Fort Knox, Kentucky – Cadets with 6th Regiment, Advanced Camp, practice their marksmanship skills with their M4-Carbines before taking on their qualification testing as part of Cadet Summer Training, July 2, 2024. 

Cadets with 6th Regiment spent the day prior to their basic rifle marksmanship (BRM) practice at the group and zero range, getting their sight picture and breathing under control to improve their accuracy. At BRM practice, Cadets are given more ammo and further downrange targets. After being equipped with a 15-round magazine, Cadets are sent to a spot on the range. There are three distances that Cadets must face: 100 meters, 200 meters, and 300 meters as the furthest distance. They are then given five shots per distance. 

During his practice run, Cadet Travis McKenzie, from the University of South Alabama, scored 12 out of 15. McKenzie noted that some Cadets, despite their best efforts, struggle with maintaining steady breathing and a steady hand while shooting. He emphasized that a crucial factor for overcoming this challenge is to have confidence in oneself and in one’s performance.

McKenzie joined the ROTC in his family’s footsteps. However, upon completing his service, he intends to diverge from his family’s career paths. Inspired by the very justice system he had to learn from at a young age, he plans to pursue a career with the FBI. 

“Growing up, I found myself in trouble a lot,” said McKenzie. “I finally learned my lesson around 8th grade.” 

McKenzie doesn’t want to follow this path so that he can be someone who takes out all of the “bad guys.” He was inspired by those who helped him find a purpose when he was aimless at a young age. 

“There are people who commit crimes who just simply need help,” said McKenzie. “I want to be someone who helps put those people on the right path.” 

During his tenth-grade year of high school, McKenzie initiated contact with the FBI, which resulted in an invitation to visit the FBI office in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This experience provided him with valuable insights into his goals. McKenzie firmly believes that the expertise he has acquired during his time in the Army and ROTC will undoubtedly prepare him for a career in the FBI.

McKenzie spoke of his improvement in mental agility after he struggled with group and zero training the previous day. He shared that he was one of the last three Cadets to finish, which he found frustrating because he was in the platoon leader position for that day. 

“While my Soldiers were finishing, I was still on the range,” said McKenzie. “I had all of these things I was worrying about, but I knew I had to focus on what was in front of me.”

McKenzie perceives himself as a natural leader, so when he was assigned the platoon leader position, he eagerly expressed his enthusiasm, saying that it felt gratifying. He said the main goal of a leader should be to set an example for those under them. 

“It’s all about taking care of your people,” said McKenzie. “You should never ask your Soldiers to do something you are unwilling to do yourself.” 

McKenzie conveyed his leadership ethos, outlining specific standards he holds himself to. One such standard involves taking the lead in all activities while choosing to be the last to partake of any food provided.

Coming from all different corners of the nation, McKenzie shared how much he has enjoyed meeting so many people from various backgrounds at CST. 

“No one in your platoon is from the same place you’re from,” said McKenzie. “We’ve learned how to lead and work with those that don’t share our same outlook or values. I believe this will make us stronger in the face of the unknown in the future.” 

About the Author: Andrew Berger
Andrew Berger is a senior at Ball State University majoring in Photojournalism. He is the Photo Editor of the Ball State Daily News and a member of the NPPA.