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Home on the modular range: Temporary facility to save Team Offutt time, money

  • Published
  • By Charles J. Haymond
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

55th Security Forces Squadron received a $4 million temporary Modular Firing Range May 20.

Last fiscal year the 55th SFS Combat Arms section trained and qualified 3,115 personnel across Offutt AFB. It will replace the firing range destroyed during the historic flood of 2019 that ravaged 1/3 of the base.

“The modular range is going to significantly increase our scheduling abilities and our ability to conduct training,” said Tech. Sgt. Cody Fiecke, 55th Security Forces Squadron, NCO in charge of combat arms. “This facility gives us ownership of our training area [so] we can facilitate the best training for the 55th Wing and those that rely on it for support.  It’ll also significantly cutdown travel time, additional costs in range fees and eliminate weather cancellations, allowing us to keep or increase our training tempo.”

The MFR will have 14 firing lanes, is a fully contained, ballistic protection-rated range capable of supporting the live firing requirements of the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth. The MFR will be used for M9 pistol, M18, APC9K and M4 rifle qualification, live-fire sustainment training and test firing for all deployers and SFS members.

Currently Team Offutt members have been bused to 1 of 2 range facilities which are about 30 minutes away after learning proper handling and completing the classroom training, in order to shoot the weapon and demonstrate proficiency.

“Some career fields require members to shoot frequently others only do so for deployment, PCS, or if selected as a 55th SFS Augmentee,” Fiecke said. “Additionally, we have some units on base that can get short-notice taskings.  Having a range on the installation will make it significantly less stressful for the deploying members, base units and combat arms.”

In the warmer months, Warhawks were traveling to the Eastern Nebraska Gun Club ran by civilians. During the winter, they used the indoor facility at Southwest Iowa Law Enforcement Training Facility which is operated by the Council Bluffs Police Department. The range fees cost from $1,500 to $8,000 a month.

“Currently, the Council Bluffs PD range we can’t operate until 4 p.m. and only Tuesday through Friday and we have to ask students and units to accommodate our swing schedule,” Fiecke said. “Furthermore, single parents would need to find childcare for that time due in part that training won’t conclude until 8 or 9 p.m.

Although Team Offutt members could use the facility at ENGC all year, there is no structure in place to protect them from inclement weather. This place cannot accommodate the 55th SFS members with night shooting since ENGC does not allow firing before sunrise or after sunset.

The MFR will also benefit Offutt’s Sailors who assist the 55th SFS. Currently, they travel to another facility 45 minutes away to conduct their firearms training.

 “The MFR wouldn’t be possible without Tech. Sgt. David Jensen and Maj. Jacqueline Davis along with the rest 55th Contracting team, who laid the framework on getting and awarding the contract,” said Fiecke. “The Combat Arms teams adaptability in dealing with the lack of ranges or relying on outside support showcases our ability to qualify any Airman, at any time at any pace to support and project air power across the globe.”