5 Things to Consider When Buying Color Guard Equipment


Have you stepped outside, felt the blazing sun and heat from the pavement, and immediately wanted to run back into the AC? That’s how you know marching band season is about to begin… and that it’s time to start ordering new equipment and accessories for your color guard! We at J.W. Pepper are excited to now offer color guard equipment, including weapons, gloves, footwear, and more.

5 Things to Think About When Buying New Color Guard Equipment

Experience Level

Your staff’s color guard experience will help you decide which equipment to use. If your staff is highly knowledgeable about flags but not as comfortable with weapons, consider placing your rifle or sabre order in storage for a future season. If you have staff that is a jack of all trades, but your program has only used flags in the past, it may be time to introduce weapons by ordering a few rifles or sabres. If your guard has established flag and weapon lines, check out new types of equipment like “non-weapon” arc rifles to challenge your members.

Equipment Size

Flag poles, sabres, and rifles are all available in multiple sizes. Certain lengths of equipment will be better for your group depending on your members’ age, height, and experience level.

Using rifles as an example:

For beginner groups with young members, like middle school programs, consider the shorter 36” rifles, as they are lighter to spin than larger sizes. For intermediate groups with a bit more experience tossing, like developing high school groups, 37½” rifles are the perfect middle ground: a bit heavier without adding too much length. For more advanced groups with greater wingspan, skill, and muscle power, 39” rifles are a perfect fit. As a bonus, the bigger size really stands out on the field.

Show Theme

Color guard equipment can really help to develop your show’s story. Flags are the easiest to match to your show theme: swing flags complement flowing ballads, and silks can share thematic images or match the music’s mood with color. Sabres create a dazzling silver shine in the sky, while the weight of rifles adds a powerful oomph to tosses and catches. If you’re looking for something more whimsical, consider “non-weapon” arc rifles for twirling or large scarves for bodywork.

Costume Design

Guard costumes and equipment work in harmony out on the field, so be sure to consider both as you are planning your purchases. What color are the uniforms? Are the tops sleeveless? Do the bottoms have illusion or mesh panels? Asking questions like these can help you decide whether to order guard gloves and jazz shoes in tan or black. And vice versa – if your guard prefers black shoes, perhaps avoid navy bottoms to prevent color clashing.


Depending on your program’s funding, you may or may not be able to buy show-specific equipment every year. That is why it is so important to buy high-quality products the first time, so they can be used season after season.

If you plan on reusing equipment, consider choosing less show-specific designs. Silks with abstract patterns are more likely to match multiple themes as opposed to silks with specific images or words. If each guard member is responsible for their own flags and/or weapons, consider investing in a personal equipment bag for each member. Having everything zipped up in a convenient carrying case could protect your equipment from unexpected drops or scratches, keeping it in the best condition possible to be used year after year.

We hope considering these 5 things will help you narrow down your equipment search. Make sure to also check out all of the marching band equipment available from J.W. Pepper!




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