FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets of 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, spent the day preparing for marksmanship qualification and received a virtual glance at what the real test will look like at Fort Knox, Ky., June 21, 2023. While waiting to go through the engagement skills trainer, Cadets helped each other work out kinks and practiced going through the motions of the qualification process.

After spending a few hours familiarizing themselves with the M4 rifle, Cadets must perform well enough at EST to get a chance to have an opportunity to qualify at the range. EST simulates live fire by connecting rifles to a projector and screens moving targets.

A Cadet from 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, practices their stance for the upcoming marksmanship qualification at Fort Knox, Ky., June 21, 2023. Cadets spent the day working with weapon mechanics and a chance to go through a virtual shooting experience known as the engagement skills trainer. | Photo by Keaton Silver, University of Mississippi, CST Public Affairs Office

“This is a go- or no-go event to follow onto the following tables of marksmanship,” said Cadet Harrison Wood, Liberty University.

EST is not a graded event; however, Cadets must prove they are accurate enough to fire live rounds at the range safely. Wood has one thing in mind for qualifying, and that is to shoot expert.

“There’s an excellent program for marksmanship where people can get together once a week and put rounds on a target,” Wood said. “I was on that tactical marksmanship team my first years at college.”

Liberty University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program offers multiple different clubs for Cadets to have an upper hand once at Advanced Camp. The tactical marksmanship team, that Wood was a member of, allowed Cadets to practice on multiple different weapons systems with the assistance of the Liberty University Police Department to provide a safe and educational environment.

Liberty University is one of the few schools in the country where Cadets and other students have a gun range on campus to frequently use.

Even with the impact ROTC programs have on Cadets to branch in combat arms, Wood plans to go the combat support route.

“I would like to branch military intelligence,” Wood said. “I joined ROTC to be a leader, I think that’s why everyone’s here; they want to lead in some type of capacity as well as serve.”

The Army offers many opportunities that catch Cadets’ eyes as they look for a potential career in the military.

Cadet Joseph Adams, Mississippi State University, 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp, corrects his form holding the M4 rifle to get ready for the marksmanship qualification at Fort Knox, Ky., June 21, 2023. Adams prepares to enter the engagement skills trainer where he will prove he is ready to use live rounds at the range. | Photo by Keaton Silver, University of Mississippi, CST Public Affairs Office

Cadet Joseph Adams, Mississippi State University, grew up hunting and has a talent for shooting with the M4 rifle, but has no interest in ranking something in combat arms in his top three choices.

“Combat arms are definitely the coolest branches just from an outsider looking in,” Adams said. “But then once you’re actually involved with Army type stuff, you realize that there’s so much more to the Army than just shooting guns and blowing stuff up.”

Adams has his sights set on going into medical services or engineering.

Marksmanship is a fundamental responsibility all Cadets and Soldiers must learn, but everyone has their own journey while in the military. For Wood and Adams, while talent runs in their blood with the M4 rifle, they have their own goals to pursue.

EST and the rest of marksmanship at Advanced Camp are a required task each Cadet must pass, but once commissioned, Cadets can venture off and help the Army in a variety of different ways.

About the Author: Keaton Silver
Keaton Silver
Keaton Silver is a student at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) majoring in Integrated Marketing & Communications in the school of Journalism and New Media. Silver is originally from San Clemente, California, but now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Silver also happens to be an Army ROTC cadet at Ole Miss., and plans to focus on photojournalism before attending Advanced Camp the second half of the summer.