Automated shoot houses improving training
March 28, 2014
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- The Army is automating shoot houses throughout the force to improve training while saving time and money.
The shoot house is an integral facility in the Army's urban operations training strategy. In shoot houses, Soldiers fire live ammunition into targets or dummies as they clear rooms. The exercises also present Soldiers with shoot-or-don't-shoot scenarios.
From catwalks above the shoot houses, commanders and instructors observe the exercises while video cameras record the units' performance for After Action Reviews (AAR).
In the last three years, the Army has fielded 12 new automated shoot houses and completed nine projects to convert legacy houses into the automated version. Two other legacy conversations are scheduled for Fort Bliss, Texas, this spring with three more at other locations if funding is maintained.
There are two big differences between the old shoot houses and those with automated systems:
• The old systems required a contractor to run the training scenario from a computer console. For the automated systems, units watch a training video to learn how to operate the system. Then the unit starts the exercise by pressing a button at the shoot house's entrance door that starts the cameras rolling.
• With the old systems, contractors had to cut and compile video for an AAR. While tied up with that task, Soldiers had to wait to take their turn in the shoot house. With the new automated features, one squad can be in the AAR while a second squad practices, saving about 15 minutes in training time for each run.
"The automated system enables units to operate it, conduct AARs and create their own take home DVDs without the need for a fulltime operator," said Wayne Kerry, training specialist with TRADOC Capability Manager -- Ranges, Fort Eustis, Va.
The new system reduced the number of operators from three to two. In addition, the technology has reduced fielding costs by about 20 percent.
Soldiers who used the shoot houses saw the benefits of the new systems.
Master Sgt. Kirk Holmer of the Utah National Guard served as an instructor at a Camp Bullis, Texas, shoot house earlier this year. National Guard units from eight states sent Soldiers to practice a number of tasks.
"We provided plans for a full range of operations and were able to conduct them," he said. "We were able to do multiple missions in quick succession. That's important because you want to get in as many runs as possible and see multiple scenarios."
1st Lt. Joshua Aho of the 4th Infantry Division said about 90 Soldiers trained at a Fort Carson, Colo., automated shoot house.
"It is a great system," he said. The automated system provided a "good flow" with one squad reviewing its performance in the AAR room while a second squad moved through the shoot house, Aho said.
"The company captain and I were impressed with the AAR," Aho said. The video of the exercises helped leaders show Soldiers their strengths and weaknesses.
TRADOC Capability Manager -- Ranges is part of the Army Training Support Center, which is a subordinate organization of the Combined Arms Center -- Training (CAC-T), Fort Leavenworth.
CAC-T manages the Army's Training Support System Enterprise, the Training Development Enterprise and the Combat Training Center Program to enable commanders and commandants to train and educate versatile units and develop agile and adaptive leaders.
You can learn more about CAC-T at its web site: http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/CAC-T/ , followed it on its Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/usacactraining or follow it on Twitter at @usacactraining.