Ready for Rifle

Without proper taping, your rifle can go from “shiny and new” to “split in two” with just one bad toss. As you head into winter season, make sure your equipment is as prepared as you are.


Gather strapping tape, electrical tape, cotton batting and a screwdriver. Strapping tape is a semi-clear tape that is reinforced with threads. It can be found in most home improvement stores or those that carry postal supplies. I prefer the two-inch version.


Apply a strip of strapping tape around the rifle at both the nose and the butt to help avoid chipping when the rifle hits the ground.

Next, remove the bolt and wrap tape around the rifle from just above the bolt to just past the thin part of the neck. Try to avoid too much overlap of the tape in order to prevent adding excess weight.

Then use your electrical tape to neatly cover all the areas of strapping tape and reattach the bolt.


The staples that attach the end pads to the rifle may work their way loose over time, especially as the wood at each end chips away or becomes soft from repeated drops. Simply enhance or replace the pads with a thick piece of cotton batting and tape over it with electrical tape to match the style/ color of the original pads.

Additional Tips

Tape over the metal part of the swivel that attaches to the rifle as well as the strap screws. This will protect your hands and rehearsal floor, and it will keep the strap screws in place in case they come loose during performance. If the bolt or swivel screws come loose over time, try adding wood putty to the holes for reinforcement.

Remove old tape and reapply rather than layering tape to avoid adding weight.

Click here for a step-by-step worksheet with photos and instructions.

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.

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