Precision Drill Squad (Singapore)

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An NCC PDS Performance

Precision Drill Squad (PDS) is a form of exhibition drill practised in Singapore which involves the execution of rifle drills in complex series of movements with great co-ordination and precision. The natures of these drills exhibit a plethora of diversity; they may be sharp and quick, graceful and flowing, or include a wide variety of tossing and spinning techniques. During performances, performers move in unison through choreographed patterns with the rifles moving under their control, always synchronised with the rhythm of the music. Drills are executed without command and the only sound that is heard is the snap and pop of the rifles on every step, in perfect synchronisation and with precision.

PDS is mainly performed and executed by the Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command and a few privileged National Cadet Corps units and National Police Cadet Corps units in Singapore, usually at school events, inter-unit competitions or open houses.

Origin[edit]

SAF Military Policemen

PDS is derived from rifle exhibition drill, which originated from United States' various drill teams such as the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and have since spread to many other countries such as Norway, Australia, Slovenia and Taiwan. PDS is identical to the Silent Precision Drill Squad (SPDS) practised Command]].

Introduced in 1984, SPDS is performed in the Changing of Guard Ceremony at the gates of the Istana on the first Sunday of every month and in major events like National Day Parades and Chingay Processions, and was adopted in its present form by the National Cadet Corps, where it is performed by NCC school units which have adopted PDS in their training syllabus by 1999, with an initial participation of only about 20 school units. Due to its rarity and difficulty, the element of PDS in NCC units and NPCC units is considered a great privilege.

Equipment[edit]

Rifles[edit]

The Lee–Enfield Mk IV

PDS is most commonly executed with either the 4 kg (8.8 lbs) Lee–Enfield Mk IV rifle, or the many variations of the Mk IV fiberglass or wooden replica rifles, which are 105.5 cm long, 3.2 cm thick at the muzzle, and weigh from 1.6 kg to 5.0 kg. Variations include the Performance rifle or the heavier Competition rifle. The dummy rifles are black by default, but come in various colours and designs to match the nature of the performance. Some versions include metal bases, tips or other additions to enhance the 'feel' of the performance. M-16 rifles are also sometimes used, and on occasion, with bayonets fixed.

Attire[edit]

The official attire for PDS stipulated by HQ NCC is the Smart No. 4 uniform for all cadets, although air or sea units are permitted to wear their respective No. 3 uniforms without badges. Since male cadets in Land units only receive their No.3 uniform upon graduation from the Cadet Officer Course, No. 3 uniforms are sometimes borrowed for the sake of performances. In this case, the No. 3 uniform is worn with white stable belts, white polyester laces and combat boots with trousers tucked into garters, in imitation of the Military Police No. 3 Uniform. Modified versions of the attire can be worn to increase the aesthetic appeal of the performance, notable examples being Half No. 4 with Jockey Cap, Half No. 3, No. 3 with Brassards labelled "PDS", "Precision Drill" or with ranks embroidered, also in imitation of the SAF Military Police NO. 3 Uniform. White gloves can also be worn for performances.

Participating schools[edit]

These are the NCC units that are known to practise Precision Drill:

