How to Properly Mount a Flag on a Flagstaff

DrillMaster Ask DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Commentary, Honor Guard, Instructional Leave a Comment

This issue has been on my mind for a little while. I have this outlined in my book, Exhibition Drill For The Military Drill Team, Vol II, and I really need to go over it here.

There is only one way to properly mount a flag on a color team flagstaff. Because I say so? No, because I’ve learned through many years how a flag acts and how it is supposed to look whether carried or posted.

Glendale has been offering flags with the hook-and-pile fasteners now for a few years and thank goodness! The leather tabs wore out easily. Here is an excerpt from regarding one of their American flags (emphasis mine):

“They are finished with flannel-lined pole hems* and Velcro tabs and, if requested, golden yellow rayon fringe. These are very durable flags for parade use.”

*By the way, this flannel lining is going to give way eventually, you will have to sew the hook-and-pile fastener (Velcro) through the flag material to make it stay.

There are two parts to the hook-and-pile fastener, one is already partly sewn to the flag at the top and bottom of the flagstaff (pole) hem and one is sticking to it and had a glue-like backing to make it adhere to the staff. Here is how to attach that sticky-backed piece as pictured above. The arrow in the picture points to the small hole in the hook-and-pile fastener tab where you can drill a hole and then insert a small, thin screw (about a half-inch long). The screw should stick out no more than a quarter inch. When you attach the flag, ensure the hook-and-pile fastener(s) that is sewn into the flag goes over the screw. If you are going to mount that flag at the top and bottom, which is good thinking, you need to perfectly align the tabs and ensure that the tabs and screws do not pull/stress the flag material.

How to mount a flag on a staff. The eagle finial is NOT AUTHORIZED for any military color guard, you must use the spade (Navy and CG may use the battle axe at local expense). These are flags from my church that needed some maintenance. It is for permanent display only, hence the eagle and cross. Only the light ash staff is authorized for a color guard. The gold cord and tassels are NOT AUTHORIZED for use by any military color guard.

  1. With the finial flat, mount the spikey velcro strip at the top. Drill a small starter hole.
    • If your finial has a face, you must mount the strip at the back of the staff/finial.
    • If your flag has a usable leather tab, use the screw and then wind strapping tape around the tab.
  2. Insert a small screw. I used screws about a half-inch long.
  3. Mount the flag onto the staff and place the fuzzy velcro strip around the screw.

Attaching the Cord and Tassels

A gold cord and tassels is not authorized for any military color guard. Please read this article for more information, All About the Military Color Guard.

  1. Loop the cord through the eye (if there is one, if not there is a special knot to use).
  2. bring the tassels up, under, and through the loop. Tighten the loop.
  3. The tassels should hang evenly.

The flagstaff ornament in this picture is the spade or Army Spear. It is the standard authorized ornament for all military services with the Navy authorized to use the battle axe (Parade Store photo):



What about flags that still have a leather tab?
Thin strapping tape is a must for you! Eventually, you may want to purchase hook-and-pile fasteners and sew them into your flag(s) at the top and bottom of the flagstaff hem.

So, what does mounting a flag like described above do?
It allows you to carry and post the flag the way it was intended. You see, the leather or hook-and-pile fastener tabs are sewn into the flagstaff hem directly across from the sew line which means that when the screws and tabs are mounted squarely so that the flag will hang as it is supposed to do with the point where the fringe meets centered on the flat spade. Like the American flag in this picture below (USAF photo):

Notice that all three flags in this picture above are not the same. That’s a no-no. The other two flags are the German and USAF.

When carried, the point where the fringe meets faces behind the color bearer this facilitates properly posting the flag and “diamonding” it so the fringe is off to the right.

All About the Military Color Guard

DrillMaster Ask DrillMaster, Color Guard, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard, Instructional, Protocol and Flag Leave a Comment

Please read this article very carefully. The following information is based in regulation drill. Much of the information directly relates to ceremonial unit color guards. Even though this is not about ceremonial drill (honor guard), color guards are ceremonial in nature and all must adhere to the standards.


  • Military color guard. A uniformed Active Duty, National Guard, or Reserve color guard made up of a minimum of four members.
    • This then extends to all Veteran Service Organizations, First Responders, ROTC and JROTC cadets, Scouts, Explorers, and any other uniformed military or paramilitary organization. If you follow one of the three drill and ceremonies manuals, you then must abide by the other manuals that influence that D&C manual.
    • For first responders who follow the ceremonial aspects of The Honor Guard Manual, much of this applies, see also the Manual.
  • Flag, Colors, or Color. Different terms for the same thing.
  • American, US, Ensign, National Ensign. Terms for the American flag.
  • Color Guard and Color Team can be used interchangeably.

