Staff Sgt. Robert Rhodes, a squad leader with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, explains tactics he’s used in Afghanistan as an infantryman during the battalion’s long-range ongoing marksmanship training at McGregor Range, N.M. Photo by Spc. Victor R. Everhart Jr., 3rd IBCT, 1st Armored Div. Public Affairs.
Spc. Victor R. Everhart Jr.
3rd IBCT, 1st Armored Div. Public Affairs
MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M. – Long-range marksmanship is the acquisition and elimination of targets from distances approaching the maximum effective ranges of individual weapon systems, rather than what is usually seen on a regular qualifying range.
Nowhere has long-range marksmanship, also known as LRM, been more useful than in Afghanistan where mountain peaks often approach 12,000 feet.
Soldiers with “Cobra” Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Bobcats,” are learning and practicing long-range shooting tactics designed to make engagements in the mountains much easier to handle.
“We know our guys are familiar with their weapons and optics,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Wallace, a platoon sergeant assigned to the battalion. “We do this [training] because normally a range is on a relatively flat area with no elevation difference or angles to challenge the shooter.
A range spotter gives a Soldier guidance on how to hit the targets set up on the long-range marksmanship at McGregor Range, N.M. Photo by Spc. Victor R. Everhart Jr., 3rd IBCT, 1st Armored Div. Public Affairs.
“But, when we come out here, we have the mountains and valleys to make a more challenging scenario that will give our guys a taste of combat marksmanship and gets our guys used to any kind of shooting,” said Wallace.
“Out here we make the guys engage targets with a spotter to build their confidence and push for accuracy with different shooting positions and at different angles, because you’re not always going to be on flat land with the bad guys popping up, so we want our guys to see it all: high- and low-angle shots, from the prone, kneeling, and standing,” added Wallace.
Most infantryman pride themselves on their shooting prowess, but conventional ranges don’t tell a Soldier how they would do on the top of a mountain in the prone, shooting into a valley 300 meters to 500 meters away.
“This was my first time doing something like this,” said Pfc. Michael Santoyo, a Cobra Company infantryman. “I did well, but I definitely would like to do more things like this to get my marksmanship better and prepare me for the fight in Afghanistan.
A Soldier from C Co., 2nd Bn., 5th Infantry Regt., works on long-range marksmanship during the battalion’s ongoing training at McGregor Range, N.M. The range was set up in an area where Soldiers had to fire weapons from the top of a mountain at various targets spread throughout the valley. Photo by Spc. Victor R. Everhart Jr., 3rd IBCT, 1st Armored Div. Public Affairs.
“I just want to get better and be able to help my squad as much as possible and become as much of an asset as I can,” added Santayo. “With this type of training I know we’re going to give [the enemy] all they can handle when we’re deployed.”
The leaders running the range know there is a different type of fight in Afghanistan, often times with both counterinsurgency missions and kinetic fights intermingling.
“We looked over the training and decided this would be very important to get our Soldiers used to mountain marksmanship,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Rhodes, a Cobra Company squad leader. “Mountain fights present the challenge of down and uphill firing with wind being a major factor the higher up you are.
“The harder the range we can produce, the more comfortable Soldiers will feel when we are actually out there protecting our country, and if we can make sure everyone has had a taste of mountain and long-range marksmanship, then I’m sure we can deploy and know that we will be as tactically proficient with our weapons as possible,” said Rhodes.