School District Achievement
Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School Central
Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) Sea
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) West
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Sea National 5th (2012), National 8th (2013), National 14th (2014), National Last (2015)
Ang Mo Kio Secondary School Air National 3rd (2011), National 17th (2012), National 9th (2013), National 6th (2010, 2014)
Ang Mo Kio Secondary School Central
Anderson Secondary School Central
Anglican High School East National 4th (2010), National 11th (2012, 2014), National 3rd (2013), National 13th (2016)
Bartley Secondary School Air , East
Beatty Secondary School Central National 13th (2012), National 12th (2013), National 13th (2014)
Bedok Green Secondary School East National 5th (2014)
Bedok South Secondary School East
Bedok View Secondary School East National 8th (2012)
Bendemeer Secondary School East
Bukit Merah Secondary School West
Bukit Panjang Government High School West National 10th (2012), National 4th (2013), National 3rd (2014), National 5th (2015, 2016)
Catholic High School Air National 16th (2014), National 12th (2015), National 2nd (2013, 2016)
Chong Boon Secondary School Central
Chung Cheng High School (Main) East
Chung Cheng High School (Yishun) Air
Christ Church Secondary School Central National 17th (2014)
Clementi Town Secondary School West
Crescent Girls' School West Girls 2nd (2014), Girls 3rd (2015, 2016, 2017)
Dunman Secondary School East
East Spring Secondary School East
Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary) West National 11th (2011), National 4th (2012), National 10th (2013), National 2nd (2014), National 7th (2015), National 9th (2016)
Fajar Secondary School West
Gan Eng Seng School Central
Greendale Secondary School Central
Henderson Secondary School West
Hwa Chong Institution West National Champions (2010, 2013, 2014, 2015), National 6th (2016), National 2nd (2011, 2012, 2017)
Junyuan Secondary School East National 6th (2013)
Jurong Secondary School West
Jurong West Secondary School West
Kranji Secondary School West
Manjusri Secondary School East
Mayflower Secondary School Central National 21st (2012)
Montfort Secondary School Central National 13th (2015)
Nan Hua High School West National 7th (2012), National 3rd (2013), National 8th (2014, 2015, 2016)
Naval Base Secondary School Central
Nan Chiau High School Central
New Town Secondary School West National 19th (2012)
Northbrooks Secondary School Central National 18th (2012)
North View Secondary School Air
North Vista Secondary School Central
Pasir Ris Crest Secondary School East National 6th (2015), National 7th (2016)
Pasir Ris Crest Secondary School (Girls) East National 12th (2012), Girls Champions (2014, 2015, 2016), Girls 2nd (2017)
Pei Hwa Secondary School Central Central 6th (2016), Central 4th (2017)
Peirce Secondary School Central National 20th (2012), National 7th (2014), National 11th (2016)
Punggol Secondary School Central
Queenstown Secondary School West
Raffles Girls' School Central Girls 3rd (2014), Girls 2nd (2015, 2016), Girls Champions (2017)
Regent Secondary School West National 19th (2014)
Sembawang Secondary School Sea
Sengkang Secondary School Central
Serangoon Garden Secondary School Central
Siglap Secondary School East
Springfield Secondary School East National 14th (2012), National 3rd (2015), National 12th (2016)
St. Joseph's Institution Air
St. Joseph's Institution Central National 2nd (2010), National 4th (2011), National 15th (2012)
Tanglin Secondary School West
Tanjong Katong Secondary School East National 5th (2011), National 3rd (2012), National 12th (2014), National 10th (2015)
Tanjong Katong Secondary School Sea National Last (2012), National 15th (2014), National 2nd (2015), National 10th (2016)
Temasek Secondary School East National 6th (2012)
Unity Secondary School Air National 11th (2015)
Victoria School East National 16th (2012)
Woodgrove Secondary School Central
Woodlands Secondary School Central
Woodlands Ring Secondary School Central National Champions (2016), National 3rd (2017)
Yishun Secondary School Central National 4th (2014, 2015), National 3rd (2016)
Yishun Town Secondary School Central National Champions (2011, 2012), National 7th (2013), National 9th (2014), National 9th (2015), National 4th (2016)

Centre of Excellence[edit]

The NCC PDS Centre of Excellence was set up to allow NCC units that wish to introduce Precision Drill as part of their training curriculum but do not have the necessary expertise may send their specialists and cadet officers for training at the centre. As a Centre of Excellence, the unit's Centre of Excellence council is given the autonomous right to train key stakeholders of NCC units of other schools and issue them Basic PDS badges and patches on their course completion, the first unit awarded the title being Hwa Chong Instituition in 2007.

List of Centre of Excellence[edit]

To qualify as Centre of Excellence, the NCC school unit must, on a regular and yearly basis, conduct PDS training for different NCC units in their respective District.

