FORT KNOX, Ky., – U.S. Army Cadets from 2nd Regiment, Advanced Camp, tackle group and zero at Fort Knox, Ky., June 12, 2023. Group and zero is the third, and final, training exercise that Cadets must go through before they can complete their weapons qualification.

When his fellow Cadets had questions about where to aim on the targets for each distance, Cadet Noah Bufalini, Rochester Institute of Technology, approached a nearby Cadre member to ask if a whiteboard was available. Once he was given the materials, Bufalini drew diagrams and reviewed with his fellow Cadets.

U.S. Army Cadet Johana Flores, University of Texas at Austin, examines her target during the group and zero exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., June 12, 2023. The importance of checking the target helps Cadets to improve their overall aim for group and zero. | Photo by Jaden Whiteman, Ball State University, CST Public Affairs Office

“I had some knowledge in that, and I just wanted to help out,” Bufalini said. “My master sergeant’s pretty well versed in this sort of stuff, so he taught me. I just figured I’d pass down the knowledge to the other Cadets in order to help them out.”

The Cadets split into groups of 10 within their platoons, grabbed their ammunition, and headed onto the range to complete the exercise.

Distance will impact where these Cadets will aim their rifles at the targets. Each bullet curves traveling at an arch to the target. The Cadets must consider the distance from them to the target to aim their rifles for the bullets to hit the target properly.

Some Cadets struggle during the group and zero.

Cadet Johana Flores, University of Texas at Austin, shot rounds to get her grouping together to be as accurate as possible for weapons qualifications.

“Today’s been a little bit stressful. I’ve been learning a lot,” Flores said. “I think it’ll help a lot if I can narrow it down to get a very tight grouping, so I can just know that I can rely on basics that I already know and just feel more confident going into the table five [and] table six.”

U.S. Army Cadet Samuel Jones, University of Cincinnati, aims his M4 rifle during the group and zero exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., June 12, 2023. Cadets practice the fundamentals of shooting such as group and zero, an exercise to prepare them for weapons qualifications. | Photo by Jaden Whiteman, Ball State University, CST Public Affairs Office

For Cadets like Flores who need help prior after completing the group and zero, Sgt. Jacob Jensen, a re-trainer for the range during Cadet Summer Training, has some advice.

“A lot of the things I see people struggle with when they come to us, it’s them not being able to consistently do the fundamentals that we taught them,” Jensen said. “So, whether that be their trigger squeeze [or] it could be their breathing. Their aiming is kind of messed up, and most of the time, it’s just not applying the fundamentals of what we teach them.”

Cadet Samuel Jones, University of Cincinnati, joined the Ohio Army National Guard in 2019, and then, joined Reserve Officers’ Training Corps after a recommendation by a recruiter. Jones completed the group and zero with a first time zero.

“I feel ready to go. I feel like I’ve been prepared from being in the National Guard and with what my program’s done in ROTC to get me ready for the range,” Jones said. “I love shooting guns. That’s probably what I’m looking most forward to, and table six qualifications is always the highlight of my training experience.”

The Cadets will head to their weapons qualifications tomorrow, where they will test the skills that they have practiced the last few days through the preliminary marksmanship instruction, engagement skills trainer, and group and zero training exercises.

About the Author: Jaden Whiteman
Jaden Whiteman
Jaden Whiteman is a senior at Ball State University, majoring in photojournalism. She grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has an interest in sports photography and nature photography. You can often find her curled up with a book or out hiking. She hopes to learn more writing skills and broadcasting skills. She hopes to polish up her photo skills this summer as a Public Affairs Office intern at Cadet Summer Training.