It was the Royal Logistic Corps that swept up the accolades at this year’s All Arms Pace Sticking Competition held at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
The RLC team took best British Army All Arms Pace Sticking Team as well as team member Corporal Boucher being named as the British Army’s Best Individual Pace Sticker.
There is something quintessentially British about the pace sticking competition, synonymous with phrases such as ‘spit and polish’, ‘ramrod straight back’ and of course, ‘bags of swank (a bygone military term meaning to exude panache and confidence).’
The British Army is world renowned for its prowess in putting on a show – it has no peers when it comes to pomp and ceremony as was so magnificently demonstrated during Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebration weekend.
The pace sticking competition takes in all that and condenses it down into a team of three, the ‘stickers’ and the team lead, the ‘driver’ who are required to perform a number of intricate drill moves using their pace sticks over a 20 minute period during which they are marked to the centimetre and second for accuracy and timing – it could well be described as, drill square dressage.
A pace stick is designed to measure length of pace – it literally measures the length of a marching pace; it also has other settings on it that allow instructors to measure certain other distances that are used on the parade square; for instance the distance between the heels when troops are stood at ease.”
If you can imagine a large walking cane that is split and hinged at one end when opened out forms a triangle. The distance between the two opened ends is 30 inches (76cm) the British Army’s standard length of pace.
It has its origins back in Roman times when similar devices were used to measure distances during road construction. The British Army first employed the stick to accurately mark out the distance of artillery guns and it has since been adapted for use on the parade square.
“This has been a fabulous contest, a lot of work has gone into this and to see so many teams from the Army and across the world back to compete has made it all so worthwhile.” Warrant Officer Class 2 John McEvoy
The competition took a temporary dip in attendance, especially from the international teams, because of Covid, but now the numbers of teams competing is getting back to pre-pandemic levels with more teams flying in from overseas eager to represent their countries in the prestigious Best International Team category.
The increasing popularity of the competition has meant that an additional runway, the track on the parade ground in front of the famous Old College down which the teams march, has been added; the ambition is to have forty teams take part in the future.
Basking in 30º sunshine, the crowds were charmed with the stately performances by the two teams from the Royal Hospital Chelsea. In their bright scarlet tunics, black tricorne hats and with the sun glinting off their medals they struck a very different pose to the high energy and wonderfully exuberant style of the team from Pakistan who once again amazed all with their incredible high licking actions. Such was the fascination in their style it led the Academy Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class 1 Colin Kirkwood to describe them as being the Real Madrid’ of pace sticking!
However; it was the Bahrain Police team who took top honours for the best international competitor. In the words of the President of the Judging Panel, Captain Rob Beckett of the Coldstream Guards, “I think collectively as a judging panel we have seen one team today that, we’ve never seen anything like before. They (Bahrain Police) have been absolutely unbelievable; the teamwork, the style, the speed, just everything was perfect and we couldn’t pick any holes in it.”
It was a proud day for Warrant Officer Class 2 John McEvoy as the event organiser. Not only was the first post-pandemic event such a great success, but he also managed to win the best All Arms Pace Sticking Driver.
Speaking of the day he said, “This has been a fabulous contest, a lot of work has gone into this and to see so many teams from the Army and across the world back to compete has made it all so worthwhile.” Adding, “To top it all, I won best Driver – the perfect ending!.”
The Results for the 2022 All Arms and International Pace Sticking Competition were as follows:
Best British Army All Arms
Best Team - Royal Logistic Corps
Runner Up Team - Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Band
Best Individual Sticker - Cpl Boucher, Royal Logistic Corps
Best Driver - WO2 John McEvoy
Best Team - Bahrain Police
Runner Up Team - Pakistan
Best Individual Sticker - Sergeant Fath, Bahrain Police
Best Driver - Academy Sergeant Major Shiraz, Pakistan