Tag Archives: drill rifle

The Progression of an Exhibition Drill Soloist

Chris Scanlan is today’s Guest writer. Thank you, Chris!

Scanlan and team 2015My name is Chris Scanlan, I’m a Cadet Captain of The Lebanon High School AFJROTC Unit in Ohio. I’ve been drilling, in every category of drill: Regulation, Inspection, Color Guard, and Exhibition, for four years now. I’m the Co-Drill Team Commander for my drill team, that won state for the past seven years and we are currently leading the circuit for state points. {The image above is of Chris and his teammates in 2015 showing their numerous trophies- DrillMaster]

What got me into drill was basically watching my brother perform drill when I was in 8th grade. I was at a local competition as a fan; I remember watching my brother competing in the armed regulation event. I remember watching everyone being in step together, staying sharp, crisp, and poised. I said, “This is amazing!” and was hooked from there on out! What kept me involved in drill was the Class of 2015 Drillers on the team. With 11 seniors, including myself, we always had each other’s’ back. Through all the losses, arguments, faults, blood, sweat, and tears given for this sport, I would go back and perform with them in a heartbeat. They truly support me like no one else.

My heart belongs to exhibition drill. I’ve work so hard to master my craft and I love every minute of it.  In my four-year drill career, I’ve managed to pull out 10 first place solos, 2 second place solos, 2 third place solos, three first place tandems, two second place tandems, and two third place tandems. I’ve also qualified for The World Drill Championships for both solo and tandem. During my freshman year, exhibition drill was frowned upon on the team. “We’re not cheerleaders!” Is what I’ve been told, numerous times, regarding exhibition. While they found it unorthodox of the hand slapping, rifle twirling, and random chants during performances, I’ve always had a greater appreciation towards it. I made it my goal to leave Lebanon High School, with people having an appreciation towards exhibition drill. As of now, I do believe my goal has been not only achieved, but exceeded. I have freshman drillers wanting to learn ex. They would always tell me how amazing I am and how they want to drill like me! After hearing stuff like that, I know I did my job and I couldn’t be happier.

John Marshall, The DrillMaster, has heavily influenced my drill in numerous way. I remember listening to his audio critique for my MIODC 3 video and just being in awe. He gave me a, “new eye” for exhibition drill. I remember the biggest thing he taught me was layered movement: using multiple layers of your drill to perform, whether it is, upper body/footwork, footwork/ torso work, ETC… He brought the idea that there is more to the art of exhibition drill than just, “spinning the rifle.”  I rely quite a bit on Mr. Marshall to give me feedback on my performances today as well as over the years. His knowledge and eye for drill is impeccable and can’t be touched. After every solo performance, I always send my video to him and ask for a critique, and he delivers! He never leaves me disappointed, whether it’s with something I couldn’t see that hindered my drill, or a 42-minute long audio critique, I love it! Mr. Marshall is the first person I go to for critiques and it will stay like that for a while. I give a big thanks to you, The DrillMaster, for increasing my growth in drill. I wouldn’t be both a great performer, and a knowledgeable driller!

My long termgoals will be competing at The NHSDTC 2015 solo and dual event this year, with my dual partner Jonathan Wurzelbacher.  After high school is over, I will be attending Wright State University, where I’ll be majoring in marketing. I will join their AFROTC program and most likely join their drill team. I hope to be able to coach a newly formed drill team, while being in college, to help inspire the young drillers, in the same manner of how I was inspired.

Here are Chris’s critiques:

Putting Things into Perspective

“We won!”

Those words are great to hear and sometimes even better to yell. I knew the feeling of “winning” at drill meets throughout my four years of high school AFJROTC; my team swept every meet and so did I as the team’s commander for my last two years. It was hard work, fun and I learned quite a bit. But what did we really “win”?