Hwa Chong Institution

Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary)

Catholic High School (Air District)

Peirce Secondary School

Anglican High School

NCC PDS Committee[edit]

The NCC PDS Committee was formed on 25 May 2012 by a group of PDS Auxiliary Instructors, intended to improve and maintain the standard and prestige of PDS in the National Cadet Corps. The PDS Committee assists HQ NCC in running the Basic PDS Certification and any other PDS-related HQ Courses. The current Overall-In-Charge of the FSD Committee is SSG Ng Say Cheong and is supported by his 2IC C/Offr Seah Chen Yan.

Training courses[edit]

Basic Course and Certification[edit]

Cadets from NCC PDS units have the opportunity to attend the Basic PDS course, held at the NCC campus st Amoy Quee Camp or the nine NCC PDS Training Centres quad-annually. During the 3-day course cadets are instructed in the execution of basic PDS drills, more commonly referred to as the basic 21 and the conduct of PDS Rifle Physical Training (PT). Cadets are tested based on two categories, Drill Execution and Presentation. Upon passing of the test, cadets will attain the Basic PDS badge, Basic PDS patch and a certificate. Units that include Basic PDS in their training syllabus may skip the course entirely and send their cadets for Basic PDS certification directly.

Auxiliary Instructor Course[edit]

Upon passing of a stringent selection test, outstanding cadets will have the privilege of attending the PDS Auxiliary Instructor Course. Cadets may enroll in the Enhanced PDS Auxiliary Instructor Course, held in the Military Police HQ at Mowbray Camp and conducted by SPDS instructors from the SAF Military Police Command SPDS unit, or at HQ NCC (Amoy Quee Camp). The 5-day course will cover 7 advanced arm drills, basic choreography and train participants on the conduct of PDS as an instructor and cadets will be tested based on a Mutuals Assessment and execution of the 7 Drills. Upon graduation from the course, these cadets are qualified to conduct PDS trainings in their respective school units, as well as attaining the PDS AI badge, the PDS AI patch and a certificate.

Inter-unit competition[edit]

The inaugural 1st NCC Silent Precision Drill Squad Competition was held on 12 June 2010, and has since been held annually at HQ NCC in Amoy Quee Camp. The Competition gives the various school units the opportunity to present their choreographing skill and drill standard, giving recognition to the best drill squads. Every year, the Challenge Trophy, the Golden Rifle, is entrusted to the winning team for a year. Should any team emerge as champions for three consecutive years, the Golden Rifle is theirs to keep.

The Competition includes an inspection of appearance and bearing and an evaluation of the squad's performance.

The following is the scoring criteria for the PDS competition:

Evaluation criteria Total points
Appearance and bearing 20
Six basic drills 40
Performance 40
Total 100

Penalties[edit]

A deduction of 5 points will be made for every cadet under the minimum squad size of 12, 2 points for boundary violations during the performance, 2 and 3 points respectively for slipping or dropping of rifles, and 1 point for every second the performance fails to meet the criteria of being restricted within 4 to 6 minutes in length.

Types of performance[edit]

PDS performances can be generally classified under two major types, Stage Performances and Field Performances.

Stage performances[edit]

PDS Stage performances are smaller-scaled performances, generally with 10–20 performers on stage. Unlike the larger-scaled Field Performances, stage performances usually include more spectacular, advanced PDS drills. Stage performances have also been known to include special lighting effects into its performances.

Field performances[edit]

PDS Field performances are the largest-scaled performances, generally with 28–40 performers on a grass field or courtyard. Unlike the smaller-scaled Stage Performances, Field Performances can be displayed to a significantly much larger crowd of spectators. Pyrotechnic devices such as sparks or fireworks could be included in its performances.

Drill syllabus[edit]

PDS drills can be classified into the Basic 21 (Marching Arm Drills, Salute Arm Drills, Dressing Arm Drills, Performance Arm Drills) and the Auxiliary Instructor 7. The AI 7 are taught during the PDS Auxiliary Instructor course. All drills are done in counts of 8 as a way to help choreographers synchronise with accompanying music.

The list of advanced drills is non-exhaustive, given the infinite possibility of drills that can be invented or modified for the purpose of performances, and many reflect increasing influence from the Rifle Exhibition Drill in the United States.

