How to polish your Air Cadet parade shoes

Keeping your parade shoes clean and well polished is a corner stone of excellent cadet form and practice. Keeping your shoes in the best possible condition is what is expected of you as a cadet. Below are resources to help you keep your shoes shined and bulled.

Remember: Always ask other cadets and NCOs for help. Everyone has their own way of doing it and getting the best results. This is especially true of older cadets, so always ask around for tips.

What you need to bull your shoes

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  • Shoe polish (Kiwi Parade Gloss recommended ~ £1.50)
  • Cotton wool (Supermarket Value brand is fine ~ 50p)
  • Water in a cup or bowl
  • Rag or yellow duster (Supermarket Value brand is fine ~ 50p)

How to bull and shine your shoes

Step by step instructions

Warning: Shoe polish can be messy. Do not polish your shoes while wearing your uniform or rest shoes or polish on furniture etc.

  1. Put one shoe to one side (if you’re polishing the whole show remove the laces). Place the shoe between your knees (or however you find most comfortable).
  2. Take your clean cloth, wrap it around your index finger tightly and gently rub it onto the show polish. You’re looking for just a thin layer of polish, not a great chunk.
  3. Put the polish onto the toe cap and press lightly onto the shoe. Move your finger in circles, evenly across the toe cap.
  4. Keep circling the shoe until all the polish is gone. You will know when this has happened because the shoe will look slightly shinier, there will be less friction when polishing and there’ll be no dark streaks of polish visible on the toe cap surface.
  5. What you have done is create a new, very thin layer of polish. You need to continue to build up these layers to create that super shine we’re looking for.
  6. To start a new layer, simply dab the finger with the cloth over it onto the polish and begin gently rubbing it in once more until it’s completely disappeared. This process can take time, but the effort is worth it. Continue building these layers to gain that mirror shine.

Video: How to bull your parade shoes

Here are some videos by other cadets to help you with more ideas and how to.

How NOT to shine your parade shoes

  • Using a lighter and melting polish – this is not at all necessary and dangerous. Don’t try doing this.
  • Nose cone paint – This was around when we were cadets! This is cheating – use proper discipline and take pride in the time and care you’ve taken to look your best for yourself, the ATC and the Squadron.
  • Nail lacquer – This will crack eventually and fall off leaving you with a mess and hours to recover your toe caps back to their top form. Don’t use this.
  • Strange and unusual polish – Simple polish is fine. It takes commitment, concentration and some hard work. Don’t try using strange brands of polish, the cheaper, normal polish works fine.