Tag Archives: jrotc

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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.



How to plan and coordinate a Color Guard Event

Today, DrillMaster has a guest author!

Hello fellow drill mates,

3-07 CAP Color Guard Comp_ 006This article will talk about the steps to planning and coordinating a Color Guard event! To give you a little bit of information about myself, I am Alex Pantaleo, a Cadet 2nd Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol. I have attended the Pennsylvania Wing Honor Guard Academy in 2013, then staffed it in 2014. Out of CAP I am a sophomore at Freedom High School, and a student athlete. My goals are to attend West Point and become an Infantry Officer. Enough about me let us get to the article!

Step 1:

Pick a Venue

Pick a venue that suits your needs, I tend to look for events, such as sporting events, where I can recruit new members. I tend to look for events that some of our other members can go to and participate in. While the color guard is presenting the colors, the other cadets can help with the recruiting table. Those are some things to look for when selecting a venue.

Step 2:

Call the venue with help from senior members or higher-ranking cadets

After you have picked your venue, let us say a minor league baseball game, you must contact the special events coordinator. Ask if there are any dates open to present the colors for the National Anthem, and possibly set up a recruiting table somewhere in the park, or just contact another venue. Always remember to give yourself enough time to prepare when picking a date!

Step 3:

Get your color guard together and properly train them.

When contacting a special events coordinator and getting the “OK,” ensure your color guard is already fully trained since you never know what kind of lead-time you will have. The team must follow your service’s drill and ceremonies manual.

Step 4:

Contact the special events coordinator the day before the event

This is to confirm that you are still doing the event and to show that you are responsible. Check to make sure all uniforms and equipment are ready to go. Having a checklist will help the team to not forget a thing.

Step 5:

Arrive 1 hour early the day of the event.

It’s the big day, get to the venue at least an hour early to meet with the coordinator and get “Show Ready,” as I call it. The coordinator should show you a very important aspect of your day, the terrain; where you will start, if there are any low-clearance areas, the spot to where the team will march and to where the team will return, if different. Double-check uniforms and equipment; practice it once or twice as early as possible so the public sees your performance and not the rehearsal. Change into your full uniforms and at ten minutes prior to performing, line up out of the way at Parade Rest. You could also get to the venue a day early, with permission from the events coordinator, to practice.

Step 6:

Perform the event

It’s showtime! You are fully trained and have practiced so call commands loudly and correctly and perform all movements sharp and crisp; be safe and have fun!

Step 7:

Just after the performance,

Thank the event coordinator in person, and help your cadets with the recruiting table.

Step 8:

Perform an After Action Report/Hot Wash with Senior Members or higher-ranking cadets.

Even if it you just talk about the event and how you could improve on it, this is just to ensure that you do not repeat any mistakes!

Thank you all for reading and I hope this can help you better plan your next color guard event!

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.


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”

Cocoa Beach Drill Meet Color Team DrillMaster Performance Critiques

Cocoa Beach 2015 (3)My first time being able to judge Color Team (Color Guard) and use my audio commentary technique for the teams! There was a big learning curve for the cadets and most were appreciative.

In no particular order: (click to listen to or download the MP3 file)

It was a great day and I look forward to judging again!

jrotc, ajrotc, drill meet, drill team, regulation drill, exhibition drill, color guard, color team

Carrying a Color in the Port Position

Marine-Style Port Arms with M14When a rifle is in front of your body at an angle with the muzzle dissecting the left shoulder and butt stock over the right hip, that is the Port Position. If both of your hands are in the proper place, that is called Port Arms. The picture at right shows Port Arms that is more of a Marine Corps style with the right forearm horizontal. There are several versions of Port Arms, depending on what you are doing and your branch of service.

Guidon at PortPort Arms is used when marching at double time with a guidon. Please keep in mind though, that a guidon is not a color.

The Port Position, as described above, with a color is not an authorized position, it is not a very dignified position for carrying our nation’s flag, or other flags in a ceremonial-type situation. Marines running PT with the national flag at Port is another matter.

The Navy, Marines and Coast Guard do have a position for the color that is very similar to the honor guard Port Arms. Here is Trail Arms for a color, but only for the three aforementioned services. It is used when traveling in formation for short distances to and from a ceremony.

Trail Arms with Colors

The honor guard Port Arms position would have both rifle guards at Port and the color bearers in the same position- bottom ferrule of the staff off of the ground 4″ to 6″ and the left forearm horizontal across the body with fingers extended and joined.

Honor Guard Color Guard at Port

So then, what is one to do when moving in a color team (color guard) formation and there is a doorway or low ceiling? Go to what is called, “Angle Port.”

You have probably not heard of Angle Port because it is a position that military honor guards use (although, the MCOP does describe the position without naming it). Why this is not in service drill and ceremonies manuals, I don’t know- it would be very helpful for those out in the field, so to speak. Here is the Angle Port position:

Angle Port for a Color Bearer
Angle Port for a Color Bearer


The command to get here is Bearer’s, Ready Two. “Bearers” is to identify the color bearers. The command is called from the honor guard Port Arms position described in Trail Arms paragraph, above.

Now you know how to appropriately handle a low ceiling or doorway.