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Chapter 9

Range Operations

A complete training program includes the use of ranges and training sites. It provides an opportunity to acquire targets in a realistic environment and to use the weapon systems to engage targets. This chapter outlines the procedures, duties, and responsibilities for establishing and operating ranges and training sites.

Range Operations

A plan must be developed for conducting gunnery training. This plan will vary with the tables to be trained. The plan should include the use of assets, requirements for opening the range and occupying the training site, duties and responsibilities during the exercise and while closing the range, and training tips for the OIC.

Environmental Note: Whenever possible, choose gunnery training sites that minimize damage to vegetation and waterways.


Training can be conducted by the squadron or by the troop/company.

  • Squadron. The squadron signs for, administers, and clears the range or training site. The training troop/company assists in range police and administrative duties. This allows the administering troop/company to concentrate on gunnery, tactics, and maintenance. Advanced gunnery tables require support from outside the squadron because of the magnitude of the target array and number of personnel needed to control the range. The tactical tables should not require assets from sources other than the squadron.
  • Troop/company. The troop/company signs for, administers, and clears the range or training area. The squadron provides the necessary support in details, safety officers, range guards, and administrative personnel.


The range is opened and occupied according to local range and squadron SOPs. The following personnel are responsible for the sequence of events used to open the range and occupy the training site:

  • The OIC--
  • - Arrives at the range or training site before the unit.
    - Checks communications and, for live-fire exercises, ensures that backup communications are available.
    - Briefs the safety officer, the evaluators, and the units that will be trained.
    - Ensures that range equipment is present and operational.

  • The NCOIC--
  • - Sets up additional training areas.
    - Supervises ammunition, targets, and administrative details.

  • Environmental: Ensure that absorbent materials are available for spills.
  • The safety officer or NCO--
  • - Ensures that barriers are closed or range guards are posted and briefed on their duties.
    - Ensures that no live ammunition is present on a nonfiring range.
    - Supervises placing vehicles in the correct firing order for firing or training.
    - Inspects storage, handling, and lot numbers for restricted or suspended ammunition.
    - Inspects medics and vehicles.
    - Inspects DA Form 2408-4 for each weapon that requires it.
    - Gives a safety briefing before all live-fire exercises.

  • The master gunner--
  • - Gives a final briefing to TCEs.
    - Ensures that the concurrent training is set up.
    - Arrives at the range or training site before the firing unit.


The following personnel are responsible for certain events during the conduct of the exercise:

  • The OIC--
  • - Controls the firing of live-firing exercises.
    - Maintains efficient throughput within units and between units going through the course.
    - Maintains all required communications.

  • The NCOIC--
  • - Supervises all details.
    - Controls the movement of personnel from the firing positions to additional training and other administrative areas.

  • The safety officer or NCO--
  • - Ensures that misfires are handled in accordance with the safety regulations.
    - Watches for any safety violation.
    - Clears each vehicle or firer upon completion of the exercise.

  • The master gunner--
  • - Ensures that range firing is conducted in accordance with the appropriate gunnery table.
    - Ensures zeroing is accomplished correctly.
    - Conducts remedial training on site, as needed.
    - Supervises the TCEs.
    - If required, assists safety personnel in clearing weapons.
    - If required, assists maintenance personnel in troubleshooting weapon malfunctions.
    - Assists the commander in determining or verifying alibi conditions.


The following personnel are responsible for certain events while closing the range:

  • The OIC--
  • - Notifies range control that firing has terminated.
    - Debriefs unit personnel.
    - Ensures that the range or training area is cleared in accordance with local regulations and SOPs.

  • The NCOIC--
  • - Supervises ammunition and target details.
    - Ensures that range facilities have been policed.
    - Environmental: Ensure that POL spills are cleaned up either by the using unit, or a supporting unit, and reported to post authorities, depending on the size of the spill.

  • The ammunition NCO--
  • - Ensures that no munitions are removed from the range by anyone other than authorized personnel.
    - Prepares residue certificates required by the ammunition supply point.


