrayal is why some changes will never be made, for the better in my opinion, for some teams. And that’s too bad.

Resistance to Change: The Five Monkeys Syndrome

stages_of_resistance_to_change1Even if you are a cadet in high school JROTC or in Sea Cadet, Young Marines, etc. you may have come across this syndrome. If you are an adult, you most definitely have come across this. Please watch this short video before reading on and it will explain. Image courtesy of Sharon Browning and Associates.

Now, we are not talking about “Change for change’s sake” that’s just plain useless. Many organizations have tools in place for use by their members to afford the opportunity to review processes and then implement better ideas.

When we come to the Military Drill World, there is plenty to learn that has not been taught and ways of teaching that have not been used. But we encounter the mindset of, “The military (collectively) has been around for over 200 years! We are doing just fine, thank you.” The fact is that many soloists, JROTC, ROTC and even CAP, Sea Cadets and other units are not “just fine” and need differing levels of help in the form of education and guidance. Still, many are too stubborn to accept constructive criticism or seek help.

Service and Military Bias is quite prevalent as well. Service Bias is when a member of one service will not budge on any issue if it comes from outside his/her scope of training. Military Bias is when a service member does not accept any form of training that was not developed or used by the military in general. The education and training of cadets could be advanced quite a bit if only some would understand.

I am not equating anyone or any group to being monkeys. The video only shows the progress and results of a scientific study.

The military, at the end of WWII, fostered the pageantry arts, drum and bugle corps and marching bands, which led to indoor color guard as well and other arts. An issue arose in the early 1970s regarding the control that the military (veteran organizations) had over competitions and judging. You see, those involved in the pageantry arts who did not have that military background- and even a few who did- began to take their groups into new levels of performance which left the rigid rules of the military behind – though the foundational training remained and was added to. For decades the foundation was laid by the military men and women and they needed to let these organizations grow and learn on their own and even grow and learn with them, but the veterans didn’t grow and learn. Eventually, those who were staffing the groups in the pageantry arts did not deal with the military men and women. The military roots are still held in high regard and many lessons are still taught today, but they are mixed with the higher-level education and training that is seen in high school marching bands and drum corps across the USA and even around the world as the education and training began spreading in the early 1980s.

The point is, being open to new ideas- or at least ideas that are new to you- is a good thing. If these ideas work well, everyone wins. If these ideas do not seem to work for your organization, then there is nothing lost as you at least tried.

“That’s the way we’ve always done it,” is such a horrible statement to hear, don’t be the one to say it.