Live fire
Sgt. Roger McCardle, Department of the Army civilian police, covers any possible threats coming from behind his squad as the Fort Sill Special Reaction Team clears the Live Fire Shoot House May 24, 2010 as part of a demonstration.

Fort Sill leaders called for more realistic training and they got their answer Monday with the new live fire shoot house on the West Range.

Maj. Gen. David Halverson, U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, cut the ribbon to celebrate its opening along with Fort Sill Garrison Commander Col. Raymond Lacey, and Christopher Pease, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security director.

The atypical shooting range focuses on urban terrain tactics with clearing room procedures and engaging targets. But instead of firing with blank adaptors, Soldiers and others will be using live ammunition. Leaders believe that change alone will take the learning experience to a whole new level.
"This is one of the most challenging type of operations that our military encounters. You go into a structure and you have no idea what's in the facility. We're training as we fight out here," said Helge Bima, range special operations supervisor.

Also on a higher level are instructors and safety officers. A catwalk offers a 360-degree view above the rooms so they can make on the spot corrections or critiques. There are also cameras inside that shoot a live feed to the after action review room in a separate connex and record the action for playback.

Halverson introduced the new reality training facility commenting on its historic implications for Soldiers and law enforcement agencies.

"This puts you under that stress. It captures everything and lets you know if you did it right, if you died or not, if you killed a civilian or not."

Halverson added that while this training is tough it offers a safe environment for Soldiers and others to build confidence in their skills before taking it to combat.

The Special Reaction Team was the first to break in the facility, fluidly moving through the corridors like an armored centipede. As they broke off into the different rooms they encountered friendly and non-friendly targets, engaging them accordingly.

"This is going to be great for us. We can fire our live rounds which is not something we get to do very often at all. The only time we get to fire live rounds in training is when we actually go to a range, and then it's really only in one single direction at targets and there's no building clearing involved," said Staff Sgt. Rodrick Smith, Fort Sill SRT.

Of course, there are rules and safety measures to make sure no one is injured. The walls of the facility are eight-inches thick with steel; thick enough to stop bullets from penetrating to the other side. There is also a red border that tells trainees not to fire above it so no one outside the walls are injured.

Bima said using this facility is a culminating event for Soldiers and others and they must have a level of discipline and readiness before they're allowed to use live ammunition inside.

"When the commander brings the unit out, they're at the readiness level to go ahead and exercise the capability of a live fire and actually see and do the battle-drill like they would in combat.

They've got their assigned weapon; it's live fire ammunition; they're working with their battle buddies to take out targets and also to rehearse not firing at non-combatants."

After training when the group reconvenes inside for an AAR, their discussion of what went right and wrong is recorded along with the playback footage and burned on DVDs creating instant training videos to be taken back with units.

Bima said they can train 130 individuals through the shoot house a day. With such a high number, Halverson said this facility is going to improve the overall fighting capability of Fort Sill Soldiers and local law enforcement agencies.

Page last updated Fri May 28th, 2010 at 14:25