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Who do you Support?

April 16, 2014 in Commentary, Drill Teams, Honor Guard

Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps

Who do you Support?


I was wearing one of my drum corps shirts one day (the one on the right is my shirt from the Bluecoats of Canton, OH.) not too long ago at the exchange on base near where I live and an Airman walked up to me and said as he passed, “Thank you for supporting drum corps.” I turned with a big smile and asked with what corps he marched and he told me Phantom Regiment in the late 80s. We didn’t get a chance to speak any longer than that, but it reminded me that I, in my small way, contribute to the entire program. I help young men and women from around the country march with a drum corps each year. Yes, just by purchasing a T-shirt. And that’s why organizations sell things- for support and to advertise. Which brings me to the military drill world.

You are a Driller or a member of an honor guard. What are you sporting each day, some mega corporation’s logo or a T-shirt of your team or unit? Do you know that the DrillMaster has T-shirts and other items for Drillers and honor guard units? Click the Store tab above. If you are a member of the military drill world, do you know about For the Art Clothing Company? If not, now you do.

What does wearing a T-shirt of your (favorite) team accomplish?

  1. It supports the team directly through a purchase.
  2. It advertises for the team.
  3. It helps people with like interests, find each other, building a community around that interest.
  4. It supports jobs for T-shirt manufacturers, printers and delivery industries.

Your purchase has a big impact on the activities you like. Now, go browse FTA and see the cool stuff offered there.

Ask the DrillMaster: How to handle a bad JROTC Instructor

March 25, 2014 in Ask DrillMaster, Commentary

jrotc, exhibition drill, drill team

A Good JROTC Instructor, Image courtesy

Question: Our JROTC instructor doesn’t work with the drill team. He spends all of his time in the classroom, even after school and he won’t look up any information to take us to drill meets. What can we do?

Answer: I have received several questions like this over the years. There are good and bad people in all walks of life and we have to deal with them. These kinds of situations need to be handled as professionally as possible. While you may be upset at your instructor’s inaction, as a cadet, you need to be respectful at all times, not only because of your instructor’s rank, but because he/she is an adult as well. There is no excuse for disrespect as it is improper and will only hurt your efforts for change.

How to create change
Write. Write down your grievances (be respectful and professional) and bring them to your instructor(s). After making them aware, if the instructor(s) don’t respond positively, you have the right to go up your school chain of command; the next level would possibly be a vice or assistant principal or even the school principal. It is also possible to involve parents. Again, everyone involved needs to be very professional.

What happens when things don’t change?
You have two options: 1. Keep at it and deal with the instructor(s), learn from the bad leadership that is displayed as “what not to do”; 2. Leave JROTC. For some, this may seem like the only option.

Something to keep in mind
I have dealt with and worked with JROTC instructors who are less than desirable. Those who are great instructors take the time to work with their cadets in all kinds of extra curricular activities: drill team, color team, rifle team, Raiders, model rocketry, academic club, etc. Others, in general, tend to shirk responsibilities.

Throughout my USAF career I came across experts in all kinds of career fields and other areas of interest that people were very interested in. There is a phrase in the Air Force, and most likely all of the others services, that applies to non-commissioned officers (NCOs) at all levels: “As an NCO __________” and one can fill in the blank with just about anything. I’ll give you an example of how it is used: As an NCO, you are a leader and responsible for the troops you supervise. As an NCO, you must be highly proficient in your job-related duties. As an NCO, you are responsible for knowing drill and ceremonies since it is an NCO’s job.

This last statement, while very true, is not fulfilled by every NCO in the service. Understandably, drill and ceremonies is very low on the list when it comes to the responsibilities of service members because of their job, their wartime skills, etc., etc. This brings up the issue of an NCO retiring from the service, being interviewed and hired at a school, attending their service’s JROTC instructor course and then beginning their new career of high school teacher and its responsibilities. Some schools have 3 and 4 instructors, but most have just 2.

Some men (women not so much) try to cover up that they do not know drill and ceremonies all that well by avoiding the issue (so you don’t find out that they might be a “failure”- they aren’t, though) and still others will embrace a volunteer coach (my interaction with the AFJROTC instructors at Melbourne High School here in Florida) and try to learn everything they can so that they can step up and teach drill. MSgt Greene at Melbourne High always said to his cadets, “There is a big difference between knowing/doing and teaching.” He’s correct, teaching a certain subject takes a certain skill, just like judging a certain subject.

Ego can get in the way
‘We don’t need a coach, we have a former drill instructor here.’ Great! However, being a DI or TI means that you can train recruits for your service which, among many other things, includes drill and ceremonies. When working with recruits, DIs and TIs do not have time to break down proper step technique, balance, posture, or even rifle spinning techniques and a myriad of other very necessary steps that must be taught to drill teams. Being a retired DI/TI is a great asset to a JROTC unit, just like having honor guard experience, but it’s only a foundation. Cadets are not recruits and do not require that type of training.

Make an effort to educate and, again, be respectful. Show your instructors this website, there is tons of info here. Send me a message through my Contact page and I can help you find a coach.