I went to Agua Fria Union High School in Avondale, AZ (’79-’83) and our most intense rival school was a MCJROTC unit from Tolleson High School. Our unarmed teams were always neck-and-neck. It was a good rivalry and kept us on our toes the whole school year. The other schools in the Phoenix and surrounding areas attended most of the same meets that we did. The only school to come close was our rival that I mentioned above, the other schools always came in behind us. Our instructors (CMSgt Broomhead- not making that up- and Lt Col Lorenz) always had some great music waiting for us on the bus ride home and we would sing/yell the words to We are the Champions by Queen and Celebration by Kool and the Gang.

Then we went to the Southern California Drill Meet and had an attitude adjustment. I think we took home a third place trophy in one of the phases of the competition. We left dejected, but guess what our Chief did? He had the same music waiting for us on the bus? “But, we were ‘losers'”, we thought. We were never “losers” in the sense that the world sees it. We practiced for two hours every day after school all through the school year and even had some Saturday practices thrown in. When we went to SCIDM, we entered a competitive area to which we had not been exposed and we learned great lessons from that experience and applied those lessons to our training so that we could be a better team than before.

The same goes for you and your team. I am very happy for teams and cadets that post pictures on Twitter and Instagram showing off their trophies. The same goes for the teams that post pictures after a competition without a single trophy, but smiles all round. You did it, you both “won”! Kudos to you!

Drill Team

Picture from Twitter

Now let me explain how to put things into perspective.

The world is all about “winners”. Ricky Bobby’s father said, “You’re either first or you’re last”, as he drove away in that silly movie Taladega Nights. But later on, he made the comment that he had been wrong in his thinking. Now, I’m not suggesting taking meaningful life lessons from every movie that you can watch, but sometimes there are very pertinent ideas that can come across. Sometimes.  But his second statement later on in the movie was absolutely right on the mark of truth: there is no such thing as, “first or last”. Competition is great and it is meant to, as I wrote earlier, keep you on your toes.

You are meant to keep training, keep studying and be the best that you can be. THAT is winning. Getting up early to exercise and get in some extra practice. THAT is winning. Paying attention when you are practicing regulation drill for the millionth time. THAT is winning. Not losing your cool when training new cadets who just can’t seem to figure out that you pivot on the left foot for a right flank. THAT is winning. Not getting angry, not throwing your rifle when you still can’t get that Hawaiian Punch. THAT is winning. Knowing that you did your very best in a performance and, “leaving it all on the drill deck”. THAT is winning.

You don’t need a trophy or ribbon to know that you are already a winner when you are going that extra mile and if that is all you are going for, then there is something missing in your approach to the what the World Drill Association calls, the Sport of Military Drill.

Don’t fall into the trap that society tells you: “You’re either first, or last.” It’s a lie. Everyday accomplishments make you a “winner”.

Now, go practice.

Romeoville High School JROTC Drill Meet

Yes, I did. I drove from Melbourne, FL to Romeoville, IL to judge a drill meet. Seriously. I love to do what I do and Don Dunning asked me if I would come up and judge about a week and a half before the competition. My answer: “Sure!” And now it’s over with, but it was such a great day!

I was blessed to judge colors and then tandems. I made my DrillMaster Audio Performance Critiques for each of the performances and let everyone know they could download them. When I first began judging in the morning, I received some strange looks; “We thought you were talking to yourself!” was the feedback I received while I was giving my feedback! Once I explained, I saw nods of approval.

So, without further unnecessary typing, here are my critiques in no particular order.

Color Guard Regulation Drill

Tandem Exhibition Drill Performances

Unarmed XD Squad (I wanted to give the cadets some feedback)

Service Drill Teams Attend Annual Training Camps

Each year around the end of February and the beginning of March, each of the service drill teams (Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force- not sure about the Coast Guard*), leave their duty station and head out to train for about 30 days to work on the upcoming season’s routine.

USMC SDP Challenge DayBefore the teams leave for training there is a challenge time or, at least for the Marine Corps, Challenge Day. Honor guard members wishing to be a member of the team can perform the drill team’s manual, which they have practiced for weeks, and be graded in the hope to make a performing spot on the season’s team.

