Fort Knox, Ky., – On July 19, the Cadets of 7th Regiment Basic Camp learned to disassemble, clean and fire their standard issue M16 rifles. For many Cadets this was their first time even holding a rifle.

To help Cadets become comfortable with their rifles, cadre personnel demonstrated rifle field-stripping, proper shooting form, and introduced acronyms to help Cadets remember the fundamentals of marksmanship.

A Cadet handling a rifle for the first time, July 19, at Fort Knox, Ky. (Photo by Roland Hesmondhalgh)

After becoming familiar with their rifles, the Cadets were brought to the firing line to demonstrate what they learned by sighting-in, or ‘zeroing’ their rifles prior to attempting Alt-C Qualification. Since it was their first exposure to the weapon, there was no requirement for Cadets to meet when they attempted qualification.

Alt-C Qualification differs from regular qualifications in the targets used. Instead of placing multiple targets at predetermined distances, a single paper target displays multiple silhouettes with simulated distances. This allows numerous cadets to review their targets in a short time.

“Each Cadet is given a few rounds to zero and group. As soon as they’re done zero and grouping, they’ll move onto qualifying,” said 2nd Lieutenant Justin Atkins, University of California Riverside. “They’ll shoot at simulate distances. The top right corner [of the target] is 300 meters away, a small black mass. Whereas the bottom is a huge black mass simulated 50 meters away. Then they’ll provide three shots to each one. After 40 rounds they’ll see if they have a qualifying score.”

There are four levels of qualification Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman, and Unqualified. Cadets must score a minimum of 23 hits to qualify. Targets are placed at 25 meters (82 ft.) with several silhouette sizes corresponding to ranges out to a maximum 300 meters. If a Cadet does not immediately qualify, there are multiple attempts during Basic Camp.

Cadets compare both their targets and bragging rights, July 19, Fort Knox, Ky. (Photo by Roland Hesmondhalgh)

Once the Cadets finished their training exercise, they brought their targets to the range target shack to have their scores recorded. Afterwards, every Cadet was subject to a shakedown to search for any live ammunition that may be hiding in the Cadet’s clothing. MS3 Joshua Ratta, Texas A&M, explained there were several reasons for the shakedowns. “One, it’s unexploded ordnance off the range, and at Fort Knox, only M.P.s are allowed to carry loaded weapons off the ranges. Also, later on, in about a week they’ll be on a field training exercise using blanks,” said Ratta.

Cadets finished with qualification gathered under trees to rest, enjoy their M.R.E.s, and further practice weapon disassembly and fieldcraft until the end of the exercise.

For more pictures of 7th Regiment Basic Camp at the Alt-C course, visit

Cadet Summer Training will bring 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: