375th SFS firing range now open

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The 375th Security Forces Squadron opened their newly-upgraded firing range Aug. 22 at Scott AFB after a 16-month period of extensive, state-of-the-art renovations worth $1.3 million.

Because firing ranges, like any other facility, have a life expectancy, they require maintenance to provide a safe training environment, said Master Sgt. Joshua Ray, 375th SFS logistics superintendent.

“Our range was originally built in January of 1997. Due to building settling and use, the facility needed repairs to remain serviceable,” said Ray.

The renovations, which began in April of 2016, replaced an original $5 million design plan for a new firing range and saved the Air Force $3.7 million.

Several upgrades were made, including the decision to enclose the range, extending the life of the facility and improving training operations.

“Having the range fully enclosed will save several hours a year and better accommodate our security forces shift workers,” said Ray.

“When we have night fire or low-light classes, our day-time shift workers will no longer have to wait for the evening hours. We will be able to support all light-weight weapons training once again.”

Additional upgrades include: Target retrieval systems, ballistic glass walls between each station, individual speaker and call buttons for enhanced communication, left-to-right moving targets, lighting combinations that provide a more realistic shooting environment, new ventilation system to maintain safe air quality, an overhead radiant heat system for winter months, a fully-controllable target system for tower operators, and angled vertical ballistic baffles to ensure rounds are confined to the firing range.

During the construction, the 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron drove security forces personnel to the Weldon Springs Reserve Training Center, where the 88th U.S. Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command provided a training facility to help ensure Scott personnel remained mission ready.

“Weldon Springs was very helpful and accommodating when it came to range access and time,” said Ray. “The 375th LRS was always ready to drive the students an hour out to Weldon Springs, wait for them to finish training, and then drive them an hour back. We were able to meet mission needs at all times during the range renovation.”

While these accommodations were only expected to be needed until August of 2016, immense amounts of rain caused a delay in construction. This pushed the time line left and caused installation scheduling issues on additional upgrades like the target retrieval systems.

“Once the roof was installed and we received more rain and we discovered a design flaw with the way the new roof and existing roof were tied together. Adjustments had to be made to the fix the roof leak. We also had lightning strike the ground and travel back through one of the ground busts form outside the facility and fry some of the buildings electrical components,” said Ray.

Despite the setbacks, Ray said everyone worked well as a team to ensure the range project was completed correctly for the safety of students and instructors.

“We would rather have a state-of-the-art facility and safe facility a few months late, than a range open on the contract timelines with safety and structure problems springing up over time,” said Ray. “The range is now far more safe, efficient and comfortable for the students and instructors