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

The Challenge Level competition of the National High School Drill Team Championships has begun a new era of competition drill in Daytona Beach. For years, many drill programs had great trepidation regarding attending the Nationals though they knew they had little chance of winning any awards. They clamored to attend the Nationals anyway to have their cadets be a part of this fantastic drill experience. The Challenge Level drill meet was created to satisfy these schools to allow them to attend a superior competition at a slightly reduced competition level. But as the event gets more established as the years pass, the overall talent and competition level within the Challenge Level continues to creep closer and closer to that of the older Masters Level competition.

The competition field has been expanded to maintain roughly 60 schools and the spaces fill very quickly.

When is the Challenge Level being held?
The Challenge Level competition is always a single-day drill competition held on Saturday during the Nationals competition weekend at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center Arena. The competition begins early in the morning and end around 1800. The Challenge Level Awards Ceremony is planned to begin immediately following the conclusion of the Challenge Level Knockout Drill. Competing schools will arrive the day prior to the competition 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 become spectators at the two-day Masters Level drill competition segment of the Nationals, held the following two days.

What is the Challenge Level all about?
The Challenge Level will allow both Armed & Unarmed drill teams the ability to enter the Nationals, with their competition coming from teams who more closely equal their drill talent. This division, begun during the large expansion in JROTC several years ago, has changed from a division for new programs and novice teams to a division of very talented teams who are just a notch or two below the overall talent level needed to be considered a Masters Level school. This Challenge Level concept gives more cadets a competitive chance of earning recognition and awards against their peers while still being a part of the overall Nationals experience.

What events will the Challenge Level feature?
Both Armed and Unarmed Divisions will maintain the following events:
  1. Unit Inspection
  2. Regulation
  3. Color Guard
  4. Exhibition

Drill units may enter all four events, or just some of the events (though these "partial entries" are very limited and are accepted rarely). Priority in entering the Challenge Level is always given to those teams competing in all events and thereby attempting to capture a Championship within either the Armed or the Unarmed Challenge Level competition.

Who will be Accepted into the Challenge Level?
Those demilitarized arms and unarmed competition units whose strength on the drill floor does not warrant placement into the Masters Level of the Nationals will be accepted into the Challenge Level. Again, this division is just a small step down from the Masters Level competition with many very talented schools. 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 regardless of gender as well as most all armed teams with 25% femailes on the floor at all times will compete in the Masters Level Mixed Division (formerly the Alternative Arms Division)..

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 two themes - competition strength and costs. 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 awards ceremony for the Challenge Level will be exciting but will not maintain the same formal, glamourous style experienced at the Masters Level. One team exhibition competition is offered, nor is solo/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, event SOP's, drills and total professionalism that have become a trademark at the Nationals.

Is the Challenge Level a part of the Nationals?
Yes, the Challenge Level and Masters Level are entry divisions of the Nationals. Cadets, Instructors and team followers who attend the Nationals will receive the same event materials and other items, regardless of what competition level your team is placed in.

I'm not sure which Competition Level I should register my team within at the Nationals?
Schools MUST choose on the Nationals Registration Form which competition level they would prefer to enter. 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?
To keep schools from racing to the post office immediately after receiving their IDR Magazine, an early December entry deadline gives all schools who have their application package in the hands of SNI NO LATER THAN THE DEADLINE have an equal shot of gaining an entry space. However, 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 complete the NHSDTC Registration Form. This form is posted on-line every year along with the invitation, or it can be found enclosed within the DrillNATION Magazinewhich is mailed to every JROTC unit throughout the world in mid-September. Upon completing this vital form, mail it to Sports Network International along with your Registration Fee. Schools unsure of which competition level they should enter should contact SNI before submitting their School Registration. Upon receipt by SNI, your school will be immediately notified by mail that we have received your entry request.

All Nationals registrations will be accumulated and mass reviewed 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 judgement 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 will have only a small chance of getting into the Nationals as the event is annually over-filled with many teams unfortunately unable to be accepted due to space limitations.

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