Who is Represented?

All Ceremonial Guardsmen have somewhere in their creed a line that states something to the affect of,

I represent all members past and present”.

The only way to view this information is to think, “Who does my team represent?” If you are in the military, a first responder, a JROTC or other cadet, the answer is easy- the uniform you wear is the service or profession you represent. Other organizations might not have it stated so clearly. I’ll help you with that.

A veteran organization, whether formal or not, wears a uniform. If most people not associated with the military assume JROTC cadets are Active Duty military, its a safe bet someone might think you are too or at least associated with one or all of the branches of service. Here’s the take away: you DO represent all of the military branches. Even if your team is made up of three retired/veteran Sailors and one Soldier, you represent all of the other services as well. Now, pick a manual, Army, Marine Corps, or The Honor Guard Manual, and follow it and the associated protocol and flag manuals for it.

General Information

The senior guidance for the flag comes from Title 4, United States Code, Section 7. All manuals mentioned refer to this section commonly called the “Flag Code”.

The three military drill and ceremonies manuals are:

  1. Training Circular (TC) 3-21.5 (US Army),
  2. MCO (Marine Corps Order) P5060.2 (USMC, USN, & USCG),
  3. and AFMAN (Air Force Manual) 36-2203 (USAF).

All three manuals, plus the other required Protocol and Flag Manuals are available for download here.

The Honor Guard Manual is the only published manual for first responders and others wanting to incorporate ceremonial drill into their program.

Equipment for the Color Bearers

Colors Harness. Air Force: black clarino (fake, shiny leather) for performances, dark blue web (same style) for practice. Personal note: If you get any other type of colors harness/sling/carrier than the one show here, you will be restricted in size and quality. Your hand won’t be able to fit at the cup and there are a couple of others issues I’ve come across as well. The AF mandates this type of harness (AFI 34-1201) that is shown below, the Honor Guard Leather Flag Carrier: Double Harness. This image is from Glendale Paradestore.

Ceremonial or Web Belts. All services except the Air Force require belts for team members.

Flagstaff (vs. “Flagpole”). I differentiate between the two. A flagstaff is what color guards carry and are used for indoor display and a flagpole is a permanent structure outside with a single or double halyard. All color guard flagstaffs must be the same height and use the same finial.

Note: The American flag should not be higher than the other flag(s) in the formation. The only exception to this is when the color bearers are so different in height that the colors harness cups/sockets are as close as possible in height, but the American flag is never lower.

All military service color guards use the two-piece light ash wood guidon flagstaff with a ferrule at each end. The AF may also use one-piece staffs. Metal staffs are not authorized. AR 840-10, MCO P5060.2, and AFI 34-1201.

Staff height goes according to the size of the flag:

  1. Organizational flag: 3 feet by 4 feet, mounted on an 8-foot staff. Battle streamers are not authorized on this staff/flag.
  2. Ceremonial flag: 4 feet 4 inches by 5 feet 6 inches mounted on a 9- or 9.5-foot staff. Battle streamers are authorized on this size flag and staff, but may not be authorized for your unit to carry. Check your specific manuals.
  3. Army JROTC female color guards are most often authorized to use aluminum staffs for the color guard competition. It depends on the Standard Operating Procedure for the competition. Other than this, No one is authorized to use any other kind of staff other than what is stated above.

See also How to Properly Mount a Flag on a Flagstaff.

Flag Fringe. The Army and Air Force have gold-colored fringe on all flags carried by a color guard, all of the time. These flags are called indoor-outdoor flags, have a pole hem, and do not have grommets. The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard have gold-colored fringe on all flags except for the American flag at all times. AR 840-10, MCO P5060.2, and AFI 34-1201.

Flagstaff Finial. The only finial (top for the flagstaff) authorized for all services is the silver-colored Army Spade/Spear. Navy and Coast Guard units may use the Gold-colored battle ax. The spread eagle finial is not authorized for any color guard other then the Presidential Color Guard. AR 840-10, NTP 13B, AFI 34-1201. Some states, organizations, or foreign countries may have their own required finial (e.g. Maryland).

