What to Expect at a National Guard Drill: A Look Inside

The National Guard is a reserve component of the United States Armed Forces, composed of citizen soldiers who serve part-time while maintaining civilian jobs. One of the primary responsibilities of National Guard members is to attend regular drills to ensure they are well-trained and ready to respond to any emergencies or conflicts.

So what can you expect when attending a National Guard drill? The answer varies depending on your role and unit, but there are some common elements that you can anticipate.

First and foremost, drills are designed to assess and enhance your military skills and knowledge. You will engage in a variety of training exercises, including physical fitness tests, weapons qualifications, and tactical drills. These activities will help you maintain your readiness and proficiency for potential deployment.

During drills, you will also have the opportunity to learn new skills and expand your knowledge. You may receive instruction on military tactics, first aid, communications, or other relevant topics. The National Guard values continuous learning and strives to equip its members with a wide range of skills.

In addition to the training aspect, drills are an excellent opportunity to build camaraderie and esprit de corps with your fellow National Guard members. You will work closely with your unit, developing teamwork and mutual trust, which are critical in military operations. The bonds you form during these drills can last a lifetime and create a sense of pride and belonging.

Whether you are a new recruit or a seasoned veteran, attending a National Guard drill is an essential part of your service commitment. It provides you with the necessary training, knowledge, and experience to fulfill your duties and responsibilities as a citizen soldier. So embrace the opportunity and prepare to dive into a challenging and rewarding experience at your next National Guard drill.

Types of Drills in the National Guard

1. Unit Training

Unit training drills are designed to enhance the skills and readiness of a specific National Guard unit. These drills focus on the unit’s specific mission and may involve tasks such as weapons qualifications, field exercises, and tactical training.

2. Physical Fitness Training

2. Physical Fitness Training

Physical fitness is a crucial aspect of being a member of the National Guard. Regular physical fitness drills focus on improving endurance, strength, and overall fitness levels. These drills may include activities such as running, push-ups, sit-ups, and obstacle courses.

3. Classroom Training

The National Guard also emphasizes classroom training to ensure members possess the necessary knowledge and skills for their roles. These drills typically involve lectures, presentations, and discussions on a wide range of topics including military regulations, first aid, leadership, and weapons systems.

4. Emergency Response Training

One of the primary roles of the National Guard is to assist during emergencies and natural disasters. Drills focused on emergency response training simulate real-life scenarios and help members develop the skills needed to respond effectively to a variety of situations. This may include search and rescue operations, disaster relief efforts, and coordination with other emergency response agencies.

5. Specialized Training

The National Guard offers a wide range of specialized training opportunities to its members. These drills focus on specific skills or roles within the National Guard, such as aviation, engineering, medical, or military intelligence. Specialized training drills allow members to develop expertise in their chosen field and contribute to the overall mission of the National Guard.

6. Leadership Training

6. Leadership Training

Leadership development is an essential aspect of the National Guard. Leadership training drills focus on building the skills needed to lead and manage personnel effectively. These drills may include communication exercises, team building activities, and tactical decision-making scenarios.

7. Joint Exercises

The National Guard often participates in joint exercises with other branches of the military, as well as with international partners. These drills provide an opportunity to enhance interoperability and cooperation between different military units. Joint exercises may involve large-scale field training exercises, simulated combat scenarios, and mission planning.

8. Maintenance Drills

Proper maintenance of equipment is critical for the National Guard’s operational readiness. Maintenance drills focus on ensuring equipment is properly serviced, repaired, and maintained. These drills may involve routine inspections, troubleshooting, and hands-on maintenance tasks.

9. Marksmanship Training

Marksmanship training drills focus on improving members’ shooting skills and proficiency with various weapons. These drills often involve range practice, target shooting, and qualifying for different weapon systems.

10. Team Building Exercises

Team building exercises help foster cohesion and camaraderie among National Guard members. These drills typically involve group activities and challenges that promote teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.

