FORT HOOD, Texas — It's about the time of year for TCU and Baylor ROTC cadets to get a taste of real Army training at Fort Hood, where they are getting an intense three-day training event, and their skills are being put to the test.
”It's essentially like part of the final four for ROTC,” said Maj. Jeffrey Thompson Jr., Assistance Professor of Military Science for Baylor University, ROTC.
“This is the next step in the tournament before all of the cadets go out to Fort Knox Kentucky for their Cadet Summer Training and Advance Camp Evaluation.”
They’re kicking things off with some hands-on marksmanship training at the range — and for some of them, it’s the first time they are actually firing an assault rifle.
”We don’t have this opportunity at school ever,” said Cadet Madison Harwell, Baylor University ROTC.
“We have the fake rifles and we do have paintball guns now — which is awesome, but nothing is like getting on the range and actually practicing hands-on.”
The cadets started at this range, learning to calibrate and proficiently fire the weapon before heading to another range for qualifying and validating their skills.
After the range, the cadets will participate in medic training, trying to land navigation exercises, and more.
It’s all designed to enhance the one thing their ROTC leaders hope they take from it — confidence.
”We hope they leave here with a greater sense of their abilities, and then they go to Advance Camp and Cadet Summer Training and just have a confident, calm demeanor to execute the same things they're doing here,” Maj. Thompson said.
While they are all ROTC cadets, both schools are enjoying a sense of rivalry and healthy competition — all in the spirit of keeping the training experience fun.
”It’s not just football and basketball that we’re better than them at,” said Cadet Robby Story, Texas Christian University ROTC.
“We do it in ROTC as well.”
”No, we have more grit over here,” said Cadet Madison Harwell, Baylor University ROTC. “That’s all I know.”
The cadets will be training with Fort Hood for the next three days.