Cord and Tassels. Not authorized for use on the smaller flag. Gold-color is not authorized for any color guard. The only cord authorized for the American flag is colored red, white, and blue. Streamers, when authorized, replace tassels. AR 840-10, MCO P5060.2, and AFI 34-1201.

Equipment for the Guards

Guards, depending on their organization, have several options.

Military, VSOs, Cadets. You are authorized to carry a holstered handgun, but that just doesn’t give off the professional tone that we look for. The M1 Garand, M14, and M1903 are perfect rifles for ceremonial applications. Any kind of more modern rifle (M16, etc.) does not present a ceremonial image. And while, we need to maintain an obvious realism, there is always the ability to use the replica M1 Garand or M1903 sold by Glendale If you do decide to go the ceremonial replica route, please do not get the parade rifle or Mark 1 as they will not convey a professional military appearance. Rifles should have slings.

First Responders. LEOs usually carry a rifle or shotgun. Firefighters, depending on their region usually carry either a ceremonial fire axe or rifle. The Ceremonial pike pole is not recommended. See The Honor Guard Manual.

Scouts. The 40″ or 60″ wooden walking staff is most appropriate for Scouting and similar activities. A complete manual of the Hiking Staff for color guard is forthcoming soon.

Others. Some organizations prefer to not have any kind of weapon for their guards (e.g. Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinder color guards). Unarmed guards for these formations are appropriate.


Marching. The majority of the services take a 30-inch step forward at quick time (AF- 24″) and a 15-inch half step (AF- 12″). Both steps for the Army and AF require a heel strike, no stomping. Half step for the other services requires a toe strike.

Staffs. The flagstaffs always remain vertical when at Attention and Parade Rest (Stand at Ease). Do not push a staff forward for Parade Rest, that is a guidon movement only.

Tucking Colors. Again, this is regulation drill, not ceremonial drill. For ceremonial drill, all colors are tucked- see The Honor Guard Manual for specifics.

Army and Air Force are not authorized to tuck colors. After the command Order, Arms and the staff touches the deck, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard will trim/strip the color by automatically (no command) reaching the right hand straight up, and manipulating the flag material into the fingers and bringing the hand down and moving the flag in between the right arm and the staff. Assume the Strong Grip and wait for, “Ready, Cut”.

Positions. Do not mix positions! (e.g. color bearers at Order and rifle guards at Port.) If one of the team members is at Carry (Right Shoulder), then all members are. This includes all positions: Order, Port, Trail, etc. The team must look, act, and move as one.

Say Cheese! Many a photographer, seeing a color guard standing in column for formation, has approached the team from the right side and asked the team to turn right for a picture. Don’t do it! This puts the American flag to the left of the other flag(s) and the team is then immortalized for setting up incorrectly. Members of the team must know better and ask the photographer to take the picture from a more appropriate position.

Authorized Formations

The minimum standard for all services. You must carry the US and your service’s departmental colors. Color guards are not authorized to replace the departmental flag at any time with any other flag. The image below is called Line Formation, members abreast. TC 3-21.5, MCO P5060.2, and AFMAN 36-2203.

The minimum color guard authorized for Air Force and Air Force-related units. Note: this three-man team is not standard, but may be used in certain circumstances. Try to use a full 4-man team at all times. AFMAN 36-2203

Note: Do not follow the pictures in the 2013 AFMAN of the Airmen holding the staffs with the left hand with the right hand at the side. The right hand holds the staff, the left hand remains at the side.

The “V”. This formation is quite common with scouting-type programs for parades. Not authorized for military.

The Line with US in Front. This formation is extremely rare. Flag Code Sect. 7, AR 840-10, MCO 10520.3B, and AFI 34-1201

Massed Flags Formation. Similar to the above. Services carry solely military flags (regiment, battalion, wing) in the massed flags formation. Do not mix departmental or state/territory flags in with the mass formation. Below are massed flag formations for even and odd numbers.


Column Formation and By Twos. Both are authorized for maneuvering through narrow passageways during performances and for greater distances when traveling (to and from a performance/ceremony).

For Column Formation, the right/lead guard always leads with the American flag bearer directly behind, then the departmental flag and left/trail guard. In this formation, the team is Prohibited from turning in place to the right, that puts the US subordinate to the Departmental. Instead, use the Every Left On method.

When traveling By Twos, the flag bearers lead and guards follow. Once the team arrives at their designated position, the team executes Mark Time and the guards move into positions in line formation and can march forward or halt.

