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  Getting Your Hand Salute Right
by Rick Wilson


The fastest way to get an audience (or a judging panel) believing that you are a skilled drum major is to snap off a precise and flashy salute.

The problem is that about half of the drum majors you see at competitions, don't know where to place their hand salute.

It looks awkward. At times, it can be embarrassing.

Here's how to make sure you do yours right.


Photo: Drum Major - Phantom Regiment
Drum & Bugle Corps - Rockford, IL
Phantom Salute
 

I decided to do some official research on hand salutes so I could give you more than just my opinion. (Ask five different drum majors where they place their hand salute and you might get six different answers.)

I went down to the local US Military recruiting office and asked to see the official reference on hand salutes. I spoke with the Army representative and was shown a copy of the US Army Manual for Dress and Deportment. Section 3-5 covered hand salutes. Here is what you should know:

"...When wearing headgear with a visor (with or without glasses), ......raise the right hand sharply, fingers and thumb extended and joined, palm facing down, and place the tip of the right forefinger on the rim of the visor slightly to the right of the right eye. The outer edge of the hand is barely canted downward so that neither the back of the hand nor the palm is clearly visible from the front. The hand and wrist are straight, the elbow inclined slightly forward and the upper arm horizontal." (See example 1 below)

 
Salute 2

Example 1 - Photo from US Marine Corps
"...When wearing headgear without a visor (or uncovered) and not wearing glasses, execute a hand salute in the same manner...except touch the tip of the right forefinger to the forehead near and slightly to the right of the right eyebrow.
(See example 2 below)
  "...When wearing headgear without a visor (or uncovered) and wearing glasses, execute a hand salute in the same manner...except touch the tip of the right forefinger to the forehead to that point on the glasses where the temple piece of the frame meets the right edge of the right brow. Salute 1

Example 2 - Photo from US Army
 

"...On the command of execution...return the hand sharply to the side, resuming the position of attention."

Even though you may be in a marching band or a drum corps, the standard for a hand salute is the same.

An exception would be if your organization uses a British or Scottish style. The proper placement of the right hand is the same, the difference is that your palm is turned to be palm front.

  Salute 3

Spend some time in front of a mirror, or watch your reflection in a window so you can see your hand placement. You should work to perfect your salute so that your hand position is perfect without having to think about it.

A quick way to show the world you know what you are doing, is to hit your salutes confidently and with precision. Now you have the information so you can get it right every time.

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