Basic 21 Drills[edit]

Slope and Order Drills[edit]

  • Vertical Slope Arm (4+1)
  • Vertical Order Arm (4+1)
  • Diagonal Slope Arm (6+1)
  • Diagonal Order Arm (4+1)

Marching Arm Drills[edit]

  • Slapping Arm (12+1)
  • Sungfoo Arm (14+1)
  • Double Right Arm (18+1)
  • Slow Markal Arm (16+1)

Salute Arm Drills[edit]

  • 11-Step Salute (10+1)
  • Butt Salute (8+1)
  • Marine Salute (6+1)

Dressing Arm Drills[edit]

  • Popeye Arm (12+1)
  • Balancing Arm (16+1)
  • Pungfoo Arm (10+1)
  • Modified Seagull Arm (Chingay Seagull) (14+1)
  • Momo Arm (10+1)

Performance Arm Drills[edit]

  • Modified Dragon Toss Arm (26+1)
  • Mortar Arm (18+1)
  • Pipa Arm (16+1)
  • Sea Games Arm (14+1)
  • Tamil Arm (14+1)

Outside of the Basic 21, there are some drills which have been removed from the syllabus but continue to be used in performances, both in their original as well as modified forms. Some examples include:

  • Original Momo Arm
  • Original Double Right Turning Arm
  • Original Dragon Toss Arm
  • Volvo Order Arm
  • Volvo Slope Arm
  • Right Turning Arm

Advanced Drills[edit]

AI 7 Drills[edit]

  • Impact Arm (12+1)
  • Ramesh Arm (20+1)
  • Tapping Arm (18+1)
  • Flipper Arm (22+1)
  • Dolphin Arm (20+1)
  • Champagne/Xian Ping Arm (24+1)
  • Original Seagull Arm (26+1)

Created Drills[edit]

  • Flying Fish Arm
  • T3H
  • Tick Tocks

Fundamental Advanced Techniques[edit]

  • Rotation (Right/Left/Double Handed)
  • Tornado Toss
  • Vincent

Tosses[edit]

  • Jumbo (Double/Triple/Quad/Quint)
  • AXP (Double/Triple/Quad/Quint)
  • Saturn Exchange (Front/Back)
  • Jesus Toss
  • Taiwanese Toss
  • Continuum Toss

Flow Components[edit]

  • Rising Sun (Variant 1/2/3)
  • Exit (Single/Double/Triple)
  • Fireknife (Single/Double)
  • Crossplane
  • Continuum
  • Eclipse
  • Power Stop
  • Hawaiian Punch

Hooks[edit]

  • J-Hook (Single/Double)
  • OTH J-Hook

Over The Head (OTH) Techniques[edit]

  • Helicopter
  • Heli Toss
  • Palm Spin

Ninjas[edit]

  • Front Ninja
  • Side Ninja
  • Back Ninja
  • R Ninja
  • H Ninja

Wrist Techniques[edit]

  • Flailing Rifle
  • Hell's Whip
  • Lightsaber (CHS/HCI)

Crossplanes[edit]

  • Centino Crossplane
  • Tomahawk Crossplane
  • The Illinois Crew (TIC) Crossplane

Rolls[edit]

  • Side Palm Roll
  • Around The Neck Roll

Under The Leg Techniques[edit]

  • Hwa Chong UTL
  • Tanjong Katong UTL
  • Catholic High UTL

Death (360° Turn) Techniques[edit]

  • Flyin' Floridian
  • Flyin' Hawaiian
  • Death Triple

Performance videos[edit]

Many of the NCC units have filmed their exhilarating performances and are available for free viewing on YouTube. You may view the PDS competition videos under the channels 'National Cadet Corps', 'SgPDS(NCC)', 'HQ National Cadet Corps' and "PDS NCC".

References[edit]

  • Sin, Tino (2006) Pride, Discipline, Honour SAF Provost Media Department, Ministry of Defence, Singapore
  • Estrop, Peter (2006) Our Army: Customs and Traditions, Ministry of Defence, Singapore

External links[edit]