NOT AUTHORIZED. US in the Middle, but Taller. Not authorized for any color guard, ever. The position of honor is to the right of the formation. That is the only position for the American flag. The only time the American flag is taller in the middle of a line of flags, is for a permanent (flag poles outside) or non-temporary (posted in stands inside a building) display, never when carried. Flag Code Sect. 7, AR 840-10, MCO 10520.3B, and AFI 34-1201


Foreign National, State, POW/MIA and Other Non-military Flags

All Services. Military personnel in uniform or civilian clothing are not authorized to carry any non-military flag AR 840-10, MCO P5050.2 and AFI 34-1201. This means all military color guards are not authorized to carry the POW/MIA flag in or outside of a color guard formation. The only time the flag is carried on its own (never with guards) is during a funeral for a former POW. It is not carried in parades.

Army and Air Force. Foreign national and state flags are authorized in the color guard formation as an additional flag (singular); this additional flag will not replace the departmental. You cannot mix foreign national and state flags since the largest authorized formation is three color bearers and two guards. At a funeral, Special, Positional, or Personal Colors (flag officer, Medal of Honor, POW/MIA, [in that order] etc.) are authorized. This extends to honor guard units. AR 840-10, 1-7 (4) f. and AFI 34-1201



Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard. MCO P5060.2. You may not carry any flag other than the National Ensign and the Departmental. The only exception to this is at a funeral when Special, Positional, or Personal Colors (flag officer, Medal of Honor, POW/MIA, [in that order] etc.) are authorized. State and Territory flags are only carried by Marine Barracks Washington Marines for certain ceremonies in and around the Nation’s Capital. The only color guard formation authorized for these three services is right rifle guard, US color bearer, departmental color bearer, and left rifle guard.

Marine and Navy Joint Service

When a foreign national color is authorized for a ceremony, another color guard must be formed and is subordinate to the standard color guard team shown above.

Full Joint Service Color Team

Please make every attempt to have each service represented by a member of that service carrying their service departmental flag. From right to left: Right Rifle Guard, Soldier; American flag, Soldier; Army flag, Soldier; MC flag, Marine; USN flag, Sailor; AF flag, Airman; CG flag, Coastie; Left Rifle Guard, Marine.


How to Blouse Your Boots

How to Blouse Your Boots

DrillMaster Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Instructional, Uniform Tips 2 Comments

Many years ago while I was still active duty in the Air Force I bought blousing weights to give a “squared-off” look to my Battle Dress Uniform trousers legs. I appreciated the look and the uniformity. If you would like to do this as well, please come with me:

How to Blouse Your Boots

How to Blouse Your Boots 1

First, pull on your trousers, put on your boots and tie and tuck the laces. Then, pull your trousers back down to your boots.

How to Blouse Your Boots

How to Blouse Your Boots 2

Next, pull the trouser legs up so that the hem is anywhere from 2 inches to 6 inches above your boots. This is something you are going to have to gauge for yourself: you need to have long trouser legs to begin with and you will need to see what feels and looks right for you based on that length. You will see what I mean in a minute.

How to Blouse Your Boots

How to Blouse Your Boots 3

Now place your blousing strap (pictured) or blousing band (little green things with metal hooks) around your leg just above the boot. A note here: some people prefer to use a blousing band and have it on the boot so that it doesn’t feel like their circulation is being cut off.

How to Blouse Your Boots

How to Blouse Your Boots 4

This is what I use for weight. While I was in the USAF,  I wrapped these with clear tape and had dozens of pennies on the inside because the weights were actually 4 inches wide and would stay up around my calf when I sat down. I cut them in half and used the 2 halves, but I lost some of the weight, hence the pennies.

How to Blouse Your Boots

How to Blouse Your Boots 5

After you pull your trousers on and get buckled and buttoned, reach down and now pull out to spread the material around to give the best presentation.

How to Blouse Your Boots

How to Blouse Your Boots 6

Here we have a more squared-off look. I don’t use the pennies as weights anymore so you can see that, even though the blouse is more horizontal, there is still some material that may bunch up.

The First Certified Pathfinder Drill Specialists!

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pathfinderThe Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church has a wonderful youth program called Pathfinders to instill discipline, hard work, teamwork, and a whole host of other positive attributes, all while honoring our Lord and Savior.

There are three marching parts of the Pathfinder program: Drill Team, Honor Guard (includes color guard), and Drum Corps (a percussion section).

