Andrews firing range to close

Staff Sgt. Raymond Billups, 11th Security Forces Group combat arms instructor, gives pointers to a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) refresher-course student at the Andrews Firing Range Feb. 14. Refresher classes consist of students who need to re-qualify on their weapon for pre-deployment and security forces augmentee purposes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lindsey A. Beadle)

Staff Sgt. Raymond Billups, 11th Security Forces Group combat arms instructor, gives pointers to a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) refresher-course student at the Andrews Firing Range Feb. 14. Refresher classes consist of students who need to re-qualify on their weapon for pre-deployment and security forces augmentee purposes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lindsey A. Beadle)

Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) refresher-course students take aim at targets down range Feb. 14. While shooting, CATM students utilize numerous Defensive Fighting Positions during their one-day refresher course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lindsey A. Beadle)

Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) refresher-course students take aim at targets down range Feb. 14. While shooting, CATM students utilize numerous Defensive Fighting Positions during their one-day refresher course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lindsey A. Beadle)

Master Sgt. Anthony Baeza, 70th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing NCO in charge, takes aim at down-range targets at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) facility Feb. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lindsey A. Beadle)

Master Sgt. Anthony Baeza, 70th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing NCO in charge, takes aim at down-range targets at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) facility Feb. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lindsey A. Beadle)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Team Andrews members who require the use of the Andrews Firing Range, located at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance center, will find themselves traveling out of state to shoot their weapon.

Current Air Force initiatives, which have deemed the present range site unsatisfactory, are mandating a complete renovation of the Andrews range. For those service members still needing to shoot, an alternate range location has been set up on Fort AP Hill, Va.

"The current range design at Andrews is outdated," said Master Sgt. Domonic DelSanto, 11th Security Forces Group NCO in charge of combat arms. "The range does not meet the specifications of the most recent Air Force Engineering Technical Letter for Small Arms Design."

Andrews' present firing range is a partially-enclosed, 100-meter danger zone range. Baffles prevent ammunition rounds from leaving the current range site, but only when they are fired from the firing line. This therefore limits Andrews CATM students to one firing position.

Additionally, only one type of ammunition can be used at the Andrews range. For a service member to be able to fire non-frangible (lead) ammunition, a danger zone of 1,800 meters and a fully-contained firing range is required.
 
Because Andrews' range is only partially-enclosed, rain water has the ability to wash into the firing site and potentially contaminate the surrounding ground water system.

Renovations to Andrews' range are slated to begin in mid-March. At that time, service members will be directed to use Fort AP Hill's range.

"When the range closes, we'll be using Fort AP Hill, or Marine Corps Base Quantico (for security forces members) for an entire year while renovations take place," said DelSanto.

Airmen who need to use CATM while it's being renovated will be bused to Fort AP Hill and will have a box lunch provided to them if they use a meal card. Additionally, instead of firing qualifications taking one day, the course will now be broken up into a two-day lesson.

Classroom instruction will still take place on Andrews, while firing instruction will take place the following day at Fort AP Hill. Security Forces members who need to qualify on additional weapons will utilize ranges on Marine Corps Base Quantico on a separate day.

The move to Fort AP Hill isn't the only change CATM will see. An additional Air Force mandate calling for a new "Course of Fire" for range students is being taught on Andrews.

"The mentality that a person only has to be proficient at their personalized job while deployed is no longer acceptable," said Staff Sgt. Raymond Billups, 11 SFG combat arms instructor. "The new Course of Fire focuses more on a 'shoot, move, communicate' method of learning. This new way of teaching is helping Airmen who may not be proficient at weapons training feel more comfortable with their weapon. By doing this, we're ensuring they will be an asset to the sister service they will most likely deploy with."

One of the most noticeable new Course of Fire examples is the discontinuation of the use of the "SPORTS" acronym. Now, when service members attend a course at CATM, they will be taught basic muscle-memory movements designed to help decrease the amount of time from firing error to continuous fire.

While the Andrews Firing Range renovations are slated to take a year to complete, Andrews members are encouraged to plan for their duty and pre-deployment requirements early.

"The move to Fort AP Hill and Marine Corps Base Quantico is going to take a lot of patience and planning," said DelSanto. "We need all of Andrews to help us out as well. Planning for a deployment carefully can save everyone headaches. We're not going to be able to get people qualified on short notice anymore."