Having entered into their second week of Cadet Summer Training (CST), the Cadets from 5th Regiment, Advanced Camp, were ready to take on the Engagement Skills Trainer (EST). This training is the second phase in preparing Cadets for the task of qualifying on a range with their M4A1 carbines. The Cadets will take what they learn from the EST and apply it to group and zero training later in camp.
Despite having half a decade of prior Army experience as a behavioral health specialist, Cadet Raynika Williams, from Fayetteville State University, was anxious about EST.
“I was very nervous with qualifying on ranges,” said Williams. “It’s very hit and miss with me.”
Although Williams was uncertain going into the training she scored well on the exercise, hitting 33 of her 40 marks.
Cadets attempting to succeed in the training must hit their targets a minimum of 23 out of 40 times. Scores of a 23 to 29 would qualify them as a marksman. Williams’ score netted her the title of sharpshooter.
“The past few times I’ve qualified I’ve been staying consistent with my stance and I feel my confidence growing now that I’m doing it more often,” said Williams.
Cadet Boe Riemenschneider, from Auburn University, who is familiar with the EST, notes her opinions of the benefits and shortcomings of this training.
“It definitely helps you work the fundamentals,” said Riemenschneider. “The range make(s) me practice some of the little things that I might not get to practice on the real range. Breathing techniques, trigger squeeze, all the little things that I might not be thinking of but will have in the back of my mind on the range because I was able to do this.”
The EST uses a version of the M4A1 that is augmented to fire a laser at a virtual range displayed on a screen. For Riemenschneider, who qualified as expert with a score of 37 out of 40, there are differences between the simulation and the real thing.
“A real weapon is a little more intimidating than a simulation,” said Riemenschneider. “Real bullets, real danger. That creates some nervousness.”
Riemenschneider said that despite her nerves she looked forward to demonstrating her skills in the real world.
“Shooting is just a lot of fun,” said Riemenschneider. “So that’ll be a good experience.”