The Army, Navy and Air Force Silent Drill Teams, separately, go to different installations around the country and the Silent Drill Platoon along with the Drum and Bugle Corps heads to Yuma, AZ each year.

The photo is courtesy of the Marine Corps and shows a Marine performing for a grade by his inspector.

*Unlike the other service drill teams that have permanent members who are assigned to the team and usually do not have other honor guard duties, the Coast Guard’s honor guard is very small and all honor guard members are cross-trained and certified on the different ceremonial elements. Members volunteer to march on the drill team but the assignment is also part of their regular honor guard duties, so they have double and triple roles to perform in any given day with funerals, VIP arrivals, etc. including drill team practices and performances.

Announcing the First Annual Rebel Rifle Review!

Drill team training and honor guard training at its best!

This Review will be just like a drill meet, just like performing at a competition, but you get live feedback while the performance is going on with a downloadable MP3 DrillMaster Performance Critique.

Rebel Rifle CorpsWho can enter the review?

Armed and Unarmed:

  • Drill Teams (Exhibition and Regulation Sequences)
  • Squads/Elements (Exhibition and Regulation Sequences)
  • Tetrads (4- or 5-man*)
  • Tandems (2-man*)
  • Color Guards

All of the standard drill meet rules apply for your service. Along with the Performance Critique, your team will also receive a score in the World Drill Association Adjudication System. That score will correlate with written definitions for the score range meaning, you will be able to read what the team is doing well and what needs improvement.

To submit a video of one or all of the above performances, upload them to YouTube and post it on this Facebook page: Facebook.com/Rebtosuccess for the month of March- yes, the whole month! As they are uploaded, The DrillMaster will watch, rate and comment on the routines, upload the MP3 files and then link to them here at this website and also in the above mentioned Facebook group.

You may upload a video that is/was made between 14 Feb 15 to 28 Mar 15. Direct all questions to the Review Director, Cadet Michael Nicholson, at the Facebook group.

Keep Drilling

By DrillMaster Guest Writer: C/CSM Daira M. Padilla
Charles H. Milby High School JROTC 4th BN

Milby jrotcIt’s 4:00 in the afternoon, drill team practice started at 3:30, “can we get a water break?” asks one of the drill team members. “You sure can…NOT!” states the commander. The Charles H. Milby High School drill teams have an upcoming competition, the goal: BE CHAMPIONS.

There was a move, our original school building is getting renovated, for that reason we had to temporary move to another building, with this move we lost about 40% of our school population, and with that loss we also lost drill team members. Recruiting was the first option, “we’ll recruit and get enough people”. Didn’t happen. Yes we recruited people, however not enough to fulfill the requirement of 13 people for exhibition drill. But who said that was going to stop us? Just the year before we were the only school in our district, the only school in our city to attend the National High School Drill Team Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida. We attended and we placed, being national champions, a lack of people is not a problem. People told us we couldn’t do it, our school is not necessarily the wealthiest, we didn’t have a fancy drill deck, we practiced in the student parking lot.

Practice
Practice is one of the greatest things when it comes to being on the drill team. However to get to the level of “practice” it takes that moment when you ask yourself if you really want it, if you want it from the heart, if it’s your passion. If you answer “no” to any of those, then drill team is not for you. Practice, it is such a simple word isn’t it? Well PRACTICE is not simple, not easy, but it sure is the best. Hot sunny days when you have to take off your shirt and just leave a muscle shirt on, seeing the sweat roll down your eyebrow as you stand at attention, feeling your hands sweaty and nasty, begging for the time to come when we get that break to drink that well-earned ice-cold water bottle. Then there’s the cold days, having to put on your hoodie with a wind breaker on top, wearing extra socks, ear warmers and everything you can to prevent you from freezing.

Practice doesn’t mean hanging around, it means making the best out of every second, blisters, bruises from the weapon or from doing unarmed drill moves. Practice means, “we need to get on sync or we need to go home”. Getting those thirty-inch steps right and that 45-degree angle perfected. Practice means we are aiming for perfect. Still the one goal: BE CHAMPIONS.

