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.


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


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


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

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:

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--


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--


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


The ammunition NCO will--


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


The truck crew evaluator will--


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:


RTOs maintain communications during an exercise.


The medic must--


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


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:


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:


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:

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:


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).