­­­FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets of the 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp, began their weapon group and zero training in the rain at Fort Knox, Ky., June 19, 2023.

Cadet Hannah Scheerer, Gonzaga University, 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp, aims the M4 carbine at a target during the group and zero exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., June 19, 2023. The purpose of group and zero is for Cadets to practice aligning their scope and barrel to perfect their aim at targets before they qualify their weapons later during CST. | Photo by Madelyn Guinn, Ball State University, CST Public Affairs Office

During group and zero, Cadets shoot five rounds at a 25-meter target and want to aim for a tight shot group in the center mass of the targets. This exercise helps Cadets perfect their sights and aim before they qualify with their M4 carbines later during Cadet Summer Training.

Cadet Connor Powers from The Citadel explained that the purpose of group and zero is for Cadets to make sure that their sight and the barrel of their weapon are aligned to hit their targets consistently.

Powers said that he was confident going into the exercise because of the prior training he received through his university’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.

“We have three FTXs [field training exercises] every year that we go to; one for grouping and zero, one for STXs [situational training exercise] lanes, and one for stuff we got to work on, like land [navigation],” Powers said. “They do a pretty good job in the classroom, they teach us everything we need to know, and the professors are really excellent and professional.”

After finishing the group and zero exercise, Cadet Sharona Bowen from Austin Peay State University said that she is more confident to qualify with her M4 carbine because of the basic rifle marksmanship she has learned during CST.

“Everyone else has been super great here helping us feel comfortable and helping us before we get out there, so I believe that it’s proper prior planning, and it’s really going to show when we get out there,” Bowen said.

Cadet William Mills from Sam Houston State University has been a part of the ROTC program for three years now and said that he always knew he wanted to join the military because he likes the structure of it.

Cadet Jonathan Snell, Auburn University, 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp, looks through the scope of the M4 carbine during the group and zero exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., June 19, 2023. | Photo by Madelyn Guinn, Ball State University, CST Public Affairs Office

“I love the sense of purpose that it gives,” Mills said. “Everything I’m doing, I feel like I’m doing it for a reason.”

Since it was raining during the training, Mills advises Cadets to not be bothered by it.

“To any Cadet that comes out here to CST for any training you do, it’s not going to be the easiest thing, but keep an open mind, and continue to push forward,” Mills said. “Things are going to be hard, but the reward will be great.”

CST 3rd Regiment Cadets will be qualifying with their weapons later this week.

About the Author: Madelyn Guinn
Madelyn Guinn
Madelyn Guinn is a CST PAO intern from Martinsville, Indiana that graduated from Ball State University in 2023 with a Photojournalism Major and Sociology Minor. Guinn first fell in love with photography in 2015 when they began taking photos for their high school yearbook and has always favored sports and action photography. While interning at Fort Knox, KY this summer, Guinn is eager to gain experience with military action photography and hopes to expand her knowledge on more videography work by the end of this internship.