Competition
Now competition is another of the best parts of being on the drill team. “As soon as you get off of the bus, you are to carry yourself as champions, march with your head held high and DO NOT look around”, words that have been passed on by Milby JROTC drill team commanders to the team members as they exit the bus for competition.

INSPECTION
The inspection phase comes first. There is nothing like intensity of a drill sergeant screaming at you while you stand at attention, the sarcasm in his questions thinking he will break your bearing. Little does he know, you have been preparing for this moment longer than he thinks. However it is not just that, it’s your uniform being perfectly ironed, those straps that itch but make you look good, it’s the whole day you took to fix your uniform and last but not least, the weeks you studied a packet of questions to only get asked 3. But the main thing is FOCUS and CONFIDENCE, if you have those two, it will not matter that your “enemy” school is looking at you as you get inspected, because you know that you are making them intimidated. It’s just 7 minutes long and those 7 minutes are the most intense in your whole lifetime.

REGULATION DRILL
Regulation phase is the second phase of competition most of the time, here is when every marching detail counts, perfection in 30 inch steps, alignment while marching, looking straight ahead at all times, making sure you don’t step out of the boundaries, the intensity of regulation drill is the best intensity you can feel. My first year on the drill team I had two goals only, to take the commander position for the upcoming year and to be better than my then-current commander. This year I am the regulation commander and I got first place over all commanders of my district. As I said before, if you have focus and motivation you will get anything you want.

EXHIBITION DRILL.
Yeah, I bet as you read that you remembered the ripple line moves you and you team were working on. Exhibition is almost as it sounds, exciting! Whether you are tossing a Quad or a Rising Sun with your weapon, a mock weapon or demil, or you are slapping your legs and arms or stomping your feet for an unarmed sequence, all of it is exciting, without a doubt you will end up begging for a drink. But we all know that in the end, the counts, memorizing the sequence and perfecting synchronization will ALL be worth it.

The competitive level of military drill is expressed in one word: INTENSE. In the end when the results come in and you realize how you’ve done, the happiness is extreme when you find out you placed, but it doesn’t stop there, it shouldn’t stop there. You are to always strive to make yourself and your team better. Drill is a hobby in high school, it will pay you, either indirectly by the life lessons you have learned, or directly: there are those who have gone on to the ever-emerging post-high school, professional level. You, keep doing what you love, KEEP DRILLING!

Beating a Performance Plateau with New and Improved!

new-improvedDo you know why products are constantly puting new labels on them with words like: “NEW!” or “NEW and IMPROVED!” Comfort. We become comfortable with the things we have or use and we may be happy with using XYZ dish washing liquid for the rest of our lives, but the advertisers want to make sure you can’t live without it! new-improved2Our society is driven on making people uncomfortable with whatever they have so that they feel they must have the latest version or the newest outfit.

new-improvedThis also applies to a solo or drill team performance. Comfort can set in part-way in the season and, while we may not notice it, the performance can become a little “lackluster.” This is called a plateau. Think of a hilltop, you can’t go any higher- or so you may think.

So, how can we prevent this?

Schedule a break or three during the season– but stay together. You must keep team camaraderie and cohesion going strong and having team members going off in different directions will work against that. Cut a practice short and do something fun as a team: have a BBQ and play games, do something that doesn’t include drill, but do it as a team. Are you a soloist? Spend time on another hobby or with family instead of a full practice.

Change something in the routine– This is the New and Improved! part of the solution. A slight change (new drill sets, increase/decrease tempo, different direction to face, a slight pause here, etc.) to a certain part or parts can make a world of difference.

Renewed focus– When a drill team performs, the team members are displaying simultaneous responsibilities* and, depending on the performers’ experience, those responsibilities could be many. And that gets tiring both physically and mentally. Renewed forcus is when you say to the team (or yourself, after watching video of your practices), that their hand position at this point or their feet at that point need to be this or that way, better posture. Something else to consider.