The following tips will aid the OIC in conducting training on the range:

  • Brief key personnel.
  • - Before moving to the training site, brief key personnel in setting up the site and in reacting to unusual circumstances. This will keep down time to a minimum.
    - Brief bunker personnel on safety regulations and requirements. Bunker personnel must be given definite control measures, such as entering and exiting the bunker and bunker area. Bunker personnel must have two means of communication with the tower.
    - Brief OPFOR personnel on the role they will play in tactical training. Make sure they know what to do and when to do it. Stress that their actions must be the same for each unit going through the course.

  • Start on time. Have the training site ready and communications set up early so that crews can begin firing on time. Plan operations so that training is not interrupted for maintenance of the course until a prearranged time or normal shut down time (posted in the daily range bulletin). Make sure there are enough targets to complete all training before the scheduled break.
  • Plan illumination. Register weapons providing indirect illumination before dark. For ease of control and reduction of support requirements (ammunition pads, OIC, safety officers, transportation, and communications), locate indirect-fire weapons on the same range with firing vehicles.
  • Use range marker lights (live fire). Do not fire at night without a light (and thermal range marker on TOW ranges) on the range safety markers. If the range marker lights fail, all the ranges that use the same impact area must be closed. To prevent this, consider placing two lights together on each range safety marker, making sure that a backup light is available. Lights in good operating condition and fresh batteries will add an additional measure of confidence.
  • Keep a log. Maintain an accurate log to help keep better informed of dry- and live-firing times and other important events. As a minimum, the log should contain:
  • - When the unit occupied the range or training site.
    - For live fire, when permission to fire was received from range control.
    - Who gave permission to fire.
    - When the range was in a cease-fire status.
    - Compass azimuth to any stray impact points and time of impact.
    - When the unit cleared and departed the range.

  • Brief guards. Have a plan to check and change guards frequently. Also, make sure the guards are briefed on their job and its importance, and that they understand their instructions.
  • Check safety markers. Make sure range safety markers are present before any live firing begins.
  • Make sure the ammunition is correct. Coordinate closely with the support elements responsible for supplying live ammunition or pyrotechnics to ensure you have the correct type of ammunition in the correct amounts at the right time and place. Make sure that the ammunition to be fired has been checked against TB 9-1300-385 for restricted or suspended ammunition lot numbers.
  • Position recovery vehicle. Quickly remove disabled vehicles from the course to prevent loss of training time. A manned recovery vehicle must be in position to support the unit.
  • Prepare for fires. During dry seasons, there is always a danger of tracer illumination causing grass and forest fires. Be prepared to control the situation quickly. It may be necessary to reduce the number of tracer rounds in linked ammunition if fires persist.
  • Police the area. A clean training site reduces the chance of injury, especially at night. Police as you go to avoid spending valuable time cleaning up after firing.
  • Brief visitors. Have a plan for briefing visitors, and designate a briefing NCO or officer. Brief visitors before escorting them to the primary training site.
  • Conduct other training. Stress those areas in which the unit needs additional training, such as--
  • - Target acquisition.
    - Range determination.
    - Movement techniques.
    - Crew tasks.
    - Section tasks.
    - Fire commands.
    - Methods of adjustment.
    - Prepare-to-fire checks.
    - Misfire procedures.
    - Target identification.
    - Maintenance of vehicles and weapons.

Range and Training Area Reconnaissance

The OIC, master gunner, and NCOIC should personally conduct a reconnaissance and coordinate with range control before their unit occupies a range or training area. The reconnaissance should provide answers to the following questions:

  • What route to the range or training area will be used?
  • How many stationary or moving vehicles can fire on the course simultaneously?
  • Are hull-defilade and defilade positions available?
  • What control facilities (tower) are available? What is their condition?
  • What communication hookups are available to operate the range? Is there communication from existing bunkers to the range towers? Is the range tower equipped with FM communication equipment?
  • Are range limit markers visible during the day, during reduced visibility conditions, and during night firing?
  • Which barriers and guard posts need to be closed or manned?
  • Who furnishes the targets, target supplies, or training devices used on the range?
  • What requirements are necessary for target operators or target details? Where are targets stored? Are the targets the correct type, size, shape, and color? What is the condition of target mechanisms?
  • What ammunition can be used on the range?
  • Has the range or training area been cleared of duds?
  • Where are the following areas?
  • - Ammunition pad.
    - Firing line and maneuver areas.
    - Barriers and guard posts.
    - Range limit markers.
    - Helipad.
    - Aid station.
    - Parking areas.
    - Maintenance area.
    - Latrine.
    - Briefing and debriefing areas.
    - Tower.

