The Bugler

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One of America's Many Gems: The General's Home

Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

America is full of little gems that we take for granted. One of these is a small house in a field in Somerset County, New Jersey. This restored home is on the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places. It is the Jacobus Vanderveer house. This small farm house has been transformed into living history and recently people flocked to see the home decorated for a Colonial Christmas. The most famous resident of this home was General Henry Knox, who moved into the home with his family during the winter of 1778 and 1779. General Knox is widely credited with bringing "overland from Fort Ticonderoga 70 artillery pieces which, promptly placed on Dorchester Heights, rendered the city (Boston) untenable by the British and threatened also the vessels in the harbor." Two weeks later the British withdrew to Canada to decide on their next tactic. Knox had a famous boss that had approved and supported his work in moving the cannon from Fort Ticonderoga, General George Washington.

Henry Knox was a bookseller and in his spare time before the revolution read everything he could on military strategy and artillery. After the success at Dorchester Heights, Knox became a frequent companion of General Washington and is credited with building the Pluckemin Containment which housed many troops and trained them in artillery and, according to, is "believed to be the first installation in America to train officers in engineering and artillery." The teachings at the Pluckemin Containment were the precursor to West Point. Watch a fascinating youtube video entitled, "The Lost Pluckemin Cantonment." Knox later became the first Secretary of War for the United States under President Washington.

The trustees of the Jacobus Vanderveer home have done a remarkable job raising funds to restore this home and are constantly designing activities that will teach both children and adults in the area about the Containment and this period in history. You can read more about the Jacobus Vanderveer home and the Pluckemin Containment at

Local gems like the Vanderveer Home are found all over America. If there is a local site of importance near where you live, please share with us and send an email to We will try to write about your "gem" in a future Bugler.

Competitive Drill: How to Teach Yourself To Drill

For most of your drill career, you probably won't have a mentor to coach you along to learn new tricks. Expanding your bag of tricks is something you'll have to do alone, and this is not an easy feat. I've spent a lot of time learning new tricks, inventing new tricks, and teaching myself how to drill. Understanding my learning process has allowed me to jump from second-to-last place at Isis in 2009, to sixth place at Isis in 2013. In this article, I will be sharing with you the techniques I've used to help myself learn.

Step 1: Watch drill videos.

This step is a given - if you want to learn new tricks, it would help to know which tricks are already out there. Don't be afraid to slow down the videos to get a closer look. VLC video player is fantastic for this. If you aren't already, head over to and check out my trick library and instructional videos. These moves will give you a very strong foundation in drill, and constantly present you with new challenges to attempt.

Step 2: Practice hard, but not too hard.

There seem to be two ways drillers approach a solo practice. They either go hard and heavy, and leave when their muscles give out and they start to bleed, or they go much slower, spending their time to warm up and cool down every session. I much prefer the second method, and I quit practice as soon as something becomes off-kilter. While this may not seem to present me with an advantage, it most certainly does. Because I'm careful never to injure myself, I can practice multiple days in a row. These consecutive practices are where I take my largest strides in terms of skill level.

Step 3: Sleep on it.

If you don't get a trick right away, don't sweat it. Take a break, hydrate, eat something with protein in it, stretch, and get a good night of sleep. Over the night, your muscles will rejuvenate, and you'll wake up slightly stronger than the day before. Combining sleep with Step 2 means that you'll always start the day off with fresh muscles. I often perform a new trick for the first time at the beginning of a practice, on the second or third day of attempting it, and only after a good night of sleep.

Step 4: Never give up.

Some tricks take much longer to learn how to do. It took me weeks to learn a full ninja, and longer to learn the Flyin' Floridian. But small steps in the right direction will still get you to the end goal. Never give up - not after a few days, not after a few weeks, nor a few months. Never give up, and if the trick is possible, you'll get there eventually.

Always remember to be safe during training. An injury means lost practice time, both for yourself and for your team. Take care of yourself, hydrate, and have fun.

Adam Jeup has been an active driller for 9 years and has competed at IWDC. He owns and operates Independent Drill, a learning resource for drillers of all skill levels. Adam is a regular contributor to the Bugler. Stay tuned for his exclusive articles on competitive drill!

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