Grenadier Guards - Photo Julian Perreira
Army

Pace Sticking: What Is It Really All About?

What is the art of Pace Sticking ? And why does it matter so much to the British Military?

Grenadier Guards - Photo Julian Perreira

Teams from around the world are gearing up for the All Arms (World Championship) Pace-Sticking competition at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. 

Here we will take a look at the Pace-Stick and what the annual event is all about, ahead of this year's event this week: 

The pace stick itself basically looks like a giant compass and dates back to Roman times when it was used to mark out the distance of straight Roman roads.

pace stick

When it comes to the military, the Royal Regiment of Artillery lay claim to be the originator of the Pace-Stick. They say it was used like a pair of calipers to ensure correct distances between their field guns during battle.

However, in 1928, the then Academy Sergeant Major, Arthur Brand, developed the Pace-Stick to be used as an aide to drill, to mark out the correct distances between troops on parade and to ensure a full 30 inch marching pace was being taken. Arthur also then promoted its use throughout the British Army.

Some now say using the Pace-Stick is a dying art within the British Armed Forces, but there still remains an annual competition in June each year. 

The competition is held at Sandhurst and sees fierce competition from teams travelling to UK from far-flung places such as Bahrain, Jordan and Pakistan.

Pace sticking
Pakistan Pace Sticking Team at Sandhurst

Any teams selected to compete will first be expected to have won a preliminary competition before being accepted to take part at the world championships held each year in the UK. 

The competition is where teams of up to four will compete in different categories to be in with a chance to win the title of World Champion Pace-Sticking Team or for the prestigious title of Individual World Pace-Sticking Champion.

Each team member will be judged on their overall turnout and bearing while on parade and are expected conduct the same set routine, which each team has to perform in perfect sequence - any wrong words of command or kit that is less than immaculate will result in points being deducted from their team score card. 

Watch: What is expected of those taking part in the competition?