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Gunnery Branch hosts target demonstration

A target boat speeds through the water at Lake Tholocco during a demonstration put on by PEO STRI and TCM-Ranges June 17. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

A target boat speeds through the water at Lake Tholocco during a demonstration put on by PEO STRI and TCM-Ranges June 17. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: June 19, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 19, 2014) -- The U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Gunnery Branch recently updated its gunnery manual to include new requirements regarding maritime and overwater training.

The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, along with Army Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager-Ranges put on a demonstration using static displays, 3-D moving targets and a seaborne target at Lake Tholocco June 16-17 to illustrate just how the gunnery branch might meet those requirements, said CW3 Frank Capri, Directorate of Training and Doctrine Gunnery Branch master gunner course chief.

“In the manual, we have set the requirements to mean we need certain types of targets, and certain types of conditions in response to certain types of weapon threat systems that are associated with that type of target,” said Capri. “The (manual) illustrates the guidelines for a unit to conduct overwater operations, training, qualifications and tactical deployment.

“The gunnery manual continues to develop and support putting a unit in the best possible situation, to be able to go out and train to standard, qualify annually and be able to operate with more proficiency in overwater operations,” he continued. “We’re Army guys, we’ve got muddy boots and wear green uniforms. In some cases, going into the overwater condition is really not that foreign, but for most of us it is.”

The targets in the demonstration were designed for both live-fire and laser-fire exercises, according to Ron Moring, TCM-Live Range Development Branch chief.

“With these targets, you can manually control them by remote, or you can program it to follow a certain path,” he said. “We’ve also developed a tow target, so that they can do kinetic engagement on the tow target via laser.”

Capri said this type of training is necessary because targeting something over land differs greatly from targeting something over water.

“In my experience, (we as Soldiers) are very acclimated to a ground target – a vehicle, structure or person that is stationary, moving or at range,” said the master gunner course chief. “I can see it on the ground with the background of the Earth.

“When you put this target in an overwater environment, now you’ve got a lot of things going on that a stationary or land target does not have,” he continued. “You’ve now got a boat that is zigging and zagging, moving up and down, so you get a multi-access of that boat that needs to be tracked, and that’s difficult to do.”

The demonstration showed how Soldiers would be able to train firing at overwater targets, and with sensors in the target, they would get feedback letting them know how far they missed their mark.

“This (type of training) allows me, as a unit master gunner or commander, to put my unit in a situation where they can crawl, walk and run to the point that they can operate confidently overwater,” said Capri. “Then they can start to identify targets, and be able to manage that sight correctly, so they can get a good ballistic solution for the munitions to the target. And that’s a process that takes time. At the Gunnery Branch, we focus on what the requirements should be, and how we look forward to meet and exceed the standard.”

This article was originally published at

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