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The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs in front of the home of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Exhibition drill is a variant of drill that involves complex marching sequences which usually deviate from drill used in the course of ordinary parades. Teams performing exhibition drill are often affiliated with military units, but the scope of exhibition drill is not limited to military drill teams. Exhibition drill is often performed by Armed Forces Precision Drill Teams, the drill teams at service academies and ROTC and JROTC units, and civilian drill teams that perform at parades, drill meets, and half-time shows and other public venues.

History of rifle exhibition drill

A rifle drill team performance at the United States Naval Academy

The first documented performance[citation needed] of exhibition drill was performed by Hadji Cheriff and filmed at what is believed to be[by whom?] the Midway Plaisance of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. The film was later copyrighted by Thomas Edison in 1899, entitled The Arabian Gun Twirler.[citation needed]

The performance demonstrates aerial (two 1½s over-hand thrown from the firing hammer[clarify]) and over-the-shoulder techniques, over-the-head drill,[clarify] and under-the-leg inverted spin.[clarify]

It is believed[by whom?] that the weapon was a .577 caliber, triple band 1853 Enfield Musket, which is 56" long and weighs about 9.5 pounds and thus is 13" longer and heavier than most drill weapons used today.[citation needed]

Exhibition drill in competition

Exhibition drill is one of many different drill phases that are a part of a drill meet. Other phases include Inspection, Color Guard and Regulation Drill.

Exhibition military drill has grown drastically in popularity in recent decades. This growth can be attributed to several primary factors. These include:

General rules and guidelines

Rules of exhibition drill during competitions vary, but most of them apply the following guidelines:

Time – There is usually a minimum and maximum time a routine may take. Points are deducted if a team is under or over time.

Boundaries – Teams should be aware of their boundary lines, and if necessary, alter their routines as to not cross the boundary lines. Points are deducted if a person crosses a boundary line.

Some high-school level competitions prevent cadets who are participating in armed drill events from performing more dangerous 'over the head' spins, or raising cadets off the floor, in the interest of safety.

High school

Some high school drill teams compete at the National High School Drill Team Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida, and generally use demilitarized Springfield M1903s, M1 Garands, M-14 rifles and Daisy Drill Rifles. There are also national drill level competitions for JROTC divisions, including Navy JROTC, Army JROTC, Marine Corps JROTC, and Air Force JROTC. Other countries have their own drill team competitions for teenagers.


In an unarmed division, exhibition drill may consist of intricate precision marching, along with various hand movements. Modified step team routines are used in some competitions.

College ROTC drill teams

Colleges with Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) units, as well as military academies, have drill teams normally train and compete in two types of drill events: Regulation/Close Order and Exhibition (Trick or Fancy) Drill. Regulation Drill is conducted in accordance with Field Manual 22-5 (now FM 3-21.5) Drill and Ceremonies. Exhibition Drill is more free form and often more elaborate then Regulation Drill. Exhibition Drill teams are also more colorful in uniform and weaponry. In both types of event, participants are typically armed with weapons made safe or inert by removal of firing pins. Armament is totally devoid of all firing mechanisms for the safety of participants and audience alike.

Outside the United States

An exhibition drill routine performed by the Honor Guard of the Armed Forces of Belarus during a civil-military parade in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Minsk Offensive, 3 July 2019.
The drill team of 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment, Russian Federation.
Captain Khasen Omarkhanov of the Aibyn Presidential Regiment performs a sabre exhibition drill during a military tattoo in Astana.

See also


  1. ^ "Drill Main Flash-like HomePage". Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  2. ^ "National Video Series". Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  3. ^ " | Hæren | English". Archived from the original on 2010-04-11. Retrieved 2010-01-19.