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How to Create and Teach Drill Team Ripples

The “domino effect” does not accurately describe what we call a ripple in exhibition drill. Dominos fall and that’s it. Yes, it’s a ripple, but nothing else happens. Not very effective for a drill team.

This video is a great illustration of the domino effect, using books.

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However, we are talking about a ripple for a military drill team.

What is a ripple?

For military drill purposes, it is an action that begins at one point and is then repeated along a line of Drillers to another point or points.

Are there Different kinds?

Not necessarily, but variation in a ripple line is very effective. These variations are

  1. Left to Right
  2. Right-to-Left
  3. Center outward (starting at the center and moving out to both ends)
  4. Out-inward (starting at both ends going to the center)
  5. Slow-to-Fast (gradual and immediate)
  6. Fast-to-Slow (gradual and immediate)

How does one go about teaching a team to perform a ripple?

To begin, use a metronome and go slowly. Use a metronome application on your phone, set it to 2/4 (for a tick-tock, high-low, type of beat) and set a slow tempo around 90 BPM (beats per minute). If you need to set it slower, that is not a problem; make sure that everyone is comfortable with the speed, you can always increase it as everyone improves.

The slower tempo allows everyone to begin on a tick or a tock and ensures a solid timing framework from which you can then increase the tempo. Using the metronome is only for creating timing. It is almost impossible to get the metronome going fast and have everyone follow it.Once the team can build speed into the ripple, leave out the metronome and visually get your cue on when to move.

Once the team can build speed into the ripple, leave out the metronome and visually get your cue on when to move. Here is an example: the person to my right (A) is going to go to Right Shoulder and I (B) am going to repeat it and then the person to my left (C) will do the same in a ripple. When A goes to Port, that is my cue to do the same which is C’s cue to move. We all then finish executing Right Shoulder as slowly or as quickly as needed.

When you want a very fast tempo in your ripple, using the analogy above of executing Right Shoulder, instead of waiting for the person to execute Port, my cue will be A’s initial movement of the rifle.

The Combined Drill Teams of the Belarus Military

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The Ross Volunteers of Texas A&M University

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Merritt Island Competition Critiques

On 30 Jan 16 Merritt Island High School hosted the first Brevard County Army JROTC drill competition. With C/MAJ Anderson, from Florida Institute of Technology, who is working on an engineering degree, I judged Unarmed Squad Regulation and Armed Squad Exhibition. I was head judge for the regulation sequences and cadet Anderson took over that position for the exhibition portion of the day. What a great day!!

Below are the DrillMaster Audio Performance Critiques for download. I also broadcasted three of the performances on my account at Periscope, @TheDrillMaster. In performance order:

  2. MIHS Female UA SQD REG
  3. CHS Male UA SQD REG
  4. AHS Male UA SQD REG
  5. AHS Female UA SQD REG
  6. CHS Female UA SQD REG
  7. MIHS Male A SQD XD
  8. MIHS Female A SQD XD
  9. CHS Male A SQD XD
  10. CHS Female A SQD XD
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Vocabulary Vs. Excellence

XD K-state-eduMany members of the Military Drill World catch the bug for solo exhibition drill (XD) and create a lifestyle around spinning. Some of the newest XD Drillers, however, try to be a Sam Gozo, Andres Ryan or Matt Wendling in a matter of weeks by attempting to learn as many moves or “tricks” as possible. Thinking that is the way to go- no real direction, just create an immense vocabulary, no matter what it all looks like. Here is some direction for you:

It has taken Sam, Andres, Matt and literally countless other Drillers years of work to get where they are and not just two or three years, I’m talking serious, dedicated work for well over five years each. Yes, you will see improvement within the first year, but do not kid yourself in thinking that you have finally “arrived”. Keep on practicing and attending competitions.

Here is a comment that I’ve given to many new XD Drillers:
“You have a very wide vocabulary, but you really need to concentrate on excellence and building your core Muscles. Take one move, work on it for a few days and perfect it. If you are satisfied with the results, go to the next move and repeat the process, include the first move in your new “mini routine” and keep adding. If you throw all kinds of moves together and never really concentrate on developing each one individually, you will never generate the kind of excellence expected and really required in military drill.”

By following that advice, you will build a vocabulary the proper way, by concentrating on excellence and building the muscle groups that will help you manipulate the rifle. Who knows? Maybe one day you will be a challenge for one of these World-Class Drillers.

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Kings Dominion Drill Competition 2015!


Kings Dominion, the World Drill Association (WDA) and the DrillMaster partnered together to bring the first Kings Dominion Drill Competition in October or 2015. It was a huge success, the teams performed, received an education and were eager to find out when the next competition is scheduled!

The purpose of the competition, so early in the school year, is to create a foundational as well as educational score with WDA adjudication system feedback. From there, teams can only learn and grow in future competitions!

Kings Dominion, the WDA and the DrillMaster are excited about the prospects for KDDC16, stay tuned- on INstagram follow @KingsDominionVA and @DrillMasterTraining!

Click on the links below to download the DrillMaster Audio Performance Feeback files.

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Exhibition Drill Injuries

Before we begin: I am not a medical doctor. This article is not a substitute for obtaining professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Minor InjuryNow, on to the article.

Many exhibition Drillers (you are not an “exhibitionist” unless you remove your clothing while spinning the rifle) have spent some time dealing with an injury or six.

At your JROTC unit, it is a very good idea to have a first aid kit available during practice. At home, it would be a good to have the same thing or something similar.

Repetitive Use Strains
Doing the same move over and over is the way to finally get it perfected and the best way to strain certain muscles and tendons.

When you have a strain, remember “RICE”: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Ibuprofen or natural supplements to reduce swelling is also a good step to take.

Click here to read a great article about Repetitive Strain Injury. At the site, Clay Scott, explains everything you need to know, including pictures of two very helpful stretches.

Prevention is the key here, but you will still receive an abrasion or cut eventually. Removing both sights and the stacking swivel from your rifle is going to help to significantly reduce opportunities for the rifle parts to cut you.

Cuts still may happen, especially if you drill bladed (Got Bayonet?). If receive a minor cut, clean the wound and cover it with a bandage that has a small amount of tea tree oil or honey (must be real, not the processed junk) on it.

Click here to read about some excellent natural methods to treat cuts and abrasions.