"Turning about, about turn" and other funky drill things

Heard this recently, is this correct? Cannot find anything about it in AP818 so I am assuming no.

It’s ‘Move about’ isn’t it?

I have never heard about turn with an introductory until recently. Usually I’ve only heard it as “About TURN”, sometimes “Flight/Squad/etc., About TURN”.

Proper introductories are, IMO, crucial to the good execution of drill.

“Moving about”, rather than move?

Yes, however is there a correct introductory? Corps training WO once said there is no need for one on the about turn as only one command can follow the word “about”, whereas it makes sense for left/right turn to have an introductory as left/right dress are a possibility.

I prefer move, the tense is better.

This stems from a typical undervaluing of the introductory.

In my view, the introductory is the most important part of the order, because it’s the part which clearly states what you want them to do in one piece of information. This means that your squad is primed properly. They know what will follow, and can have loaded into their minds what they will need to do when the executive is given.

The cautionary is purely for priming the squad as to the imminence of the executive, telling them the executive is imminent and they are then ready to deploy the move they have been thinking about since the introductory.

The executive doesn’t even need to be a word in my experience, it’s just a timing mechanism. Which is why it’s so often ‘unintelligible’ because it doesn’t need to be, it could be a beep, because all its doing is indicating WHEN the order must be done.

The problem with ditching introductories is that the cautionary is then doing too much heavy lifting, and particularly with cadets doesn’t give them the necessary processing time to line up the movements in their head. Especially if the gap between cautionary and executive is too short.


Anywho having checked the AP. There isn’t officially one for the about turn.

BUT, particularly for cadets, I would heartily recommend using one, because you will get better results.

On unit, I can command the same squad my cadet NCOs do, and get immediately better results purely from giving clearer and better words of command…


My sqn (wrongly or rightly) have not been using an introductory for the about turn for pretty much ever as far as I know. I agree with introductories being important, otherwise if somebody taking drill were to just say “right” as a cautionary, nobody would know whether they should be turning or dressing until the executive. Hence why you can use “move to the left/right” as an introductory on turns, and “dressings” as an introductory for dresses.

However the about turn is the only command with “about” as it’s cautionary and so our sqn has never used “move about” as an introductory. It’s never been an issue as (if you’re calling correctly) you should drag the cautionary for 4 paces time, plenty enough time to prime yourself for the movement.

Yeah, that’s correct, but try it. And you’ll get better results.

The drill manual was written for adults who’ve been through basic training, under the tutelage of qualified Drill Instructors with decades of experience not 12 year olds with a few hours drill
often under the tutelage of teenagers.

In many respects, adopting AP818 was a good idea, but I think largely a mistake. We should have kept control of our own drill manual, but aligned the way movements are done with 818.

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Maybe for drill instruction it may be useful, but as cadets get more and more used to doing drill it seems to be pointless. When the command was given with an introductory on camp, for whatever reason everyone was thrown off by it.

I disagree with us having liberty over how commands are called, there should be no reason we should have different drill commands than in the RAF in my opinion.

Even in the days of ACP 19 it was “turnings at the halt” or "turning on the march, but there was a “cadetism” that cropped up somewhere along the way of “turning about” akin to “move to the…”.

I don’t whether it emerged upon the change to 818 or previous, but has never been correct.

The AP is garbage, and is incapable of being corrected. There are sections of the book where directly contradictory statements are printed on the same page, but the RAF won’t amend it, because they don’t care about is as much as we do.

If we had our own manual we would be able to correct things like that

Because there isn’t one. It really is the case that nothing else uses “about” so why prime it?

Add in that at the halt there should be a two pace silence between cautionary and executive, and four paces on the march, that should be plenty of time for the complex computational analysis inside of someone’s grey matter.

If you’re dealing with cadets THAT inexperienced, you prime them in advance of issuing the order: “we are going to be practicing the about turn”, or for marching, “you’re going to march in a straight line and I’m going to issue the command for the about turn, the command will be: “flight, abooooout…turn” with a four pace gap between the about and the turn, and the command turn will be given when your left heel strikes the ground…blah blah”.

For other commands, it’s also customary to drop the introductory after the first move of a certain type - if you’re ONLY practicing turns, then every time you say “left” or “right” the cadets should realise that the next word will be turn UNLESS you give a new introductory. Works for salutes, wheels, and eyes too.

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I agree with pretty much all of this.

Only gripe is that our squadron, at least most people that take drill, always use the introductory on left/right turns/inclines/salutes.

I have also not heard an introductory for wheels, but haven’t checked the AP for it.

I remember having that command used on me as a cadet in the mid 80’s!

It’s not actually in 818. In ACP19 it was “change direct left/right”.

Version 8 is being written at the moment and from scratch


I can’t even find the wheel in quick time in AP818 apart from in part 2.