Last Updated: June 12th, 2024By

FORT KNOX, Ky. — When it comes to being an officer in the U.S. Army, it is imperative that an individual be qualified to handle an M4 Carbine. At Cadet Summer Training, Cadets must qualify using the M4 as part of the graduation requirements for CST at Fort Knox, Ky., June 7, 2024. Cadets also gain points toward their Order of Merit List, an ROTC ranking that affects their future choices.

Cadet Mycaila Ellis, Old Dominion University, 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp repositions for the next round of pop-up targets at Fort Knox, Ky., June 7, 2024. Targets pop up at different distances, when hit they will fall back down sending a signal to the control tower. | Morgan Edwards, Virginia Tech, CST Public Affairs Office

“Today is a significant day for the Cadets, it’s a qualification range, and this is where they’re actually graded on the proficiency of their weapon,” Maj. Diana Petris, Assistant Military Professor, Military Intelligence Officer, Washington State University, Wa.

In order to qualify, Cadets must hit a series of pop-up targets down range at a variety of distances while ensuring they hit at least 23 out of 40 of the targets.

However, before they can even qualify, they must undergo several additional training sessions to prepare. Cadets must go through Preliminary Marksmanship Instruction, the Engagement Skills Trainer as well as Group and Zero. During preliminary training at CST, Cadets must go through extensive practice so when it comes time to qualify, both their weapons and themselves have made the adequate preparations.

ROTC is available at over 900 universities and not all have easy access to live fire ranges. This is why it is key for Cadets to come into CST with the intention to learn even if they have yet to actually practice a specific event.

“At my school, we did a lot of rucks, and we really didn’t go to the range, but we did do a lot of EST which kind of helped,” Cadet Mycaila Ellis, 1st regiment Advanced Camp, Old Dominion University.

During the qualification, Cadets hit their targets from different positions. Positions include squatting, lying down and standing. This is to allow cadets to get into a comfortable and stable position before pulling the trigger. Once a Cadet hit the target, it will send a signal to a control tower noting that it was hit, alerting the pop-up target to fall back down. All of these will add up to the overall score they receive at the conclusion of the training.

“I think it is important to shoot because I feel like every soldier should have that Basic Rifle Marksmanship, especially, officers,” said Cadet Bayleigh Gentieu, 1st Regiment Advanced Camp, The Citadel. “How can we be expected to train and lead others if we can’t do everything ourselves,” said Gentieu.

When Cadets finish their iteration of qualification, they have someone check their weapon to confirm there are no more live rounds in the chamber. Cadre shake Cadets’ gear at the conclusion of training to ensure no extra brass or live ammunition leaves the range.

Maj. Diana Petris, Assistant Proffesor of Military Science, Washington State University, gives Cadets the shake down to ensure no extra brass or live ammunition leaves the range at Fort Knox, Ky., June 7, 2024. Safety is a key part of Cadet Summer Training; Shake Downs allow safety protocols to be met and applied to every Cadet. | Morgan Edwards, Virginia Tech, CST Public Affairs Office

Weapons Qualification allows Cadets to not only be proficient in their BRM, it also reinforces their own confidence in their abilities as future officers.

About the Author: Morgan Edwards