Tag Archives: drill rifle

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 55%-60% 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.

Saint Louis High AJROTC in Trouble?

Yes, another JROTC unit is in serious trouble. This time it seems to be a burocratic position with a financial excuse, but no one really knows exactly . (Also read: The Hatred of JROTC.)

Cadets who attended JROTC units around the world can provide anecdotal evidence as to how the program and moreover, the instructors, played a key role in learning life lessons. We, in the Military Drill World, know what it’s all about: citizenship, leadership, followership, accountability, teamwork and a myriad of other qualities that cadets learn from just attending classes or stepping up and volunteering for the extra-curricular activities: drill team, color guard, Raiders, rocketry, PT, academics, etc. Just like the music programs under attack, JROTC is irreplaceable.

Saint Louis CrusadersWhile Mission High Schools AJROTC unit had a problem with finding instructors, the Saint Louis Crusader Battalion of Honolulu, Hawaii is in danger of closing supposedly due to funds. Two former cadets set up a Facebook page to help organize the fight against the shutdown and are urging everyone to use the hashtag, ‪#‎SaveSLSBattion‬.

SaintLouis High AJROTC instructors, First Sergeant Akuna and Chief Warrant Officer Philips, have been taking freshman kids and turning them into young men and women for many years now.

The following is what I have been able to obtain from one of the cadets (C/SFC Dillon Wong):

“The cadets were informed of the cut on July 8th by Chief Philips when he sent out an email of our newest [school board] president’s, Dr. Glen Mederios, letter. The letter informed us that the JROTC program was being replaced by a Civil Air Patrol program because it was significantly cheaper. The next day, July 9, some of the cadets from the ranger platoon went to the school to see if we could save the program. When we arrived, 1SG was already starting to clean out the battalion of all of its contents. He explained to us what had happened and that he would be forced to retire. Our cadet commander, Jared Castaneda was able to arrange a meeting with Dr. Mederios that day so, Jared, our S5 assistant, Aaron Hasimoto, and I went to meet with our president.

“In the meeting we asked several questions. The most important was Jared asking why we were informed so late in the summer. The response of Dr. Mederios shocked us all. His exact words were, ‘Well, the reason for the late notice is that, if I informed the parents and the teachers of this cut earlier, it would give hope to trying to raise the money. When looking at these numbers, you can see it is a hopeless effort.’ Naturally our next question was how much money did the program cost. At first, he told us that the JROTC program costs over $200,000 dollars. Then he changed it to $175,000. He then said CAP would costmuch less, just $25,000. The only concern I have about this is that CAP is a government-funded cadet program with volunteers as instructors. This came straight from our Dr. Mederios and told us that he is only paying them so that they come to Saint Louis every day after school with no exceptions.

“After our meeting we informed the rest of the cadets who came and most of them were worried about joining CAP or joining the Punahou Battalion. I thought that this is the wrong way to go and that saving the battalion is possible. Cadet Captain Erica Bantolina and Cadet Sergeant Maybelle Lee, my two good friends, shared my thoughts and together we started this cause. Our first action was creating the Facebook page to first see if people would be interested in helping us. After about 200 likes, we decided to go through with this. We originally posted that the cost of saving the program was $175,000 but then removed it after being called by Chief Philips saying that the amount was incorrect.

“Our next action was finding a person who would be our financial advisor and see if they could talk to Dr. Mederios. We were able to contact the father of an alumni from the JROTC program who is another good friend of ours. Without hesitation, he agreed and worked vigorously to set up a meeting. We also contacted the former board president, Judge Kirimitsu, since he encouraged and supported our program throughout his years. They met with Dr. Mederios yesterday, July 10th, and were able to get the go-ahead to collect the money. We also found out that the actual cost to keep the program alive was $90,000.

