How to Prepare for Drill Weekend

Today, I’d like to share some helpful ideas about how to prepare for drill weekend.  Regardless of your duty position, whether you are a NCO or Officer, you need to prepare for drill weekend ahead of time.  The last thing you want to do is just “show up” for drill weekend without having things in order.  You owe it your Soldiers and unit to be prepared.  That’s part of being a leader.

Listed below, I’m going to share a few of my favorite ideas to help you prepare for drill weekend.  These are things that helped me prepare for drill weekend when I was in the National Guard.

1. Review the Training Schedule and Develop Your Game Plan:  Take out a copy of your unit’s training schedule, OPORD and training calendar and review them two to three weeks before drill weekend.  What major training events will take place during drill weekend?  Where will you do the training?  What do you need to get done ahead of time to make sure everything goes as planned?  Make a “to do” list or checklist and identify what needs to be done and who needs to do it.  Prioritize this list and assign who will be responsible for each task.  I recommend you do this at least two weeks before drill weekend, and then review your list one final time 2-3 days prior to drill weekend.

2. Talk with Your Supervisor to See What They Want Done Ahead of Time: Give your boss a call ahead of time and find out if they have any additional requirements or suspense’s for you to complete before or during drill weekend.  Share your game plan with he/she to see if you forgot anything. Make sure the two of you are on the same sheet of paper.  Sometimes last minute things come up so it’s important for you to do this, so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise during drill weekend.

3. Have a Meeting with Your Direct Reports:  Once you have your checklist of items and you’ve talked with your boss, you need to have a quick conference call with your direct reports and team members.  Let them know the mission and specific tasks that must be done during drill weekend.  Let them know what tasks they will be responsible for and make sure they have the resources they need to succeed.  Answer their questions and make sure they are well prepared.  Ideally, you want to do this three to seven days before drill weekend at the very minimum.  Sharing this information ahead of time is very important.  Have them back brief you on their game-plan.  You don’t want to wait until first formation of drill weekend to let them know what needs to be done.  I suggest you do a call via Skype, conference call, or Google Hangout AND send them an email so you have a paper trail/evidence of what you told them.

4. Visit the Armory to Inspect, Stage, and Prepare Your Equipment: If possible, try to visit the armory a few days before drill weekend to stage your equipment.  Inventory the equipment you will use during drill weekend to make sure everything is available and working.  Stage the equipment and organize it so it is easy to find during drill weekend.  While you are at the armory, sit down and talk with the AGR staff to see if there are any last minutes changes or problems that need to be resolved.  This will save you lots of time and frustration during drill weekend.

5. Show up to the Armory Early: As a leader, make sure you arrive at the armory ahead of time; about an hour before formation is wise. You could also go to the armory Friday night and stay overnight.  I used to do that and it always gave me a few extra hours to prepare.  Finish checking your “to do” list and double check all your equipment.  Do what you can to make sure everything is in order and organized before your Soldiers arrive for training.

Final Thoughts

These are just five simple things you can do to prepare for drill weekend.  By following the tips outlined above, you should have an effective, fun, and well executed drill weekend.  Best of all, your unit/section will be squared away with fewer problems.   Whether you follow my steps to success, or develop your own action plan, the bottom line is that you need to establish a battle rhythm and game plan that you can use every month to prepare for drill weekend.  Once you do it a couple times you can tweak and improve your action plan, so it is streamlined, effective and easy to do.

Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.  As a leader, you have the responsibility to plan, resource and coordinate things for drill weekend.  Be proactive, take some initiative and be the leader that your Soldiers want and deserve.  On a side note, I’d love to hear from you.  What do you do to prepare for drill weekend?  Just leave a comment to share your ideas. If you have any questions, post them below and I will do my best to answer them. Thanks for visiting.

14 thoughts on “How to Prepare for Drill Weekend”

  1. To prepare for drill weekend you simply need to review the OPORD, make your “to do” list and schedule your time. If necessary, visit the armory ahead of time to get prepared.

  2. Here are some things I did to prepare for drill weekend.

    1. Review the training calendar and training schedule two weeks out
    2. Call my supervisor and subordinates one week out to clarify things and find out if there are any open items that need to be addressed
    3. Visit the armory a week before drill weekend to stage equipment and coordinate with the AGR Staff.

    I hope that helps. It worked well for me.

  3. This is a good list to prepare oneself for for drill weekend. You don’t want to show up at the last moment unprepared. Obviously this list should be catered to everyone’s own specific needs, but the process of making a checklist is helpful in itself. It looks like these weekends can get real complicated so to get a jump start on it so you can stay on top of the ball.

  4. Having never been in a position to prepare for drill weekend I can only liken this to my experience planning for a scheduled field training event. In some way everything you mention still applies. I can only say that communication is crucial for these situations. I have seen too many times when a breakdown in communication leads to a less than successful training.

    1. Great points on preparing for drill weekend. As you move up through the ranks you quickly realize that the ARNG and USAR are much more than one weekend per month.

  5. I haven’t been in the position of an NCO or officer having to prepare for drill weekend, so had no idea of how much went into it. I guess that good planning is always the key to success. Hopefully one day I’ll be in that position, and it’ll be useful to have these tips to hand. Definitely would want to get everything squared away with the Armory, to make sure there are no equipment problems!

  6. Our unit leadership meets by teleconference about a week and a half prior to drill to discuss the squadron OPORD, the training schedule, and any other issues. There are times when we have personnel headed to multiple locations through the weekend; this month is a good example, as we have to send several people to two different training programs as part of the annual preparations for hurricane season. Others are performing various recruiting events during the month and won’t attend the scheduled monthly drill. Taken together it all adds up to a lot of “moving parts.” Close coordination and planning are the only way to keep it all organized, and showing up 30 minutes prior to drill won’t cut it.

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