By: Madison Thompson
FORT KNOX, Ky. – 7th Regiment, Basic Camp, Cadets executed Alt-C weapons qualification at Canby Hill Range, July 19, during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox. Cadets worked to qualify by zeroing and grouping the M16 rifle in the controlled setting of the Alt-C course.
“Zero involves getting your weapon aimed down sites the right way. Grouping is to make sure that they get a certain amount of shots within a certain area so that they’re consistent in their aiming,” stated 2nd Lt. Justin Atkins, graduate of University of California, Riverside.
Cadets practiced these two skills by firing at a paper target, which simulated different distances between 50 and 100 meters. Practicing these two skills as well as practicing firing the M16 rifle serves many different purposes.
“There’s a couple reasons. One, if any of these Cadets go down range and they are placed in harm’s way where they need to fire their weapon, we want to make sure they can accurately engage the enemy to protect themselves. Also, as future officers, they are expected to do and be capable of everything their Soldiers are able to do,” explained MS3 leader trainer at Basic Camp Cadet Joshua Ratta, Texas A&M University, San Antonio, Texas.
“The purpose of this training is to work on marksmanship because, as Soldiers, you never know when you’re going to go into combat and you need to be ready to shoot your rifle and be proficient at it,” said Cadet Julian Wilson, University of Texas at Arlington, San Antonio, Texas.
Cadets were briefed on safety procedures upon arriving at the range. While on the range, Cadets were taught techniques on firing as well as an acronym to help them through the proper firing procedures which is BRAS, Breathe, Relax, Aim, Squeeze.
“A lot of Cadets … they haven’t handled a rifle before or, if they have, they haven’t shot it within U.S. Army regulations. So, the acronym BRAS was developed as a way to make sure Cadets are thinking about the correct way to use the rifle. So, the first thing they need to concentrate on is breathing. When Cadets get up there, sometimes they’re nervous and are breathing really fast and heavy. That’s going to throw off the rifle,” explained Ratta. “The R stands for relax. A lot of Cadets get really tense and nervous about shooting for the first time. The R is a reminder to take a deep breath, relax and let out all that tension because, if you’re really tense, you’re going to have a hard time shooting. The A, for aiming, is to get a nice site picture where you’re looking down the rear sites of the weapon and lining them up on your target so that your target is just slightly blurry, you’re front site is in clear focus and your rear site is a nice frame that allows you to focus on your front site. The S is for squeeze. You want a nice slow, steady trigger pull. When they finally pull that trigger back and it shoots that round off, it should almost be a surprise because they’re not anticipating it so much.”
After qualifying, Cadets turn in their targets as well as do a shake down for brass.
“We do a brass shake down just to make sure no brass got caught in their uniform. Because, when you’re shooting, you’re not paying attention to where that brass is flying out of the rifle. So, sometimes it gets caught in your pockets,” said Ratta.
Brass collection is important for many reasons. Not only is it against range rules, but it is also a safety hazard if Cadets accidentally load live rounds instead of blanks.
Throughout their training and teaching, Cadre and Cadets offered advice for Cadets who will qualify with their M16 rifles in the future.
“Take your time, especially if it’s your first time shooting. You cannot rush this. You have to slow down and relax,” said Ratta.
“Just take your time, even if you don’t get it on the first time, or the third time, or the fourth time, or the fifth time. Just keep going,” said Wilson. “Don’t let other people discourage you and laugh and make fun of you. Never quit.”
Cadet Summer Training will bring 8,200 Cadets through Basic and Advanced Camp this summer on Fort Knox. These camps are designed to help challenge, grow and improve various skills and leadership qualities within the Cadets. If you think you have what it takes to be a Cadet or if you are interested in a job after college click the following link: https://my.goarmy.com/info/rotc1/index.jsp?iom=IP08-AUTO-R1NA-BR-XXX-XX-XXX-MO-XX-X-BRCMAC:IP08