Fire team skills honed during training

22 Aug 2002 | Gunnery Sgt. Michelle Smith

"Eberdong up!" shouts the fire team leader as his Marines advance through the Transition Range here.  The range, which allows Marines to fire from simulated positions such as windows, trenches, behind walls and off rooftops, provides realistic training for the Marines.

To add more to the realism there are also 12 targets that move from right to left and 6-9 targets that pop up at varying distances and intervals.

"The range is a great tool to increase the Marines' marksmanship skills," said Ontario, Ore., native 2nd Lt.  Kristopher R. Cozad, platoon commander, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. "The Marines can better develop their fire team tactics and principals by the use of micro-terrain (small bumps in the landscape that can be used for cover)."

The advantage is two-fold in that is allows Marines to see immediately if they hit the target and gives them experience at hitting moving targets, he said.

According to Bill Siekert, who operates the computer-run system, the range has more than 15 programs that include sniper, fire team and individual squad programs.

"The Marines just tell us what they what to accomplish and we can program a scenario to fit their needs," he said.

Targets are as close as 50-75 meters and as far out as 300 meters.

"This program is great.  It's much better than just firing at paper targets," said Cpl. Timothy H. Shockley, fire team leader.  "It allows us to build unit coehesion and teaches us how to control the fire team," the Indiana native said.

"Because of the reactionary targets, the Marines get to see instantly if their shot hits the mark.  The Marines are doing well.  I can see how various training evolutions are impacting their firing.  I'm proud of their performance," Cozad said.