Pace Sticking: Teams Compete At Sandhurst

The annual event welcomes precision and timing as groups execute measured drill movements.

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst has hosted the British Army’s All Arms International Pace Sticking Competition, in a show of accuracy that would have drill sergeants grinning.

Eleven teams from across the forces community were welcomed to the Army officer training venue for the annual competition.

Each event participant used a pace stick - a large, cane-like instrument carried by Army drill sergeants, split and hinged to allow for exact measurements as soldiers step ahead.

The individual must turn the stick, measuring exactly 30 inches, to match the beat of their footsteps.

"We’ve been practicing for a while now and today was a clean run," said Warrant Officer Class 2 John McEvoy of the Welsh Guards.

Military precision is required at events such as Trooping the Colour, to ensure groups are synchronised, and this day was no exception.

Lieutenant Colonel Adrian Hunter, one of the competition judges, explained:

"All the teams here today are looking for is to try to obtain some sort of perfection.

"The margins between the teams are minute, fractional – so it’s little things, tiny points of drill, that will all need scrutiny as we go through the day."

Chelsea Pensioners joined in this year's competition, though they were unable to take first prize.

Three teams of Chelsea Pensioners stood out in front of Old College, representing the Royal Hospital Chelsea in their familiar tri-corn headwear and scarlet tunics.

Dewi Treharne, from one of those three teams, admitted he found the challenge "quite difficult", while Lt Col Hunter described turning the stick as "quite a physical thing to deliver".

"It’s all in the shoulder and arm," he said.

The Grenadier Guards took home the top prize at the end of the day, while Lance Sergeant Matt Hadfield took home the title of 'Best All Arms Pace Sticker'.

"I’ve got no idea what I did that was different to anyone else, I just went out there and did my best," he said, though happy to have been the star of the show.