– Cadets from 6th Regiment, Advanced Camp, completed their preliminary marksmanship instruction in preparation for their weapons qualification during Cadet Summer Training, Fort Knox, Ky., June 30, 2023. 

Cadet Dynasty Esposito, 6th Regiment, Advanced Camp, City College of New York, practices holding her weapon in the prone unsupported position during the preliminary marksmanship instruction, Fort Knox, Ky., June 30, 2023. Cadets rotate through five stations, learning different techniques and weapons safety, before live-fire ranges. | Photo by Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office.

Cadets spend a few days working through PMI, the engagement skills trainer, and zeroing before they must qualify with their M4 carbines. 

For some Cadets, such as Cadet Dynasty Esposito, City College of New York, CST is their first exposure to the Army’s weapons training.

“I’m a little nervous since this is my first weapon qualification,” Esposito said. “Hopefully, I get a 40 out of 40, which I’m pretty confident in with the training that I just received today.”

During the training, PMI instructors explained to the Cadets about the fundamentals of shooting, before demonstrating various aspects at five different stations. The Cadets had the chance to practice with their weapons. Esposito said this is her first time completing any sort of weapons training.

“I’m learning a lot of stuff,” Esposito said. “I can also bring this information back to my college myself and teach the newer Cadets that are looking to become future officers and teach them the proper way on how to use a rifle.”

Cadet Frank Masaniai, 6th Regiment, Advanced Camp, Utah Valley University, learns to handle his weapon in the kneeling supported position at the preliminary marksmanship instruction for Cadet Summer Summer Training, Fort Knox, Ky., June 30, 2023. Cadets listen to a safety and fundamentals briefing, before they practice handling their unloaded weapons in smaller groups. | Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office.

Other Cadets have learned how to handle weapons through prior service. Cadet Frank Masaniai, Utah Valley University, enlisted in the National Guard before he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. 

“[The training is] fairly similar because it’s the same thing across the whole board, whether it’s ROTC, National Guard, [or] Active Duty,” Masaniai said. “You’re being taught the same stuff, same weapon systems, and how to do different stances.” 

Masaniai said the main difference that he faced was the firing positions. Despite having to learn a new stance, Masaniai felt confident about his upcoming weapons qualification. 


The Cadre focused on teaching Cadets the basics of safely handling weapons. Some of Esposito’s main takeaways from the training related to weapon safety. 

“Just pay attention [to] your surroundings,” Esposito said. “Check your weapon, [and] make sure it’s on safe, so you’re keeping others safe.”

Cadet Reed Christenson, 6th Regiment, Advanced Camp, Texas A&M University, practices his trigger squeeze at the preliminary marksmanship instruction station, Fort Knox, Ky., June 30, 2023. Cadets completed dime and washer drills to evaluate trigger squeeze in the unsupported position. | Erinn Finley, Murray State University, CST Public Affairs Office.

Because of his prior training, Masaniai said he is looking forward to helping fellow Cadets, who might not have as much experience. He advised Cadets to focus on their fundamentals when completing weapons training.

“Just be confident in your abilities, because you know what you’re getting into, you know what you’re gonna do, just do it with the best of your ability,” Masaniai said. 

After today’s training, Cadets will go onto the engagement skills trainer, where they will have the opportunity to practice with weapons on a simulated range. 

About the Author: Erinn Finley
Erinn Finley
Erinn Finley is a senior at Murray State University majoring in journalism. She enjoys writing, reading, travel and photography. She worked for the student newspaper at her campus to further her writing skills outside of the classroom. During the Cadet Summer Training internship, she hopes to further her photography and writing skills.