How to Jump Over a Fence




About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

I joined the Marines once.
I was hoping they would brainwash me and make everything simple.
Unfortunately their methods don't work on everyone.
They told us "You could be the next Presley O'Bannion!" (He attacked "The shores of Tripoli" in the song "The Marine Hymn.")
and "A Marine doing his job in lives an average of fifteen minutes!""
Hearing that we all barked like dogs as loud as we could because we were Gung Ho.
One of our drills was running up a hill with our unloaded M16s yelling Bang! Bang! and pretending to shoot some bad guys in a little dirt fort at the top. Human wave tactics like this were why we'd die so quick if we ever got to do our jobs.

The M16 was a surprise. At the rifle range we had to put pieces of black tape over the charging handles to keep puffs of hot smoke from hitting us in the eye. That seemed like the worst possible design for a weapon you were supposed to hold steady and not flinch at all.

The workouts were really good. We ran back and forth to the PT (physical training) in formation. The warmups and warmdowns were so good that although I was totally exhausted every time, I never got sore. There was unlimited high protein food to eat in the "mess hall" but we only had fifteen minutes to wolf it down with two spoons. If anyone talked we'd be ordered to stand up and march out of the hall.
Between the good workouts and meaty food I got lots of big muscles.

The obstacle course was lots of fun. Among other things we learned the "High Vault" and "Low Vault" methods of fencejumping that are the subject of this article.

Excellent photos by theinfonaut Her nifty concept for this sequence of photos is that if you pass your mouse over the thumbnails above, they will appear to be animated.

Step 1: High Vault 01

Do the high vault if you're

Lightly loaded.
The fence isn't too high.
You're confident of the footing on the other side.
You're in a hurry.
You want to show off.

Trot up to the fence, put your hands on top and jump.

Step 2: High Vault 02

Your legs pass over the fence without touching it.
This is easier than it sounds because most of your weight is on your hands on the fence.
Your legs experience moon gravity and float right over if you do it right.
Your feet may snag the fence. If that happens the graceful fallback maneuver is to continue with the more sedate "low vault" procedure depicted in the other sequence.

Before my military training I used to try to jump a fence without putting my hands on it.
So when my feet tripped on the fence I landed face first in a pile of dog crap, badly hurting my neck so all my pain and embarassment nerves fired at once. I was trying to impress a girl of course. Unfortunately another swain had already stolen her heart. No doubt by diving into a latrine while running himself over with his own car.

Another male in my paternal line also suffered from a lack of military training. He won at tennis and did the traditional leap over the net to shake hands with the loser. Unfortunately he tripped, ripped the crotch of his pants open, threw his racket at the other guy breaking his nose, and landed wrong breaking his arm and getting a concussion.

Step 3: High Vault 03

The landing.

After you clear the fence take your hands off the fence and raise your arms. This decreases the "unsprung weight" of your human vehicle.

Bend your knees and land on your toes. This gives you a soft long-travel suspension.
As you land lower your upper body into a crouch so there's no major shock.
If it's a major drop you continue into a roll, but landing from a high fall should be a subject for a future sequence.

Step 4: Low Vault 01

Now you're tired,
heavily loaded,
unsure of the wall or the landing area on the other side,
not in a hurry
and careful.
You start by getting your weight up on the wall with your arms like this.

Step 5: Low Vault 02

Swing one leg up to the side like this.

Step 6: Low Vault 03

Pass the other leg under that one.

Step 7: Low Vault 04

And lower yourself to the ground on the other side.
You are over the fence. Proceed with your business.



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    53 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I'd just like to assure the author that Marine Corps training has vastly improved since he was in. Semper Fi!


    12 years ago

    what if you were heavily loaded and were in a rush?

    6 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Grab something loading you, cut it in half, put the two halves together to make a hole, and then climb through that.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    If the fence is run straight through it. If said fence is too strong, a large mount of explosives should do the job :)


    2 years ago

    The fastest and easiest way to know if you can jump a fence is when that's the only option apart from being savagely attacked! My friend and i both found that out the hard way. We were fishing in a creek maybe 100m from his house when out of nowhere two bulldogs came charging at us growling. We instantly turned and ran for our lives but there was a problem. They have a corrugated iron fence (very sharp) and there's this little gap in it that we used as a gate but only one person could get through at a time and it sometimes took a bit of a struggle. Well it turned out that my friend beat me to the gap leaving me no option to scale the tall and sharp fence!! I got over in time and landed safely on the other side but my hands were cut up quite a bit!

    Now I look back at that fence and wonder how the hell I got over!!!

    Plo Koon

    6 years ago on Introduction

    just have a charging rino in front of u at all times. problem solved


    7 years ago on Introduction

    What a stupid "How to" but brilliant!... unfortunately, I'm now too old and eaten too many pork Pies to go round jumping fences etc!!!
    ......Now 40 years ago this would have been indescribable!!!!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    its easier if ur spanish (i can say that since i am spanish)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    what?! no gate vault?! c'mon thats the best way hands down!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    lol your old? and you are a boy...wearing flip flop?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    haha, jumping over a fence can be a pain. When I was younger it was always so easy, but now that im old its a bit harder for me. I tried to do some exercises to increase my jump actually. because I wanted to learn how to jump higherhow to jump higher so I would not have to climb fences.

    I would like to just jump clear over a fence you know? I think the taller you are the harder that becomes, but this is cool :)


    11 years ago on Introduction

    says: 1. Roll up to the fence. 2. Close your jaw and stick your chin into the fence. 3. Pull your self up a little by opening your mouth. 4. Stick your top front two teeth into the fence, take out your chin, and close your jaw as mauch as you can without taking out your teeth. 5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you reach the top. 6. When you reach the top stick your two front teeth on the top. 7. Keep swinging yourself (by bending your neck) until you have enough momentum to carry yourself over the fence, then let go. There is a risk you'll land on your head, snap your neck, and die. That should help you.

    1 reply