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Have you wanted to Write for the Military Drill World?

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In 1990 I began my first book, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team. I didn’t know that it was going to be a published book, I thought I’d write out a few drill moves and offer it to whoever wanted a copy- for free. However, in 2009, with a big shove into the unknown from my wife and my daughter, I finally published what I call XDI. I never considered myself a writer, how was I to know?

Fast forward to 2014 and I have written over 1000 articles and am working on books 8-12. So, I guess that qualifies me as a writer now and maybe you are in the same boat; you have an idea, but don’t really know how to get it out there. Well, that’s where I come in.

Under the name/title, The DrillMaster, I have created education, training and certification programs for members of the military drill world and here is another program: guest writer for this blog.

A guest writer would write on any topic that is within the realm of military drill: regulation, exhibition, ceremonial- or maybe you have thought of another tie-in on one of the above subjects that has not been covered here, something new and you have wanted to reach Drillers each day around the globe.

Dozens of people from around the world read this blog each day. Depending on the time of year (the school year, specific holidays or ceremonial-type days), this blog, as of 2014 averages over 600 hits per day.

If you would like to, write. Use the articles here as a guide and provide a picture or two or even a diagram with your article. When you think you are ready to have it published on this blog, send me an email through my Contact page stating that you are interested and I will get back to you right away so that you can forward me the article(s) you have in mind.

Get paid to write?
Well, not exactly. But if I do feel that your article would be a good addition to the next edition of my book, Filling in the Gaps, then I will send you a copy of one of my books that you choose while giving you full credit in the book- your name will will be in print as a contributing author!

What are you waiting for? Get writing!

Need I say it? No plagiarism…

A Graph of Military Drill

A Graph of Military Drill

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

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

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

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


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

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

Drill is Life! Or is it?


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

Grammar Rules and Exhibition Drill “Rule” Equivalents

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

Grammar Rules and Exhibition Drill “Rule” Equivalents

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


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


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

Unfinished Words

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

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

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

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

Run-on Sentences

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


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

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

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

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

Awkward Transitions

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

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

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

Do Standards even Matter?

Drill Team Uniform for XDThe picture at right was sent to me by a Facebook friend who is an Army JROTC instructor in Texas. He sent it with the note that, at this particular drill meet, the SOP stated that only authorized service uniforms were to be worn. He told me the reason for the strict uniform requirements:

One year I saw a color guard there wearing western wear. They had black denim trousers, western style shirts, cowboy boots and hats, and even wore red bandannas around their necks. It was getting ridiculous.

The Fancy or Basic Uniforms? article.

My response follows.

While I think the white Kevlar helmets are a strange choice, I don’t understand the Army’s (or any service’s) stiff-necked approach to uniforms. While I understand and fully support inspection, regulation and color guard in only authorized service uniforms, I don’t see why there is an issue regarding “exhibition uniforms” when it comes to exhibition drill. I in no way support any other kind of uniform when it comes to all regulation drill.

That being said, if instructors and cadet leaders cannot be bothered to read the SOP/OI, then the cadets should suffer the consequences which, unfortunately, ruins the purpose and experience of a drill meet.

What’s more, those who were running this competition did not even uphold the rules! This communicates to everyone involved that, no matter what standards are, it really doesn’t matter. I seriously doubt that this is what any JROTC command or unit wants to convey.

exhibition drill, regulation drill, color guard, color team, drill meet, drill competition, jrotc, air force, army, navy, marine corps, coast guard, standards, uniform

Michigan Online Drill Competition 4 Results!

I just finished judging the MIODC4 and the results are great! Wonderful Drillers were involved, as usual, and an “old” face showed up again after his stint with the US Army Old Guard Silent Drill Team.

I have to say that, after viewing the videos and creating the audio feedback files, I was curious to see who had progressed since their last MIODC and I was shocked! The score jumps were amazing! (Click here for the first 2014 MIODC3 info, MIODC2 2013 results and MIODC1 results). Since the WDA adjudication system has written standards to go with the scores, it is then very easy to see in what areas a Driller needs improvement and also in what areas that a Driller does well. The system is the only way to truly pick apart a performance and see what is working and how it works.

The competition was judged using the World Drill Association adjudication system. Visit the Downloads page to download and read the score sheets to get a better idea of what goes into the scoring. Click here for more information on the World Drill Association and my books: World Drill Association Adjudication Manual, and Continuing Education for the WDA Judge.

I encourage you to compete in the next competition. Find out more by going to the MIDC Facebook Group by clicking here or ask me about it.

Click the name to download/listen to each DrillMaster Performance Critique (in performance order).

DrillMaster’s Intro

  1. Trey Burge,
  2. Devin Milhem,
  3. Devin Milhem- Blade
  4. Josh Gill,
  5. Soda Hester,
  6. Chris Scanlan,
  7. Francisco Campos,
  8. Luis Alvarado,
  9. CJ Braun,
  10. Trey Burge- Blade
  11. Troy Johnson,
  12. Joshua Doyle,
  13. Tony Stephen- Blade, 
  14. Tony Stephen,
  15. Andres Ryan,
  16. Andres Ryan- Blade

Placements! Click here to download the Stub RECAP and Ordinals* and Blade RECAP and Ordinals* PDFs.

*Ordinals means the rankings for each caption for each Driller: who placed first in each caption/sub caption, not just the overall score!

Here is the YouTube playlist for MIODC4: