This is Part 4 of our Flag Basics Series, to check out all of our flag posts Click Here.
In Part 4 of our Flag Design Basics Series we will discuss a frequently asked question in the color guard community – what’s the best way to weight flag poles (if doing so)?
Why weight your pole?
Flag pole weights (commonly a carriage bolt in various lengths) help provide balance to offset the drag that the flag fabric has as it moves through the air. When executing tosses, a weight in the top of the pole will help achieve a beautiful rotation.
How do I weight my pole?
While there are other weight methods used, the most common is a 7/8” diameter carriage bolt in 1-1/2″ (adds 1.3 oz), 2″ (adds 1.6 oz), 3″ (adds 2.1 oz), 4″ (adds 2.6 oz).. These are added to the top, or the top and bottom of the flag pole. Because these can fly out, we recommend taping the bolt into the flagpole (see our helpful diagram). Once the bolt is secure, place the crutch tip/pole cap on the pole and tape in place. Please note that it is best to try and be as consistent as possible when weighting your poles.
How do I choose the length of the bolt?
Will Stevenson, a longtime color guard instructor and Band Shoppe Team member says: “I’ve spent years trying different things and have used everything from nickels and quarters taped together, to carriage bolts, to no weights at all. It really depends on the person and/or group and what they want. Unweighted poles are NOT ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ – simply the preference of the group director/team.”
Consider the type of flag silk that you are using.
Solid color flags or digital print flags will be lighter and may not need as much weight in the pole. Sewn flags with multiple seams can be heavier so you may find you want a little more weight in the pole to help it move smoothly.
A common method for a balanced flag pole is to use 3” in the top and 1.5” in the bottom. Another method is 1.5” or 2” only in the top. For a new director/instructor who is unsure – buy a few bolts in various lengths and play around until you find what you prefer best.
*Students: check with your color guard director/instructor to make sure you have your practice flag pole weighted properly for your team needs.
Weighting your flag pole – a visual aid!
We’ve put together this handy, printable guide help get you started! Click Here for the PDF version.
Here’s what you’ll need: 2 Rubber Crutch Tips, Your Pole Weight of Choice (we are using a Carriage Bolt for this example), A Flag Pole (whatever size you wish), Scissors, and Plenty of Electrical Tape.