The human eye will notice whatever is moving or, if many objects are moving, will notice moving the fastest and then, within about 5 to 10 seconds, look away.
If you are on an honor guard or drill team, you know that your movements are scrutinized constantly, especially in competition. You’ve practiced your movements over and over and yet, you still end up with your feet slightly off when you pop them together or your rifle ends up on the ground two inches away from the side of your right shoe. after executing Order Arms. What do you do? You adjust. Carefully.
How Does an Honor Guard Member Adjust?
You’ve just executed Stand at Ease and can feel, through muscle memory, that your feet are wider than they are supposed to be or that they are not aligned properly. Or your on a Color Team and can feel that your hand is not completely covering the top of the rifle or the flag harness cup. What do you do? Count to 10. Really. Using the information from the beginning of this article, we know that someone is going to be watching you while you move, especially if those movements are accompanied by commands which will draw attention to the one giving the commands and that element of the team that is moving. After executing whatever movement you need to and realizing that you’ve made some sort of error, count to 10 using the 1-second method (one, one thousand; two one thousand; etc.). Once you reach ten, most likely no one will be paying attention to you and you can then ever-so-slowly move. Your movements need to be isolated to only the part that needs to move and not your whole body.
I once did a ceremony in Belgium where my color team was on a slight incline with some rocks- it was the only place for us- and we tried to slowly move individually (as we all told each other after the ceremony) to get a better footing, but it was no use, we were stuck for the hour.
What about Firing Party? Firing Party movements, when finished can leave an honor guard member with a rifle butt that has landed far from the shoe- an immediate adjustment in this instance is fine since this element of the team is relatively far from the next of kin. Training and muscle memory help a great deal with this issue, though.
What about a Drill Team?
In competition, speed is the key. One cannot always be perfect and mistakes happen. Recovering from them as quickly- and as normally (like nothing wrong happened)- is key here. Recover immediately and as quickly as possible. Or, if recovery is not possible, simply continue on with the routine like nothing went wrong.
This type of movement is not for the itch that suddenly badly needs to be scratched. Discipline takes care of that.