Military News

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

CATM team makes impact by decreasing splash back

by 2nd Lt. Darren Domingo
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

8/11/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The shooting range at Schriever Air Force Base has made a comeback, following a six-month hiatus, by denying its bullets' ability to do the same.

After six months of closure, the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance team officially reopened the CATM shooting range July 24.

The range was originally shut down due to safety issues, splash back to be exact.

"The rounds were going down range and instead of being absorbed into the berm, they were actually bouncing back at the shooters," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Smith, NCO-in charge of combat arms."

Smith explained re-opening the range was a top priority.

"When I came to Schriever, that was pretty much my primary goal," said Smith. "Once I understood why the range was down, my goal was to get it back up as quickly as possible."

During the planning process between security forces, civil engineering and other agencies, it was decided that repairing the actual berm material that caught the projectiles would be too costly.

"Instead, the solution was proposed to switch to frangible rounds," said Smith.
At the time, the range team was using standard ball ammunition, the basic load for shooting down range and security forces use.

"Frangible ammunition will shoot down range the same as standard ball ammunition," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Hinze, assistant NCO-in charge of combat arms. "But when it impacts the berm, it breaks apart in fragments. It's essentially a hardened ceramic type of round."

After switching, Smith said the CATM team no longer has splash back issues.

Although the material is different, the ballistics remain the same, allowing training to be identical to shooting with standard ammunition.

"CATMs train everything from pistols to sniper rifles," said Smith. "What we train for at this range in particular is the M4, the M9 and the M11. Everything else we go to the academy to shoot."

Prior to re-opening the range, the commute to the Academy happened a lot more frequently - a circumstance that was not ideal for CATM training.

Shooters would have to train one day, then travel up to the range on a separate day. They would have to take into account one hour to travel to the site eliminating two hours out of the duty day.

Additionally, upon arrival at the Academy, after shooting in the daylight the training team had to wait until nightfall in order to do low-light shooting. This would force them to come back to Schriever between 8 and 10 p.m. After cleaning weapons, the team wouldn't officially be able to leave until 10 or 11 p.m. - some nights later.

Security Forces members were sometimes put in situations to work late hours with 10 days straight of work.

"Asking them to work 15, 16 sometimes 18 hour days and then turn right around and do it again is not something I enjoy doing as a leader," said Smith.

Smith explained having a local indoor range gives them a day back and is incredibly helpful for their mission.

"When we have to go out to do our night fire, we can just turn the lights off and that's our night fire," said Smith. "We can do all of our night vision shooting, Peq-15 and flashlight shooting. It gives us a lot more flexibility."

The difference is literally night and day.

Due to its re-opening, the localized CATM range will decrease training days from two to one, saving 200 man days while still covering all required material.

"It saves money, resources and time," said Hinze. "We can do everything here in one day because we have all of our resources in one spot."

Smith, also an instructor at the range, explained the re-opening was a team achievement.

"My crew is one of the best I've worked with and I've been CATM for eight years," said Smith. "We all coordinated with civil engineering, safety and bioenvironmental. It absolutely was a group effort all the way around."

CATM team supports agencies such as Security Forces, 4th Space Operation Squadron and several other augmentees that come through Schriever, like the Office of Special Investigations.

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