Billed in the RMA Heritage Open Day program as a ‘Stickus Pacium Romanus’ demonstration, four senior NCO’s showed their skill at pace sticking.
A pace stick is an aid to military drill. Usually consisting of two pieces of wood, hinged at the top, it opens so that the tips separate at fixed distances, corresponding to various lengths of marching pace, such as “double march” or “quick march” and so on.
The history of pace sticking was usefully included in the Heritage Open Day program, which I’ve copied here,
“Roman military engineers used a pace stick almost identical the modern British army version, with the main difference being the length of rope in place of the modern brass locking bar. When the Roman pace stick was fully open the rope went taught and the stick was locked at an angle that measured two Roman marching paces.
When building roads, the Roman ‘sticker’ would turn his implement 500 times, equating to a Roman mile. At which point a mile stone would then be erected.
In 1928, the then Academy Sergeant Major Arthur Brand developed a drill for the pace stick and promoted its use throughout the Army.”
There’s an annual pace sticking championship, held at the RMA Sandhurst. The video below is off the winners of the 2009/10 competition. And my they’re fantastic at pace sticking. Must find out if there’s a championship this year, and if the public are invited.