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Summary of National Guard Drill Types
Drill Type Description
Unit Training Enhances skills and readiness of specific National Guard units.
Physical Fitness Training Improves endurance, strength, and overall fitness levels.
Classroom Training Provides knowledge and skills through lectures and discussions.
Emergency Response Training Prepares for responding to emergencies and natural disasters.
Specialized Training Focuses on specific skills or roles within the National Guard.
Leadership Training Develops leadership and management skills.
Joint Exercises Enhances interoperability and cooperation with other military units.
Maintenance Drills Ensures proper maintenance of equipment.
Marksmanship Training Improves shooting skills and proficiency with weapons.
Team Building Exercises Promotes teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.

Preparation and Arrival

Before attending a National Guard drill, it’s important to make all necessary preparations and arrive on time. Being well-prepared will ensure that you have a smooth experience and can fully engage in the activities and training that take place during the drill weekend.

Gather Important Documents

Before heading to the drill, make sure you have all the required identification and paperwork. This may include your military ID card, driver’s license, social security card, and any relevant medical records or certifications. Check with your unit beforehand to ensure you have all the necessary documentation in order to avoid any complications upon arrival.

Pack the Essentials

Pack a bag with all the essential items you’ll need for the drill weekend. This may include your uniform, toiletries, bedding, and any personal items you may need during your stay. Be sure to pack any required equipment or gear that may be specified by your unit or the training schedule.

It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast for the drill weekend and pack appropriate clothing and gear accordingly. Remember to bring any necessary medications or special dietary items that you may require during your stay.

Plan Your Travel

Plan Your Travel

Make travel arrangements well in advance to ensure that you arrive at the drill location on time. Consider factors such as traffic, distance, and any potential delays that may arise. Coordinate with your fellow soldiers if you plan on carpooling or sharing transportation.

Familiarize yourself with the location of the drill site and plan your route accordingly. If you’re unsure about the exact location, don’t hesitate to reach out to your unit for directions or guidance.

Arrive Early

To avoid any last-minute rush or confusion, plan to arrive early at the drill location. This will give you ample time to check-in, receive any necessary briefings, and settle in before the training activities begin.

When you arrive, locate the designated check-in area and follow the instructions provided by the staff. They will guide you through the registration process and let you know about any additional requirements or instructions for the drill weekend.

Once you’ve completed the necessary check-in procedures, find your assigned area or unit and prepare for the upcoming drill activities. Take the time to introduce yourself to your fellow soldiers and leaders to establish rapport and camaraderie.

Overall, thorough preparation and timely arrival are key to a successful and rewarding National Guard drill experience. By taking care of these aspects, you can make the most of your training opportunities and contribute to the mission and goals of your unit.

Uniforms and Equipment

When attending a National Guard drill, it is important to understand the uniforms and equipment that are typically worn and used. This section will provide an overview of the various uniforms and equipment you may encounter.

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The National Guard follows a standardized uniform code that is similar to the U.S. Army. The main uniform worn during drills is the Army Combat Uniform (ACU). The ACU consists of a coat, trousers, a patrol cap, brown combat boots, and a belt. The coat and trousers are typically adorned with patches and insignia indicating rank, branch, and unit.

In addition to the ACU, other uniforms that may be worn include the Army Service Uniform (ASU) and the Physical Fitness Uniform (PTU). The ASU is typically worn during formal events and includes a coat, trousers or skirt, a dress shirt, and a tie. The PTU is worn during physical training activities and consists of a T-shirt, shorts or pants, and running shoes.


