How to Half Step Properly

DrillMaster Commentary, Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Instructional 0 Comments

What is Half Step? Here is what each service manual has to say:

Army

Use the following procedures to execute the 15-inch step, forward/half step.
a. To march with a 15-inch step from the Halt, the command is Half step, MARCH. On the preparatory command Half step, shift the weight of the body to the right foot without noticeable movement. On the command of execution MARCH, step forward 15 inches with the left foot and continue marching with 15-inch steps. The arms swing as in marching with a 30-inch step.
b. To alter the march to a 15-inch step while marching with a 30-inch step, the command is Half step, MARCH. This command may be given as either foot strikes the marching surface. On the command of execution MARCH, take one more 30-inch step and then begin marching with a 15-inch step. The arms swing as in marching with a 30-inch step.
c. To resume marching with a 30-inch step, the command Forward, MARCH is given as either foot strikes the marching surface. On the command of execution MARCH, take one more 15-inch step and then begin marching with a 30-inch step. d. The Halt while marching at the Half Step is executed in two counts, the same as the Halt from the 30-inch step.
e. While marching at the Half Step, the only commands that may be given are: Mark Time, MARCH; Forward, MARCH; Normal Interval, MARCH; and HALT.

Navy/Marine Corps/Coast Guard/Merchant Marines

HALF STEP. The purpose of half step is to march forward at quick time taking 15-inch steps. It may be executed when halted at attention or marching forward at quick time. While marching it may be given as either foot strikes the deck. The command is “Half Step, MARCH.”
1. At the Halt
a. On the command “Half Step,” shift your weight to your right leg without noticeable movement.
b. On the command “MARCH,” step off forward in quick time cadence with 15-inch steps. The ball of each foot should strike the deck before the heel. At the same time begin swinging your arms 6 inches to the front and 3 inches to the rear.

Air Force

3.13.1. The command Half Step, MARCH is given as either foot strikes the ground. On the command MARCH, the airman takes one more 24-inch steps followed by a 12-inch step (measured from heel to heel) in quick time, setting the heel down first without scraping the ground. The Airman maintains coordinated arm swing and continues the half step until marched forward or halted.
3.13.2. To resume a full 24-inch step, the command Forward, MARCH is given as the heel of the left foot strikes the ground. On the command MARCH, the Airman takes one more 12-inch step with the right foot and then steps out with a full 24-inch step with the left foot.
3.13.3. The halt executed from half step is similar to the halt executed from a 24-inch step. The half step is not executed from the halt nor are changes of direction made from the half step. It is executed only in quick time, and normal arm swing is maintained.

STOMP, STOMP, STOMP!
So, if I read these paragraphs correctly, nowhere does any manual say to stomp your feet! Everyone, stop stomping your feet when at Half Step, please! What I call the “Half Step Stomp” comes from a flat foot hitting the ground and laziness. Use all of your muscles the Good Lord gave you to bring your leg up and place it down and you will eliminate the stomp.

Notice how the USN/MC manual specifically states that the ball of the foot should strike the ground first? For the Army and AF that means the Half Step is supposed to be the same technique as the full-size step; the heel hits the ground first. None of the services are supposed to have the full-foot stomp that is rampant in JROTC Regulation Drill performances.

Step Size Matters Greatly!
All step sizes in the US military are measured from heel to heel (notice the USAF even spells that out? My foot, plus my shoe (depending on shoes style), averages 11 ½” to 12″ in length. That means that if I am marching with an AF unit, my feet will look like this when Half Stepping:

If I am marching with any other service’s unit, or if the Army is part of the formation, everyone half steps like this:

Citadel Drill Team photo courtesy of Flickr.com, foot images, copyright The DrillMaster

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