The Seven Parts of an Exhibition Drill Routine

February 11, 2014 in Commentary, Drill Team Training, Drill Teams, Instructional

Canadian Air Cadet DTThe Seven Parts of an Exhibition Drill Routine

In the article, How to Keep a Drill Team Going, I briefly mentioned the seven parts of an exhibition drill (XD) routine. Here, I will expand on and explain those parts.

These parts are a good way to break down the routine into digestible parts when programing (creating).

The information provided below is for a soloist, tandem, tetrad (4 or 5) or full team (9, 12, 16, 25) in competition.

1. The Opening Statement

  • Before you enter the drill area, this should be no are than around 10 seconds long
  • Butt slams, chants and high tosses are examples of great ways to get the attention of your audience.

2. Up to the Report-in

  • This includes the report-in
  • This part of the sequence can be all high energy work or it can have peaks and valleys
  • The report-in should be within the first 2 minutes
  • Block, staggered and wedge formations work well here for the report-in formation.

3. After Report-in

  • The transition away from the report-in and the head judge, around 30 seconds to a minute
  • This is separated from the Routine Body because it matters how the team moves away from the report-in- different is a good thing

4. The Routine Body

  • This is the majority of the routine, (2-3 minutes for a drill team)
  • Visual peaks of high intensity work and valleys of relatively low intensity work are a must
  • Display a wide vocabulary of
    1. Drill moves
    2. Body (head, torso, arms and hands) and foot work
    3. Equipment (flag, rifle, sword/saber and/or guidon) work

5. Before Report-out

  • It also includes the Report-out
  • This is the transition toward the the head judge, about 30 seconds to a minute, the report-out should be within the last 2 minutes
  • This is separate from the Routine Body because, again, it matters how

6. After Report-out

  • This is the build up to the closing statement
  • A high energy build up is a great way to to create intensity for a powerful report-out

7. The Closing Statement

  • Us this time even if judging stops when the team crosses over the line
  • Your last chance, with an exclamation or an understatement, to “wow” your audience, no more than around 10 seconds long
  • Exclamation: High Energy- creates a clean, powerful ending
  • Understatement: Low energy- leaves the audience wanting more

Choose your distance
Some big moves look great from far away, but when viewed from close up, they lose their impact. The same goes for smaller, more intricate work- usually this work requires he soloist or team to be closer to the audience. These aspects should be taken into consideration during the creation process.

exhibition drill, drill team, armed drill, unarmed drill, fancy drill, precision drill, jrotc

How to Write Exhibition Drill: The “Boxes of Three” Method

February 7, 2014 in Drill Team Training, Drill Teams, Instructional


drill team traiing: XD Cover 2AExhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team

The First DrillMaster Book for Drill Team Training: Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team

How to Write Exhibition Drill (XD): The “Boxes of Three” Method

When beginning any task it is always best to go from simple to difficult, even when writing drill. “But, my team already knows ‘difficult moves!” I hear you exclaim. No problem, you can still use these moves because they easily fit into a parade routine (long road that may not be very wide) and also an XD routine since you want to show the audience and judges that you have a wide ranging vocabulary of moves (along with foot/body work and also equipment work- yep, that’s three different vocabularies!).

What exactly is a “Box of Three? Beginning on either foot, take 3 steps forward, flank (pivot) to your right or left, depending on which foot you began, take three steps, pivot, three steps, pivot, thee steps and a final pivot. You just marched in a square and are back where you started. Add another person to either side and/or front or back, have everyone begin on the same foot and have them flank in the opposite direction either just before or after you flank, repeat the whole process of making a box as stated before, and you’ve just marched the move called Blackout which was first developed back in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Blackout uses 1s and 2s, actually, black and white, not numbers. I learned it back in 1979 as black and white, I substituted numbers due to some people only seeing negative when color is used to identify positioning. The team looks like this for Blackout:

1     2     1     2

2     1     2     1

1     2     1     2

2     1     2     1

The 1s go to the left and 2s go to the right all making boxes of three with flanks in between. I don’t count the flanks as steps,it seems easier to teach that way. If a commander position was marched, the commander would be to the left of the team, centered about three steps away- in this case the diagram above is marching “up”; the squad leaders are in the top rank. The command, Blackout, March, is called on 2 consecutive left steps.

That’s the basic idea, now you can put variation in there while still marching the same boxes of three:

  • Squads/Elements: the outer squads flank outward while the second squad marches forward, (To the) Rear March, X steps, (To the) Rear March; third squad executes (To the) Rear March immediately, X steps, (To the) Rear March.*
  • Ranks: first and third go right, second and fourth go left and when finished reverse the directions.
  • Groups: using our diagram of 16 members above, each group of 4 on each corner can march a different box of three.

*The “X” above is a certain number of steps that you can figure out. The total steps are 13.

