FORT KNOX, Ky., — When Cadets from 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, arrived to Fort Knox, Ky., for their Cadet Summer Training (CST) their marksmanship skill levels were at different stages of development. 

Russell Howard, a Cadet from Texas A&M University – Central Texas, performs maintenance on his M4 rifle during 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction (PMI) at Fort Knox, Ky., on July 17, 2021. Cadets disassemble and clean each individual piece of the M4 rifle to familiarize themselves with the weapon and to ensure it will function properly when they go to the range to shoot the gun. | Photo by Oscar Fuentes, Cadet Summer Training Public Affairs office.

From previous service special forces Cadets to Cadets that have never touched a gun in their lives, Cadre must train them all to be proficient with the M4 rifle and for the new .40 Individual Weapons Qualification.

“Every program has different assets in what they can deal and train with,” said Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Kirkendall, a member from the training Cadre. “Cadets come in to CST who not only have never handled the weapon, they never handled a rubber duck simulated weapon before; all the way up to prior service long-tab special forces guys.”

To ensure all Cadets gain a basic knowledge, Cadre trains the entire regiment starting from the lowest level during the Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction (PMI). Broken into four different training stations, Cadets learn everything they need to handle, shoot and care for their M4 rifle here.

During their first station, Cadets learn the shot process, how to align the weapon’s sight and trigger control. They then move on to learn the transitions and positionings of the new .40 Individual Weapons Qualification. On the third station, Cadets learn the math associated with shooting, how to manipulate their sights and how to make adjustments to their weapon. To wrap their PMI up, Cadets learn how to disassemble, clean, assemble and perform functions check on their M4 rifle.

Each of the station is manned by two Cadre trainers that are experts in the handling of weapons, and while they have the knowledge, the sheer number of Cadets makes it impossible to provide individual assistance to each one of them. This is when Cadets rely on their battle buddies to overcome the obstacles.

“My trainers recognize that those with no experience need a little extra love, but the nice thing is that every one in this group is proactive,” said Kirkendall. “They get just as much, if not more, instruction while they are here at CST from their peers. Those augment the actual training Cadre and really help us out when it comes to brand-new people who are starting fresh with no knowledge.”

Cadet Brayden Gisler, North Carolina State University, looks down the Close Combat Optic (CCO) of his M4 rifle while in a standing supported position during 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction (PMI) at Fort Knox, Ky., on July 17, 2021. On this lane, Cadets learn the four primary shooting positions they will see on their Individual Weapons Qualification. | Photo by Oscar Fuentes, Cadet Summer Training Public Affairs office.

Regardless of experience level, all Cadets benefited from reviewing the fundamentals and learning the sequence of the new qualification.

Omar Parada, a Cadet from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Military Police in the Reserve component, said that “the way they are teaching it (PMI) is very professional, very adequate and I think is enough to help Cadets adjust to the new movement of the qualification.”

While not all Cadets from 10th Regiment will branch infantry, the shooting skills they learned during PMI will help them conquer their Grouping Zero event and later their Individual Weapons Qualification.