Cadets learn the basics of the M4 rifle during preliminary marksmanship instruction at Fort Knox, Ky., June 5, 2023. Cadets must learn how to use the M4 in order to qualify in marksmanship. | Keaton Silver, CST Public Affairs Office

FORT KNOX, Ky.- As the first week of Advanced Camp for 1st Regiment concludes, Cadets begin their preparation for marksmanship qualification using the M4 rifle at Fort Knox, Ky., June 5, 2023.

Preliminary marksmanship instruction is the baseline instruction for firing a weapon system. Each Cadet, no matter how much knowledge they begin Camp with, must go through this exercise to ensure weapons are handled safely and efficiently. 

Cadets Michael Parnell, student at Virginia Military Institute, and Zy Moss, a student at Mississippi State University, both explained how they arrived at Advanced Camp with previous experience using an M4 but also learned something new.

“I learned at my first station that there are new ways to get gun jams,” Parnell said. Weapons can jam in a variety of ways including not applying lubricant frequently, multiple shells becoming lodged in the chamber, and the magazine not fully attaching to your rifle.

“It’s been over two years since I learned the proper techniques for a rifle, so it’s good to touch up on everything,” Moss said.

At Advanced Camp, Cadets are given four practice days to develop the skills to pass the marksmanship qualification. While working on the basics may seem like a waste of time, Cadets are happy to refine their skills they will need to be proficient marksmen.

A Cadet practicing the basic functions of an M4 rifle at Fort Knox, Ky., June 5, 2023. Learning these tasks will help Cadets be successful throughout the rest of Advanced Camp. | Keaton Silver, CST Public Affairs Office

Cadets Faith Miller, student at the University of Texas, and Abigail Glime, student at Duquesne University, mentioned how the knowledge they gain from qualifying with their rifles will help them with their field training exercises during the second half of camp.

“Learning how to unjam your weapon a couple different ways is actually really helpful especially when you’re on the lanes because it could jam at any moment,” Miller said.

Weapon jams can become a serious issue as Cadets could easily fail the marksmanship qualification by not getting enough shots off or, in the case of a field training exercise, have limited contribution during a battle drill. 

Nodding her head in agreement, Glime added another aspect that can help them in the field.

“Yeah, we just went over bolt overrides, and we had never done those before either,” Glime said.

The PMI today is strictly meant to be treated as a learning experience. Cadre emphasized that every Cadet should be taking notes and paying attention.

Having basic marksmanship skills is a fundamental Soldier task needed for readiness in combat environments. Whether someone may work as an infantryman in a combat unit or as a human resource professional in a cubicle, it is crucial for every Soldier to gain knowledge on how to appropriately operate their M4 rifles. 

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.