“We have two major donors ready to give us money once we have an account set up so that we do not run into any legal problems. Our first donor is a 2010 alumni named Dee Soliman who was the BC (Battalion Commander, a cadet) for the JROTC program. He has created an account on gofundme.com to collect money. I contacted him and he has given us his full consent of overseeing the account and receiving the money once he has reached his quota of 10,000 dollars. Our second donor is Eugene Hong who was also a program alumnus. The reason he is so passionate of saving this program is because his senior year was 1SG Akuna’s first year of service at the school. I have already informed him that we cannot accept any money until we have an account set up. I plan on contacting the Saint Louis Alumni Association and another major donor, Clarence TC Ching, who recently gave a generous donation to construct our new schol gym.

“This is where we stand now and plan on collecting the money by next week. We do not want to post anything on our page about the actual amount of 90,000 dollars and that we were given the right to collect the money because we do not want people asking us where to send the money. Once we set up a money collecting account, we will release the information.

“Thank you again for giving us the time out of you day to listen to our situation, Mr. Marshall, you do not know how much this means to us.”

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.

How to Create a Tetrad (Four-Man Team) Exhibition Performance

The Tetrad
Drill teams come in all sizes for different reasons. Teams can range in size from nine to twenty five members with or without a commander marching outside of the formation. A tetrad, the shorter name for a four- or five-man exhibition drill team, creates a performance for small areas like a ballroom dance floor or on a stage.

Why a tetrad?
If your unit already has an unarmed, armed, one or more tandem (two Drillers) and soloists, why have yet another team especially if the team cannot compete (no category at local meets)? The answer is that the tetrad team is the perfect “portable” size. Does your school visit the local elementary and middle schools and perform for the students? You should. You need to advertise JROTC and give younger children an opportunity to see

There are specifics that a tetrad can follow for competitions (click here) or the team can design a routine that is specifically for entertaining an audience during a formal dinner.

The following diagrams are an example of what a tetrad can do. It will give you an idea of what your team may want to do.

The Progression of a Tetrad performance
You can use the following description or modify it to suit your needs.

1. The Entrance

If your team has five members (the fifth is the commander, usually armed with a sword/saber), the commander to enter at the head of the team, or even before the team, with the team following as soon as the commander posts at his/her spot.

You will probably want the team to enter and encircle the commander. The whole team would then look like the 5-side of a die, like this.

Tetrad 1

You may want to have your team enter so that they are all facing center like this.

Tetrad 2

2. Close-in Drill

Here the team’s rifle movements need to be very conservative since you are in close quarters. Rifle movement should be constrained to spinning and short exchanges (Port, Leaning, etc.)

Note: Numbers two and three can be reversed, starting farther away from the commander and then stepping in closer.

3. The Step Back

Now, the team can be a little more open to rifle movement with more exaggerated spins, tosses and bigger exchanges (Shoulder, Ground, etc.).

Tetrad 3

4. If you have room…

You can depart from the usual formation and work into and from a single-file line (column) like this.

Tetrad 4

5. Introductions

Prior to leaving, whether you execute number 4 or not, it’s a good idea to come forward in a single-file line for individual introductions. With the introductions, each member, commander last, can step forward, perform a “signature move” and then step back into line.

Tetrad 5

6. The Departure

The team can face toward their exit point and march off without performing anything else, or they can give the audience one last team move to wow the crowd and leave them wanting more.

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.

What is “Readability”?

1e6497f5-c07b-41de-93a5-a17f0bff64ca.jpgReadability describes something that we can easily read. We get that. When we pick up a newspaper or look at a magazine article, we find it easy to read and comprehend, in general. We can read a master’s degree thesis and find complex words, phrases and sentence structure. On the other hand, we can look at a child’s first paper and see that it is very difficult to read and not just because of the child’s inability to draw the letters well. The same goes for a visual performance.

The three types of drill in the military are, regulation (RD), ceremonial (CD) and exhibition (XD). All require readability, but XD is where it comes into play since this type of drill is strictly performance-based. For ease of explanation, I will talk about RD, but it can be applied to CD and XD.

It’s about Communication 
Take a look at the picture above. Notice the stripe on the skirt/trouser leg, cover (hat) and the white gloves. These make certain movements and positions stand out. Look at the hand positions, leg angles and the height of the feet. We see mostly the same positions with a small variation here and there. This is fairly clear communication or, readability. This means we can see what the team is doing and we can understand and appreciate it. This is a picture of one moment in time. Now let’s use our imagination.

