By Airman 1st Class Codie M. Collins
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Flight. Fall in!
Brand new Air Force Basic Military Training trainees, not knowing their left foot from right, fumble into one another. A nervous gaggle tries to revive the muscle memory instilled by their first encounter with their military training instructor.
A Military Training Instructor shouts a series of facing movements, directing a train wreck of trainees across the drill pad.
Their eyes franticly dart in every direction in hopes to confirm they are in step. All are in a state of befuddlement, except one, Trainee Baroy.
Now, U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Philip Baroy, 19th Maintenance Squadron integrated communication countermeasure navigation mission’s systems apprentice, has been practicing drill since he joined Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2011.
Drill, a military tradition stemming from the 1800s, is the act of marching while handling a drill rifle. When the drill rifle was first introduced to marching, the movements were basic. As time progressed, people started adding their own flare resulting in an evolution from basic movements to elaborate maneuvers. Drill has not only evolved with movements, but with technology as well.
“I competed in an online drill competition which served as a qualifier for the world drill championships,” Baroy said. “That online competition permitted the top seven placements of the people who applied. I placed seventh.”
Baroy’s passion for drill started in eighth grade by watching his older brother perform for the high school’s JROTC drill team.
“I saw my brother and a few of his other teammates on the drill team do a performance at a high school pep rally,” Baroy said. “It inspired me to get into JROTC my freshman year of high school. My friends who were on the drill team invited me to come to a practice. That’s when I began to learn some of the basic rifle maneuvers.”
Marching on its own can be difficult to master; add an eight-and-a-half pound drill rifle and marching is taken to a new level.
“It took a lot of discipline, time, patience and pain,” Baroy said. “You have an eight-and- a- half pound rifle constantly slamming your hands, if you mess up, there are severe consequences. I have a few scars left over from my years in high school.”
Though at times practice was painful, Baroy felt it was essential to his development.
“I busted my lip when I was a freshman in high school, still learning basic maneuvers,” Baroy said. “I overstepped my limits by trying a move that was a bit more complicated, resulting in the front side of my rifle coming in contact with my lip. From that moment, I realized that mastering the basics was essential to my progression.”
Drill is an activity where perfection is not the goal. To Baroy it’s a requirement.
“For me, drill is an art,” he said. “Being able to precisely get a segment of movements down and preforming it in front of other people to show off how good you are gives you a feeling of satisfaction that not a lot of people understand.”
To Baroy, drill is more than accomplishing a difficult movement or winning a competition. Endless hard work, dedication and discipline through practice embedded qualities in him which aided his Air Force career.
“Military bearing is a key quality a person must possess to be good at drill,” Baroy said. “If you drop your rifle, you are expected to not freak out. You have to keep your composure and your bearing.”
In addition to military bearing, drill has given Baroy a greater appreciation for hard work.
“One of the things I’ve learned in drill through practice is how much time and patience it takes to learn something complicated,” Baroy said. “You have to stay on task, stay disciplined and no matter how hard it gets, you have to stay focused.”
Through the cuts, bruises, scars and pain, Baroy’s resiliency and passion for drill encourages him to continue to refine his practice.
“By practicing drill you develop perfectionist habits,” Baroy said. “When you feel that rifle hit your hand, your muscles are flexing. You instantly stop the rifle. That’s when you know you’ve mastered the movement and your hard work has paid off.”
(Editor’s note: Currently Baroy is working toward competing in the World Drill Championships held in Daytona Beach, Florida. This competition invites anyone over the age of 18 and graduated from High School to compete.)