By: Madison Thompson

FORT KNOX, Ky. – 5th Regiment, Advanced Camp, completed weapons qualification at the Pells/George Blair Range, June 21, at Fort Knox during Cadet Summer Training. Weapons qualification is training where Cadets shoot live ammunition on a range at pop-up targets.

“Yesterday, they did their grouping and zeroing to get their shot group closer and closer to the center of the target. Today, they’re going out onto the range and they shoot their targets and qualify,” said 2nd Lt. Michaela Bauman.

Before going out to qualify their M4 Carbine Rifle, Cadets must go through several steps.

5th Regiment, Advanced Camp, completes weapons qualification. Cadet Dequan Reed, University of Dubuque
Fayetteville, North Carolina, on the range.   Photo by: Madison Thompson

“To get ready for the range, we get in a line with around 15 shooters per line. Then you’ll approach the ammo booth, which will issue you [50] rounds. You get three ten round magazines and one twenty round magazine. You go up to the range and do a practice run with a ten round magazine and engage a couple of targets up front to make sure your accuracy, breathing and trigger pull is on,” explained Cadet Aaron Sheppard, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Plant City, Fla.

Once Cadets fire their practice rounds, the testing begins.

“They’ll call from the call tower for firers to prepare themselves. They’ll go through all of the safety checks on the weapon to make sure they’re set, ready to engage targets,” said Sheppard.

Three different firing positions are tested for weapons qualification.

“One is prone supported, one is prone unsupported and then one is kneeling,” said Cadet Dequan Reed, University of Dubuque, Fayetteville, N.C.

Cadets are scored by successful pop-up target hits. These targets not only pop-up, but are at varying distances.

“So, you get 40 targets. You get a few at 300-meters, 200-meters, 150-meters, 100-meters and the closest target which is at 50-meters. Each target you hit successfully is one point out of 40,” said Sheppard.

As training commences, Cadre consider what would help Cadets perform qualification.

“As they go through this training, just go in with a clear mind, remember the fundamentals, worry about taking your time, be in the moment and just concentrate on the targets,” said Bauman.

5th Regiment, Advanced Camp, completes weapons qualification. Cadet Nathaniel Gillespie,
University of Kentucky,
Lexington, Ky. on the range qualifying the M4 Carbine Rifle.   Photo by: Madison Thompson

Weapons qualification is important for many reasons. One of the reasons is being proficient with the M4 Carbine Rifle. The other is better explained by a few Cadets.

“As a future leader and officer, I have to know how to handle equipment just like my Soldiers. So, even if that’s not a part of my job, I should still know how to carry and operate a weapons system,” said Reed.

“We’re all future army officers and our Soldiers that we’re leading are proficient and qualifying with their rifles. So, to be officers, we’ve got to know exactly how this thing works and be decent at it,” said Cadet Nathaniel Gillespie, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.

At the end of training, a few Cadets had this to say about the Army ROTC program.

“I don’t usually get to do this, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to be out here,” said Gillespie.

“CST has been great. It’s been a challenge,” said Sheppard. “For those who are coming, get ready to walk, shoot, learn and grow.”



Cadet Summer Training brings 8,200 Cadets through Basic and Advanced Camp this summer on Fort Knox. These camps are designed to help challenge, grow and improve various skills and leadership qualities within the Cadets. If you think you have what it takes to be a Cadet or if you are interested in a job after college click the following link: