Range Time

One of the things about the Army I disliked the most was its ability to take one of life’s more enjoyable activities, shooting, and suck just about every scintilla of pleasure from it.  Endless, repetitive safety briefings, rodding the barrel on the line, clearing again and again, unrealistic scenarios, uncomfortable firing positions (seriously, every range worldwide uses the same uncomfortable gravel- what’s wrong with grass?), rodding off the line, brass and ammo checks.

Life fire maneuver events were marginally better, but still less than they could have been. Sometimes because of range geography, maneuver was severely constrained. Other times, the risk aversion was so high, it led to unrealistic maneuver, reinforcing bad habits, rather than good training.

One of the big risk mitigation techniques back before the current wars was an absolute ban on any kind of fire while standing or moving. While troops did this all the time using blanks or during force on force training, it was utterly verbotten during any sort of live ammunition event.

Of course, that silly restriction has changed as the reality of warfare has led to changes in training.  But because teams often fire while moving, intense training has to take place.  The three big rules of firearms safety don’t go away just because you are headed for combat.

If you have a large enough area, it doesn’t take a lot to devise a useful close combat range, at least for small elements, from individual to team sized.


I find it interesting that the teams are composed of members from all services. I’m not knocking the other services, but defining teams by service would seem to decrease friction, and speed training. But that’s just me.

2 thoughts on “Range Time”

  1. Agree. My last 3 years on active duty I worked at a command that had people going to ranges to shoot 3 or 4 days a week and I went exactly once because God did they suck the fun out of being on the range. I went with the boss when we were ordered to carry pistols to all future exercises in Korea. The gunners had some question if I really did know how to shoot.

    Our course of fire for decades was standing, prone and sitting/kneeling for the rifle and standing only for shotgun and pistol. In the dim past we fired pistol at known distance line. After 9/11 we only fired pistols in combat course of fire which meant free extra points for ambidextrous me. I don’t really have an off-hand with pistols and nobody requires it with rifles and shotguns which I shoot lefty.

    And I agree! srsly why the hell is it always gravel? What’s wrong with grass? Anytime one fired at Pendleton one came back with bloody elbows. Same thing at Duffytown by Miramar at the rifle pits at Camp Elliot. I always meant to ask Lex what he thought whenever he made final approach into Miramar and the Camp Elliot range flag was up and waving. Jets flew right over our heads at the 300 yard line.

    Mixing the services is an invitation to getting something FUBAR. We kept having new squadrons rotate in to Kuwait where they worked for army BG and used army procedures. We averaged 3 ND in the first week of each squadron rotation. I asked the N7 if we couldn’t train to army procedures and the answer was of course, no. He got burned a bit earlier over failing to follow the strict course of fire to qualify with M79s. Back then it had one fire, close the target, fire again, close the target, fire again. No one in their right mind at Pendleton would let anyone advance into a live impact area to shoot some more so we did the Marine course of fire. Naturally when there was an ND with one in the Persian Gulf, questions were asked.

  2. Semi-related note … I’m taking the class for my CCW this weekend, which includes some range time. 90 days or so from this Saturday, barring any crap from my local Sheriff’s Dept, I’ll be able to carry anywhere in California!

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