A Short History of Pace Sticking
“Stickus Pacium Romanus”
Roman Military Engineers used a pace-stick almost identical to the modern British Army version, with the main difference being a length of rope in place of the modern brass locking bar. When the Roman pace-stick was fully open, the rope went taut and the stick was locked at an angle that measured two Roman marching paces. When building roads, the Roman “sticker” would turn his implement 500 times, which equated to 1 Roman Mile. A mile stone would then be erected. This would be done for the entire length of the road. The length of the modern day pace-sticking course is somewhat shorter, but it is heartening to know that even if Rome wasn’t built in a day, at least it was built with the aid of a pace-stick.
The Royal Regiment of Artillery lays claim to being the originator of the pace-stick, using it to measure the correct distances between guns, limbers and ammunition caissons. Sir John Moore, Father of the British “Light” Infantry writes of the efficient use of pace-sticks” by the Sergeants, in a training manual written in the early 1800s, around the time of the Peninsular War.
In 1928, the late Academy Serjeant Major Arthur Brand developed a drill for the pace-stick and promoted its use throughout the army.