The Bugler

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U.S. County Courthouses: A Slice of 'Small Town America'

As the Fourth of July approaches it makes one nostalgic for the days of old when the celebration of the nation's independence was foremost on most citizens' minds. The Fourth of July was an important day and the local town squares were decked out and ready for the celebrations. People gathered in their local towns to celebrate the nation's Declaration of Independence.

All across America one can find beautiful old courthouses anchoring these town squares. The constitution which binds this country together can only be maintained with the enforcement of our inalienable rights and thus the need for a very strong third branch of government, the Judiciary Branch. Back in the mid 1800s many courthouses were built throughout the country to help establish laws and enforce them. These courthouses were the cornerstone for wonderful town squares. One beautiful example of an historic courthouse that holds together a town center is the Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania. West Chester is about 25 miles west of Philadelphia, in the heart of the Brandywine region. Looking at the courthouse one first notices the enormous ornate columns and the tall steeple. The building is constructed of beautiful limestone and surrounded by large 100-year-old trees. Several things about the courthouse are memorable.

First the building itself is large and grand and is on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. Second, the beautiful tall trees which grow on the grounds of the courthouse spread their branches and you just know they've been there for decades. But the item that kept getting my attention was the statue that graces the corner of the street at the front of the courthouse. The wonderful statue, called Old Glory, was dedicated in 1915 to honor the veterans of Chester County who fought in the Civil War. Amazingly, the dedication ceremony was attended by 35,000 people. To learn more about the Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania and the history of Old Glory, visit ChesterCoHistorical.org.

Other websites to visit to learn and see some of our great historical courthouses include CourthouseHistory.com and County Courthouses on Flickr.

The Star Spangled Banner: Do You Have the 15th Star?

This summer America is celebrating the 200th birthday of the enormous flag that was flown at Fort McHenry in June 1814 as the British warships arrived in Baltimore Harbor. The flag, originally 30 by 42 feet, is 240 square feet, or 20 percent, smaller than it was when it was first flown. Read the article, “Star Struck,” in the June 2014 issue of Smithsonian to read the fascinating story why. Simple reason, people would ask for pieces of the flag to give as gifts to important people who wanted a remembrance of America or the flag for a variety of reasons. The article goes on to say that people find pieces every few years that have been tucked in old books or in attics. Look out for the 15th star which was "cut out for some official person." No one has ever recovered the star. Luckily, someone realized that they had to stop cutting up the flag!

Competitive Drill: How to Critique Your Own Drill

Many drillers have posted a video of themselves on the Independent Drill Facebook group page in hopes of receiving feedback on their drill. Often, I find that these drillers are rather new to the sport, and are reaching out to more experienced drillers in hopes that they can point out something that was initially missed by the driller posting the video. I would not be shocked to learn that there are many drillers who are rather shy about their skill level and would rather not ask a public forum for a critique. This article will offer some tips to help guide you through a video of yourself for those who wish to self-critique their videos.

  1. Pause often or go frame-by-frame. Have you ever had that feeling that something was a little bit off in your drill, but you could never pinpoint exactly what that was? Pausing the video is an easy trick to help you locate the details. Maybe you blow your cheeks out when throwing aerials - a mistake that is commonly made but often missed by those who aren't moving frame-by-frame through their video. The frame-by-frame method is an especially useful technique for teams, as many of the small details can be missed in full speed, but encapsulated in a picture. If someone on your team is consistently off-step by a fraction of a second, the overall impression of the routine will be diminished. Many times, the only way to see those minute differences is by pausing a video and rigorously studying it.
  2. Watch for hand pins. Early drillers struggle with hand pins, and for good reason. Hand pins accentuate your control over the rifle - they let judges and spectators know that you are in complete control, and many new drillers are, quite simply, not in complete control. That's why practice makes perfect, and also why it's something especially important to look for in your drill. Hand pins show confidence, and they're easy to spot. While moving frame-by-frame, be sure to pay special attention to your hands.
  3. Watch to make sure you're maintaining a consistent speed. Slight variations in speed can throw off the rhythm of the routine, and this detail is one of the kings of "something's off but I can't put my finger on it." I see this problem most often during Rising Suns. The common problem here is that a driller's speed will be very smooth as the rifle crosses planes from the front of a driller to behind a driller, but will suddenly taper in speed as the driller brings the rifle up over their head, and then resumes a quicker speed after the transfer between hands. This is an easy detail to spot in a video playing at full speed, and you should watch for it if you ever get an uneasy feeling about a segment.

Hopefully this helps some of you who are looking for advice and critiques, especially those who may be more introverted about their progress. Having such advanced video technology means it's easier than ever to see yourself from the outside and make adjustments accordingly. Be creative with finding solutions - I once used a GoPro head mount while drilling to keep tabs of where I was looking during drill in an effort to maintain a "thousand-yard stare." Have some fun and happy drilling.

Adam Jeup has been an active driller for 10 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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