Range Determination

Range determination is the process of finding the distance between two points -- one point is usually the observer's own position and the other a target or prominent feature. Range determination is an important skill in completing several types of missions since it affects combat marksmanship proficiency. It is needed in reporting information, and in adjusting artillery and mortar fires.

Many techniques are used to determine range: measuring distances on maps, pacing the distance between two points, using an optical range finder. However, the soldier does not usually have a map, and he rarely has access to an optical range finder. Pacing the distance between two points is one technique a soldier can use, as long as the enemy is not near. A sector sketch is a rough schematic map of an observer's area of responsibility (Figure B-2). It shows the range and direction from the soldier's position to recognizable objects, terrain features, avenues of approach, and possible enemy positions. The soldier paces the distance between his position and reference points to reduce range errors. By referring to the sector sketch, the soldier can quickly find the range to a target appearing near a reference point.

M16 100 Meter Range

The 100-Meter Unit-of-Measure Technique. To use this technique, the soldier must visualize a distance of 100 meters on the ground. For ranges up to 500 meters, he determines the number of 100-meter increments between the two points (Figure B-3). Beyond 500 meters, the soldier must be select a point halfway to the target, determine the number of 100-meter increments to the halfway point, and then double it to find the range to the target (Figure B-4). During training exercises, the soldier must aware of the effect that sloping ground has on the appearance of a 100-meter increment. Ground that slopes upward gives the illusion of greater distance and soldiers have a tendency to overestimate a 100-meter increment. Conversely, ground that slopes downward gives the illusion of a shorter distance; therefore, the soldier tends to underestimate.

M16a2 Targets

Figure B-4. Use of the front sight post (M16A1 and M16A2) to estimate range.


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To obtain proficiency in the 100-meter unit-of-measure technique requires dedicated practice. Throughout training, the soldier should compare his estimated range to the actual range determined by pacing or other reliable means. The best training technique is to require the soldier to pace the range after he has made a visual estimation, realizing the actual range for himself. This teaches him more than being told by the instructor/trainer.

One shortcoming of the 100-meter unit-of-measure technique is that its accuracy is depends upon the amount of visible terrain for ranges up to 500 meters. If a target appears at a range greater than 500 meters, and the soldier can see only a portion of the ground between himself and the target, it is hard to accurately use the 100-meter unit-of-measure technique.

The Appearance-of-Objects Technique. This technique determines range by the size of the object observed. This is a common technique of determining distances and is used by most people in their everyday living. For example, a motorist trying to pass another car must judge the distance of an oncoming vehicle. He does this based on his knowledge of how vehicles appear at various distances. Suppose the motorist knows that at a distance of 1 mile an oncoming vehicle seems to be 1 inch wide and 2 inches high. Then, anytime he sees another oncoming vehicle that fits this dimension, he knows it is about 1 mile away. This same technique can be used by the firer to determine ranges on the battlefield. If he knows the size and detail of personnel and equipment at known ranges, then he can compare these traits to like objects at unknown ranges -when the traits match, so do the ranges.

The Front Sight Post Estimation. The front sight post can be used to estimate range. The targets in Figure B-4 show the soldier perceives the front sight post to be the same width as a man-size target when the target is located at a distance of 175 meters. A man can be covered using half of the front sight post when the range to the target is doubled to 350 meters. An easy rule to remember: if the target is bigger than the front sight post, the target must be within 175 meters; when the target is less than the full width of the front sight post, the target is beyond 175 meters. The silhouette zeroing target provides the same perception to the firer as a man-sized target at 250 meters. The various scaled-silhouette targets provide a means for soldiers to practice range estimation with the front sight post. This is a method of dry-fire training, and soldiers should be aware of the importance of range estimation du-ring all of their marksmanship training.

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  • saradoc
    How to estimate range with front sight post M16?
    8 years ago
  • uta
    What is range determination in developing a basis of estimate?
    7 hours ago

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