Sandhurst Hosts 2020 Pace Sticking Competition

International travel bans and strict social distancing rules regarding coronavirus meant this year's event was different from the norm.

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) has hosted its annual pace sticking competition, although COVID-19 rules meant this year was different to normal.

Travel restrictions meant some international teams were unable to attend, so the All Arms International Pace Sticking was put on hold and replaced with The Tri-Service Pace Sticking competition - a first at RMAS.

Best Pace Sticking Team, Best International Team, Best Individual Pace Sticker and Best Driver were the other titles up for grabs.

A number of teams took part, including the Grenadier Guards, the Royal Air Force, The Queen’s Colour Squadron, several RMAS teams from across the Academy, including an officers' team and a team from the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Chelsea in-pensioner Dave Coote, the team's driver, said: "It’s great to be back and leading the team.

"I last took part in pace sticking in 1977 as an RMAS Colour Sergeant.

"Marching on the drill square has bought all of the good times flooding back to me."

Lieutenant Colonel England was escorted by Chelsea Pensioner Dave Coote for their teams' inspection (Picture: MOD).

Pace sticking teams consist of four members – a driver who delivers the words of command and three team members.

Over the course, the teams march in slow and quick time while alternating turning the stick with the left or right hand.

The objective of the pace stick drill is to provide uniformity in the use of a stick and a high standard of steadiness and cohesion.

Pace sticking originated with the Royal Artillery regiments.

It was used by the field gun teams to ensure correct distances between the guns.

In 1982 the stick began to be used by the infantry as a drill aid.

It is used to determine the correct length of the pace, distance between the ranks and to check drill movement.

The event took place on the parade square in front of the iconic white steps and hallows of Old College (Picture: MOD).

Pace sticking winners were The Grenadier Guards, with runners-up being the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Lords Team.

Last year’s international team winners, the Pakistan Military Academy, met necessary travel requirements to attend and successfully retain their title. 

The Best Driver and Pace Sticker awards also went to members of the Grenadier Guards team. 

Presenting the prizes was RMAS Commandant Major General Duncan Capps.

"Pace sticking is a fine art and it is great to see that the pace stick is very much a part of our Armed Forces both here in the UK and in other countries too," he said.

"It’s important we keep that flame alive.

"It’s been a really difficult year, so I am hugely grateful to those teams that were able to devote some time and pull teams together in order to be here today.

"Well done to you all."

Cover image: The Pakistan Military Academy Team turn and prepare to march off the square on completion of their pace stick performance (Picture: MOD).