The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

Don't Give Up The Ship

Captain James Lawrence
Be careful what you say because people may still be repeating it in 200 years. Read the history of the term "Don't Give Up the Ship" as reported by Naval History.

"Through the first year of the War of 1812, the infant United States Navy won a number of stunning victories in ship-to-ship engagements over Royal Navy vessels, including the capture of three British frigates. While this string of Yankee successes may not have surprised the American people, it startled, confounded, and angered the British nation which considered its sailors and warships more than a match for the upstart U.S. fleet.

"One American officer who contributed to these early triumphs over the Royal Navy was James Lawrence. On February 24, 1813, Lawrence's sloop of war Hornet reduced HM brig-sloop Peacock to a sinking state in the space of fifteen minutes, killing and wounding more than a quarter of its crew. In recognition of this win, Lawrence was promoted to captain and given command of the frigate Chesapeake, then lying at Boston. Among the missions the Navy Department contemplated for Chesapeake at this time was the seizure and destruction of British transports and supply ships en route from England to Canada.

"When Lawrence arrived in Boston on May 20th to assume command of Chesapeake he found his ship short of men and still in need of refitting for its intended voyage. He also discovered two British frigates cruising in the waters off Boston Harbor, awaiting the opportunity to intercept and capture any American vessel attempting to enter or depart from that port. By the 25th, only one British warship, the frigate Shannon, remained in view blockading the harbor.

"Lured by the prospect of laurels in another single-ship combat with the enemy, and anxious to engage Shannon before that ship was reinforced, Lawrence hastened to ready Chesapeake for battle. Although Chesapeake and Shannon were nearly evenly matched in size and power, the latter vessel held a decided advantage over its American counterpart in unit cohesiveness and training, especially gunnery. On June 1st when Lawrence sailed Chesapeake out to meet Shannon, he had directed his crew for less than two weeks, while Shannon's Captain, Philip Broke, had commanded his vessel for seven years.

"This disparity in experience and service gave the well-trained Shannon the edge in the battle that ensued. After a hard-fought, bloody action lasting only a quarter of an hour, the American frigate struck her colors to Shannon. The victory earned Broke a host of honors including a knighthood, while defeat gained Lawrence fame and honor as a fallen naval hero. The words of Lawrence's last spoken command soon became a battle cry throughout the American fleet, most famously as the motto emblazoning Oliver Hazard Perry's battle flag at the Battle of Lake Erie: 'Don't Give Up the Ship.'"

Perry's battle flag is part of the museum at the US Naval Academy.

Competitive Drill: Drill Physics Part 2

In the first part of this series, we covered that the secret to drill is to maximize torque. There are three ways to maximize torque. The first technique is to move your hand further from the fulcrum. The second is to push down with your right hand. The third is to turn your wrist faster than the rifle is spinning.

I'm going to go more in depth with the first technique. Let's look back at the formula for torque on a lever. Torque is equal to mass times the distance from the fulcrum. It would be pointless to add mass to just one side of the rifle (as we'll see later). So the only other option is to increase the distance from the fulcrum. If you could increase the distance from the fulcrum, you can create more initial torque.

If you'll remember from earlier, the position of the left hand determines your fulcrum. To move the fulcrum, I'll need to move my left hand outwards, towards the barrel. Let's move it, say, 8 inches. Now that I'm further out, let's look at the math again.

On the right side, I have Torque = mass times distance from the fulcrum. Since I've moved my fulcrum further out, I've increased the mass on the right side. So, let's assume that I now have 5.25 pounds of rifle on the right. The distance from the fulcrum has increased to 30 inches. Torque is equal to 5.25 times 30, which is 157.5 pound-force inches. Awesome. I've added 64 pound-force inches of torque by moving 8 inches towards the barrel. This is a 68% increase in torque being produced on the right side. On the left side, we have the remaining mass and distance from the fulcrum. So, 3.25 times 14, so 45.5 pound-force inches. I've decreased the torque being produced in the counter-clockwise direction, and increased the torque being produced in the clockwise direction. The net torque is now 112 pound-force inches moving clockwise.

But, as the rifle spins we run into a problem. If we keep our fulcrum in place, the rifle will reach an equal and opposite path. At the top of this path, it encounters the same torque of 157.5 pound-force inches in the counterclockwise direction.

To demonstrate, hold the rifle level with the ground. When you let go, the rifle will rotate 180 degrees, reach the top of the path, and swings back. It actually loses some energy on the way. Because the rifle has rotated 180 degrees, the respective distances from the fulcrum have reversed. Now, the rifle has 45.5 pound-force inches of torque in the clockwise direction, and 157.5 pound-force inches of torque in the counter-clockwise direction. The net torque is now 112 pound-force inches moving counter-clockwise.

We can still manage to get a single spin out of the initial torque, though. We just have to know one little trick... Before the rifle reaches the top of its path and stalls, just let go.

And now, something AWESOME happens. Without your left hand acting as a fulcrum, the rifle decides that it's going to use its balance point as its rotational axis. Because of centripetal force, it automatically shifts its acting fulcrum back to the balance point. As it does this, the distance from the fulcrum on the right side returns to normal and the force applied to both sides is once again equal. Only now, it has momentum. And, Newton's first law of motion states that an object in motion will remain in motion until a force is acted upon it.

Long story short, you don't even have to try to create torque - it's naturally there. I can add extra torque with my right hand if I want to, but for single spins, I don't have to. And that's the point. The rifle will spin itself, if you know how to manipulate physics.

Now, you might ask, why not spin from the very top of the rifle? The answer lies in the fact that the fulcrum reverses sides. The shift from that fulcrum to the balance is much further away, and it makes the rifle look odd while doing single spins or doubles. It also decentralizes the position of your hands from your body, which looks sloppy. Additionally, the outside part of the rifle will be forced to travel a greater distance as it moves in a circle, and during this time, you will lose some of the momentum that you may have added with your right hand. Lastly, because the outside of the rifle must travel further, it must also travel faster. This makes it difficult to use your wrist strength to add momentum as you spin.

In my opinion, the best placement for your left hand, on single spins, is right below the upper sling swivel, or halfway between the balance point and the end of the barrel. For aerials, I will typically move just a couple inches closer to the barrel.

To truly maximize your torque, you will need to push down with your right hand. This force, coupled with natural torque is enough torque for most tricks. If you know that you can handle it, and you need to add more torque, you can turn your wrist faster than the rifle is already spinning.

Another point to remember is gravity. Gravity is always enacting acceleration down on the rifle at 9.8 m/s2. Regardless of fulcrum or equilibrium, if you want the rifle to stay in front of you, at chest-level, you'll need to compensate for this. To compensate for this, you must produce an upward acceleration of 9.8 m/s2. This doesn't require much energy - Just raise your left forearm slightly.

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. Stay tuned to the Bugler for more exclusive articles from Adam on competitive drill!

Glendale and

Glendale outfits honor guards, color guards, and drill units. Visit our site for the best in parade and drill equipment and for uniform accessories at

Copyright © 2001-2014 Glendale Parade Store - 1-800-653-5515