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The Masters Level Competition
at the
National High School
Drill Team Championships

Looking to Attend?


The National High School Drill Team Championships Masters Level competition is a continuation of the fantastic drill competition "The Nationals" has always been. The finest 45 to 50 schools in the Nation are accepted into this prestigious two-day military Junior ROTC extravaganza. Schools from everywhere annually clamor to be a part of this fantastic drill experience.

When is the Masters Level being held?
The Masters Level competition is a two-day drill competition being held on the Sunday and Monday of the Nationals competition at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center Arena. The competition begins on Sunday morning and continues until late into the evening on Monday. The event continues on Monday (the final competition day) morning and should end at approximately 1400. The Masters Level Awards Ceremony begins at 2000.

Competing schools will arrive the day prior to the start of their competition on Saturday to register for the event and attend the Commander's Call meeting. Many schools are electing to extend their hotel stay, thereby taking the opportunity to hit one of the many education attractions throughout the Central Florida area, featuring Kennedy Space Center.

What is the Masters Level all about?
The Masters Level, unlike the Challenge Level, is exclusively for the finest Armed & Unarmed drill teams in the country the ability to compete against each other in an all-service format. It also maintains a separate Mixed Division (formerly called the Alternative Arms division that allows those schools competing with lightweight "facsimile" weapons as well as mixed gender teams using heavy weapons to compete against each other in their own competition. The Nationals are designed to provide all of these deserving schools the international exposure and recognition these teams so richly deserve.

What Events will the Masters Level Feature?
The Demilitarized Arms Division (for schools who utilize regulation-style demilitarized weapons), Unarmed Division (for schools who utilize no weapons [except during color guard competition]), and the Mixed Division (for schools who utilize lightweight "facsimile-style" weapons or heavy weapons with mixed gender cadet numbers). All of the above competition divisions maintain the following events:

  1. Unit Inspection
  2. Squad/Element Regulation
  3. Color Guard
  4. Squad/Element Exhibition
  5. Platoon/Flight Exhibition

Drill units may enter all five events, or just some of the events. Priority entry will be given to those teams competing in all events and going for the Overall Division National Championship.

All armed teams also may enter the Solo Exhibition and Dual Exhibition competition. This will allow single and dual exhibition cadets to compete for 1st-3rd place trophies. Armed teams are limited to two entries in each of the above competitions. Unarmed teams may enter two unarmed dual teams as well. These scores do not count towards a team's overall team scoring totals within either Masters Level Division.

Who will be Accepted into the Masters Level?
Those demilitarized arms and unarmed competition units whose strength on the drill floor warrant placement into the Masters Level of the Nationals will be accepted into the Masters Level. Geographic and service diversity is also considered carefully when applications come in, to ensure the event remains a true all-service, national championship competition. Note: All teams competing with facsimile weapons and most with heavy armed mixed gender numbers will compete in the Masters Level Mixed Division (formerly Alternative Arms Division) - priority is given to best teams first!

Schools who have not attended the Nationals in recent history will be evaluated on their overall finishes at recent regional and local drill competitions, as well as instructor/peer evaluations. The ultimate authority regarding who will be accepted into which competition division will be Sports Network International, Event Manager for the National High School Drill Team Championships.

What are the Differences Between the Challenge Level & Masters Level?
This can be boiled down to several themes - competition strength, costs and overall presentation value. Challenge level schools are, by definition, teams wishing to be placed into a less exclusive competition field to better compete with other programs that more closely resemble their own skill level. Also, the School Registration Fee to attend the one-day Challenge Level event is only $200 vs. $300 for the two-day Masters Level. The event being a day longer can necessitate a longer hotel stay than the Challenge event. The awards ceremony for the Challenge Level will be exciting but will be "quick & dirty" and will not maintain the same formal, glamorous style experienced as the Masters Level. One team exhibition competition is offered on the Challenge Level which makes 75% of the scoring based on "basic" events, versus just 60% in the Masters Level. The Challenge Level maintains no solo or dual competition. All other Team Package items (shirts, medallions, patches, photos, etc.) outlined on the NHSDTC Invitation are included as a part of the Challenge Level Package. Both levels use the same competition site, judges (though they may judge different EVENTS between the two competition days), event SOP's, drills and total professionalism that have become a trademark at the Nationals.

I'm not sure which level I should register my team in at the Nationals?
Schools MUST choose on the Nationals Registration Form which competition level they would prefer to enter. Teams are ENCOURAGED to call Justin Gates, Competition Director for SNI to talk about the best fit for your program. The ultimate placement decision is made by Sports Network International but your choice is given first consideration. A good rule of thumb is that if your team places in the top three at most larger local or small regional drill competitions, then you should be competing within the Masters Level competition. If not, the Challenge Level may be for you.

Any school not accepted into the competition division they have chosen will be given the opportunity to either:
  1. Enter the competition level they have been moved into or;
  2. Obtain a full refund of their Registration Fee and withdraw from the Nationals competition entirely.

If a school wishes to change their choice after registration, this can sometimes be allowed depending on how soon the change is requested and whether the team can be accepted into the other competition level.

When Should my School Register to Attend?
First, schools should carefully read the official invitation, the rules and scoresheets, costs to attend and all other items surrounding an attendance at the Nationals. After this, contacting event manager Sports Network International with any questions would be strongly recommended as well.

To keep schools from racing to the post office immediately after receiving their DrillNATION Magazine or after reviewing the materials on-line, ALL SCHOOLS who register by the early December entry deadline outlined within the publication are guaranteed acceptance and a competition slot at the Nationals. This deadline generally makes any school registering BEFORE the Winter holiday break included in the event. This allows schools to be GUARANTEED a slot to better allow school board permission, bus/air travel and other time consuming items to begin their process BEFORE the new year hits. While many competition slots are expected to be available AFTER this date, those schools that wait until the last few days prior to the deadline to mail their entry package really risk their acceptance. Weather influences, lost mail, etc. can make your trip a non-starter if your package is not received by the deadline. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. Regardless of when you enter, give yourself a couple of extra days to ensure your package is in the SNI office by the deadline.

To Register for the NHSDTC
To register your school into the Nationals, please click on the link that says GRAB YOUR COMPETITION SLOT TODAY (found on this form in the upper right side of the page). All entry is done on-line. Teams must fill out some basic info about the program, the entry sought, and then the payment method to pay for the registration fee (note: teams can click "Pay by Mail" to have a check mailed to SNI at a later date.

All Nationals registrations entered by the early December "early acceptance" deadline are accepted. Many spaces will be available after this deadline but for schools traveling from a great distance to attend, using the early acceptance wed by the competition committee of SNI beginning on the early December deadline. Over that weekend, SNI will evaluate all entries on their merits and decide which schools can be accepted. This judgment will be based on many factors, but the largest of these include:

While most powerful returning schools to the Nationals register within weeks of receiving this invitation, a few schools wait. If you are sure you wish to attend, this could be a recipe for disaster! Schools who register after the early December review deadline only risk having your team unable to attend due to space limitations.

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