Last Updated: July 3rd, 2024By Tags: , , , ,

FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY – Cadets from the 6th Regiment, Advanced Camp arrive at the George Blair Range to practice for their weapons qualification, at Fort Knox, July 3, 2024. Yesterday, the Cadets practiced zeroing, an exercise that preps Cadets on how to fire at targets in consistent patterns; forming clusters.

Cadets only have a few hours to practice with their firearms before they are graded for their weapons qualification. Cadets will shoot 40 rounds at their targets and must hit 23 targets to qualify as Marksmen. For Sharpshooter, the Cadet must hit 32 to 36 targets and a score higher than 36 is an Expert.

After practicing on 15 targets, Cadet Nicholas Moore, from Old Dominion University, said he feels confident about the qualification, as he shot 11 targets from his practice. He said every officer needs to learn how to use their firearm.

“It’s important for leaders to be proficient in pretty much everything in the army, especially with a rifle,” said Moore. “I think it’s important for any leader.”

Moore said he always wanted to be part of the military, a dream since childhood. During his sophomore year of high school, he joined the Fork Union Military Academy. In his senior year, he joined the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) at West Potomac High School and became the Rifle Team Leader in 2020 during COVID-19. He scored 3rd place within his county during his time in JROTC, and he believes his prior training helped him with his practice qualification.

Moore is currently studying Criminal Justice and wants to branch into Military Police, saying he always wanted to be part of law enforcement.

That’s pretty much what I want to do,” said Moore. “All I can do is just do my best and if there’s a slot available, then I’ll get military police.”

As some Cadets arrive at ROTC with firearm experience, others have little to no practice, said Cadet Kylie McNamara, from Colorado State University.

“Going into college, I never touched any sort of weapon in my life,” said McNamara. “We have a firearm safety club at my school through our program, and ever since then I’ve gotten more familiar with it.”

Before the qualification, the cadre guided them through their practice run. McNamara said the cadre were helpful to the Cadets.

“They walked us through step by step on how to shoot,” said McNamara. “Even the ones who shoot well, still benefited in some way.”

While growing up, McNamara has always wanted to help people and animals. McNamara was unsure of how to find that path until she discovered the Veterinary Corps. She is currently in a pre-veterinary program for animal science with a minor in military science.

“I’ve always really cared about other people and any animal I’ve ever come in contact with,” said McNamara. “I found out about the Vet Corps in the army, and that’s what I’m shooting for. I can help and serve both at the same time.”

Cadets finished their pre-qualification, and now they must put their skills to the test as they will be graded on their weapons qualification. Moore looks back from his practice, learning from his mistakes, and says he is ready to take on the weapons qualification.

“I could have done better and now I’ve recognized where I faltered,” said Moore. “Hopefully I’ll do a lot better for the official qualification. Other than that, I feel pretty confident. Once I see where I’m at, I’ll be able to do the actual qualification.”

About the Author: Elizabeth Peterson