Marching - Military Paces

Military Paces

In the military there are various standard paces. One step occurs on each beat. A pace is the length of one step (assumed to be 75 cm or 30"); do not confuse this use of "pace" with the ancient Roman unit of length (2 steps or 5 roman feet = 148 cm or 58").

  • Quick March: The basic mobility. 120 beats/min.
  • Double March: The basic run. 180 beats/min.
  • Highland March: Regiment-specific pace, 80 beats/min. when wearing kilts.
  • Rifles March: Regiment-specific pace, 140-beats/min. Like double-time, this is a rapid trot, with the rifle usually carried at the trail, not on the shoulder.
  • Slow March: Ceremonial pace, 40-60 beats/min.
  • Parade March: Usually seen combined with music, 120 beats/min. in the UK (except the Rifles who march at 140bpm), ~120 beats/min. in the USA and Russia
  • French Foreign Legion Pace: 88 beats/min
  • Paso Legionario: Specific march used by the Spanish Legion, 144 beats/min, embodiment of their "espĂ­ritu de marcha".
  • Typical German speed is 112 bpm.

For mechanical efficiency, opposite arms usually swing with each leg while marching. British and Commonwealth armed forces keep their arms straight and swing the hand as high as the shoulder while forward and in theory to the level of the belt when backward. US troops swing the arm through a smaller arc and some European armies bend the arm during the swing. Most foot drill instructors believe these differing practices are efficient i.e. maintain rhythm for long route marches. Some South American and Eastern European countries march on parade with the stiff leg earlier famous as the "goose step" of German troops. German and Scandinavian military bands and units swing with only the right arm, 90 degrees straight out. Some troops (like the Royal Swedish Lifeguard) swing with their left arm. This is because they carry their gun in their right arm.

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