FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets from 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp fill the lanes of George Blair Range for weapons qualification July 12.
With 40 rounds, 40 targets and a minimum of 23 targets hit required to qualify their weapons, nerves are high for Advanced Camp Cadets as they prepare their weapons.
Cadets are required to complete several days of basic marksmanship training and weapon zeroing before they make it to weapons qualification. This training helps to familiarize the Cadets with their weapons, teaching them the correct way to clean them, carry them and handle them when firing.
Cadets not only are taught how to control their weapons, but their own body positioning as well.
During weapons qualification, they begin by lying in the prone supported position. From this position they are given 20 rounds to engage their targets. Cadets then move on to prone unsupported position and a kneeling position, which are more challenging. The Cadets are given a 10-round magazine to engage their targets from these positions.
This training was especially helpful to Cadet Jasmine Mann, a student at the Virginia Military Institute.
“Before coming to Fort Knox, I shot a weapon maybe six times in my life,” she said. “After training with my weapon and learning fundamentals from the Cadre, everything just clicked.”
When approaching the lane at George Blair Range for weapons qualification, Cadet Cristian Rivera, from George Mason University, keeps in mind the small tricks and tips he’s learned while training with fellow Cadets.
“When shooting your weapon, one little breath can throw off your sight picture,” he said. “It’s a tedious process… but patience is key.”
Despite nerves being high at weapons qualification, Cadets keep their excitement and motivation even higher.
Cadet Yamelette Cruz, a student from the University of Puerto Rico, kept focused at the range and successfully qualified her weapon, even after a not-so successful training day before.
“Yesterday at during training I didn’t make it… I only hit 17 targets,” she said. “But today I focused myself, controlled my breathing and I hit 26 out of the required 23 targets.”
Regardless of whether they scored the minimum 23, or achieved a much higher score, Cadets expressed a feeling of accomplishment once they stepped off of the qualification course.
“I have never been the best at shooting,” said Rivera. “Today just proves that hard work pays off.”
“With the weapons training i’ve been given here at Fort Knox, I know I will walk away from here knowing that nothing is impossible… and that I will succeed as an officer.”