All of these moves, including all of the steps required, are written out for you in my first book, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team.

exhibition drill, how to write drill, drill team, jrotc, cadet

New DrillMaster Training Missions: December 2013 and January 2014

November 21, 2013 in Drill Team Training, DrillCenter News, Honor Guard Training

The DrillMaster Honor Guard Academy, honor guard training

The DrillMaster Honor Guard Academy

December, January and February will see two honor guard training missions are going to be many stops at JROTC units in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. I’m looking forward to this trip as it will be one long RV trip with my wife and our 2 dogs. Just the four of us for about 3 months traveling across the southern US having some vacation and family time and getting in some great instructional time.

So, what is going to happen during these two months? The last DrillMaster Honor Guard training mission (2 sessions) for 2013 in southern Texas, visits to a local JROTC unit and military academy, a visit to my old school, New Mexico Military Institute to work with my NMMI cadets brothers and sisters there on the Goss Rifles drill team, time with family in Arizona and then the first honor guard training mission for 2014 in California along with visits to JROTC units in California, Arizona and Texas on our way back home to Florida.

DrillUp! Movement Clinic

The DrillMaster DrillUp! Movement Clinic

Coming Soon!
All of this is setting the stage for the first DrillMaster DrillUp! Movement Clinic coming this spring. Each clinic will feature an expert rifle exhibition Driller. The clinic is designed to train cadets in the right way to move and even tips on correcting unhealthy posture and movement while providing a solid foundation on which to build a better awareness of movement through space which can help with creating better drill routines and maybe even a healthier lifestyle.

Want to know more?Has this info piqued your interest? Great! Send me a message through my contact page and we can talk about my working with your organization to get the best training possible that comes from years of experience and is a written standard!

US Military Service Drill and Ceremonies Manuals

November 7, 2013 in Drill Team Training, Drill Teams, Honor Guard Training, Instructional


Marine Corps Honor Guard

Marine Corps Honor Guard

US Military Service Drill and Ceremonies Manuals

These are the manuals you need to know front-to-back, back-to-front, inside and out. While some may think this information boring, as someone affiliated with a marching program (cadet, military member, first responder, etc.), these manuals are the foundation of what you do and it is a MUST that you read your service’s specific manual(s) and that you do not ever rely on what someone else says is the way to do something. Knowledge is power: read, read, read.

Good-to-Know Info

rotc, jrotc, drill and ceremonies, regulation drill, drill team, color guard, color team

When Calling Commands, where does the commander face?

October 26, 2013 in Drill Team Training, Drill Teams, Instructional NJROTC CutsWhen Calling Commands, where does the commander face? (ROTC, JROTC)

Those of us who have worked with Army units have had it drilled into our heads that you MUST face your platoon when giving commands during regulation drill. This necessitates a face-in-march or even marching backwards at times. Here is the excerpt from T.C. 3-21.5:

3-1 “a. When at the Halt, the commander faces the troops when giving commands. On commands that set the unit in motion (marching from one point to another), the commander moves simultaneously with the unit to maintain correct position within the formation.”

Marine, Navy and Coast Guard units have this info from MCOP 5060.2 which also necessitates the requisite facing movements and marching for team commanders:

“2. When giving commands, commanders face their troops.
a. For company formations or larger, when commanding marching troops from the head of a column or massed formations, commanders march backward while giving commands.”

But did you know that Air Force units ALSO need to do this? Me either. But, here it is from AFMAN 36-2203 (emphasis mine):

“2.2.2. The commander faces the troops when giving commands except when the element is part of a larger drill element or when the commander is relaying commands in a ceremony.”

So, AF drill team commanders, you need to start facing your flight and applying the proper facing movements and marching when giving all commands beginning TODAY!

face the formation, face the platoon, face the flight, drill team, regulation drill, rotc, jrotc

The DrillMaster: Drill Team and Honor Guard Training

August 27, 2013 in Announcements, Drill Teams, Honor Guard


The DrillMaster is the military drill world’s education and training specialist writing the only books for the military drill world including a comprehensive manual for honor guards and a complete manual on how to properly judge military drill competitions.

The DrillMaster trains military-type drill teams, Drillers and honor guard units.

Drill team training, honor guard training, color guard training, color team training, drill team, drill competition, drill meet, exhibition drill, precision drill, fancy drill, freestyle drill, colorguard, color team, honor guard, explorer post, scout, jrotc, young marines, civil air patrol, cap, army cadets, sea cadets, world drill association, training, firefighter, police, merchant marines, JROTC, junior guard

AFN Yongsan News Brief: Drill Competition

July 3, 2013 in Drill Teams, DrillCenter News

AFN Yongsan (Korea) News Brief: Drill Competition

jrotc, drill team, color guard, color team, drill competition, drill meet, exhibition drill

How to Hold the Rifle While at Either Shoulder

October 9, 2012 in Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Instructional

This is directly from TC 3-21.5 (count 2 of Right Shoulder).

On count two, move the right hand from the barrel and grasp the heel of the butt between the first two fingers with the thumb and forefinger touching at the first joint.

If you are Army (JROTC, ROTC,Army Cadets, Reserve, National Guard or Active Duty), then you must follow this guidance. Period. Here is what it looks like:

Picture courtesy US Army

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