Envision yourself executing the following sequence: you execute a Right Face and let your hands swing out a little as you use your shoulders to help you (a common new Driller move). Your shoulders and hands moving create movement that hinders communication, clarity and sharpness.

Now, envision this: you are at Port Arms going to Order. You reach up with your right hand, grasp the rifle to pull it down and as you let go with your left, your left drifts over to your left side and then moves to the rifle muzzle. You then rest the rifle on the deck and cut your left to your side to Attention. That indecisive left arm movement creates confusion as to where it should go creating confusion.

Imagine you are executing the 15-Count Manual, Arms sequence. Imagine that your hands never reach your sides when you are at either shoulder, but stop a few inches away from your trouser seam. This means you are not completing each position’s movements like you should. This completely blurs clarity and greatly hinders communication. This usually happens when the Driller is concentrating on completing the sequence in order near the beginning of learning the manual of arms.

And now, if you are an exhibition Driller, imagine not completing moves or positions, as described above for the 15-Count Manual. This is very common for Drillers as they progress.

You create clear communication by completing moves and by executing movements sharply. It isn’t simple at first because you have multiple responsibilities* going on at the same time. Eventually though, as you progress, you learn to balance those responsibilities and create effective drill.

*Multiple Responsibilities are what you have to consider all at the same time, while performing: marching with your feet straight while at attention, using proper arm swing, staying aligned to the front and side, staying in step, executing movements at the right time, etc.

Post High School Exhibition Drill

Post High School DrillUntil about 2005, there were not very many post-high school soloists, or at least high school graduates who loved to spin a rifle and could compete or perform in public. Nothing really existed for Drillers except for New Guard America (NGA) which began in the 1990s under the direction of my college friend, Constantine Wilson. Other than that, nothing really existed.

That is until 2007/8. Michael, a friend of mine for several years now, had an idea to host the first independent exhibition drill competition for solo and tandem Drillers, the birth of the New York Drill Competition (NYDC). The first NYDC had the competitors judging each other with score sheets developed by me. The next few years saw me flying in to help judge with others sing updated World Drill Association score sheets that I was refining. Those years also saw the creation of the Texas Drill Competition (TXDC), North Carolina Drill Competition (NCDC)- both of which I judged, and the Florida Drill Competition (FLDC). The only consistent online competition has been the Michigan Online Drill Competition (MIODC, look it up on Facebook) which I have been thrilled to judge since its inception.

Also in 2007 was the Isis World Drill Championships (“Isis” has since been removed), sponsored by Sports Network International. And let’s not forget about NGA’s Pro America competition, but this competition was blade-only and you had to go through an audition.

While competitions were burgeoning many high school Drillers who loved to drill finally saw some hope of continuing with their passion for armed exhibition drill once they graduated.

How to “Break Into” Post-High School Drill
There are no secrets. It’s about practicing and practicing until you have the ability to compete at the professional level. You will also want to consider drilling with a bayonet. I am not one of those who says that drill without a bayonet isn’t “real”- not that anyone really says that but there are a few purists out there who do not like facsimile rifles or, for that matter, drilling stub (without a bayonet).

Bladed Drill
Read about the DrillMaster Bayonet here. Before you even think about going bladed:

  • You really should be at least 16- 18 years old is even better.
  • You need to have several years (at least four years is a good rule of thumb) of exhibition drill under your belt.

Your next step is to then go to a competition. You may have to travel, but it will be worth it to meet other Drillers, face time (not the app) is the perfect way to help you get known by others. Now repeat what I wrote: practice and practice and then compete. When you need feedback on your performance, other Drillers are usually more than happy to give advice since many want to see our activity grow. And there is always me, I offer DrillMaster Audio Performance Critiques (an MP3 of my comments based on the World Drill Association Adjudication system which you can download) for performances and advice about moves and short sequences.