“I felt like I can have a greater purpose in life other than just working an office job, and I can help people and serve my country,” said Army ROTC Cadet Jake Gleason.
Gleason said that his desire to join the U.S. Army began when he was four years old. Four years later he when he was given a .22 caliber rifle.
From target shooting at home to the ranges at Boy Scout camps, Gleason began his journey as a marksman at the age of eight; eventually leading him to the qualifications range at Cadet Summer Training (CST) at Fort Knox, Ky.
“I’ve been shooting since a very early age. My family is pretty southern, marksmanship has been a skill that’s been taught to me,” said the University of Alabama, Huntsville student.
After Gleason graduated high school he even began making shooting a by-weekly activity, going to the range every other Sunday before church.
In addition to shooting in his spare time, Gleason also has a hobby of modifying his personal AR-15s to look like historic military rifles, building another layer of confidence in his marksmanship abilities.
With this experience and the advice of his instructors Gleason felt fairly confident in his ability to qualify with his M-4 carbine during CST on July 2nd, 2022.
“If you listen to the instructors and take their advice to heart you’ll do okay,” he said.
He stated that even though he was not confident with the ballistics of the M-4s, the similarities between it and his AR-15s, made him more comfortable on the range.
The day before qualifications Gleason made sure to prepare his carbine by checking for malfunctions, cleaning it to prevent problems on the range, and running though a Battle March Stress Shoot.
During the Battle March Stress Shoot he completed a short ruck march with 60 pounds in his ruck sack, before running to the qualification range where he was to immediately start shooting.
“I didn’t even have my gun loaded before they told me to hit the targets. That was very stressful at first, but I almost got it,” said Gleason.
However, he did better than average, getting a 20 out of 40 score. This made him less nervous about the qualifications, since the minimum score to qualify was a 23.
“I did a little better than average — but that was after the ruck march and yelling and stuff like that,” said Gleason, “Today (qualification) is a bit more relaxed, so I’m confident I can get at least three more.”
Though his end goal was just to qualify and take the next step towards completing Advanced Camp, he finished with a score of 34 of 40 making him a sharp-shooter.
“I kind of learned where I was as a shooter. I’m pretty good, but I think I could do better, especially with what I learned today,” he said.