Range and Training Area Personnel, Equipment, and Layout

Good planning and execution of range or tactical training allows progressive training and evaluation of the unit. Administrative requirements are in AR 385-63, local training regulations, and unit SOPs. A range book containing all applicable regulations and reference materials (such as, range schedules, firing tables, gunnery tables, maps, range logs, range certification list) aids the OIC in operating the range efficiently.


The OIC is responsible for the entire range or training site. This includes planning, preparing, coordinating, and executing the training exercise. AR 385-63, Chapter 4 lists an overview of the duties to be completed or supervised by the OIC. The OIC also designates assistants to be responsible for specific areas of operation. All personnel involved in conducting the training exercise report to the OIC regarding their respective duties.

The following personnel are required for conducting range training and must be certified on operation of a range by the local range control office.


The RSO is a commissioned officer, warrant officer, or NCO (staff sergeant or higher) who is weapon systems qualified. He is a direct representative of the officer in charge of firing. The RSO will--

  • Conduct a safety briefing before all live-fire exercises.
  • Enforce all safety regulations.
  • Make sure all ammunition is handled correctly.
  • Enforce smoking restrictions near the vehicles, ammunition, and POL.
  • Make sure misfires are handled as stated in AR 385-63 and the appropriate operator's manual.
  • Investigate and report accidents in accordance with all regulations.
  • Make sure weapons on live-fire ranges are pointed toward the impact area at all times.
  • Make sure personnel are clear of the danger area (except as authorized in AR 385-63).
  • Check all ammunition for suspended or restricted lots, using TB 9-1300-385.
  • Make sure barriers and guards are in place before the exercise begins.
  • Check for identification and qualification of medical personnel, and make sure they have transportation, if required.
  • Inspect and clear all weapons once firing is complete.


The master gunner is the commander's gunnery technical advisor. He helps the commander and staff plan, develop, and conduct the gunnery training. The master gunner will--

  • Prepare a surface danger area diagram and range overlay.
  • Prepare scaled ranges, if required.
  • Organize range firing exercises.
  • Set up range firing exercises.
  • Make sure range firing exercises are properly conducted.
  • Supervise the crews to ensure the proper zeroing procedures are used.
  • Coordinate target arrays and layout for range firing and qualification.
  • Conduct remedial training on site, as needed.
  • Make sure a standard TCE program is implemented.


The NCOIC coordinates and supervises details and assists the OIC and RSO in operating the range or training area.


The ammunition NCO will--

  • Make sure all ammunition is accounted for by type and lot, IAW applicable SOPs.
  • Make sure the correct type of ammunition is available for the scheduled firing.
  • Make sure the ammunition is properly stored and secured on the ammunition pad at the training area.
  • Check any ammunition resupply to make sure it is not restricted or suspended (checks with RSO and TB 9-1300-385).
  • Issue the correct type and number of rounds, as instructed by the OIC.
  • Keep a running inventory to cross-check daily expenditures turned in to the OIC by vehicle commanders.
  • Make sure the ammunition pad is continually policed of links, brass, and packaging materials.


Target NCOs are not needed on many of the automated ranges. Target NCOs, when required, will--

  • Make sure the targets are the type, color, and scale (if applicable) required by the OIC.
  • Make sure the targets are in the proper location on the range.
  • Make sure the target detail is properly trained to operate and troubleshoot the target mechanisms used.
  • Make sure the target detail has the required equipment and supplies.
  • Make sure pre-positioned targets are available when needed.
  • Make sure there are enough spare targets, target mechanisms, batteries, patches, and other related equipment available to support training.
  • Report to the OIC if any mechanical malfunctions require prompt replacement to continue firing.


The truck crew evaluator will--

  • Enforce the required safety precautions.
  • Act as an instructor during practice.
  • Conduct an AAR after completion of firing.
  • Debrief crews after completion of firing.
  • Discuss scoring discrepancies with the OIC.