The National Guard utilizes a wide range of equipment during drills. Some of the common equipment you may encounter includes:

  • Firearms and ammunition: Soldiers may be issued various firearms, such as rifles or pistols, depending on their assigned duties. Ammunition is also provided for training purposes.
  • Protective gear: Soldiers may be required to wear protective gear such as body armor, helmets, and eye protection to ensure their safety during training exercises.
  • Communication devices: Radios and other communication devices are used to facilitate communication between soldiers and leaders during drills.
  • Field equipment: Soldiers may use various field equipment, such as backpacks, canteens, and sleeping bags, depending on the specific training exercise.
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Additional Considerations

It is important to note that the specific uniforms and equipment used during a National Guard drill may vary depending on the unit, training objectives, and location. It is always best to check with your unit leadership or drill coordinator for specific guidance on what uniforms and equipment to bring.

Additionally, it is essential to maintain and care for your uniforms and equipment to ensure their longevity and effectiveness. Regular inspections and proper storage can help prolong the lifespan and functionality of these items.

In conclusion, attending a National Guard drill requires familiarity with the uniforms and equipment utilized during training. By understanding the various uniforms and equipment, you can be better prepared and equipped for drill weekends.

Physical Fitness Tests and Training

Physical fitness is a crucial aspect of being a member of the National Guard. During drill weekends, soldiers are expected to participate in a series of physical fitness tests and training activities to ensure they are in proper shape.

Physical Fitness Tests

The National Guard conducts various physical fitness tests to assess the overall fitness level of its soldiers. These tests may include:

  • Push-ups and Sit-ups: Soldiers are tested on the number of push-ups and sit-ups they can do in a given time frame. This tests their upper body and core strength.
  • 1-mile Run: Soldiers are timed as they run a mile to assess their cardiovascular endurance.
  • Height and Weight Measurement: Soldiers are measured to ensure they meet the height and weight requirements for their age and gender.

Physical Fitness Training

In addition to the physical fitness tests, the National Guard also provides training to help soldiers improve their overall fitness. This training may include:

  • Physical Training Sessions: Soldiers participate in group fitness sessions supervised by a physical training instructor. These sessions may include exercises such as running, strength training, and circuit training.
  • Nutrition Education: Soldiers receive education on proper nutrition and the importance of maintaining a balanced diet for optimal fitness and performance.
  • Recovery and Injury Prevention: Soldiers are educated on the importance of rest, recovery, and injury prevention techniques to avoid physical injuries and maintain their overall fitness level.

Overall Importance of Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is crucial for soldiers in the National Guard as it enables them to meet the physical demands of their duties. Maintaining a high level of fitness not only improves performance but also reduces the risk of injuries. Soldiers must continuously work on improving their physical fitness to ensure they are always ready to respond to any mission or operational requirements.

Classroom Instruction and Skill Development

During a National Guard drill, soldiers participate in a variety of activities to enhance their knowledge and skills. A significant portion of these activities take place in the classroom, where soldiers receive formal instruction and engage in skill development exercises.

Topics Covered in Classroom Instruction

  • Army Values: Soldiers learn about the core Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. These values serve as the foundation for their behavior and decision-making as National Guard members.
  • Military Regulations and Procedures: Soldiers receive training on various military regulations and procedures, such as proper uniform wear, military customs and courtesies, drill and ceremony, and safety protocols.
  • Weapons Training: Classroom instruction also includes in-depth training on various weapons systems used by the National Guard. Soldiers learn about weapon safety, proper handling, maintenance, and marksmanship principles.
  • Tactical and Technical Skills: Soldiers engage in classroom training to develop their tactical and technical skills. This may include map reading and land navigation, radio communications, first aid, and basic combat skills.

Skill Development Exercises

While classroom instruction provides soldiers with theoretical knowledge, skill development exercises allow them to put that knowledge into practice. These exercises are designed to simulate real-world scenarios and enhance soldiers’ abilities to perform their duties effectively.

