By: Emily Mulcahey
Cadets in summer training at Fort Knox, Ky. took to the Electronic Skills Training (EST) course on Thursday afternoon to start mastering the craft of marksmanship.
The training was all virtual—so no real weapons were used—instead, there were large screens and prototype M-16 rifles, along with some other life-like warzone scenarios and sets. The simulation center was full, with about 100 Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET) cadets—many of whom had never seen a rifle, let alone shoot one.
The course is designed to save money and create a safer, less intimidating environment for cadets to learn to shoot. The instructors can correct them, and the cadets don’t have to worry about wasting ammunition while they learn to shoot.
“After you’ve done this several times, you figure out what you’re doing wrong,” Col. Denise Moultri, one of the many EST supervisors commented, “you work on those imperfections so that by the time you go out to the real thing, you’re prepared.”
Moultri also stated that she wished she could have gone back in time and done this training herself. The cadets work on getting three shots in the same vicinity (grouping), and then trying to hit a pop-up target (zeroing). The training is excellent, giving the cadets a taste of what a real firing range will be like.
Aside from learning to shoot, some of the older cadets are able to teach the younger ones with less experience about shooting.
“There are only a handful of cadets that have really shot before, so I think future cadets will really like it,” said Cadet Lakshmi Chidambaram of the University of New Haven, “I think it’s entertaining because the cadets are having fun teaching other cadets.”
Cadet Joshua Pace echoed this opinion, emphasizing how much fun he had during the simulation, “I definitely think the future cadets will enjoy it. We get to play videogames and shoot! It’s like Call of Duty but with real guns.”
EST is one of the most crucial areas of development for these cadets while they are at Cadet Summer Training (CST). The computer simulators emphasize how quickly an enemy can be upon a soldier, and how quickly they can disappear. The cadre at Fort Knox are making sure they fill every day with invaluable information for leadership, and pure survival.
Retired Scout Platoon Sgt. Whitson Daley, who manages the EST facility, summed up the meaning of CST in just one sentence: “I signed up to support our soldiers, and by God, that’s what I’m going to do.”