Last Updated: June 18th, 2024By

FORT KNOX, Kentucky – Cadets with 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp complete their M4 Qualification at George Blair Range on Fort Knox, June 17, 2024. M4 Qualification tests how Cadets react to various targets from different distances. Cadets shoot their rifles from different positions, like standing and kneeling to mimic combat environments. Cadets must hit 23 out of 40 targets to pass. 

Cadet Andrew Abner, from the University of Kentucky, said he felt confident heading into the Practice Qualification. He was well prepared with training from his home university as the University of Kentucky’s Army ROTC program uses the same ranges used for Cadet Summer Training. 

Although his experience with firearms made him confident about the M4 Qualification, Abner says mindset plays a big role in all aspects of conquering CST. 

“It can be a mental game, being away from home and going through hard stuff,” Abner said. “Bring everything you need for success. You want to enter every challenge, fully confident that you’ll be able to succeed.”

Cadet Santiago Pelaez, from Campbell University, North Carolina, is a prior service Cadet. He joined the Green to Gold program to have a greater impact on the U.S. Army, and to create better opportunities for his family. Pelaez has a wife and a two-year-old son back in North Carolina.

For him, the greatest challenge of the M4 Rifle Qualification was the weather.

“The heat obviously affects some of the skills,” Pelaez said. “You can run through it as much as you want, but when you are in there, the pressure sets in.”

Teamwork and encouragement were the running themes throughout George Blair Range on Fort Knox for 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp. Cadets high-fived each other while switching off stations and laughs were exchanged while in line for their next round of ammunition. If one Cadet was discouraged about falling short, there was always another Cadet to pick them up.

Trusting marksmanship fundamentals allowed Cadets to focus on the task at hand. 

“It’s essential to detach from the moment, just going back down to the basics because you know what to do,” Pelaez said. “You know the sequence, when to fire and the marksmanship. You know the basics.”

About the Author: Kendall Kelly