Last Updated: June 30th, 2023By

FORT KNOX, Ky.- Although people join the Army for different reasons, Cadet Naomi Richardson from Montana State University was partially drawn by the selfless actions of those in service, and the opportunity to join the nursing corps. 

“I joined the Army because I wanted to join a group of people working for something greater than ourselves, serving your country, but also joining a community of people that are selfless in a lot of ways,” Richardson said. “I am in nursing school and really excited for the opportunity to get to experience the medical field in the Army.”

Cadet Michael Kaminski from Northern Illinois University said he has wanted to join the military since he was a kid. Part of the reason he joined the Army was because of the community among the members. 

“I think it’s a really good environment, and this is also a great opportunity for me to be a better leader and a better person,” Kaminski said. “I think it will really help me down the line, as well as this country.”

This summer these Cadets will be facing the biggest challenge standing between them and their goals of joining the Army, in the form of Cadet Summer Training. CST holds many tests for Cadets, including the weapons qualification. 

U.S. Army Cadet Naomi Richardson from 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp fires an M4 Carbine for her Weapons Qualification during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., June 9, 2023. Cadets practice on the range for part of the day, before their actual test where they must score a 23 out of 40 to pass. | Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office.

1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, Cadets completed their M4 carbine weapons qualification as part of CST on June 9, 2023. 

Richardson said the test was nerve-wracking since it is a required event to graduate CST and worth a lot of points. 

“They [the Cadre] give us the pep talk not to be nervous and things like that but it’s just an opportunity to gain a lot of points,” Richardson said. “So there’s a lot of nerves going into it. [It’s]  definitely not something I’m born natural at, so I have to work really hard to do well on it.” 

Despite her nerves, Richardson passed with a score of 33 out of 40, which she said felt great.

Kaminski said one challenge on the weapons qualification day was the after effects of the rain the day before. Although it was clear while his group was qualifying, he said some of the scopes might not be the best after being rained on. 

Even with these possible challenges though, Kaminski said he was enjoying the training day. 

Weapons Qualification is only one of the many training events the Cadets will complete before their time at Advanced Camp is over. 

U.S. Army Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers act as lane safeties for the Weapons Qualification during Cadet Summer Training, Fort Knox, Ky., June 9, 2023. The lane safeties ensure Cadets are safely handling their weapons and keeping their weapons in the correct position for the test. | Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office.

Richardson said she is excited for the rappel tower at CST, since she enjoys outdoor activities and the slight adrenaline rush. However, there are other training events she is not so eager to complete.

“One thing I’m not looking forward to is the [Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear training],” Richardson said. “[I’m] just not super excited to experience tear gas, but I think it’ll  be a good bonding experience with our squads for sure.”

Overall, Kaminski said he is excited for many aspects of CST.

“I enjoy being out here, and I’ve had a lot of fun so far,” Kaminski said. “I know the rappel tower is going to be a lot of fun. I love heights, and then the field is going to be challenging, but I’m looking forward to it.” 

Even though 1st Regiment only arrived at Advanced Camp approximately a week ago, Kaminski is already progressing towards his goal of learning more about leadership.

“I know one of our master sergeants throughout the week has been saying part of being a good leader is being a good listener and a good follower,” Kaminski said. “I think what he means by that is being observant and listening to what your instructors or the people above you are saying, learn from that, and help them help you, so that way, you can help them.” 

At the end of his weapons qualification, Kaminski said he felt great since it was the best he had ever shot. He received the expert marksmanship badge due to his score of 37 out of 40. To get an expert badge, Cadets must hit at least 36 targets.

After passing their weapons qualifications, both Cadets were ready to move on to the Battle March and Shoot, known as BMS, the next day. The weapons qualification provides a chance to practice their shooting under calm conditions before the BMS, which simulates the stress and fatigue of an actual battle scenario.

From there, the Cadets will continue on the path to their goals of joining the Army.