Some of the skill development exercises that soldiers may participate in include:

  1. Land Navigation: Soldiers navigate through unfamiliar terrain using maps, compasses, and other navigation tools. They must locate specific checkpoints and demonstrate their ability to navigate accurately and efficiently.
  2. Marksmanship: Soldiers practice their shooting skills on firing ranges. They learn proper shooting stances, target acquisition, and techniques to improve their accuracy and speed.
  3. Tactical Exercises without Troops (TEWT): TEWTs are simulated tactical scenarios where soldiers make decisions and coordinate with their fellow team members to accomplish mission objectives. These exercises help soldiers enhance their critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork abilities.
  4. First Aid Training: Soldiers receive hands-on training in first aid and casualty care techniques. They learn how to provide immediate medical assistance in combat or emergency situations, including CPR, wound dressing, and treatment for shock.
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Classroom instruction and skill development exercises are integral parts of National Guard drills. They provide soldiers with the necessary knowledge and training to fulfill their roles effectively and ensure mission readiness. By combining theory with practical application, these activities contribute to the overall development and preparedness of National Guard members.

Field Training Exercises

Field training exercises, or FTXs, are an important part of National Guard drills. During these exercises, Guard members have the opportunity to train in realistic scenarios to enhance their skills and readiness.

Types of FTXs:

  • Tactical Training: This type of FTX focuses on teaching soldiers essential tactical skills, such as basic infantry maneuvers, marksmanship, and land navigation.
  • Combat Readiness Exercises: These exercises simulate combat situations and test soldiers’ ability to respond effectively under pressure. They may involve scenarios like urban warfare, defensive positions, and offensive maneuvers.
  • Field Communications: This type of FTX focuses on establishing and maintaining effective communication in field conditions, utilizing radios, satellite communication equipment, and other communication tools.
  • Medical Training: FTXs may also include training in lifesaving skills, such as first aid, combat casualty care, and evacuation procedures. This ensures that soldiers are prepared to provide immediate medical assistance in the field.

Structure of FTXs:

FTXs are typically conducted over a period of several days or even weeks, depending on the scope of the training. Units may set up temporary camps and practice field operations, including setting up defensive perimeters, conducting reconnaissance, and performing offensive actions.

Role-playing and Simulation:

During FTXs, role-playing and simulation are often used to create realistic scenarios. This allows soldiers to practice decision-making, teamwork, and problem-solving in a controlled environment. They may encounter simulated enemy forces, civilians, or disaster situations.

After-Action Reviews:

Following each FTX, soldiers participate in after-action reviews (AARs) to evaluate their performance and identify areas for improvement. These sessions allow for open discussion and constructive feedback, helping soldiers to learn from their experiences.


Field training exercises are an essential part of National Guard drills, providing soldiers with invaluable hands-on experience in realistic scenarios. Through these exercises, soldiers can refine their skills, enhance their readiness, and strengthen their ability to respond to various situations.


What is a National Guard drill?

A National Guard drill is a regularly scheduled training event where National Guard members come together to practice their skills and prepare for their roles in emergency response and military operations.

How often do National Guard drills occur?

National Guard drills typically occur one weekend a month, with an additional two-week training event each year. However, the exact schedule may vary depending on the needs and requirements of the National Guard unit.

What happens at a National Guard drill?

During a National Guard drill, members participate in various activities such as physical fitness training, marksmanship practice, tactical exercises, and classroom instruction. They also receive updates on policies, procedures, and any upcoming missions or deployments.

Can family members attend National Guard drills?

Yes, family members are often welcome to attend National Guard drills as observers. It provides them an opportunity to learn more about the National Guard and support their loved ones who serve.

How long do National Guard drills last?

National Guard drills usually last for two days, starting on a Saturday morning and ending on a Sunday afternoon. However, there may be exceptions for certain training events or missions that require longer periods of time.

Are National Guard drills physically demanding?

Yes, National Guard drills can be physically demanding. Members are expected to meet certain fitness standards and engage in physical activities such as running, calisthenics, and other forms of exercise to maintain physical readiness for their duties.


Harrison Clayton

Harrison Clayton

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