A fire-fighting detail is required at some range facilities during dry seasons. The following should be considered when a fire-fighting detail is required:

  • Availability of fire fighting equipment.
  • Designated vehicles for soldiers and equipment.
  • Access routes to the impact or target areas.


RTOs maintain communications during an exercise.


The medic must--

  • Know how to get to the nearest aid station or hospital.
  • Know radiotelephone operating procedures for use during an air evacuation.
  • Have an identification card (medical) or a memorandum from his commander stating that he is a qualified medic.
  • Be equipped for the mission.


The OIC and NCOIC should make sure that the following equipment is on hand.

  • For gunnery and tactical exercises:
  • - Current gunnery standards for the table being conducted.
    - Targets and target operating and control mechanisms.
    - Target repair equipment.
    - Range regulations.
    - Flashlights for scorers.
    - Batteries for lights and radios.
    - Vehicle recovery assets.
    - Evaluator communications.
    - Briefing tent.
    - Scoresheets.
    - Stopwatches.
    - Binoculars.
    - Night-vision devices with enough batteries.
    - Field telephones, as required.
    - Vehicles for target and scoring detail, fire-fighting detail, backup aid vehicle, and safety officers (moving range).
    - Generators to power lights.
    - Equipment for concurrent training.
    - TOE and expendable supplies.
    - All required regulations, SOPs, maps, and overlays.
    - FM radio sets and antenna GRC-292.

  • For gunnery exercises:
  • - Range flag.
    - Range lights or lantern.
    - Flag sets for vehicles and tower.
    - Compass for marking rounds out of impact area.
    - Ballistic firing tables.

  • For tactical exercises:
  • - MILES equipment.
    - OPFOR equipment.
    - OPFOR personnel.


A well-organized gunnery range provides maximum firing time. If ranges are planned and organized in advance and all items are gathered before moving to the range, firing can start on time and finish in time to allow an orderly move off the range.

A good squadron-level range operation SOP saves time and energy for the firing unit. The SOP should include guidelines for occupying the range and describe actions to be taken for specific tasks:

  • Coordinating with maintenance contact teams.
  • Operating moving targets.
  • Replacing targets.
  • Repairing target mechanisms.
  • Fighting range fires.
  • Conducting range scenario.
  • Firing orders.
  • Policing the range.
  • Departing the range.
  • Breaking down ammunition.
  • Moving vehicles to the ammunition point and ready line.


Stationary ranges usually use moving and stationary targets. Crews engage targets from a defensive position or berm. OICs and RSOs coordinate with local range control for assistance in planning these exercises.


Moving ranges have a maneuver box. If course roads exist, they should be used for movement. The vehicle commander should use available terrain for masking the vehicle's position. Maneuver boxes are used to allow the vehicle crew to acquire, range, and destroy targets arranged in a realistic array as outlined on appropriate gunnery tables. Maneuver boxes must be clearly defined and adhered to (start and stop points). The maneuver box will not extend or surpass the exposure and engagement times.


Tactical training is conducted either on ranges or in training areas, whichever is available. Most of the preparation that goes into a gunnery exercise also applies in tactical training.

The configuration of the course depends on the local terrain. Each task must be adjusted to fit a specific piece of terrain, so tasks probably will not be encountered in the order in which they appear in a particular table.

As in the gunnery tables, tactical tables need a range operation SOP that will save time and energy for the firing unit. The SOP should include guidelines for setting up the tactical range or training area, and should describe actions to be taken for specific tasks:

  • Coordinating with maintenance contact team (MILES devices).
  • Testing MILES equipment.
  • Briefing OPFOR and controller personnel of duties for each engagement.
  • Test firing weapons (machine guns with blank adapters).
  • Moving vehicles to the start point and issuing fragmentary orders to initiate movement down the course.
  • Conducting after-action reports after each engagement, and assembling crews (resetting MILES equipment).
  • Controlling movement on the course to prevent congestion.
  • Policing the range or training area.
  • Departing the range or training area.


