Five Neat Non Conventional Training Ideas for Drill Weekend

ideas for drill weekendAs a Small Unit Leader, I believe it is your responsibility to come up with some great training ideas during drill weekend.  Training should be intense, realistic and battle focused.  I also believe it’s a good idea to mix things up from time-to-time and come up with some “non-conventional” training events that are fun and different.  After all, no one joined the military to sit around the armory every single drill weekend.  Your job is to get people out of the armory and make drill weekend memorable and worthwhile.

In this post, I’d like to share a few “non-traditional” training ideas that you could work into your training schedule for the upcoming training year.  These events are designed to improve soldier morale and provide good training.  These are things I have personally done in the past or watched other units do.

  1. Commander’s Cup: You could schedule a yearly Commander’s Cup Challenge for your unit.  Each platoon could compete against each other in different competitions (sports, weapons, First Aid, Warrior Tasks, etc.).  The platoon that wins the most competitions would win the Commander’s Cup.
  2. Paint Ball Competition: You could schedule paintball into your training (yes, some units do it).  You could use this training to teach tactics (or evaluate them).
  3. Mini-Triathlon: You could set up a few events such as a 10 mile ruck march, a push up competition, and 2-mile run and have an individual or platoon competition.  Whoever wins the event gets a prize.  I recommend a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prize.
  4. Family Day: This might not be as exciting as the events listed above, but this is a great way to improve morale in your unit and get family members introduced to each other.  You could have a BBQ, a Talent Show, and activities for the kids.
  5. Weapons Competition: You could pick three weapons such as the (M2, M4 and M9) and have a competition throughout your unit.  The person with the highest score in the three events could win a prize or receive an award.

What’s great about these training ideas is that they (1) improve morale, (2) are fun and (3) they teach your soldiers new skills.  It’s really the best of both worlds.  Please know that you are only limited to your creativity.

Of course, most of your training should support your METL and unit objectives, but I think it is okay to add in some fun events from time-to-time.

On a side note, if you are a former/current commander or Small Unit Leader, I would love to hear from you.  What are some non-conventional training events your unit did that you really enjoyed? Just leave a comment to this post to let us know.

Also, if you have any questions about non conventional training, you can post those below and we will try to provide an answer. Thanks for visiting.



14 thoughts on “Five Neat Non Conventional Training Ideas for Drill Weekend”

  1. I love the idea of taking Soldiers out to play paintball. After writing for a large paintball gear company I found a new love for the sport and have enjoyed going to play on the field with my husband and friends. I found the life-like military re-enactment style scenarios were interesting and intense. I agree that it would be a great way to lay-low, have some fun but to still teach and train on the field.

    Also, mixing it up is a good idea, to keep things fresh for the Soldiers going through PT/drill weekend. I’ve heard that it can get stale and boring, so leaders who take the time to include fun activities or competitions seem to get a lot more response out of their troops than not.

  2. In our Unit, we just got a new 1SG who is big PT enthusiast. He is also all about team development. That all being said, he has started a “dodgeball” legacy within our unit. Every drill, right before final formation we play dodgeball. It gets everyone sweating a little, bonding as a unit and dumping all the stress built up from the busy weekend. I used to think it was a silly idea but our Soldiers love it.

  3. While at Fort Stewart, my NCO took us on a “field trip” to the Warriors walk after giving us all a week to pick one or more soldiers honored there and as we walked we all presented our “memorial” of our soldiers. I loved this event because it brought home the brotherhood of the military to see the memorials and to connect with those soldiers who had given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. While this type of thing is not something I suggest you do often, if your unit is feeling disconnected and at odds with each other, this type of an outing can help to bring more cohesion to your unit.

  4. These are definitely non-traditional, but they are great, creative training ideas. Yes, of course you need to support your METL and unit objectives, but any training also has to include some element of fun. It takes the pressure off for a while, and is great for unit morale. Especially like the paintball idea!

    1. I agree with you. I’ve always believed that military leaders should make training events fun when possible. Of course, it must be tough and realistic, but if you can have a little fun in the process that is just icing on the cake.

  5. I like all of those, although Family Day is an annual (at minimum) event. Our squadron commander has mandated that we hold an MWR event during every drill weekend, and frankly it can be extremely challenging to come up with something appropriate AND find the time for it. We’ve done platoon-on-platoon sports, cooking out, and even watching war movies while cleaning weapons. (Credit for that last idea goes to my wife!) But I really like some of the organized competitions suggested here. They’re a bit more time intensive, but if they support one of the existing training objectives you’re killing two birds with one stone.

    1. Holding a MWR Event every drill weekend really sounds like a great idea. It might be tough to schedule, but I’m sure it has great effects on morale and retention.

      1. The bottom line is that you need to make drill weekend tough, different each month and fun. People want to get out of the armory and go blow stuff up. Your job as a leader is to plan and schedule battle focused training outside the armory. There are many ways you can do that, but you do need to think outside of the box.

      2. I hope my commander and first sergeant read this page. We do the same thing every drill weekend. All we ever do is sit around the armory and do home station type of stuff. I would love to go “down range” and do something different. I can’t wait until my time is up. I’m just going to ETS and move on to something else.

  6. For most Soldiers drill weekend is very boring because the leaders did not take the time to schedule fun and challenging training. When you do nothing but sit around the armory the entire weekend, it’s no wonder that Soldiers want to ETS. All leaders should understand that they have the responsibility to provide tough and challenging training and to get the Soldiers out of the armory whenever possible.


    1. I agree with you Richa. Sitting around the armory is a huge problem that is alive and well in many units. Small unit leaders need to get creative and schedule training away from the armory whenever possible. This has a huge impact in morale, readiness and retention.

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