“Drill down, attention!” The first class cadet in charge calls out to 16 contestants. They snap their heels together and stare straight ahead, unflinching. Pieces (rifles) wait at their sides, steady against the knees. Let the games begin.
Drill Down is a competition for 4/c cadets, testing our dexterity with our pieces, indoc knowledge, and military bearing. Typically there are two cadet participants from each of the eight companies per competition, and every 4/c in the corps is supposed to compete at least once. The contest is split into three rounds. The first round, and most unique, consists of a second class cadet standing in front of you and spinning your piece. You hand it off to him, and while keeping your eyes in the boat (staring only straight ahead), you are to identify when the piece is in the position in which you handed it to the second class. During this round, the second class is asking you indoc questions. You are to answer ONLY a certain kind of question; any others (including “Are you sure about that?”) you must reply to with, “Not a part of my required indoc.” Mistakes are counted as majors and minors; a major is equal to six minors. The second and third rounds test facing movements. The second round is an analysis of the ending position after you have completed a movement (such as an About Face, Right or Left Face, Present Arms, etc.), and the third round judges your execution of the movement. After each round, some of the contestants are eliminated; the last three are deemed the winners.
Being a member of the Regimental Band who had hardly touched her piece since Swab Summer, I was very anxious and didn’t expect much from my participation in Drill Down. Surprising how quickly that went away – I actually had a fantastic time preparing and competing, and I recently took part in a second Drill Down. This one was unique in that there were eight cadets competing against eight officer candidates from the current OCS class. It was really interesting to see how the OCs interact with each other, and I learned a bit about their lives and training. Those Coastguardsmen are following the other primary path to commissioning as an officer – the Coast Guard doesn’t have a ROTC program or anything similar. So perhaps I’ll see some of those OCs I drilled with in the fleet – wouldn’t that be some neat common ground?
More about Abby.