I received this question over the summer of 2014. It is always relevant, though!
Question: I’m a freshmen going into my sophomore year, also to my let 2 year in JROTC. I was wondering if you can give me tips and/or advice for starting up an exhibition team. Because in my freshmen year, at my school’s drill meet, I conducted one routine for alternative arms. It was OK, but I knew we could have done better. It was very last minute, unorganized and stressing. My team only practiced for not even a whole week, and the meet was on Saturday. Yes, I know… But that’s why, I was wondering that, maybe with your help and expertise, you can maybe help me start up exhibition again in my school. By the way our JROTC program hasn’t seen a drill trophy in years. Seriously, anything you say will help.
DrillMaster’s Reply: You have this summer to prepare for this coming school year and three more years of school which is perfect! Here is what I recommend.
1. Always first is educating yourself and your teammates.
2. You must have a plan to effectively move forward with your individual and team progress.
3. Put that education into practice. You must begin much earlier in the year.
First you and your team MUST download and read the latest edition of your service drill and ceremonies manual. Go to my website, www.thedrillmaster.org, and click on the Downloads tab. There, you will find all kinds of downloads, including all three of the latest D&C manuals. You and your team must perfect regulation drill, unarmed and armed. Once you have accomplished that, then move into exhibition drill.
There aren’t any exhibition drill manuals except for my books. which are here, http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/drillmaster. I do have many articles for drill teams on how to create effective routines, what to do and what not to do when it comes to marching, but the books have so much more. This summer I’ll be publishing two more books specifically on how to train others in regulation drill and color guard- you are actually the first to know about these two books!
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.
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 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.
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!
A friend of mine, Antonio Carreras, asked for some advice for his rifle tape design. This first picture is what he had accomplished:
In the picture above you can see black and red tape in horizontal stripes on a white stock (this is the Glendale DrillAmerica 1903 replica rifle- the only rifle available with a white, black or brown stock). This is a great color combination on a white background. Blue would also work well. A lighter color like yellow might work, but only if it has tape of a darker color on either side and even then it may not work all that well with the larger white background.
On with the critique of the picture above I wrote, consistency in tape design would work better. The red-in-black on white is very eye catching. A sling is a must- a sling completes the look of the rifle.
As you can see in the tape design in the first picture, the inconsistency of the design looks a bit confusing. While having the red-in-black in the middle of the rifle, one may be able to pick up either single color in a place here or there, but if it is too far away from the middle, the color use may be lost and look confusing.
For the second picture I suggested that Antonio may want to remove the tape at the upper sling swivel (less is more). But for him to see what it looks like when spinning, it may be too much color. The key here is seeing what the design looks like when spinning.
School Colors Many replica rifles come in black and this is the perfect palette on which to create a design. The Army JROTC unit that I’ve worked with on Merritt Island has school colors of gold and black. Yellow tape was perfect for the black Daisy Drill rifles that the male cadets use and the black DrillAmerica Parade Rifles (also available in brown and white) that the female cadets use.
A Spinning Design
Creating a design that looks different or actually reveals a recognizable image during spinning can be a challenge, but it has been accomplished! Eron “Spinsane” Fayson, I friend of mine for a number of years, created the design pictured below. The tape design on the rifle at the bottom of the picture reveals a the number “5” when the rifle is spinning fast enough.
When Eron developed this design and revealed it to the drill world we were all amazed at how the “5” appeared. It was a first back then, a few years ago, and now needs to be further explored. Notice how the tape is minimal (again, less is more) and works well.
Horizontal stripes all over the rifle don’t necessarily work all that well. Vertical stripes really don’t work at all unless they are strategically placed on the rifle and specifically part of a design. However…
Night drilling? Do I have an idea for you! A friend of mine works an odd schedule with school taking up most of his time, so he mostly works on his drill routine at night. But he has a black Daisy Drill Rifle. It’s difficult to see. Until now:
Besides the, uh, colorful background, the tape, as you can see, is quite eye-catching and Max, my friend who sent me this picture, really like the look as well as having it help him see the rifle in low light.
Experiment, find your design. Have fun!
Here are some wonderful designs submitted by Omar Zamora, a drill coach and exhibition Driller.
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Judging: I used the World Drill Association adjudication system developed by Winter Guard International and adapted for the military drill world be me in 2010. The captions judged are Overall Effect, Composition Analysis, Equipment and Movement.
And here are the links for my commentaries. You can download them or click and listen. In order of competition:
Hey! Why are the score so low? Because this judging system looks at the whole routine from 4 different angles. You don’t get that in any other competition. Only a WDA- and DrillMaster-sanctioned event. The most common aspect of any kind of performance that just about everyone recognizes right away is how the performance makes you feel. That is called “effect.” But there is much more to a performance than meets the untrained eye and many Drillers are not yet aware of each of these aspects. It’s a learning process for everyone and one of which I am proud to be a part.
Relatively low score like these in NO WAY diminish the fact that these Drillers have put in countless hours of work. They are all winners by the fact that htey have stepped up to the plate again and again in practice.
Visit the Downloads page to download and read the score sheets to get a better idea of what goes into the scoring.
DrillUp is a new intensive movement clinic designed specifically for the military Driller.The DrillMaster has taken the service drill manuals and condensed them into an easily learnable structure- but that’s not all! Cadets who attend will learn how to stand and move in a much more healthy and professional manner, imagine the improvement in you and your team!
Angel and I were together for this review after I brought him up to Kentucky to give my Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy cadets a taste of what armed exhibition drill is all about.
The DrillAmerica M1 Garand and M1903 are the best ceremonial rifles you can buy especially since they come in chromed versions. For Drillers, no better beginning rifle and these rifles can last well into years of exhibition drill if the Driller does not desire switching to a demilitarized rifle.
Buying Demilitarized Rifles Just Became a Little More Difficult
THIS JUST IN! I just got off the phone with Battlefield Relics* (BFR) after a great, lengthy conversation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), has released new standards for demilitarizing a rifle. The new process requires more of the receiver to be cut away thereby ruining the integrity of the rifle and making it almost dangerous to drill with.
The “Real Rifle Feel”
Many Drillers across the country just love the feel of a real rifle instead of a replica, and I can understand that. Here is one reason why: the hand guards are not an exact fit creating a certain amount of give when throwing the rifle around. This fact came to me when I was talking with Justin Delaurier while he practiced for his IWDC performance in Daytona Beach. I gave him a DrillMaster Bayonet to try since his had a couple of broken parts. The moment he put it on it felt uncomfortable since it was a solid bayonet and did not have any amount of give and he was used to the slight give of his broken bayonet. We quickly changed the bayonet back and he went on to win the 2013 IWDC.
BFR to the Rescue!
BFR will not cut their rifles any more than is necessary- however, this means you must use a third party (like a gun store or pawn shop) with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to purchase a “demil” rifle. You pay BFR directly and then pay the FFL holder the shipping costs plus as well as filling out the paperwork for the rifle and the $15 to $25 costs for the paperwork. BFR will even lower the cost of the rifle to help defray the paperwork cost!
But wait- there’s more!
BFR is now working with a new vendor to keep wood M1903A3 and M1 Garand stocks in stock. Yes, wood stocks!