In the early 1970s the National Executive Board commissioned a study to understand what boys like and disliked about the scouting program. Based on the research the Scouting program changed to keep attuned to the changing world. One of the things identified in the research was the need to have:

Prompt Recognition. – The advancement program was changed to reward accomplishment earlier. The research showed that only 20 percent of Scouts went beyond Second Class under the pre 1972 system, and the research indicated scouts simply weren’t encouraged enough. Thus instead of waiting until everything was completed for Tenderfoot, Second Class or First Class to give recognition, small steps will be rewarded along the way to these progress awards. (the term “Rank” was changed to “Progress Awards” as part of the 1972 program changes) Nothing is easier, it’s just more recognition, which should keep more Scouts in Scouting.

The new prompt recognition is the “Skill Award” metal belt loop. Skill awards are designed to give essential skills for everyday living and for Scouting, and to give boys options in their advancement. Skill awards are given to the Scout immediately upon completion of the requirements.

The original design concept was a plain brass metal belt loop which adhesive stickers of the skill award designs would be applied onto the center of the belt loop. This concept was quickly abandoned and metal belt loops with the designs printed on the medal loop were made available for recognition. The first series of printed belt loop skill awards were made of brass and did NOT have a FDL on the back. The back of the front was flat and did not show stamping relief. The second series was also brass but the FDL was added to the back and the back of the front shows stamping relief. The third series was made from aluminum. The third series is very light weight and bends easily.