A short time ago a student friend of mine sent me a video of his armed solo performance asking for feedback (I give real-time audio feedback on performances of Drillers and teams in the WDA Adjudication System: Overall Effect, Composition Analysis, Marching & Equipment- usually a combined critique of a little from each caption). To preface the video, he told me that the first part, which was about 2 minutes or so, was Regulation Drill (RD)- the manual of arms. After that, he was able to begin his exhibition solo. Having to execute the manual of arms and then moving into your XD routine is fairly common across the US. I noticed somehting very specific that was not a good thing: no change in style from his mandatory RD sequence to his XD sequence. But, why would this be a bad thing?
My friend executed the manual of arms in a professional manner, but each movement looked like how the whole team executes each of those movements with the “flare” and “cool” that you’d expect from a good XD performance.
Why no Change between RD and XD is Bad
When it comes to XD, one can pretty much do whatever one wants. However, the manual of arms is explained very plainly in each service’s drill and ceremonies manual (the USAF defaults to the Army’s manual). RD movement is not up for debate (there are slight questions that arise from time-to-time, but nothing major) and “flare” or “cool” is not allowed at all. You must execute RD movement as per the manual. No “ands,” “ifs” or “buts.” And this goes for colors*. We should all understand this.
“Well, that the way we do it here”
Fine! For XD, that is. However, it is not fine for RD. No excuses.
Develop a Strategy
Think of going from RD to XD and back as a change in your performance sequence. When you are performing your XD sequence there may be a certain time or times that you have to change your style for marching, body movement or equipment work to create varied effects- continue that. Look at RD as moving into another part of the performance. Some teams have what they call “Standard Port” and “Exhibition Port” referring to how the team is to hold the rifle at Port Arms at different times. This is part of what I’m talking about. It’s a mindset: “It’s XD time” or “It’s RD time” and I need to do XYZ.
Speaking of Colors
It’s very frustrating to see a color team perform their sequence incorporating XD-like movements. There is no reason to have any color team execute any movement that is not explained in its service’s manual. Period. You know how to execute Right Shoulder or Sling Arms because it’s right there in black and white. Oh, you don’t know or you’ve been relying on other cadets to tell you how to perform movements? Why haven’t you cracked open the manual to read about it for yourself? Why aren’t YOU educated?