As 1st Regiment Basic Camp Cadets exited their required 10-day COVID-19 monitoring period, they entered Handiboe Gun Range, firing live rounds with their M4’s while learning how to properly group and zero their weapons.
For many Basic Camp Cadets, like Cadet Colby Lane, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Cadet Deja Whitt, University of Guam, Group & Zero served as their first time firing a weapon.
“It’s about weapon safety, getting more comfortable with weapons in general, and gaining confidence on the range,” said Whitt.
Prior to Group & Zero, Cadets attended Primary Marksmanship Instruction (PMI) where they received in-depth training on proper form, breathing, and overall technique with their M4’s.
After completing PMI, Cadets move onto Group & Zero and fire at a series of targets 25 meters away. If Cadets can successfully shoot at this distance, they will also be able to shoot targets up to 300 meters away.
After shooting six iterations of five rounds each, Cadre at the range will examine each Cadet’s targets to assess their skills. A green ‘Go’ on their target, means they are ready to qualify with their weapon without further training, whereas a red ‘No Go’ means that Cadets will need to retrain and try again.
However, a No Go isn’t anything to be worried about. Instead, it’s an opportunity for Cadets to further improve their skills.
Both Whitt and Lane received a No Go, but neither are letting it deter them.
“I’d rather really know my stuff instead of just getting through it and not really being confident,” said Whitt.
The majority of Cadets in Basic Camp are likely to retrain, however as they progress in their skills they also become more comfortable with their weapons.
“I did a lot better after a few rounds, but I’m glad to get more reps in. I’ll feel more confident that way,” said Lane.
In comparison, for some Cadets Group & Zero is a chance to excel.
Cadet Kelly Godsey, University of New Mexico, was one of only two Cadets in her squad to receive a ‘Go’ on her target.
“I wasn’t thinking of it as something I needed to pass, I just thought of it as something I needed to learn. I took a deep breath, and I did it. When I got the Go I was ecstatic.”
Godsey explained that the Cadre created a strong learning environment both on and off the range, which helped immensely with her training.
“They sat down and talked with us about how to do everything, and how to fix what we’re doing wrong, even just slight adjustments. It was the most I’ve learned since I’ve been here,” she said.
After successfully completing Group & Zero, Cadets will qualify with their weapons as a final test of their knowledge and skills.
“I hope to branch aviation, so this is just one of those steps to the bigger goals I have in mind,” said Whitt.