Range Determination

Range determination is the process of estimating the distance to a target from a gunner's position. The ability of the gunner to get the range to, sight on, and destroy a target is the realism of combat. Under combat conditions, ranges are seldom known in advance; therefore the effectiveness of fire depends largely upon the accuracy and speed of the gunner in determining range. Some methods of determining range are estimating by eye (Table 5-1, page 5-15), firing the gun, measuring range from a map or aerial photograph, stepping off the distance, or securing information from other units. Ranges are determined to the nearest 100 meters for machine gun firing. In combat, the most commonly used methods are estimating by eye and firing the gun. There is also a method used for measuring lateral distance.

a. The two techniques of eye estimation are the 100-meter unit of measure method and the appearance of objects method.

(1) When using the 100-meter unit of measure method, the gunner must be able to visualize what 100 meters looks like on the ground. With this distance in mind, the gunner can mentally determine the number of 100-meter units between his position and the target. The accuracy of this method is limited to 500 meters or less, and it requires constant practice (Figure 5-10).

Figure 5-10. 100-meter unit of measure method, less than 500 meters.

(2) For targets that appear to be more than 500 meters, the gunner must modify this technique. The gunner selects what he thinks is the halfway point between the target and his position. He then mentally counts the number of 100-meter units to the halfway point and doubles it. This method of range determination is not accurate beyond 1,000 meters (Figure 5-11, page 5-14).

(3) Some terrain affects the appearance of 100-meter units of measure. When the terrain slopes upward toward the target, 100 meters appears longer than on level terrain. It appears shorter on downward sloping terrain. The gunner must consider these two factors when using the 100-meter unit of measure method.

Figure 5-11. 100-meter unit of measure method, more than 500 meters.

(4) The appearance of objects method may be used if the gunner is unable to use the 100-meter unit of measure method because of terrain. To use this method, the gunner learns through practice how familiar objects look at various known ranges. This can be achieved by studying the appearance of a man standing 100 meters away. The gunner must then fix the appearance of the man firmly in his mind to include the size and details of his uniform and equipment. Next, he studies the same man at the same distance in the kneeling and prone positions. This procedure is used at 200, 300, 400, and 500 meters. By comparing the appearance of the man at these known ranges, he can establish a series of mental images that will help him determine range on unfamiliar terrain out to 500 meters. This training could also be conducted to familiarize the gunner with other objects, such as weapons and vehicles, at various ranges.


APPEARS NEARER (Range is underestimated when) —

APPEARS MORE DISTANT (Range is overestimated when) —

Target visibility.

Most of the target is visible and offers a clear outline.

Only a small part of the target is seen or target is small in relation to its surroundings.

Terrain, or position of the observer.

Looking across a depression, most of which is hidden from view. Looking down from high ground. Looking down a straight, open road or along a railroad track. Looking over uniform surfaces such as water, snow, desert, or grain fields.

Looking across a depression, all of which is visible. Looking from low toward high ground. When vision is narrowly confined as in streets, draws, or forest trails.

1 ¡nhi anH aimnenhara aiiu ainiu^^iicic

iii unyiik iiyin wi iiis ouu is annuity from behind the observer.

The target is in sharp contrast with ii ic uabivyiuuiiu, ui is amiiuueiieu by reason of size,shape, or color,or is seen in the clear atmosphere of iiiijii aiuiuuea.

In poor light such as dawn and dusk, in rain, snow, fog, or when the sun is in the observer's eyes.

mic unyei melius iiuu me background or terrain.

Table 5-1. Factors affecting range estimation by eye.

Table 5-1. Factors affecting range estimation by eye.

b. Firing the gun is another method of determining range. In this method, the gunner opens fire on the target at the estimated range and moves the center of the beaten zone into the center base of the target by means of the T&E handwheels. He resets the sight so the new line of aim is at the center base of the target and notes the range setting on the rear sight. This range setting may apply only to this gun. When the ground in the vicinity of the target does not permit observation of the strike of the rounds, or when surprise fire on the target is desired, fire is adjusted on a point that offers observation and is known to be the same range as the target. The gunner then lays his gun on the target when ordered. When moving into position occupied by other units, range cards prepared by those units can furnish valuable range information on targets, suspected targets, and various terrain features. When the tactical situation and time permit, range may be determined by pacing off the distance.

c. Lateral distance measure is a method that the gunner may use to determine the distance from one target to another from left to right or right to left. When the gun is mounted on the M3 tripod, width can be measured by aiming on a point and manipulating the traversing handwheel, counting the clicks from one point to another point of aim. Each click equals one meter at 1,000 meters or one-half meter at 500 meters. This method is accurate but time-consuming. The finger measurement method is not a method of range determination; it is a method of measuring the lateral distance (in fingers or mils) between two points. To measure the distance in fingers between a reference point and a target, extend the arm with palm outward, the fingers cupped, and elbow locked. Close one eye, raise the index finger, and sight along its edge, placing the edge of the finger along the flank of the target or reference point (Figure 5-12). The remaining space is then filled in by raising fingers until the space is covered. The measurement is then stated as being one or more fingers or so many mils, depending on the number of fingers used (Figure 5-13).

Figure 5-12. Index finger aligned.
Figure 5-13. Mil/finger relationships.

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