Range Week at The Basic School
Range week at The Basic School (TBS) is a bit of a misnomer as it actually spans 2.5 weeks. It is a difficult evolution, with early mornings, lots of hiking, and exposure to the elements.
Lieutenants spend the first few days with their PMI's (Primary Marksmanship Instructor) doing what is called "grass week," another misnomer as it is only two days. During grass week, Lieutenants execute countless dry-fire reps, called "snapping in" in order to learn the fundamentals of positioning, breathing, and trigger control, prior to firing live rounds.
After two days in the grass, Range week begins, which establishes a routine for the next two weeks.
Days begin early, with Lieutenants waking up at around 0300-0330. This is followed by mandatory chow at 0400/0430 to ensure that everyone is adequately prepared to hike and shoot all day.
After mandatory chow, Lieutenants grab their rifles and their assault packs with everything they need for the day. The company steps off for the hike at around 5:30, which is roughly 2.5 miles to the rifle range.
At the range, the company is split in half, with one group shooting, and the other in the target pits, pulling and marking targets. Once the first group is done shooting, they switch. At the end of each day, the range is police called (all the brass is picked up) and all Lieutenants are lined out.
Line outs are a process in which everything must be emptied and unpacked from assault packs and clothing, in order to be searched for live rounds. This is to ensure safety and prevention of theft.
Following line outs, Platoons hike individually back to Camp Barrett, where they clean rifles, marking the last event of the day.
Depending on your SPC, the hike may be an incredibly fast movement (run) back to TBS.
The first week is all rifle marksmanship during daylight hours.
The second week incorporates combat shooting, night shooting, and pistols.
Depending on the company, Lieutenants may bivouac and sleep at the range following night shoots, as they end late.
Key takeaway's from range week:
1) You will be exhausted. Establish and streamline night routines, in order to maximize precious sleeping hours.
2) Don't expect to have time for anything other than sleeping. Days end late and mornings start early, understand that you will live and breathe marksmanship for these 2.5 weeks.
3) Purchase any additional rifle cleaning gear that you need in order to expedite the process. A clean weapon is the last task of the day, and you will be tired and frustrated.
4) Listen to the PMI's. They know what they are talking about, and if you follow their instructions, shooting "expert" on qual day is very doable.
5) Fill out the data books that are issued to you. PMI's use the information in them to help you shoot better based on your shot patterns and groupings.
6) Bring extra food and snacks. You will have time to eat while working in the target pits.
7) Take care of your feet. You will be hiking 5 miles a day, every day, for 2 weeks.
8) Buy effective and comfortable ear protection. You will be wearing it all day.
9) If you are doing range week in the fall or winter, bring lots of warming layers, and be prepared to add and remove them over the course of the day.
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