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ROTC Cadets take aim at rifle marksmanship

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U.S. Army photo by Al Zdarsky.

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets from the 1st Regiment at the 2013 Leader Development and Assessment Course went through basic rifle marksmanship qualifications June 22 at Joint Base Lewis, McChord, Wash. 

In order to qualify, Cadets are required to fire 40 rounds of ammunition at cardboard targets designed to mimic distances of 50 to 300 meters. Of the 40 rounds that Cadets fire they must hit at least 23 targets to qualify as a marksman, 29 targets to qualify as a sharpshooter and 36 targets to qualify as an expert.

In preparation for the qualifying round, Cadets underwent a series of instructional classes called primary marksmanship instruction that included zeroing their weapon, the fundamentals of firing a weapon and a class on weapons safety.

Following qualifications, the Cadets will use their newly acquired marksmanship skills during a squad live fire exercise, a new requirement to LDAC that prepares the Cadets for practical application of the skill-set.

“Bottom line is we’re instilling confidence in their ability to operate their weapons, culminating in a squad live fire exercise,” said Lt. Col. Rob Boone, the basic rifle marksmanship committee chief. “For so long you tell someone why to do something, but not how so this is a better way of teaching it to Cadets.”

While some Cadets have never touched a weapon before in their life, other prior service Cadets felt right at home from their experience as enlisted Soldiers.

“My previous experience firing weapons [as an enlisted Soldier] really helped me during qualifications,” said Cadet Matthew Adams, 1st Regiment, Alpha Co., from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.

For other prior service Soldiers now in the ROTC program, recent changes to the Army’s primary marksmanship instruction required them to “adjust fire” from the way they had learned to fire a weapon in the past.

“A few of the changes from how we used to fire a weapon were made, but the way they explained it to us made it pretty easy to adjust,” said Cadet Carter Doyal, 1st Reg., Alpha Co. from East Tennessee University, Johnson City, Tenn. “People who knew what they were doing and took the training seriously were fairly prepared.”

Following the qualification round, the Cadets from the 1st Reg. felt much more comfortable firing their weapon and it was clear that the importance of the training really hit home.

“Your M-16 is your best friend and if you don’t know how to use it properly and how to shoot and defend yourself, you’re not really going to be an asset to your platoon or the military as a whole,” said Cadet Iyesha Bush, 1st Reg., Alpha Co., from South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, S.C. “If you don’t know anything else, you should know how to shoot.”

Story by Samantha Saldivar.

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