Founded by General of the Armies (then-Lieutenant) John J. Pershing in 1891, the Society was formed to take a group of young cadets to a higher level of discipline, attention to detail, and leadership. Pershing decided that the most efficient method to accomplish this goal was to form the young men into a proficient drill team. Through rigorous training, teamwork, and dedication he also formed something else – a brotherhood. Beginning in the 1920s, affiliation with the Pershing Rifles was opened to precision drill teams located at ROTC units across the nation- an invitation we are once again extending.
The Pershing Rifles upholds a tradition of excellence that encompasses the entire person – student, leader, and athlete. Our basis flows through armed regulation and trick drill as it has for over 120 years. Rifle drill holds a unique potential to train multiple dimensions at one time. Physical strength and endurance, attention to detail, teamwork, and leadership skills are stressed. As each new group accomplishes these goals, they also forge the bonds that will connect them to our members past, present, and future. Our alumni, widespread throughout the civilian and military sectors, provide opportunities for mentorship and networking as Riflemen transition to life after college. Our National events also increase networking opportunities for our members among their peers while influencing the direction of the Society, competing in a number of drill events, and flat-out having fun.
Pershing Rifles units field proficient exhibition drill teams and stand ready to represent both our Society and their host program in color guards for school sports, honor guards for military ceremonies or funerals, and serve as representatives in public eye at parades and city festivals. These men and women are the visible face of ROTC to the community and spark interest in military service among high school youth. For young men and women in JROTC units there is an additional link that draws them to one school over another- the ability to continue drilling.
We strive to train highly competent, well-rounded leaders. To this end units are encouraged to train members in basic military skills such as basic rifle marksmanship, land navigation, and physical training in addition to armed drill. Opportunities are made available to test themselves against their peers through training exercises, postal competitions, as well as Regimental and National events. Our units not only participate in memorial ceremonies for our veterans and fallen comrades, but also volunteer in homeless shelters, raise money for cancer centers, and take a stand against domestic violence. They recognize the impact of service to others in the community.
One of our greatest benefits is the opportunity for early leadership. Beginning from the completion of the induction process, Riflemen have the opportunity to hold numerous positions within their host unit – from drill team commander through the various staff sections to unit command. This provides these young men and women valuable experience that will benefit both the individual and the ROTC unit as they step into leadership and training roles. As our members’ experience and demonstrated competence grows, so to do the opportunities. Regimental and National positions allow Riflemen experience with command of multiple units, delegation, event planning, risk management, coordination, problem solving with subordinate and superior commands, inter-service communication, speaking skills, presentation, preparation and team work.