Now this is stepping!
February 28, 2010 5:31 PM   Subscribe

The Shattuck Crack Squad (be sure to turn on your sound) started in 1882 as the "Far Famed Fancy Drill Squad" at Shattuck School, a military prep school in Faribault, Minnesota. It has included famous members, such as Marlon Brando. Based on a drill manual developed by John J. Pershing, the squad marches using the "Zouave" step at 250 steps a minute and uses Springfield 45-70 breech-loading rifles from the Civil War era (pdf). They have won many drill competitions, and their performance is thrilling and fascinating. It even has its own Facebook page.

Although it is passed down from year to year among high school boys, who select their successors through grueling tryouts and hone their skill during long practice and enormous self-discipline, even the old guys can come back and do it (slow load and a tiny picture, but worth it). It may seem militaristic, but even in the days when Shattuck (now Shattuck-St. Mary's) required all boys to be part of the junior ROTC program, the Crack Squad was staunchly opposed to control by the Army instructors and had only an English teacher as its civilian advisor. In the late '60s and early '70s, many of its members were opposed to the Vietnam War.
posted by Mental Wimp (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My kids participated in a bajillion drill meets in hs (all of them were in jrotc) and it's a pretty big world out there. They got to go to the Nationals one year, even.
There are also professional drillers-the King's Guard from Hawaii is one of the best known.

I've never seen that particular step at any of the meets I have been at. Fascinating.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:06 PM on February 28, 2010

Hmm. Something missing.

I know. Mute it and play this one in the background.
posted by cromagnon at 7:15 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're going to go professional, these guys are pretty good. My mom's uncle was the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, many many years ago, and they took me to a Torchlight Tattoo performance in Washington DC. Stunning.
posted by ZakDaddy at 7:17 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Thigh Slapping Ministry of Silly Walks.
posted by tellurian at 7:18 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

That Zouave stuff is interesting, he's the dude on Zig-Zag papers. I didn't know that.
posted by tellurian at 7:30 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

That Zouave stuff is interesting, he's the dude on Zig-Zag papers. I didn't know that.

He actually has a name? Wow, that's sort of mind-blowing. In my misspent youth we referred to him as "Braunstein Freres", since it says that on the package for some reason (French for "Braunstein Brothers", I guess, but why?).
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:42 PM on February 28, 2010

We even had a whole backstory for how Braunstein Freres invented the joint and everything, the sort of thing every stoner comes up with and forgets most of over Doritos half an hour later.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:43 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The ZOUAVE use to war and battle
Would sooner take a life than not;
It scarcely has begun to prattle
When he impales the hapless tot.
posted by kenko at 8:08 PM on February 28, 2010

See also:
The ladies of Shattuck-St Marys do damn well themselves.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 8:14 PM on February 28, 2010

Those guys ain't got nothing on ROTC Chicago.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:33 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Who invents this kind of thing?
posted by loquacious at 1:49 AM on March 1, 2010

In my mind this will always be a military version of a haka. I imagine two armies meeting in a field of battle and each first performing one of these silent drills to impress the other army...
posted by DreamerFi at 4:06 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Go look up more youtube on the King's guard, DreamerFi, and you'll see how close you are!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:16 AM on March 1, 2010

Military of Silly Walks?
posted by scruss at 4:52 AM on March 1, 2010

St Alia, that confirms it, thanks!
posted by DreamerFi at 9:17 AM on March 1, 2010

Ah. The historical ancestor of this. Start that video about three minutes in, and realize that it is merely very good -- they don't toss anything higher than a triple, which is an intermediate skill when the rifle you're throwing is only a little over three feet long and weighs just a couple of pounds. For really really good, start here and here -- but this stuff is old school now; I've been aged out for years. Wish I could find some videos from the early 80s to show how indoor color guard's evolved from drill like in the fpp into this weird performance art stuff, but Winter Guard International seems to have most of that stuff behind a paywall. >:(

ROTC Chicago's just awesome. I was a dancer first, but it was gay dudes via color guard who taught me to perform.
posted by clavicle at 10:02 AM on March 1, 2010

Shattuck, pfft. My cousin Stan did crack drill at St. Thomas as we Middle Squirrels watched from the balcony, and it was awwwesome. (Even though Tommies dress like mailmen.)

Last winter my wife and I went to see the Army show put on called "Spirit of America" that combines music, historical reenactment, etc. It was pretty good, but the drill team wasn't on the floor nearly long enough for me.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:45 AM on March 1, 2010

Mute it and play this one in the background.

Not bad, but what about this one?
posted by speicus at 3:36 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

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