Full-scale targets should be the same shape, size, and color as the threat targets they represent. TC 25-8 describes targets, target mechanisms, and target control in detail. A visual cue must be used to indicate target kills (for example, target drops, indicator lights, and red and black smoke).


On all ranges, vehicles display flags to show the vehicles' weapon status. The following list explains each flag's use:

  • Red. The vehicle is engaged in firing. Weapons are loaded, pointed at the target area, and off SAFE.
  • Green. All weapons are cleared, elevated, and on SAFE. All ammunition on board the vehicle is either in the ready or stowed.
  • Yellow (and red or green). There is a malfunction on the vehicle. The yellow flag is used in conjunction with a red or green flag:
  • - Yellow and red. The vehicle has a malfunction or misfire; weapons are pointed at the target area and are not clear. (Weapon is on SAFE, if possible; if not, range safety personnel are notified.)
    - Yellow and green. The vehicle has a malfunction, all weapons are clear, and weapons are on SAFE.

  • Red and green. The vehicle is preparing to fire or the crew is conducting a nonfiring exercise. The weapon may be loaded, but is on SAFE.

Note. At night, a red and green light will replace the red and green flags.


The range control officer is responsible for the coordination and safe conduct of range activity for all units. Normally, unit leaders are required to receive a range briefing from the range control officer before occupying a range. Schedule this briefing promptly to prevent any delay in training. Range control should also provide a set of local range regulations and policies.


The installation range officer controls all ranges by wire and radio communication to obtain clearance to fire, report, coordinate, and call cease fires. The OIC controls all training activities, including firing, by the best means available. Wire is the preferred means of communication for target operators and personnel in the impact area or with the OPFOR (for tactical training). In all cases, the OIC plans for a backup communication system.

Scaled Ranges

The preparation and use of scaled ranges require only minor changes from procedures used to conduct live fire. Scaled-range firing helps prepare crews and sections for live fire and qualification, and allows units to train themselves in range operation during home-station training. Unit leaders, gunners, and local range control officers may assist OICs in planning, executing, and evaluating scaled ranges.

The rising cost of ammunition, fuel, and spare parts makes it difficult to produce and maintain skilled light cavalry crews and sections. To overcome these training limitations, more gunnery training must be done at the home station using simulators, training devices, and innovative training techniques.


The commander chooses the range scale that best suits his training needs and facilities. Scaled ranges allow units to realistically simulate day and night firing by single vehicles and sections against single, multiple, stationary, and moving targets. Targets representing friendly equipment can be placed in the target area to give the crew practice in distinguishing friend from foe. Overseas units can set up terrain and target arrays to resemble anticipated threat targets and actual terrain in front of prepared battle positions.

The crew, moving down the course, engages a series of machine gun targets. Although all targets are within battlesight range, crews should practice precision and battlesight gunnery techniques on the half-scale range. The crew also runs the course at night using available illumination (flare, infrared, or white light) or thermal sights.


There are two types of scaled ranges:

  • Small scale, moving vehicle.
  • Half-scale, stationary or moving vehicle.


A moving vehicle range requires a larger area than a stationary vehicle range. The 1/30-scale range can be used; however, the scale is so small that terrain changes too swiftly for a moving vehicle to use proper adjustment techniques. For example, in a course run simulating 1,200 meters on a 1/30-scale range, a moving vehicle traverses only 113 feet. A vehicle moving at three miles per hour travels this distance in 27 seconds. The suggested scale, therefore, is 1/10. The exact configuration of the 1/10-scale range varies, depending on local area assets and type of terrain.

The 1/10-scale range can easily be constructed on an existing small-arms or machine gun range. The direction of vehicle movement can be parallel to the firing line or through the impact area, depending on the size and shape of the area available. To retain the desired scaled target range when firing, emplace simulated machine gun impact targets or laser targets with appropriate target mechanisms within distance constraints of the scaled ranges.

Vehicles moving along a designated route engages a series of activated machine gun targets, from marked firing locations. The vehicles keep moving during engagements; however, their speed is considerably slower than normal because of the short distances between targets. Crews should practice crew duties for battlesight and precision engagements. Night firing and battlefield obscuration can be accomplished, as in the stationary scaled course.


