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The Terror of the Dropped Rifle

See these related articles: How Drops Affect Scoring & Learning to Drop.

woman-screamingSalute!
Imagine this: you are a judge at a JROTC competition assigned to judge one of the exhibition drill categories. During a performance, a cadet drops his rifle, comes to attention, salutes the rifle, picks it up and continues on with the performance. The “Face-Palm” action would be inappropriate in this situation.

Saluting a dropped rifle has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. There is no reason for it and, to me, makes the Driller look less than intelligent.

It was started decades ago as a way to make a cadet who dropped, look silly. The embarrassment was meant to help you not drop- which it never did. It’s absolutely ridiculous to salute a dropped rifle. When you do, you are telling everyone, “Hey, I just dropped the rifle and I’m not going to try to minimize the effect that the drop has on my performance. I’m going to look stupid and salute an inanimate object.”

IMG_2386What if (see the picture at right) the cadet picks up the rifle, brings it to the Order position and brings his left hand across for a salute? No, this isn’t any good either! This is not a salute for the rifle it is a salute that the Marine Corps and Navy still execute when at Order. It is one of three different salutes rendered between individuals when at Order or either Shoulder position. The Army ceased performing these salutes many years ago.

“Mutual respect”
Between the rifle and the Driller. [Buzzer sound] Wrong- thanks for playing! Respect is between people, respect from a rifle is impossible.

You will not find any kind of guidance like what you have read here in any military manual. Yes, you will be taught to fully respect your equipment, including your rifle, when in the military- that is a must. Your life and the lives of others depends on how well you take care of your equipment at personal and unit level. That is a completely different context, one that is not applicable to JROTC. After all the rifle with which you drill will not save your life- even if it is a Demil.

Lastly, it doesn’t matter whether you are practicing or performing, never salute a dropped rifle.

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Shoes for the Driller and How to Shine Them

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DrillMaster’s Ceremonial Shoes

Poromeric Shoes/Boots
The term, poromeric, refers to a class of breathable synthetic leather.

Corfam (not “Corfram,” “Clorfam” or Clorfram”) is made by the DuPont Chemical Company.

Clarino, manufactured by the Kuraray Company, is another synthetic high-shine leather found mostly in flagstaff harnesses.

Patent Leather, first created in England in the late 1700s, gained popularity after inventor Seth Boyden of Newark, New Jersey created his own version with linseed oil.

Whatever you wear of what is mentioned above, it’s all synthetic resins of plastics.

Pros: Never shine shoes again! Just keep the heel sole, and welts black with high-gloss edge dressing. You do not “shine” poromeric leather shoes, you clean them.
Cons: They can get HOT! If you are facing the sun for a long time, you may need to treat the tops of your toes for burns. Really. Wear two layers of thin dress socks or a thicker dress sock to protect your feet.

Note: to clean poromeric shoes and equipment that have scuffs or run marks, use Brasso.

 

If wearing leather boots and you want the mirror shine without the constant maintenance, use Leather Luster. Here are the directions to use it.

Shining Standard Leather Shoes/Boots
They can be tough to shine but, polish, a little water, cotton balls or an old cotton t-shirt are perfect for making leather shoes like mirrors.

Brand new leather shoes are perfect for shining. Sometimes there is an oil coating on the shoes that will hinder a shine. If so, it is best to remove it with some rubbing alcohol and a rag. Now you are ready to begin.

I first learned how to shine shoes from my dad, but to shine them to a mirror finish, Old Cadets taught me when I attended New Mexico Military Institute. We used Kiwi there and it always worked really well for us.

How to shine: Using shoe trees helps. Lightly wet a cotton ball, dab it in the polish and work the polish into the shoe making little circles. When the cotton ball starts to make scratches, get a new one. It takes many hours to build up a base coat of polish and then have it shine like a mirror, but once you have the base coat, you can easily touch up your shoes. If you are going to make all of the shoe mirror-like, be aware that as soon as you take your first step, where the shoe naturally bends with your foot, the polish will crack and flake off. So, you may want to limit the mirror parts to the heels, the sides and as much of the toe as possible, highly shine the rest- including the tongue!

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Like the Tomb Sentinel said in the video, it is all about building up a base and when you first being it will seem like it takes forever, but as you progress, it will take less and less time to shine your shoes. If your shoes have leather soles, you will be able to sand the outside of the sole and shine it with shoe polish as well. If your soles are rubber or some sort of synthetic material you will have to use edge dressing.

Edge Dressing: Kiwi stopped making their Honor Guard Edge Dressing years ago as soon as the military transitioned to suede boots. Honor guard units now use Angelus Brand Roll Call Military Grade Edge Dressing which is available at Glendale.

How to Remove Edge Dressing: After a few coats with edge dressing, you will need to strip the welt (where the sewing is) and also the sides of the sole so as not to have that buildup that eventually looks terrible. For the outside of the sole, use steel wool to scrape away excess, a putty knife works well also. For the welt, you can use the putty knife corner, but be careful. Sometimes the edge dressing will flake off or come off in small chunks. If not, you may have to use Leather Luster Remover. Sand (very fine sandpaper is best) the sole and the side heel tap (if attached) so that it is even and then reapply the Angelus Edge Dressing.

The Sole
The man-made, synthetic lighter soles are not the most desirable for the military Driller but are the most prevalent. Leather soles are desirable. Make sure to blacken the sole if it is a lighter color.

Pros: Break-in period can be shorter than synthetic shoes/boots
Cons: Shinning them over and over and over and over.

Horseshoe Heel Tap
Horseshoe Heel Tap Closeup

Taps
Side heel taps
(“Cheaters” or “Clickers”) are great whether you execute closed-toe movements or use the traditional 45-degree angle. You can get different colors: silver, gold or black. Silver and black are great if you want shiny and black will need to be coated with the Angelus mentioned above. Note: if you have black and put edge dressing on them (which you should), it will chip off and you will need to strip the metal and reapply so it doesn’t ‘cake’ up. Attach them with black wood screws.

If you have cheaters that are shiny gold or silver in color, keep them shined and attach them with the same color sheet rock screws.

When attaching cheaters, you can put spacers (washers) behind them or screw them solidly into the side of the sole. Since these taps are curved, you can either match your heel curvature or put a space between the tap and the heel to see if there is better sound quality.

Horseshoe taps can be dangerous and mark up floors, but sound awesome- especially in a large formation. Ask any farrier, horseshoes need to fit a horse’s hoof exactly all the way around the hoof. Ask any cobbler, horseshoe taps don’t. As a matter of fact a cobbler usually offsets the tap into the center of the heel by 1/16 of an inch from the back and keeps a gap of 1/8 of an inch on the sides. Horseshoe tap sizes are for smaller and larger feet (heels) and nothing else.

Toe taps are excellent for creating sound marking time.

All of the taps and cheaters are available at Glendale!

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