The latest and one of the greatest technological elements at the $700 million Home of the Ordnance officially opened with the Small Arms Test Fire Range Friday.
The conventional weapons range will be used as a performance test site for Army and Marine Corps 91F and 2111 small arms repairer military occupational specialties. The range can accommodate the firing of 9mm, 5.56mm, 7.62mm and .50 caliber weapons, all within a stone’s throw of Cohen Hall classrooms.
The facility utilizes a wet trap design to capture the expended bullets. Angled metal plates in the top and bottom of the box traps receive a continuous spray of treated water – similar to a water slide, said Damon Dean, Conventional Weapons Division chief at the Armament and Electronics Department of the Ordnance School.
“The round hits the metal plates and slides into a cylinder, similar to a snail’s shell, and spins until it loses velocity,” he said. “Then the round drops into a collection tray. From there all eight traps are swept by an underwater conveyer belt into a single collection barrel for disposal.”
Dean said the wet trap design minimizes airborne lead particles and meets or exceeds the occupational and safety health standards.
“While the costs of this design are more up front, the reduced maintenance cost will save money over the years,” he said.
The indoor range was designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Balfour Beatty Corp. The two separate environments, the firing and the impact areas, have separate ventilation systems. The firing side maintains forced air at a pressure and flow determined by OSHA.
Pfc. Candice Taylor, a student selected from the first class of FY11 and Marine Pfc. Andrew Crawford, a recent graduate of the small arms repairer course, joined Col. Clark LeMasters Jr., Ordnance Corps chief and Ordnance School commandant, and Col. Pharisse Berry, 59th Ordnance Brigade commander, for a test fire commemorating the facility’s ribbon cutting.
Dean pointed out that during the test fire where four weapons were fired, there was not a smell of weapons gases.
“In normal ranges, there will be a distinct smell of weapons fire,” he said.
“There is no smell, which proves how well this range is constructed.”
A newly designed weapons mount was included during the construction of the range.
“The mount at our range at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland caused wear on the weapons so we looked for a redesign,” Dean said.
Earlbeck Gases and Technology began research at APG in early 2009 to design a new mount that could fire the M2 Machine Gun, the M240B Machine Gun, M249 Squad Assault Rifle as well as the M16 and 9mm, Dean said. Prototype tests were conducted at APG and final modifications were made at Fort Lee.
“The final version consists of a platform that can mount several weapons,” Dean said. “The range can be configured to fire any weapon that is .50 caliber and below. “This range is designed for the future.”
Taylor and Crawford said the ability to test-fire repaired weapons increases the confidence they feel about their training and their ability to provide the operational force the tools they need to perform their missions.