Half-scale ranges are used for stationary or moving vehicle exercises. Training is more realistic on half-scale ranges. Additionally, ranging on the target can be practiced.

The length of the range depends on the area available (for example, for the 7.62-mm coax, the impact area must be at least 4,800 meters).

Note. If berms are added, the impact areas may be waived to a lesser distance. The local range control can grant approval for this.


The scaled-impact target is available in scales of 1/60, 1/30, and 1/10. The target is mounted on a stationary, scaled, pop-up target mechanism. The target is a two-dimensional silhouette made from plastic and is easily replaced when destroyed. Targets are available in an assortment of threat vehicle silhouettes, as well as some friendly equipment silhouettes for target identification practice.


The following types of mechanisms are used with small-scale targets:

Small-Scale, Moving Targets
and Scaled, Molded-Rubber
  • Used on the 1/10-scale ranges.
  • Made locally.
  • Targets for use with this mechanism can be obtained locally.
Small-Scale, Stationary
  • Wire-operated target mechanism for popping 1/10-scale impact or laser targets.
  • Powered by any 24-volt electrical source.
  • When an impact weapon strikes the target, the target falls.
  • Comes with wire attached to the control box. The wire and the target mechanism are buried in sand or in the ground to protect them from projectile impacts.
  • When not in use, the mechanism should be removed or covered to protect it from the weather. Quick-connect plugs are used for easy removal.
M31A1 Target-Holding
Mechanism for Small-Scale,
Stationary Targets
  • Used for popping up impact targets of 1/20 scale.
  • Normally operated on 110-volt AC.

Training Devices

Because of the high cost of ammunition and overcrowding of training areas, the use of training devices at home station is becoming increasingly more important. The use of training devices can enhance full-caliber gunnery by training personnel in their weak areas before they advance to the intermediate gunnery tables.

The MILES TOW equipment is the most realistic device available for simulating tactical engagements; it is valuable in maneuver training exercises and ARTEPs. However, MILES TOW is not a precision gunnery trainer and should not be used to train gunner tracking skills.

MILES allows vehicles and crews to participate in realistic combat training exercises. Although MILES is basically a tactical maneuver simulation device, it contributes significantly to crew interaction. Actual firing conditions of all vehicle weapons are simulated using laser beams. Blank ammunition and an antitank weapons effect simulator system (ATWESS) firing device adds to the system's realism (see TC 25-6-1).

The laser target interface device (LTID) is a MILES laser receptor that attaches to a target. It limits the target hit area and requires a more precise gunner sight lay. The interface is connected to the hit sensing connector of the target holding mechanism and will cause a target to fall when it receives a MILES target kill code. (See FM 17-12-7 for additional information.)

The precision gunnery system (PGS) is a group of training devices used to train precision gunnery. The TOW gunnery trainer (TOW GT) is a part of the PGS group. This crew-portable trainer simulates the sights, controls, switches, and indicators of the TOW II guided missile system. The battlefield scenes presented include both threat and friendly vehicle targets. The gunner selects, tracks, and engages targets just as he would on the battlefield; he hears the commands from the instructor station and the battlefield sounds of small arms and guns firing.

The TOW field tactical trainer (TOW FTT) is also part of the PGS group. This device is used to teach precision gunnery skills to TOW II gunners in the field. It may be used on designated ranges, general outdoor areas, or initial gunner familiarization in an outdoor environment and for gunner skill enhancement and progression. The TOW FTT trains gunners to adopt a correct firing position, to assess target engageability, and engage and track the target. Missile launch, flight, and impact effects are realistically simulated by the TOW FTT.

The M70-series training set may be used to train TOW gunnery. It measures the precision of a gunner's tracking over time, approximating missile flight times. Although it does not measure tracking ability or teach target engagement skills, it can determine if a gunner possesses the necessary foundation for successful gunnery. The M70-series training set can duplicate targets out to 3,000 meters. TOW launch characteristics are simulated by having the gunner fire and track with the M80 blast simulator and missile simulation round (MSR), which prepares the gunner for an actual missile launch by simulating the time delay after trigger depression (1.5 seconds), the noise (160 decibels, and the backblast (75 meters).

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