Last Updated: June 13th, 2024By

FORT KNOX, Ky. – The Cadets practice using an M4 Carbine in an exercise called group and zero. Grouping is when a cluster of rounds are shot consistently into a target close together. The basic marksmanship training includes teaching Cadets to have a tight shot group. When the Cadets zero, they adjust settings on the M68 Close Combat Optic to move that tight shot group onto the center of the target.

Cadet Salem Adda-Berkane, Boston University, marks his shots in the target at Cadet Summer Training, Fort Knox, Ky. June 9, 2023. Marking the holes helps the zeroing process. | Photo by Lanie Guinn, Ball State University, CST Public Affairs Office

Along with gaining experience, the Cadets also get to work with the Cadre and other officers. The officer in charge for the Handiboe range is 1st Lt. Dahlia Aguirre. She shares what the Cadre are responsible for while they are here.

“They are helping us out with concurrent training while they are waiting to go on the lanes and shoot,” Aguirre said. “They are also helping us out as safeties, and then to do the retraining.”

For this exercise, the Cadets’ shooting skills are being put to the test. Mindset, breathing, and overall practice are all key to doing well during this exercise.

Cadet Khang Huang completed schooling at The Citadel located in South Carolina. He gained confidence from his school and from his brigade.

“I felt very confident, and I was able to get a firsthand ‘go’ with my zeroing,” Huang continued by sharing tips he would give to other shooters. “Just stick to your fundamentals and just don’t be afraid and have confidence.”

Cadet Johnathan Taylor is from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and coming into this exercise, he said he was confident, and his shooting showed proof of that.

“We’ve had lots of opportunities to get ready, which was fantastic. It only took me a couple of times to get zeroed in,” Taylor said.

Cadet Matthew Schwartz, Washington University, aims at their target at Cadet Summer Training Fort Knox, Ky. June 14, 2023. The goal for the Cadets is to shoot all their rounds into the center of the target. | Photo by Lanie Guinn, Ball State University, CST Public Affairs Office

Following this event, they will have a shooting qualification where they must 23 of 40 targets to pass. There are three levels of qualification badge awarded based on number of hits. Twenty-three to 29 qualifies a Cadet as Marksman, 30 to 35 qualifies a Sharpshooter, and 36 to 40 qualifies as Expert.

About the Author: Lanie Guinn
Lanie Guinn
Lanie Guinn is going into her Junior year of college at Ball State University. She is majoring in Journalism with a concentration in photographic storytelling with a double minor in strategic communication and psychological science. This summer Lanie is interning as a Public Affairs Officer for the CST program. She hopes to learn and continue to build on skills in photography and videography. Outside of school, she is quite the adrenaline junkie who enjoys being outdoors and trying new things.