FORT KNOX, Ky. – 1st Regiment Cadets in Cadet Summer Training, Advanced Camp, are given lessons on the fundamentals of their rifles during the preliminary marksmanship instruction at Fort Knox, Ky., June 7, 2023. The purpose of the PMI is to provide the Cadets with a better understanding of the basics of rifle marksmanship.

U.S. Army Cadet John Mather of Cornell University (right) waits in position as Cadet Alexandria Golden of Troy University (left) balances a dime on the end of the M4 Carbine during their Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction at Fort Knox, Ky., June 7, 2023. The purpose of this drill is to demonstrate proper firing positions and trigger squeeze of their weapon without moving the coin. | Photo by Madelyn Guinn, CST Public Affairs Office

For the Cadets to safely learn the baseline knowledge of their weapons, they receive blank ammunition instead of live rounds during the rifle training. The different lessons at PMI include understanding the basic operations of the rifle, how to change magazines, proper body positions while firing, and the correct way to squeeze the trigger.

Cadet Collin Rheaume from State University of New York Brockport thinks that the most beneficial lesson from the PMI was the “washer dime drill,” which teaches Cadets how to squeeze the trigger in one smooth motion.

“[The washer dime drill] teaches you how to squeeze the trigger without jerking it because that can make a big difference,” said Rheaume. “If the dime or the washer falls off, you’re squeezing the trigger too hard and jerking the weapon too much.”

Despite what Cadets may have learned about rifles before coming to Fort Knox, this training event is crucial because they will use this knowledge to qualify at the shooting range later during CST.

From the University of Cincinnati, Cadet Azalia Ali believes that learning these marksmanship skills can be more beneficial to those who have never handled rifles before, rather than those who have.

U.S. Army Cadet Azalia Ali University of Cincinnati practices the proper and stable firing positions during the Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction at Fort Knox, Ky., June 7, 2023. The purpose of PMI is to train cadets in the fundamentals of marksmanship and proper maintenance of their weapons. | Photo by Madelyn Guinn, CST Public Affairs Office

“For me, people who have prior experience with different kinds of rifles usually have to relearn skills that are different from what they’ve already set in stone,” said Ali. “For people who don’t have prior experience shooting, learning these PMI and basic rifleman ship skills, it’s easier to absorb than having to relearn something from somebody who’s comfortable with a rifle from some other time.”

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Huff emphasizes the importance of Cadets retaining the information from the PMI.

“Hopefully, the greatest takeaway is that they actually understand the baseline knowledge that’s needed to qualify, and when they watch the range, use it and not forget it,” said Huff.

After the PMI, the Cadets will zero their weapons and end the week with weapon qualifications.