Last Updated: June 26th, 2024By

FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY – Cadets with Charlie Company, 5th Regiment, Advanced Camp, spent the morning of June 26, 2024, completing Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction at the one-mile track on Fort Knox. PMI is an essential step for Cadets, using empty magazines to safely teach the basics of an M4 rifle.

Multiple lessons take place during PMI to enhance rifle marksmanship, such as understanding the basic operations of the rifle, how to change magazines, proper body positions, and the correct way to squeeze the trigger.

Cadet Grant Schaeffer from Norwich University said, “We are getting used to M4 fighting positions: standing unsupported, prone unsupported, prone supported, kneeling supported, and standing supported.”

It is important for Cadets to experience handling M4 rifles during this time, as many do not have prior experience shooting them.

“A lot of schools don’t have the facilities to use them, so we are just getting people used to them,” explained Cadet Matthew Sisk from Virginia Military Institute.

When these Cadets progress in their training to qualifications, PMI will have created a solid foundation.

“It creates muscle memory, that way you have less to think about when you’re on the range,” said Schaeffer. “That way you can just get up and shoot.”

Unlike Schaeffer and many alongside him, Sisk grew up understanding weapons and how to use them.

“My dad was in the military, so I was just always around them,” said Sisk. “He would take me shooting when I was little, so I just got used to it.”

This previous experience has afforded him the knowledge to step up and be a leader within his company for those with less experience, stating that it is beneficial to “have an open mind and take any kind of advice you can get.”

Schaeffer, one of Sisk’s battle buddies, has benefited from Sisk’s knowledge surrounding the M4 weapon system and his time spent at Basic Camp.

“I didn’t grow up with it,” said Schaeffer. “I went to Basic Camp last year, and that was my first time qualifying; that helped me get more comfortable with the M4.”

This comfortability is crucial while shooting, as Schaeffer explains, “If your heart rate is up, you’re going to be missing shots.”

Although he didn’t grow up around these kinds of weapons like Sisk, Schaeffer has built up confidence through his previous training, now understanding that “If I can calm myself down, I usually perform pretty well.”

As the Cadets of 5th Regiment progress towards qualification, PMI will serve as pivotal training, shaping their foundational skills and instilling confidence with the M4 rifle.


About the Author: Sophia Hughes