I agree with you 110%!
In 2004, the SG did a fantastic job breaking down the movements of loading in nine times with the book in-hand, reading it to us as we executed it. I've never learned that so thoroughly. I would hazard a guess that Marc Herman and John Stillwagon had their "Eureka!" moments on Support-ARMS and RSS (respectively) while working on those positions while looking at an open manual. I never fail to learn something new when I practice some element of drill with the book open, reading as I go through each motion, time, or step.
I make a point of getting battalion drill practice each year. Even in that setting, school of the soldier, manual of arms, and school of the company don't get the attention they need.
This is just one of the reasons that I am exploring starting a company (I'll be picking that project up again after I get done moving).
My two cents on concerning "elite" reenactors:
I have always been of the opinion that, as a reenactor, it is inappropriate for me to draw attention to the things that I am doing in the hobby as having their own merit or being worthy of any sort of "glory" or praise. As a reenactor, I go into situations by my own choosing and I am free to leave at any time. The situations I enter last for a few hours, so there is no REAL suffering involved. I'm just a guy with enough vacation time and disposable income to allow me to participate in a hobby. There's nothing laudable about that!
If I were to try to claim some sort of status though the hobby, I would (in my own opinion) be drawing attention away from the veterans of the war, and something worse... I would be using THEIR experiences and accomplishments to bring attention to MYSELF.
I think we owe it to each other in this hobby to stick to an event, even when it is no longer physically comfortable. Some of the best times in this hobby come through shared "suffering" (I use that term very lightly here) at events where its cold, rainy, hot, snowy, whatever. However, I think we have be vigilant against two things:
1) Knowing the difference between "discomfort" and danger. If this hobby gets caught up in physically challenging events as a way to "prove one's manliness" so that we can get bragging rights, I worry that we will lose site of safety. Once you cross the line, you can't see the line anymore.
2) Knowing the difference between our voluntary discomfort and the real physical, mental, and emotional challenges that veterans either had to deal with or be overpowered by and that no veteran of this or any other war would be impressed by our "toughness" that we may have slept in the rain when it was well within our control to be safe, well-fed, and comfortable.
I think there have been a number of great replies to this thread and a lot of great suggestions for improvement. Some of these are challenges that we can take on as individuals, but some challenge the way we are structured (or not structured) an whether or not that works.
On that latter point (how we are structured)...
What is our current structure? Do we even HAVE a structure? Or, are we simply an amalgumation of freelancers, pairs of pards, and messes, loosely associated to groups like the WIG, ONV, etc.?
What do folks think? What's working and what isn't?
(Maybe this is another thread)