*Those responsibilities include, but are not limited to: posture, arms swing and angle, step height, foot direction and angle, alignment forward and to each side, drill set memorization, staying in step; hand, arm, foot and equipment work, etc., etc.

Astronaut War Eagle Drill Meet Performance Critiques

MIHS at War Eagle first place over all 2015Astronaut High School’s Army JROTC hosted the 2015 War Eagle Drill Meet at their school in Titusville, FL on the 21st of February. I judged Unarmed Squad, used a new score sheet as a trial and recorded my usual commentary as the performances progressed.

These recordings are standard in pageantry arts with music and visual judges giving feedback. My recordings are the first of their kind for the Military Drill World.

The picture is of Merritt Island High School AJROTC with their trophies, including first place over all. I’m proud of my cadets! Actually, I’m proud of all of the teams that have taken their time to learn and then practice. It can be a tough road, but the journey is well worth the effort! It was great to see Palm Bay High School’s MCJROTC teams perform this morning and to judge alongside a Marine again.

I must apologize, my introduction to each of the teams sounds just fine, but after that, you cannot hear me. The commander’s voices are clear, I have no idea what went wrong. Again, I am very sorry that you won’t be able to download and listen to my critiques.

In any event, look at the new score sheet that you were given today. See how this begins to get the judges thinking of the performance as a whole and, most importantly, thinking in the positive: teams start with zero and build up based on their performance. The other sheet has you starting with a number (400-something) and taking points off each time a “mistake” is made. Negative scoring doesn’t allow anyone to learn.

 

 

The DrillMaster JROTC Competition Study Sheet

JROTC inspection stripesdotcomThis is a beginning for you, it is not the be-all and end-all of study sheets. Use it or take it and modify it and use that. Whatever you do, you need to be prepared for your inspection and have answers at the ready. Actually, your response and not just the answer itself, is more of your grade.

Download the study sheet here. Image courtesy of stripes.com.

Drill Teams and Honor Guards: Considering Your Hands

Competitive drill is very much a different world than the drill and ceremonies that are taught in America’s military services, unless one is part of a specialized unit. Even in JROTC, the drill taught to each class during the school day, is not to as high a standard as the competitive drill teams and color teams (why, “Color Teams“?).

Minute details make or break champion-level teams. To me, a “champion-level” team is a group of individuals who do their very best, 100% of the time with the resources available to them. It doesn’t necessarily mean the team has a long history of winning first place, although that does also come into play as well, obviously.

So, it is these minute details that set teams apart. Here is a one that can be easily overlooked, your hands.

All services are more or less the same, wanting “cupped” hands with fingers joined and curled into the palms. In their drill and ceremonies manuals, the Army and Air Force show what I call, “The Point,” with the second knuckle of the first finger or tip of the thumb being the lowest in the position. The thumb is along the trouser seam and all fingers touch the trouser leg. All and services must use this style in all regulation drill events.

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The service honor guards show a slight variation to this with horizontal knuckles like this. The middle finger is along the trouser seam.

Marine Corps Hand Style

Marine Corps Hand Style

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both styles have the palms facing inward which means all of the fingers must touch the trouser leg. You must follow your service’s guidance as closely as possible. Even if a judge does not recognize the tiniest of details, those tiny details build into a whole package and when each detail is addressed, the whole package takes on a whole new, higher standard that makes onlookers wonder how you have accomplished such amazing precision!

That takes care of the services, but there is more:

Exhibition Drill gives a performer/team room to explore!

Army Honor Guard Hand StyleArmy Honor Guard Hand Style

The Army Honor Guard’s “C-Fist”

Navy HG

The Navy Honor Guard’s Thumb Tuck

Exhibition Hand Style

Exhibition Hand Style

Exhibition Hand Style- “Pinky-out” (front and side views)

Exhibition Hand Style- "Blade"

Exhibition Hand Style- “Blade Hand”