Airmen take aim at new firing range
The new Maxwell Air Force Base firing range opened recently, featuring two bays with 42 firing points each, sound-reducing material and the ability to withstand higher-caliber ammunition. (Air Force photo/Christopher Kratzer)
by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
4/8/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Airmen participating in firearm training will have something to look forward to the next time they shoot. Construction has just been completed on the new $15 million gun range, which will accommodate Air Force weapons qualification and any specially designed courses for security forces.
The new range replaces the old one, which was constructed in 1945. Tech. Sgt. Johnnie Grove, noncommissioned officer in charge of combat arms, 42nd Security Forces Squadron, said the new range will be a major improvement for training.
"The increased size will provide better training and the capability to handle the work load of Air Education and Training Command's second largest ground weapons training and maintenance mission here at Maxwell," Sergeant Grove said.
The fully contained gun range features two bays with 42 firing points each, sound-reducing material and the ability to withstand higher caliber ammunition. This is a vast improvement over the last facility, which only featured 27 firing points, was not fully contained and had no sound reducing material.
"Each bay has a control tower with a built-in public address system to give loud and clear commands to the shooters. Having two bays allows the firing of more students and the ability to fire off two different weapons systems at the same time," Sergeant Grove said.
"It is a fully contained range, which gives security forces shooters the ability for more advanced training, and safety features such as eye wash stations have been built in on the range, cleaning area and maintenance room."
In addition to the vastly improved range, the facility also features a combat arms training center.
"The combat arms training facility next to the range has two large classrooms to accommodate 42 students in each classroom, an expanded armory and weapons maintenance area," Sergeant Grove said.
The combat arms staff is not the only people excited about the completion of the new range. Officer trainees Nicholas Whetstone and Shedrick Bridesforth are looking forward to training on the new range.
"The facilities are definitely much better. They have new targets and new stands, and more open space to accommodate all the trainees," OT Whetstone said. "The new range looks state of the art."
"Having the control tower makes communication easier. Safety is obviously the primary concern here," OT Bridesforth said.
The range is managed by the combat arms staff, which provides weapons training, qualification and weapon maintenance for Air Force personnel.
"The weapons training includes weapons safety, nomenclature, operation and basic marksmanship skills," Sergeant Grove said.
The combat arms staff, which consists of one noncommissioned officer in charge and 11 instructors, will train roughly 4,000 students from Air and Space Basic Course, 1,200 from ROTC, 600 from Officer Training School and 1,500 base personnel this year.