By Scott Prater
The 50th Security Forces Squadron Airmen will be firing M9s, M4s and maybe even some medium machine guns here Friday afternoon.
That’s when certification testing for the base’s new Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range will take place inside Building 810, a former industrial warehouse on Schriever’s far south side.
If everything goes as planned, the much anticipated range is slated to open to 50 SFS members, security augmentees and 4th Space Operations Squadron mobile security Airmen.
“Security forces members must qualify annually and complete sustainment firing semi-annually,” said Lt. Col. Jasin Cooley, 50 SFS commander. “In the past, we’ve had to travel to the U.S. Air Force Academy range to accomplish these tasks, which involves a significant logistical requirement as we transport weapons and personnel across town.”
The new CATM range is 25-meters long and holds six shooting lanes.
“This will save us a lot of money, simply through travel and man hours,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan James, 50 SFS NCO in charge of combat arms. “It’s a two-hour round trip from Schriever to the Academy and when you add in the night-fire requirement we’re going saving a lot of time as well.”
Members of the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron constructed the facility. It includes concrete walls and floors, baffles on its ceiling and a reinforced steel and granulated rubber backstop designed to stop bullet fragmentation. Firing areas include a standard T-post configuration that allows shooters to simulate a variety of firing positions.
The range has been in the works for more than a few years. It was initiated in 2011 and was funded by the 50th Space Wing with fiscal 2011 funds.
“Night firing at the range will be especially advantageous for weapons qualifiers,” James said. “The range at the Academy is outdoors, so whenever we’ve needed to night fire in the past, we were forced to wait until dark out there. Here, we can simply turn the lights off. “
Cooley mentioned that a military construction contract to build a full-scale, 21-lane range has also been planned for Schriever AFB, but that the timeline for completion and funding for such a project is still years away.
“This is a fully functional and effective range,” he said. “But, we do have a desire to host a full-scale range here that could serve us as well as Peterson AFB and other front range installations.”
James will head a staff of five CATM range managers, three of which are already on station, with two more scheduled to arrive this summer. Besides easing travel and man hours, the range will also allow users to go right from training to practice.
“Weapons training and qualification standards have expanded and increased throughout the Air Force and during the last 10 years as we’ve learned from combat operations,” James said. “Not only must security forces members fire more rounds down range, but a lot of new aspects have been incorporated into qualifying. So, this facility is really going to ease the training and qualifying process for the squadron. We’re all looking forward to its opening.”