Last Updated: November 2nd, 2023By

FORT KNOX, Ky. — ‘Don’t hit the civilian,’ was the Cadres interesting way of saying ‘aim correctly’ out on the Group and Zero training range in Fort Knox, Ky., June 9, 2023. During Group and Zero training, the 1st Regiment put their knowledge of the fundamentals of shooting to the test. Although the Cadets are not being graded, the Cadre do not forget about mistakes.

“From personal experience, it can be overwhelming with all the cues happening at once and also trying to remember all your fundamentals of shooting. I think in an effort to make sure they’re doing everything right, sometimes things get missed,” said 2nd Lt. Abigail Nelson, a recent graduate from the University of Georgia.

Cadet Jordan DeSoto from Norwich University explained why it’s important to focus in on the target from 25 meters away, and why a Cadet’s results during Group and Zero training will be crucial for the qualification test that will take place later on during Advance Camp.

“You can actually use the target to determine what you would have hit at 300 meters. It’s really important to have a close grouping in the center of the target, so when you’re shooting at a longer distance, you’re going to hit the target,” explained Desoto.

1st Regiment Cadet Jordan DeSoto checks out his target at Ground and Zero training in Fort Knox, Ky., June 9, 2023. Ground and Zero training helps prepare Cadets for the qualification test that occurs later on during Advanced Camp. | Photo by Kate Koennecke

Cadets have to make a minimum of six out of 10 shots within the outermost dashed line of the target. Hitting the top edge of the target or ‘the civilian’ is unacceptable. Although a phrase like ‘don’t hit the civilian’ sounds like a warning, Cadet Nadia Khan from Towson University described the phrase as a matter of common sense.

“We use silhouette boards for us to mount our targets onto so it’s just redirecting our aim onto an actual center of a target versus just a big silhouette,” said Khan.

Cadet Madison Bean elaborated further, “You want to hit on target and not shoot up above or below it, because we have our targets actually look like civilians.”

For Cadets like Luys Esteve Sheri from Harvard University, who has not had as much shooting experience, there are challenges that arise throughout training. However, compared to some other training events that Cadets complete throughout Cadet Summer Training, the training is not as ‘rigorous’ as it seems.

While some of the 1st Regiment Cadets felt the pressure of Group and Zero training, many of the Cadets thrived in this environment due to prior shooting experience. Cadet Ethan Pierce from the University of Iowa went into training feeling well prepared, being a highly experienced marksman due to the extensive exposure his program has provided. Pierce has even participated in past ranger challenges, and was excited to be at the range.


1st Regiment Cadet Ethan Pierce gets in shooting position at Ground and Zero training in Fort Knox, Ky., June 9, 2023. During this training, Cadets work on their marksmanship skills with M4s in hand. | Photo by Kate Koennecke

Ground and Zero is not a graded event, but the 1st Regiment Cadets understood the importance of this training. When the qualifications test rolls around, the 1st Regiment will be aiming for success, not the civilian!

About the Author: Kate Koennecke
Kate Koennecke
Kate Koennecke is a rising junior at The Ohio State University double-majoring in Political Science and Strategic Communications. This summer, Koennecke will be working as a Public Affairs Intern, covering events throughout Cadet Summer Training this summer as a Photojournalist. Koennecke has had many experiences working in the public sphere, including interning for the Ohio Statehouse for the Ohio Democratic Caucus in the Senate in the fall of 2022. Once this summer comes to an end, Koennecke hopes to take back her knowledge of Public Affairs back to the Buckeye state with her.