In early 2017, Leanna Clarke, Pathfinder Director for the Southeastern Conference of the SDA Church,  was directed to me by the AFJROTC instructors of the former Florida Air Academy where I’ve worked training the cadets over the past few years.

Leanna and I sat down to discuss her vision of creating a training program to help nail down the standards that the Pathfinder program needed. It turns out that modification of my Certified DrillMaster program would fit perfectly into Leanna’s plans. We then worked out a self-paced reading and in-person training program for the Conference’s Drill Specialists (those who are in charge of the drill team for their local church’s Pathfinders).

Most of the Specialists were able to meet with me in Orlando several times throughout 2017. We began with the idea that everyone was at the very beginning and, using the information contained in Training Circular 3-21.5, began the process of learning the correct way to execute movements to the US Army’s standards. We thoroughly covered regulation drill, color guard, protocol and an introduction to exhibition drill (the Boxes of Three Method). Eventually, I was not teaching full-time, I let the newly-trained Specialists take over with my occasional input.

Ladies and gentlemen, after months of training, I am happy to announce that the SEC of the Seventh Day Adventist Church’s first Certified Pathfinder Drill Specialists!

Congratulations, everyone!

There’s more to come: Adjudication certifications, exhibition drill endorsements and more Drill Specialists to certify!

When Calling Commands, where does the commander face?

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C/MAJ Henry, leads the Hephzibah Female Drill Team during the Regulation Drill portion of competition in the Richmond County High School JROTC Competition Day at the old VA Hospital athletic fields on 13 Mar 02. Metro Andrew Davis Tucker

When 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? 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

What does the Drill Team Commander do?

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What does the Drill Team Commander do?

Excellent question! Here is the answer:

Regulation Drill
Feeling a little Canadian? The team commander stands in one spot and calls commands. The only movements the commander makes is facing the team as they move around the drill area. This may seem strange to Americans, but it is understandable (judging the team as they are put through their paces) and quite interesting to watch.

However, this method doesn’t give the full picture that American drill competitions offer: seeing what the commander does as he/she and the team go through the routine- the commander must march with the team staying a certain number of paces from the team throughout the routine. I prefer this since it involves everyone on the team- and not just because I’m a Yank.

Exhibition Drill
Here is where the answer to your question takes a couple of different avenues. In my first book, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team, I included several different drill moves for teams made up of 9, 12 and 16 members (not including the commander). With each written description, I developed diagrams like this one below, to show my readers how to breakup each move.


drill team training, drill team commander, exhibition drill, fancy drill, drill meet, drill competition, drill meet

A page from Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team

Each move was divided up between ranks, squads/elements, As and Bs or different groups. Group[s are used in the move described above that is called, “Beta.” Also in each move description I had specific notes for what the commander. Here is an example: “Commander: follow movements for the As for 16 counts and then switch to following Bs.”

This guidance is if your team commander position is on the outside of the team; if the team commander marches in the block, no need to create anything different.

The choice is yours when it comes to exhibition drill (XD) and what the commander does. XD is supposed to give you free rein  within certain limits (i.e. time, space and military flavor), it is not supposed to have arbitrary rules placed on it.

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JROTC Cadet Full Honors Funeral?

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UPDATE: I know that the image can be a bit offensive, but so is the call for official Military Funeral Honors. The image is meant to denigrate the thought process behind the petition, NOT the cadet, or any cadet, for that matter.

I’ve already received several private messages from first responders who have had similar situations with the death of a junior firefighter or explorer. Feelings get hurt, but standards were made for a reason.

Original article: JROTC cadets do awesome things. At least two were killed last week in the Florida school shooting. Now, there is a petition to provide an official Full Military Honors funeral for one of the cadets because he apparently helped others to safety.

This cadet sounds like he was a great young man. My condolences to his family and friends.

JROTC cadets are not in the military. Period. They do not serve their country. Their belonging to JROTC does not entitle them to anything.

Volunteers providing honors would be great. I’ll even volunteer to train everyone for free. But, let’s stop trying to make something official that is not authorized. Standards are standards. Nothing prevents volunteers from honoring a friend.

Just so you know, I’ve already been called elitist and prideful regarding my stance on upholding standards in this situation. Argue a point, don’t throw names around. But there isn’t an argument for this. volunteers is the answer.

Of Flags and Sharp Objects

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Colors with Bayonets

Colors with Bayonets

Can a color team use rifles with bayonets or even use swords or sabers?


