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The DrillMaster: Drill Team and Honor Guard Training

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The DrillMaster is the military drill world’s education and training specialist writing the only books for the military drill world including a comprehensive manual for honor guards and a complete manual on how to properly judge military drill competitions.

The DrillMaster trains military-type drill teams, Drillers and honor guard units.

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The Cadet Series: American Military Cadets

A little-known program, but quickly gaining more and more exposure, is the American Military Cadet Corps (AMCC). It is just like US Navy Sea Cadets or Civil Air Patrol, but for the Army and like Sea Cadets, USAC offers hands-on real-world training just like Soldiers get. Pardon the expression but, USAC is Army JROTC on steroids.

Strength and Honor!
This motto is introduced to every cadet and adult volunteer, and they men it. Unlike the other non-JROTC cadet programs, AMCC cadre (adult volunteers) are brought on board as officers OR enlisted. At the time of this writing, I happen to be a AMCC Staff Sergeant (SSG). Why go the enlisted route? It’s up to the individual. Many who are already retired enlisted, choose to remain enlisted since that is where they can make the biggest impact- working day-to-day with the cadets. That is not to say that AMCC officers do not have an impact, but the enlisted side is usually more hands-on on a daily basis.

A Navy History?
Yes, AMCC, (formerly Army Cadets or USAC) actually began as a Navy-based program and then became the American Cadet Alliance which had Navy, Marines and Army cadets.

From the AMCC website:

The American Military Cadet Corps (AMCC) traces its heritage to the early days of the 20th century, making us the oldest nationwide Cadet program still existing today.  Our history and culture are steeped in the oldest traditions of Cadetting.  In those days, a group of veterans chose to create a military-style youth organization to give the young men of their community a chance for adventure.  The program was Navy based and taught boys good citizenship and patriotism.  This idea was the foundation of both the Boy Scouts of America and the American Cadet Alliance (ACA), the predecessor to the AMCC.

The American Cadet Alliance was founded as Colonel Cody’s Boy Scouts, by CAPT James H.C. Smyth on April 10, 1909, at the First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NY. April 10 is celebrated as the birthday of the Corps.

In 1911, the organization split into two organizations:  the Boy Scouts of America and the American Naval and Marine Scouts.  On Aug. 16, 1927, the American Naval and Marine Scouts was incorporated in New York state as the New York Junior Naval Militia.  Early in 1929, the organization split and Commodore Smyth and a number of senior officers left and on Feb. 19, 1929, incorporated the Junior Naval Reserve.

A Unique Situation
Unlike Sea Cadets, Young Marines and the CAP, AMCC is also part of Forest Hill Military Academy a full-time boarding and day school located in Millersburg, KY. Read more here.

Got Training?
They have training! Take a look at the summer 2015 training schedule: (contact me for special “DrillMaster Reduced Fees”!)

Troop Handlers Course ……………………………………. Jun 14-20
Basic Cadet Training – Session 1……………………… Jun 21- Jul 4
Basic Cadet Training – Session 2 …………………….. Jul 5 – 18
Basic Leaders Course …………………………………………Jul 5 – 18
Cadet Combat Engineers Course …………………… Jul 5 – 25
Cadet Ranger Challenge ………………………………….. Jul 5-25
Cadet Ranger School ………………………………………… Jul 26 – Aug 16
Tactical Leaders Course …………………………………… Jul 19 – Aug 2
Cadet Equestrian Program (NEW!!) ……………… July 26 – Aug 2
Cadet Military Police Academy……………………….. Aug 2 – 16
Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy …. Aug 2 – 16
Cadet Military Combatives Program ……………… Aug 2 – 8
Cadet Medic School (NEW!!) …………………………… Aug 2 – 8
Cadet Airborne Jump School (NEW!!) …………… Aug 9-15

Cadet Airborne School. Watch the AMCC site for updates!

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Shoes for the Driller and How to Shine Them

DrillMaster's Ceremonial Shoes, poromeric, shoes, shine, mirror, corfam, corfram, taps, honor guard, drill team, cheaters, shine shoes, ceremonial shoes, poromeric, corfam, corofam, corofram, clorfram, clofam, clorofam, corpham, coropham, honor guard training, drill team training, how to shine poromeric leather shoes, how to remove heel and sole dressing
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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Your Command Voice

Have you considered your command voice? Have you looked at your service’s manual and actually read about what it says on the proper way to call commands? No, it doesn’t say monotone is OK, it doesn’t say the gravel-in-your-throat style is a good style, it says use inflection, be clear and more! Read! Don’t rely on a senior cadet to tell you what you need to do (as with EVERYTHING else!)- read it for yourself!

“Well, I call commands like this.” “At my school we, [fill in the blank here].” Ever hear of standardization? That is what the military is about, standardizing. Your personal style, what you may think is really cool, does not matter. Stop it.

Click here to listen to some examples of commands in MP3 format and how to call them.

Also read this article, “Root Step” and Command Pronunciation.

When calling commands your voice should have inflection and NOT be monotone (some Navy cadets do this and I cannot figure out why). You should also enunciate each syllable and not leave off the first or last letter or substitute letters:

  • There is no such thing is “Righ, HACE“.
  • The USAF does allow, Forward, HARCH, (it’s in a picture, not text) the other services use MARCH.
  • There is no such thing as “A-Ten-Hut”, or any other number to bring a formation to Attention.
  • There is no need to growl your commands- that means you are calling from your throat. Stop, or you will have problems later in life.
  • There is no such thing is “Orward, ARCH“.

Here is a snippet from my book, The Honor Guard Manual.

Projection
•The ability of your voice to reach whatever distance necessary without undue strain.
•Voice is focused on the person farthest away.
•Assume the position of Attention, breathe properly, relax throat, open mouth and push the air out of your lungs from the diaphragm (place your hand on the top of your stomach, just under your ribcage and try to make those muscles tighten when giving commands).

Distinctness (Clarity)
•Distinct commands are effective; indistinct commands cause confusion.
•Clearly enunciate; use tongue, lips, and teeth to form words and word parts.
•Develop the ability to give clear, distinct commands. Practice giving commands slowly and carefully, prolonging the syllables. Gradually increase the rate of delivery to develop proper cadence, still enunciating each syllable distinctly.

Note: Honor Guard cadence is slow; approximately 90 beats per minute

Inflection
•The rise and fall in pitch and the tone changes of the voice.
•Starting at a normal speaking voice, pronounce the preparatory command with rising inflection.
•A properly delivered Command of execution should have no inflection.
•Command of execution should have a higher pitch than the preparatory command.

Precision
•Expresses confidence and decisiveness
•Expresses knowledge of commands and proper execution
•Commands are called at the proper time and in the proper manner

So, now that you have the info, straight from the manual, you will be able to properly call commands!

Happy drilling!