The sound of crisp gunshots echoed throughout Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as the 3rd Regiment Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets tested their aim at Basic Rifle Marksmanship with their M16 weapons.
Cadet Jack Wood from Chicago, Ill., a political science and finance major at Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., narrowly missed qualifying at expert level, having only missed three of 40 targets at group and zero.
Wood felt confident for this assessment at the Leader Development and Assessment Course after the training he received from his university.
“Every year, my school tries to get us on the range a few times,” said Wood. “They really prepare us to come out here and they do a great job of making sure we’re ready to go mentally as well.”
Besides his school, the Cadre at LDAC have played an instrumental role in the success of the Cadets so far, said Wood. A Cadet’s ability to endure is on the individual themselves, but Cadre and family are really the basis of success.
“[Cadre] help us to be confident and realize that life won’t end after each event,” said Wood. “The emphasis is on making sure we finish strong.”
It’s very exciting when a Cadet qualifies near expert level, but many Cadets come to LDAC without much experience shooting a live weapon. It was only the second time shooting a gun for Cadet Jeremy Johnson from Bassville, Miss. Johnson is a mathematics major at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Miss.
“I’m still pretty new to this,” revealed Johnson. “But it’s a great environment to be around and we learn a lot.”
Despite his limited experience with guns, Johnson felt confident when he came out to the range that morning. For him, it wasn’t about past experience, but the pure joy of getting to shoot a gun.
“You get to shoot something,” said Johnson. “It doesn’t get much better than that here at LDAC. Plus, if I didn’t get the experience here, where would I get it?”
Johnson felt satisfied with his performance at group and zero and stated that the hardest part was being limited to two rounds of ammunition. For the Cadets who were nervous about shooting for the first time, Johnson quoted an old proverb to ease their fears.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” said Johnson. “But if you do your best, you will succeed.”
Story by Allie Pasdera.