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New firing range 'shoots down' time, costs

by Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs

5/27/2011 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- The newly refurbished combat arms firing range here is now loaded and ready.

After the completion of a series of renovations to the base's old range, Airmen will no longer have to transfer from the 18th Security Force Squadron's classroom here to the Marine Corps range on Camp Hansen, saving the base money in transportation costs, vehicle maintenance and man-hours.

"It's definitely more convenient," said Tech. Sgt. Andy Pape, the 18th SFS NCO in charge of combat arms. "We're a one-stop shop now. They come here and receive the classroom portion, go straight to the firing line, and they can return back to their unit or job site in a timely manner. Before, it was an all-day course."

Sergeant Pape said the renovations began due to the dangerous conditions at the former combat arms area that included a condemned building and an uncontained firing range where live rounds could potentially exit the barricaded area.

Now, although only roughly 75 percent of all the planned renovations have been completed to combat arms, the building and classroom have been completely rebuilt with the addition of a firing range control tower and the range is fully contained.

Next on the list for the overhaul over the next three months is a new ventilation system, a self-sufficient weapons vault for the equipment and a new concrete floor for the range.

"Currently, there's no ventilation system, but it is in the works," said Staff Sgt. Danielle Croley, an 18th SFS combat arms instructor. "We're now getting our vault, because we're still not quite centrally located. Our weapons and our ammo for training are still (in the security forces' vault), so we still have to go back and forth every day, even though it's a lot closer than going to Camp Hansen."

Another benefit of the renovations is the lighter work load for the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron; its members were previously tasked with building and repairing weapons barricades and target stands to use at Camp Hansen, officials said.

"A lot of different agencies had to come together for us to relocate," Sergeant Croley said. "Because when we went to (Camp) Hansen, we were just using little wooden stands; the wood shop had to make us 50 barricades and target stands, which was time consuming for them. It's 100 percent nicer than firing at Camp Hansen."

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