News: Cadets zero in on their targets, qualify on their rifles
Story by Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti
FORT KNOX, Ky. – Firing a rifle and hitting a target with any certainty is a skill that can be learned. Mastering these skills takes learning and utilizing the basic fundamentals, and practicing these skills.
The basic rifle marksmanship committee, comprised of Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 98th Training Division, is assigned to Task Force Wolf in support of Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, to teach cadets the fundamentals of BRM, facilitate the mechanical zero process, and coach them through the grouping, zeroing, and qualification with their assigned M16 rifle.
“This is their [the cadets’] crawl phase - some of the cadets have never even held a weapon before, so it’s our job to get them familiar and comfortable with their weapon,” said Sgt. Ben Royalty, instructor, BRM committee. “This is extremely important, these cadets are going to be future leaders. We want their assigned NCOs when they get to their platoons to be able to proudly say that’s my platoon leader with the confidence that he or she is proficient in these basic soldier skills.”
The NCOs in the BRM committee teach BRM fundamentals in a group. The cadets are then assigned to the various identical lanes where they receive tailored coaching.
“We take this training very seriously, but we also make it fun and personal. We find a way to relate to the individual cadet so that the skills and techniques in this training are relayed to each of them in a way they can relate to and understand,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Graham, BRM committee. “What works for one doesn’t work for the other, so it’s important to know how to mentor each one in a way that works for them. It’s what we do as NCOs.”
Through the two-day interaction, the committee and cadets develop a bond and trust.
“Our primary responsibility is to make sure these cadets are familiar, and feel safe and secure with their weapons. While coaching them through the zeroing portion, we also encourage and motivate them while giving them tips and advice on how to become better shooters,” said Sgt. Eric Roman, BRM committee. “It’s important to get each individual cadet to the same level of proficiency and leadership.”
During the extended one-on-one time spent on perfecting the cadets’ BRM skills, the cadre members take advantage of the opportunity to add to the cadets’ professional development. The relationship between officers and NCOs is a powerful one when developed.
“For the most part, this is their first look at junior NCOs—their squad leaders. These cadets will be officers and leaders soon, with their own platoon. This time together gives us a chance to show them what a junior NCO does and is capable of. What they should expect from their squad leaders—to provide them the example,” Royalty said.
Through the various challenges the cadre members encounter during the training, they are thankful for the opportunity to make a difference.
“It’s gratifying doing this because you truly feel like you are teaching someone something. Some require extra time, effort, and patience to get them where they need to be. I enjoy being able to share and use my experience while teaching the cadets. From an NCOs perspective, this is gratifying,” Roman said.
The sentiment was mutual. At the end of the long day of shooting, cadets ran back from the bus to thank their instructors. They high-fived each other, shook hands, and shared smiles in celebration of their accomplishments—on both sides.
“The sergeants helped me through the entire process. They took their time with me and explained everything thing to me. I actually enjoyed this training because the cadre assisted me in being successful,” said Cadet Dominique Stewart, a Jacksonville State University student.