As the title suggests, flags and sharp objects do not go well together! Never ever, ever, ever put bayonets on rifles or march swords/sabers for a color team!

When a color catches the tip and the wind drags the color across so there is either a nice big rip, run, snag or pulled thread(s) that ruins the color, don’t you dare whine.

There is a reason why rifles with mounted bayonets or swords/sabers are not in pictures in any of the service drill and ceremonies manuals. The color guard pictures only show rifles for the guards. Period.

Somewhere in my office here in my house I have a picture of me on the Davis-Monthan Base Honor guard back in the early 90s. The picture is of the color team I am on presenting the colors for Arizona Senator John McCain when he visited the base. The Senator and Base commander are in the background and the color team is at the front of the photo with the wind blowing the colors back. Neat photo. Until you see that we were actually dumb enough to have bayonets on our 1903s! Now, it’s a little embarrassing, but we didn’t realize back then and had no guidance.

No bayonets and no swords or sabers. The ONLY exception to this is NCO swords/sabers are authorized for a mounted color team.


“As I was!”

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“As I was”? Stop talking to yourself, talk to your platoon/flight. What does “as I was” mean? Nothing. The term is “As you were.” Here is some info for you from AFM 36-2203, Drill and Ceremonies, which you can download here:

Use the command AS YOU WERE to revoke a preparatory command. After the command of execution has been given and the movement has begun, give other appropriate commands to bring the element to the desired position. If a command is improperly given, the individuals execute the movement to the best of their ability.

Here is another example from MCOP 5060.2:

The command, “AS YOU WERE,” cancels a movement or order started but not completed. At this command, troops should resume their former positions.

Got it? Good! Now, when you make a mistake calling a command, you need to let your unit know that they need to disregard the last word(s) out of your mouth and you can do that by simply stating, “As you were.”

As you were, Sir!
Oh, one more thing: don’t get me started on “As you were, Sir!” Keep your mouth zipped in formation. There is no such thing as “As you were, Sir”! Carry on.

Routine Mapping Tool Sample

How to Write Drill

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Drill is not boring, unless you do the same thing over and over or you execute very simple moves with “dead” time in between.

How can drill be “exciting”? Variation. Variation of:

  • Hand, arm, leg and head movements
  • Body movement
  • Step style
  • Tempo

You can get a sample of some drill movements in Exhibition Drill For The Military Drill Team. This is a great starting point or reference for any drill team, armed or unarmed.

What can a team do to add visual emphasis? (Not a complete list- use your imagination!)

  • Use certain uniform designs
    • Stripe(s) down the outside seam of the trouser leg and cuff of the sleeve
    • Select uniform colors that provide contrast
  • Use uniform additions
    • Two-tone gloves
    • Shoulder cord
    • Ascot
    • Belt
  • Marching
    • Unusual drill
    • drill that moves quickly
    • Tempo contrasts
    • Arm, hand and head movement layered over drill (and/or)
    • Body movement layered over drill
    • Manipulation of a uniform item (i.e. head gear)

How do you start writing a routine?

This is Set 5 (page 5) of part of a routine

This is Set 6 (page 6) of part of a routine

Go to the Downloads page and download a copy of a DrillMaster Routine Mapping Tool (there are different sizes for different applications), print out a few copies and begin by making dots where the team or you, as the soloist, will begin. I recommend using 8 counts as your standard and think of where you want the team (or you) to be in 8 counts and draw a small circle or an “X”. On the next sheet draw a dot where the “X” is on the first sheet and then, using 8 or less counts, put an “X” where you want the team to be. Repeat those steps. Each page you write becomes a set. A set is a formation, even if it is not a complete formation- you have a certain number of Drillers stop at a certain set and others continue marching to form the formation on the next set.

As you write, think of what this looks like from the front, the performance side, where the Head Judge stands, and try to create a routine that will look its best from that side/angle- this is part on which the Overall Effect and Composition Analysis judges will be critiquing and rating. Just writing something without having direction in mind can lead to a visually confusing program.

Routine Mapping Tool Sample

On each sheet you will notice lines where you can create notes about equipment and/or body manipulation or anything else that is pertinent to the routine at that particular point.

I prefer to write the drill book and then create the equipment work and layer it on top of the drill. As I write I sometimes have an idea of what the equipment and/or body work is going to be and make notes on each page. Sometimes the ideas do not work and I rewrite the drill or the equipment work.

Yeah, but what about arm, head, leg, hand and body movement?

It’s up to you, I’ll get you started on your studies: