Drill Move Levels and Move Definitions

DrillMasterCommentary, Drill Teams, Instructional 2 Comments

One of the subjects that the World Drill Association Adjudication Manual and Rule Book teaches Drillers, instructors and judges about drill is performance levels: Basic/Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced and Standard-Setting. To achieve these levels a Driller’s or team’s drill must be described using these terms as well. What does basic, Intermediate or advanced drill look like? It’s mostly a mater of opinion and depends on a Driller’s abilities, but I will attempt a loose definition. Some friends of mine have helped me with this over the last year and I appreciate their efforts- I’m finally getting to publish it!

On a side note: for my book, Exhibition Drill For The Military Drill Team, Vol. II, I created a visual language called XDNotation©. XDNotation lists many unarmed and armed moves and positions and matches them with symbols like the one on the right. This symbol is for the Front Aerial, the “X” is where the number of rotations of the rifle goes.

Basic Unarmed and Armed Drill

  • Standing Manual (all unarmed positions)
  • The Manual of Arms

Basic Unarmed Exhibition Drill

  • Any single movement (arms only, etc.)

Intermediate Unarmed Exhibition Drill

  • Any multiple-appendage movement at the same time (arms with legs, etc.)

Advanced Unarmed Exhibition Drill

  • Any multiple-appendage and body movement at the same time (arms with legs, head and body movement)


Basic Armed Exhibition Drill Moves

  • Behind-the-Back drop: from Left/Right Shoulder, the rifle is brought to horizontal across the shoulders, dropped behind the back and caught with the free hand.
  • Exchange, Left/Right Shoulder Falling: Two Drillers at Right Shoulder allow the barrels of their rifle to fall forward into the other Driller’s free hand.
  • Roll, Shoulder: From right shoulder, the rifle will fall back from the shoulder to be caught by the right hand and repositioned at Order Arms.
  • Spin, Front: Any spin to the front that does not go higher than the head.
  • Spin, Port: A move that rotates the rifle a full 360 degrees. Starting and finishing positions are Port Arms. AKA: Half Spin
  • Spin, Side: Any spin to either side that does not go higher than the head.
  • Spins, Left-/Right-Hand Front: the Driller continuously spins the rifle in either hand.
  • Tick Tocks:

Intermediate Armed Exhibition Drill Moves

  • Aerial, Front: A move that involves a full release of the weapon, oftentimes including more than one full rotation of the rifle while in midair. For example, a “Triple Aerial” would involve 3 rotations. The starting position is Port Arms; ending can vary depending on the desired effect. Spins go higher than the head.
  • Aerial, Side: Any spin on either side that goes higher than the head.
  • Arm Rollover: While spinning the rifle, allowing it to literally roll over the forearm.
  • Exchange, Order Arms: An under-handed toss to the Driller in front of you. The rifle usually make a half or 1 ½ rotation.
  • Port Exchange:
  • Power Stop: A move involving the stop of a spinning rifle with any variations of hand placements or movements. The rifle must stop where the hands first touched the rifle, and no excess movements or follow-through.
  • Roll, Reverse Shoulder: The rifle will be taken to the fore of a Drillers shoulder from behind by using the forward momentum of the rifle to rotate it over the shoulder. The driller usually bends at the waist to achieve full effect.
  • Skips: A movement in which an extra spin is added when performing two handers. Variations of skips can include: Left to Left, Left to Right, Right to Right, and Right to Left.
  • Spin, Two-Handed Front: A two handed spin that involves both hands exchanging the rifle to create a “hopping” effect. The rifle can spin as many full rotations as the driller wishes, and can be stopped in multiple ways. Starting positions and ending positions vary by how the move is used in a routine.
  • Stop, “X”: (where “X” is “foot,” “leg,” “thigh,” forearm,” etc.) A move involving a stop of a spinning rifle by extending the body part to stop the rifle.
  • Toss, Shoulder: A toss from the right or left shoulder vertically that ends with the arm fully extended, the weapon fully vertical and being held by the upper hand guard, and oriented with the barrel pointing towards the ground. AKA: Liberty
  • UTL: Under the Leg, any rifle movement involving the manipulating of the rifle under the leg.

Advanced Armed Exhibition Drill Moves

  • Catch, Behind the Back (BTB): A movement thrown from the wrist as if performing the first half of the Fire Knife. Upon catching, use both hands to halt the rifle parallel to the ground.
  • Crucifix: Pose with rifle rested on arm and exchanged to other arm
  • Cut Throat: Created by Andres Ryan,
  • Eclipse: A Rising Sun, with an aerial included when the rifle is positioned behind the head.
  • Exchange, Left/Right Shoulder Launch: From either shoulder, the rifle is tossed into the air and caught by the recipient at approximately shoulder level.
  • Exchange, OTH:
  • Fire Knife: While the Driller is at Port Arms, with both hands on the rifle, the rifle is twisted to make a figure 8.
  • Flyin’ Hawaiian: any aerial where the driller spins around 360 degrees before catching.
  • Hawaiian Punch: Behind the Head parallel stop
  • Hesus*: Move where the Driller takes a cross-like pose while the rifle is tossed overhead.
  • J-Hook: Created by Jake Spears, the rifle is tossed so as to remain horizontal throughout the entire move. It is caught behind the back at the barrel.
  • Joker: UTL throw to UTL Catch
  • Lockjaw: Created by Constantine H. Wilson,
  • Mogadoa:
  • Ninja, Full A Rising Sun, with an aerial included when the rifle is positioned behind the head.
  • Ninja: A move which involves a catch of the rifle, generally with the left hand extended over the head and right hand curled behind the back, which is usually caught behind the back or to the side. Can be performed one-handed.
  • OTH Skips: Same as Single- or Double-Handed, but allowing the rifle to rotate on its own in between manipulating it with either or both hands.
  • OTH: Over-The-Head, the rifle is tossed above the head while it remains horizontal.
  • OTH, Single- or Double-Handed: Same as the OTH, but using one of both hands to keep the rifle in the air.
  • Roll, Back: Created by Matthew Wendling, Moving the body to create multiple rotations of a rifle on the Driller’s back
  • Roll, Rattler: Behind the head thumb roll
  • Roll, Thumb:
  • Spin, Bent-Over Flat: (with/without body rotation):
  • Spin, Double, Pound (DSP):
  • Spin, Palm: the rifle rotates on the palm of the hand while horizontal
  • Sun, Falling:
  • Sun, Rising: The rifle is spun in one full rotation behind the head from right to left.
  • Throw, DW:
  • Throw, Liscomb:
  • Toss, Scorpion: A movement in which the rifle is thrown under-handed behind the Driller to the front.
  • Veyran Grab:

*I cannot bring myself to dishonor our Lord by using the letter “J”.

This is where you come in. Obviously, there are descriptions that need to be created and I need your help with that. Also, if I have left anything out, please let me know.

Comments 2

  1. I’m in NJROTC and we do rifle spins every now and then. I have no upper body strength whatsoever. I have been trying a specific spin that I do not know the name of at this moment, but it is basic. I was wondering if I could get some advice to improve spinning rifles.

    1. Post

      Hello Shae,

      Great question! Push ups, curls for the biceps, extensions for the triceps, etc. Any upper body weight work that you can do will help you gain strength.
      Spinning takes practice and more and more practice. It just takes time. The only way to shorten that time is to be consistent with your practicing.
      Keep me posted on your progress. If you would like, go to my Facebook page, DrillMasterTraining, and post a video of your spinning and I’ll give you a specific critique.

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