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Marines fired up about indoor shooting range in Iraq

15 Mar 2006 | Cpl. Mark Sixbey

The sound of gunfire rips through a long building, bouncing off walls and resonates throughout the entire Marine base near Ferris Town. No one even raises an eyebrow.

The sound has repeated itself hundreds of times each day since February, when I Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, converted one of the base’s many large buildings into an indoor shooting range, giving the company a unique training tool.

“Gunfighting is especially useful in an urban environment, when you may constantly engage targets less than 50 yards away,” said Lance Cpl. Sean Alan Moore, a 21-year-old mortarman from Claremore, Okla., assigned to Weapons Platoon.

Beneath the shade of the ceiling and behind the protection of thick concrete walls, Marines shoot weapons ranging from the 9 mm pistol to the M-240G crew-served machine gun. They also practice with foreign weapons, like the AK-47 to become familiar with the enemy’s firepower. 

“It’s nice to have indoor shooting,” said Staff Sgt. Felipe Brachetti, platoon sergeant, Weapons Platoon. “I haven’t heard of other indoor ranges in Iraq.”

The biggest advantage, according to the Marines who frequent the range, is the location.  It lies well within the perimeter of Camp Smitty.

“If we go outside the wire, we run the risk of taking indirect fire,” said Sgt. Keith Pelton, the company police sergeant.

Aside from keeping their marksmanship skills sharp, regular range time gives Marines the ability to make sure their sights are properly adjusted and ready to kill, should the need arise.

“I try to take them as often as possible, because we rely on a proper battle sight zero to engage the enemy,” said Brachetti, 36, from Colton, Calif.

Spray-painted lines on the concrete floor indicate the 7, 10, 36, 50 and 100-yard lines.  A row of wire-caged barriers filled with sand and a wall of dirt stop bullet impacts with a blast of dust and dirt hundreds of times a day.

Lance Cpl. Josh Alfredson, assigned to Weapons Platoon, has no complaints about firing his weapon on a regular basis.

“It’ll keep us up to date on our gunfighting skills,” said 21-year-old Alfredson, a mortarman from Sioux City, Iowa. It helps them to stay sharp “to quickly engage multiple targets, shooting from different positions and running through different scenarios.”

One shooting drill scenario that’s a favorite is the “Pat Rogers drill,” where Marines practice close-encounter scenarios from the 25-yard line and closer.

“You’ve just entered the room – he’s got a gun!” the instructor yelled.  Marines respond with rapid fire, change magazines and shoot again.

The only thing missing on this range are orange range flags, which indicate wind value. Here though, there’s no need courtesy of the concrete walls.