Aim for 100

Picking up rifle for the first time? Here are some tips for getting started. Right and Left Hand Spins (also called “Butt Spins” or “Slap Spins”) are difficult. You may struggle for what feels like weeks to get more than a few consecutives, but one day it will just “click.”

Aim for 100 spins a day to start. You may only be able to do one or two in a row but pick that rifle back up and keep counting from where you left off.

Technique. To help with control, keep the upper part of the arm loosely connected to your side. Don’t let the elbow lift as you start each spin.

And remember last month’s “In the Toaster” column? Those tips apply to rifle flourishes as well. … Find a wall and work on your flourishes a little each day until your wrists are loose enough to keep them in the toaster.


When you get to 100 on the right hand, switch to the left and go to 100 again. Almost every basic skill you learn on the right hand should also be rehearsed on the left. Don’t ignore the left side just because it feels more awkward.

Strength and Flexibility. Flourish exercises increase wrist flexibility while strengthening the forearm. Tiring for sure but so important. Start doing push-ups daily to build those upper arm muscles.

Gloves. A fingerless weightlifting style of glove with a padded palm can help protect from stinging and bruising. They can be purchased from color guard supply companies in tan, which almost disappear in the distance between the field and stands in marching band.

If you wear gloves for performance, you must wear them at all rehearsals because your skills will feel different when wearing gloves. Purchase an extra pair or two in case of loss or wear and tear.

No matter what, work on those consecutives! And be patient. They don’t come fast, … but sooner than you know it, you’ll feel like an expert!

About author

Catina Anderson

Catina Anderson has been involved in the marching arts for almost 30 years, first as a performer and then as an instructor. She is the founder/editor of, a website for color guard coaches. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Towson University and a master’s degree in education from Marymount University.